G. Niblock on the L41 TipSUP Noserider. Photo: J. Chandler

Friday, February 29, 2008

Winter Swell; Summer Weather

While the west swell is dropping, it keeps providing ridable waves. Too bad the weather isn't as cooperative. A summer weather pattern, common to this area, is in effect. The valley heats up drawing cooler, fog laden, moist marine air in to the land. Along with the fog are onshore winds which generally make a mess out of the surf. Conditions today were poor with ESE winds making a washboard out of the sea surface, and blowing whitecaps into the wave crests. the fog sat a couple miles offshore all day, and by 5PM it moved in to smother the land.

The crowd factor was just about zero though. Most of the session was just Michael and me. Glad he was out so I could document the waves with him on them.

For about 20 minutes the wind died down, and that was when we got our best waves...a couple long rights almost to DP's. But other than that I struggled just to stay on my board when trying to turn into the wind to catch the waves. I didn't always succeed and took a couple unceremonious dunkings as I was pitched off the board by the wind driven side chop and the cresting, oncoming wave.

Such is life...I was glad to get a surf in will have to last until next Tuesday.
February 29, 2008 (F)
In: 1145
Out: 1330
AT= 57 - 58 degrees
WT= 53.2 degrees at the farshore buoy
Wx: Clear with a big fog bank offshore
Tide: .91 Rising to 1.43
Wind: 4 to 12 mph ESE
Sea Surface: Washboard with light white capping
Buoy: NWS
1100: 6.9 feet @ 12.9 Seconds WNW
1200: 7.5 feet @ 12.1 Seconds WNW
1300: 7.5 feet @ 12.9 Seconds WNW
1400: 7.2 feet @ 11.4 Seconds WNW
10'4" Angulo SUP with Infinity paddle
Rock reefs
Waves: 4 feet at 13 seconds (Nearshore buoy approx. ave.) Storm Surf Buoy Model

More Waves

All indicators point to a continuation of waves into and possibly through the weekend. Swell and period dropped during the day yesterday and is currently sitting at 8' @ 13 seconds WNW and putting up some decent lines as the tide continues to drop towards a noon low of .89 feet. Fog covered the coast early, but started burning back by 0800.

I've got class preparation for the hazmat awareness level certification course tomorrow at Cabrillo so I might be able to sneak in a few waves during the day depending upon how the prep finish and polish goes. Then no waves for me until possibly Sunday afternoon or evening. That's just the way the rhythm cycles sometimes. (Back still hurts a little too.)

Here's a couple more fun pics from yesterday that I didn't publish out of the boatload of shots I took. Whitty got a ton of nice rides. He finally got off the snowboard and back on the SUP. That's what happens when you own a boardsports shop.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

South Fades; West Picks up

The third surprise in this three day surprise trilogy is how sore I was this morning when I got up. I guess I had too much to surf yesterday. Stiff neck, knee and back ache, arthritis kickin' up. Have to take today off and recover. Too bad because it's going to be good. (West swell, 9' at 16 seconds, light offshores, shallow fog layer trying to penetrate the bay but should burn off early leading to clear skies with warm temps.) Can't be greedy though, I've had way more than I should these last two days. Will get down to the beach for a few pics.

Later that same day...Nice swell kept things booming and the boyz and girls busy. Andy and Mash were out on their stand ups, Jamie and Steve surfed some bombs, Al paddled out and into some fun ones. But overall, hardly anyone out for how big and good it was today.

This is how it will eventually go when I get too old for surfing. I get to be the staff photographer. Better than nothing.

Mash had some really fun waves on his 10' Tim Stamps Performer Model. One is captured in the sequence below.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

More Surprises...New SW Swell

If I was surprised by good waves and conditions yesterday, I was even more surprised to find a long period southerly swell in the water this morning when I checked the buoys. This one passed by the buoy starting at 10PM last night. Sometimes this data is aberrational but I cross-checked it with StormSurf and their late yesterday update included the new swell. I wasn't the only one asleep at the switch because when I arrived on scene early this morning, no one was in the water at the reefs or at Sarge's. I was stunned...but in a good way.

