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

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

NW Swell Arrives With Big Wind

The awaited west northwest swell made landfall this morning at 10AM with the buoy reading 5.9 feet at 14.8 seconds. Winds were starting to ramp up too. But the good news is that winds were generally northwest at six to 12 mph, with gusts of 12 to 17 mph (Force 4 on the Beaufort Scale). In the low to rising tide, this made for some fast and steep faces in the waist to chest/shoulder high range on set waves, with howling offshores holding them up.

I watched the farshore buoy constantly this morning, looking for the swell. I also kept my eye on the PWS to see what the wind was doing. After I determined that the swell was in, and the winds were offshore, I began to think that I could surf an empty lineup with good waves on the incoming tide. This is what happened.

I managed to sneak in a lonesome session with only me out for about an hour before being joined by Kim, then Wayne and Jim. I exited the scene after an hour forty five minutes, fairly exhausted. Waves were extremely consistent. Quality and crowd was so good after a while I just waited for the set waves. Sometimes the heavy wind made standing up and paddling so difficult, I just dropped down and knee paddled. The wind literally blew me off my board several times. I don't often sit down during a SUP session, but I did today because of the difficulty of standing in the high winds.

Paying attention pays dividends. And having a schedule that is flexible enough to surf at a moments notice, is priceless.
April 24, 2008 (Th)
In: 1356
Out: 1540
AT= 69 degrees
WT= 51.4 degrees at the nearshore buoy
Wx: Clear, sunny and breezy
Tide: 0.61 Rising to 1.99
Wind: Breezy offshores 12 to 17 mph
Sea Surface: Major wind texturing
Buoy: NWS
Sporadic buoy data
1100: 5.9 feet @ 14.8 WNW
1200: 6.9 feet @ 14.8 WNW
1300: 6.2 feet @ 13.8 WNW
1400: 6.9 feet @ 13.8 WNW
10'4" Angulo SUP with Infinity paddle
Fin set-up: Thruster with Bluecoil 5.5" center fin and FCS Occy sides
Bathymetry: Rock reefs
CDIP: 6.1 feet at 14 seconds from 305 degrees and 1.5 feet at 14 seconds from 195 degrees

Monday, April 28, 2008

Signs of Summer

The signs of summer are starting to show. Diass moved his catamaran back out beyond the kelp bed at Tres Eights; we've just had two crystal clear and warm sunny mornings followed by fog on the third day (the summer time rule of thumb for clear mornings without fog); the surf is small in town and OK at the beaches; the boats are starting to tie up to the offshore moorings outside of the pier in C-Town; parking spaces at the beach are harder to find and weekend parking after the dawn patrol is impossible.

Even though we've had our share of "unseasonal" cool weather this season, we've had some incredibly warm and sunny days with decent surf, or a great sea surface to paddle on. And things are definitely heating up...come on Summer! Come on south swells! I'm stoked!

Did I say...Life is Good!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Thar She Blows!

MikeyB and I hit it early enough to catch all the morning glass for a three hour round trip stand up paddle from Sarges to the Harbor and all points in between. As the photos will attest the day dawned clean, clear and bright. Temps have moved up the thermometer topping out today at a near perfect 73 degrees at the ocean. (Water temps are trying to make a comeback with the lack of the big northwest winds, from 49 degrees to a high of 52.5.)

Lots of folks were out in the water today. Ross was on his laydown paddleboard, practicing for the Jay Race on June 21; John and his son JJ (first time out on the SUP) were picking up a few low rollers at Sarges; the Big Stick Surfing Association put the Logjam on this morning despite the almost compete absence of waves (it's bound to get a little better tomorrow); for a weekend there was a paucity of surfers, even at the best spots; rowers were out on their racing skulls; the Pu Pu O Hawaii Outrigger Canoe Club launched several boats from the Harbor's sands; and the low tide drew a lot of beach walkers and gawkers.

But the highlight of the morning's paddle was our encounter with a small whale 150 yards offshore in water no more than 20 feet deep. I tried to get as many pics as I could but he never surfaced high enough in the water to get a good shot. I was lucky to get the blow hole shot. He was just lounging in the low rolling sea and stayed long enough for us to hang with him. Eventually we moved on and so did leviathan.

Just another special day on the SUP.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Warm Up on Tap; Maybe Some Waves

The NWS was unequivocal this morning...temps warming into the 70's and 80's at least through Sunday. There is a southern hemi storm pushing head to OH waves into CentroAm and some of Baja but once again shadowing in the SPAC will prevent even SoCal from experiencing anything significant from the current south swell way down there. Perhaps the last storm of the season is working it's way towards Cali from the NPAC wave womb, with low energy periods in the 12 to 14 second range, but a genuine storm driven swell none the less. I'm not expecting much in terms of quality or quantity, especially since it may make landfall during the weekend, but hey, there's always dawn patrol. At the very least I'll be out for a paddle in the sumptuous and scrumptious sunshine!