I surfed for an hour fifteen alone in waist to head high waves that were consistent. The good south sets had six to eight waves each. The west sets less. South pulses were breaking across the coves and pocket beaches, yielding shorter rides but bigger waves. The west sets had less waves per set and lined up a bit better, but overall, it was all good.

Surfed with Jamie for a half hour after he paddled back from GDubs. After a couple hours a whole bunch of stand up guys came out so I moved over to Yellow House and surfed there with the Doc for an hour before people started wising up and paddling out to join us. It wasn't lined up a well as several other times this winter, but it wasn't uncommon to ride from Yellow House Point to past AptHouse Point. And then pick up another peak at AptHouse Point and ride past Dick's. Total of the two rides...about 400 hundred yards.

At the high tide mark things slowed noticeably. By then I had already had a cornucopia of very good waves, so I surfed a couple peaks back to the pier and called it a morning. A good morning it was.

Didn't get a lot of pics today because I was either surfing by myself, or on the wave merry-go-round and paddling hard to get back out without being caught inside.
February 27, 2008 (W)
In: 0659
Out: 0905
AT= 45 - 55 degrees
WT= 52.7 degrees at the farshore buoy
Wx: Clear with building high level thin cloud cover
Tide: 1.68 Falling to 1.14 (low tide)
Wind: Calm to N/NE to SE at 2 mph
Sea Surface: Light and gentle roll with some low tide side chop, light wind dappling to glassy
Buoy: NWS
0600: 4.3 feet @ 17.4 Seconds SW
0700: 4.3 feet @ 17.4 Seconds SSW
0800: 4.6 feet @ 17.4 Seconds SSW
0900: 3.9 feet @ 17.4 Seconds WSW
1000: 3.3 feet @ 17.4 Seconds SW
10'4" Angulo SUP with Infinity paddle
Rock reefs
Waves: 2.5 feet at 16 seconds (Nearshore buoy approx. ave.) Storm Surf Buoy Model

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sweet Morning in Post-Storm Surf

Some days are just full of surprises. I didn't expect to see clearly delineated incoming lines when I rounded the turn past NB's, but there they were. I was hoping for just a good paddle in nice conditions, instead I got that plus some fun waist to chest high waves in the best conditions we've had in over a week.

During paddle out I caught a quick couple at Sarge's prior to heading down to Gdubs for what looked like more consistent sets. Sea surface was gentle with a light roll, marred only by a welcome offshore wind ripple. Tide was low going lower, slated to start back up again about 0830. The right waves were fast and makeable across the cove and there were a lot of them.

Surfed with Greg who got a nice sequence (see slideshow below) before he had to go to work. Then joined by MikeyB and Mash. Everyone got waves, and Mash got a nice sequence too (see slideshow below). Tops there were only five people out and it was mellow. All riders got waves.

I was surprised that this residual swell had as much energy as it did. Although sets were underpopulated with waves (some sets had only one) it was consistent and challenging. Paddled in at Sarges and caught a couple of nice rippers across the pocket beach prior to exit. Coffee after with the Boyz.
Thanks to MikeyB for his pics today.
February 26, 2008 (Tu)
In: 0705
Out: 0915
AT= 43 - 57 degrees
WT= 52.5 degrees at the farshore buoy
Wx: Sunny with wispy mid and high level clouds
Tide: 1.22 Falling to 1.11, Rising to 1.34
Wind: NNW at 3 mph to calm
Sea Surface: Light and gentle roll with some low tide side chop, light wind dappling to glassy
Buoy: NWS
0600: 7.2 feet @ 12.1 Seconds WNW
0700: 6.9 feet @ 10.8 Seconds WNW
0800: 6.6 feet @ 11.4 Seconds WNW
0900: 6.6 feet @ 10.8 Seconds W
0900: 5.9 feet @ 12.1 Seconds WNW
10'4" Angulo SUP with Infinity paddle
Rock reefs
Waves: 5 feet at 11.4 seconds (Nearshore buoy approx. ave.) Storm Surf Buoy Model

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Onshore Storm Surf

For the second time this year, a large ocean swell has invaded our coast. This time, the gale force winds which generated the waves were immediately offshore and in very close proximity to the coastline. The result was an ocean going storm making itself at home right in our lap. Like a Great Dane snuggling down for a 12-hour nap and there's nothing you're going to do about it but enjoy. Good puppy!

The bay looked like an open ocean hurricane. The pier looked like a ghost ship who's bow was pointed directly into the maelstrom, already half sunk. The local surf spots were freak shows with waves breaking farther out to sea than anyone ever rides. They were folding over not because they were grounding out, but because they were breaking open ocean storm waves.

The California buoy read these waves at 6PM Saturday night at 30 feet at 17 seconds. The swell peaked here at noon showing 26 feet at 17 seconds, just in time for the 4.8 foot (not so) high tide. Along with the heavy duty dead debris tonnage driven to ramming speed in the mindless salt water assault to displace as much rip-rap as possible and batter down the cement barricades, tons of water was moving tons of sand down the coast and filling up every nook and cranny it could find. Sand enema anyone?

Once this storm blows through things are forecast to settle down fast. It may be too messy for there to be much surfable in the residuals of this blow. East of the dateline, storm winds are taking aim at Hawaii with only residual energy pointed at Cali so far.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Cold, Windy, Choppy Pre-Storm Conditions

It rained hard Friday morning, eventually clearing later in the afternoon. Surf was marginal, still adversely affected by the storm pattern in place. Friday night was cold and clear. The new dawn brought southeast winds and pre-storm conditions.

ESE winds were brisk nearshore making for crumbly waves. Farshore storm winds destroyed wind swell wave faces with troughs and chop. Some people made the best of it... but not me. I checked it at several locations. Where the wind was manageable, there weren't any waves. Where there were waves the wind was uncooperative. My back was still hurting from Thursday's sea surface chop-fest, so I decided to call it a day and wait for next week.

By 1PM winds at the farshore buoy were gusting to 40 mph. By dusk full storm surf conditions were in effect.

The university surf school was no where in sight.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Quick Sesh Before the Deluge

I was hoping that a window between the coming storms and the southerly winds would open briefly this morning. Yesterday's wind swell was putting up some decent size but accompanied by incessant southwesterlies that were putting light white caps across the ocean surface.

When I checked the buoy and local weather at the point, the swell was still up and wind was calm. I thought I had a chance for a brief paddle surf in halfway decent conditions. Wrong.

I should have checked the wind at the farshore buoy. I would have seen that it had been blowing all night long from the SSE at from 2 to 18 mph. When I rounded the curve at NB's the sea surface looked manageable. But when I got to Sarge's it was marginal at best. I knew this would be my last chance for a few days though so I launched and struggled through the ultra bumpy sea and side chop. It was hard enough just to stand and paddle, but I somehow managed to grab a few waves. Primary challenge was to keep the flat rockered Olohe nose above water and not plow into the multiple troughs that pock marked the wave face on takeoff. Once I paddled into the wave it was better, but not much.

After a couple waves the wind increased again and I took my third one in. In only a half hour OMO had worn me out.

The OPC surface analysis map shows a fairly powerful storm sitting offshore ready to deliver high winds and heavy sporadic rain to our area. Forecast is for most of the wind to stay offshore but advisories will probably be issued anyway.
February 21, 2008 (Th)
In: 0654
Out: 0725
AT= 48 degrees
WT= 52 degrees at the farshore buoy
Wx: Broken cloud cover with storm clouds moving in
Tide: 3.15 Rising to 3.8
Wind: E to SE 2 to 6 mph
Sea Surface: Confused with wavelets from multiple directions, light white capping
Buoy: NWS
0600: 8.2 feet @ 12.9 Seconds WNW
0700: 8.2 feet @ 13.8 Seconds WNW
0800: 7.2 feet @ 12.1 Seconds WNW
0900: 7.2 feet @ 13.8 Seconds W
10'4" Angulo SUP with Infinity paddle
Rock reefs
Waves: 5 feet at 13 seconds (Nearshore buoy approx. ave.) Storm Surf Buoy Model

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Unstable Wx; Moderate Wind Swell

The wet weather forecast by the NWS has arrived much sooner than originally predicted. Light rain started yesterday, increased to heavier last night, and is clearing as of this morning. Weather to remain unstable through the weekend with heavy showers and snow in the Sierra predicted for the weekend.

The high tides are swamping any hopes for even moderate, consistent surf in the mornings. Low tides are best but there is no groundswell of note running, and the windswell is moderate. Possibly some waves this afternoon during low tide. One good thing so far, winds are very light. This should change over the weekend with the bigger Saturday storm making landfall.

The NOAA satellite images show a storm putting up gale force (40-55mph) winds (yellow circle on both images) with over a thousand miles of fetch aimed directly at the Cali coast. This should translate into a nice groundswell for us except that it should arrive in conjunction with a nearshore storm that is forecast to put up some big winds of it's own. (See StormSurf NPAC Surface Pressure and Wind animation.) Result? Storm surf.

I'll try to sneak in a session or two before the weekend. Next week is forecast to be dry and warming up. With the jetstream split on again, off again, on again and now fading to off again, we may or may not see the abundance of waves that have been our blessing these past few weeks when the storm production corridor was open.

Meanwhile our brothers and sisters in Hawaii have been enjoying a cornucopia of good waves and superb weather. Surf has backed off a bit to give them a rest and looks like it's going to crank up again soon. Who took my ticket?

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Best Is Past

Things are really winding down as we head into a time of smaller to unsurfable waves and inclement weather. Like Mark over at StormSurf said, "Hope you got your fill while the table was full."

There is some small hope that a small 20 second pulse showing now on the farway buoy will develop into something that will have positive residual effects for NorCal, but if it does it will surely be short lived.

Posted images today show satellite data for low level winds in the NE Pac still looking good but with the sea surface and wind analysis (black and white) showing the effects of a developing storm (red circle) moving our way, about 1250 miles from the bay.

This system, combined with a split jetstream that will be driving rain and wind downcoast from the northwest, will probably produce the raw wind swell the forecasters are talking about. Predictions indicate that SoCal will not get a free get out of jail card or exemption from the wet weather either.

The SUP experience does not solely rely on waves for it's generation of while conditions are not of the storm variety, getting out for a paddle in our beautiful ocean is always an option. Let us then "walk on the water" together.

Meanwhile, our wave quality and quantity has been exceptional North, South and Center this past couple weeks...did I say "Life is Good!"

Give thanks with a grateful heart.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Summer in Winter

To quote the NWS...
All this good weather has it's price. I was talking to self the other day know maybe the best time to vacation from NorCal is in the summer when we get far fewer waves and sitting in the fog waiting for ankle biters is colder than surfing in head high screamers in February.

Currently, things are winding down. The swell is slowly dropping in size while maintaining 14 seconds intervals. The faraway buoy is accurately indicating our nearshore buoy swell and wave reality.

We'll have to settle for small waves until Wednesday or Thursday when we may have to settle for no waves because that's when the series of rain storm systems starts pushing through our area. Look for rain starting then and on through the weekend.

We can hope for winds and rain to be light and that we'll still be getting out. But the smart money is on raw wind swell...SoCal too...(sorry John).

Saturday, February 16, 2008

I Missed It!

(...that is if you want to call surfing in mega giganticus bay bound close-outs while getting your St. Francis of ASSisi kicked...missing it...) But truthfully, along with the pounding everyone took at least once during the last 24-hours, there were moments of pure exhilaration and rides across the wave strewn playing field of over a 1/4 mile.

Here's what Vince told me: "I tried out my old bones yesterday at (Sarge's) in huge surf. Got one smooth long ride almost to Los Arboles and another shorter close out one into point. And feeling all confident (already forgetting the minor thrashing I took just paddling out) I proceeded to paddle back out and thought I was sitting safely outside until I got thrashed by a huge outside set that truly challenged my ability to hold my breath. My whole wetsuit filled up after being submerged and tumbled by 7-8 waves. But I survived without any new aches or pains and after one more smaller wave that had a hard inside closeout I decided to come in and act my age (or at least in line with my prematurely arthritically impaired low back and shoulder).

Hah, no one who surfs can act their age...forever young is what we are, or at least want to be until the day we die.

The swell dropped off dramatically today. I had projects to do, but I thought these big waves were going to last at least through Sunday. Don't get me wrong, the swell is still putting up respectable numbers, but nothing like yesterday, and earlier this morning, except that only the high tide spots were working this morning.

I paddled out in the mid-afternoon and surfed until dusk. Waves were consistent but somewhat flawed by the prevailing southwesterlies which blew until dark. Sets were still coming in which just underscored the fact that we're getting spoiled! The waves weren't as "perfect" as I wanted them to be but fact is, I got a ton of waves in fair conditions...once again.

Sam was out making some solid bottom turns on his Angulo 10'8" and throwing some nice cutbacks. Hard to do on such a big board. He seems to have using the paddle to turn back well in hand. MikeyB was out in trunks and a rash guard, mostly cruising but getting a few waves here and there. Somebody was ripping on a SUP at Sarge's, pretty sure it was Surftech John. He moves his SUP around like a 9' performance longboard.
February 16, 2008 (Sa)
In: 1515
Out: 1715
AT= 60 to 55 degrees
WT= 52.7 degrees at the farshore buoy
Wx: Clear and sunny
Tide: .37 Rising to 2.05
Wind: WSW 1 to 14 mph
Sea Surface: Moderately bumpy with wind ripples
Buoy: NWS
1400: 10.2 feet @ 17.4 Seconds WNW
1500: 9.5 feet @ 16 Seconds WNW
1600: 9.2 feet @ 16 Seconds WNW
1700: 9.8 feet @ 16 Seconds WNW
10'4" Angulo SUP with Infinity paddle
Rock reefs
Waves: 7.5 feet at 15 seconds (Nearshore buoy approx. ave.) Storm Surf Buoy Model

Friday, February 15, 2008

Brother Joe Update

Brother Joe tied into some fine ones today. In his words: I went out at about 12:30, it was as early as I could get there. Tide was low and on the upswing. The buoy was reading 20 second intervals, I didn't even look at the wave height as I franticly switched off the computer, gathered the essentials and strapped down the stand up board on top of my Toyota. Upon arrival, the wind was blowing a bit but there were some good waves coming through with a slight chop on the surface.

I paddled out at GW's, then set course for our usual spot. After cruising past Sarge's, a nice outside set wave came through. A few hard strokes of the paddle and I was in. The wave was overhead to head high. After a good ride I popped over the top to paddle back out but to my horror, there was nothing but huge close out sets lined up as far as I could see barreling down on me. I gave it every effort to punch through but only got carried closer and closer to certain collision with wharf. I wisely chose to pick my own destiny and take a wave into the beach and land at a place of my choosing instead of risking collision with the pilings.

Upon exit, I walked down the beach and re-entered south of the wharf and easily made my way back out. More monster sets came through but I pressed on to Sarges before trying for another ride. I took a few more waves from there being careful not to get caught inside again. The NW wind was continuing to build. I decided to take one more. Soon, another giant set arrived and I was the only one there at outside Sarge's. I dropped in on this wave that was easily one and a half times overhead. I got a fairly long ride then pulled out to avoid the close out section. That was my last wave. What a day!

New Swell On Us

The next in this long series of winter swells, predicted to make landfall for the weekend, is on us. Faraway buoy readings began recording 20+ second periods at 9PM last night. The nearshore buoy started showing forerunners at 7AM indicating 8.5' at 21.1 seconds WNW. SoCal should see solid winter energy and direction by Saturday morning.

My weekend is booked with Women of Vision projects I promised I'd help with, but I may be able to grab some waves Saturday afternoon late or evening, and Sunday late. Updates when and if I get 'em.

NOTE: Long range surface pressure and wind model animation is showing a breakdown of the high pressure that has kept the storm track north of us, and helped to provide all the great wave action this past week. If the model predictions are correct then we may see some rain and a return to the wet weather by next Thursday morning.

UPDATES: I returned from the Valley early enough to get some pics of this big swell before dark. Buoy has been holding steady at 19-21 seconds and 10 feet throughout the day. Best time to surf was this morning before 9:30AM when the southeast wind came up and degraded conditions, although I'm sure plenty of hardy big surf enthusiasts got some good waves today. A band of fog is sitting offshore and will probably make landfall sometime tonight. No doubt it will be blanketing the coast tomorrow morning, making for dangerous conditions in big surf. All should be wary and assess their abilities realistically.