Thanks to Adam Wright's outstanding surf forecasting website I've picked up a couple new forecasting tools to play with. One is a very cool interactive data interface model (sounds scary huh...think, really cool colored animations) provided by NOAA Wave Watch III. Click here to play with it. The animation image at right is a picture of the nowcast (that means what's happening as we speak) swell period headed north. Adam predicted another similar south last week for CentroAm and Baja. To take a look at the results of that forecast click here. (BTW, if you're not tuned into Adam's NorCal and SoCal and Baja REALLY missed it!)

The second little trick I picked up is being able to translate the CDIP buoy data back into the NOAA/NDBC format (which I'm used to and like). Click here for the Harvest Buoy data, which is a great resource for picking up south swells that are headed north to us (none at this time unfortunately). You'll have to find the rest of the buoys for your area yourselves (Hint: access from the SIO website buoy pages...ATTENTION the last was for Geek Alert purposes only!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Hunter Does SUP

It's pretty hard surfing with someone who has the unbridled enthusiasm of an Irish Setter coupled with the skills of a lifelong surfer, and not have fun.

This was Hunter's first time on a SUP and he made it look easy. It took me a month to get where he got in about fifteen minutes. We picked up the 10'8" Angulo Beachboy from Dave's back yard rack and headed down to Sarges. MikeyB was just getting out and he said it was going to be fun. It was.

Hunter took to SUPing like I thought he would...just processing all his 23 years of surfing experience into the moment and having fun. He got a ton of waves (the sequences is him) and had to get out for class before I did. I was joined by John and Goo just as Hunter was leaving. John got a nice late take-off in the small local windswell driven waves. Goo was coming off some downtime and did remarkably well considering.

Southwest wind came up strong enough at the end to where we were all having to paddle just to stay in one spot. Water's still cold...49 degrees at the CDIP buoy. Welcome to Spring. There may be one last gasp in the NPAC. If so the swell should make landfall within the next several days...just in time for the weekend. Weather's slated to heat up which will be a nice change from the thirty degree nights and forty degree mornings.

April 24, 2008 (Th)
In: 0920
Out: 1135
AT= 53 - 56 degrees
WT= 49.6 degrees at the nearshore buoy
Wx: Clear, sunny and calm to breezy
Tide: 0.11 Rising to 1.49
Wind: Calm to south/southwesterly at 9 mph
Sea Surface: Mostly glassy in the kelp to moderate wind texturing
Buoy: NWS
Sporadic buoy data
0900: 4.6 feet @ 9.1 WNW
1000: 5.2 feet @ 9.1 seconds WNW
1100: 5.6 feet @ 10 seconds WNW
1200: 5.9 feet @ 9.1 NW
10'4" Angulo SUP with Infinity paddle
Fin set-up: Thruster with Bluecoil 5.5" center fin and FCS Occy sides
Bathymetry: Rock reefs
CDIP: 4.2 feet at 9 seconds from 300 degrees and 0.6 feet at 12 seconds from 170 degrees

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Legendary Big Wave Pioneer Woody Brown Passes

I saw Woody along with another legend, big wave rider Fred Van Dyke, at a Ride A Wave fundraiser in Santa Cruz several years ago. He was in his 90's then, and when he was back home in Hawaii Woody tried to surf as often as possible...still surfing in his 90's!

I was impressed by his vitality and his happy, warm and outgoing personality. He was most charming and generous in his demeanor and above all, very humble. If nothing else Woody served as an inspiration for we aging surfers who still want to enjoy and pursue our lifelong passion of surfing. Perhaps he also pioneered this, as well as his involvement in surfing, gliding and sailing.

To read more, or to purchase a documentary about Woody's life click on this link. I ordered my DVD today.

Aloha and Mahalo Woody!

Very Small Waves; Cold and Rainy

The last couple days have seen a damp low pressure event roll through our area, delivering unseasonably cool temps with some overcast and light rain. There isn't enough juice in any of the two swells that are in the water (NW wind swell and south swell) to produce much to shout about in the wave category. This morning's cams show a drained out tide with plenty of exposed reef and some pitiful lappers rolling on and off the sea grasses and kelp covered rocks.

With the low pressure trough and rain, air temps have come up a bit, and with the cessation of the howling north-westerly winds ocean temps have come up out of the minus 50 degree range and are sitting between 51 and 53 degrees.

There is a small low pressure cyclone spinning out in the Pacific south of the Gulf (circled in yellow) that may deliver some waves of consequence late this week and/or early next. Got it marked on my pop-up calendar but not holding my breath given the current state of things.

So good to have the SUP in my quiver. When the waves are small SUPing is a most enjoyable substitute for surfing can always get a wave or two on a SUP no matter what the size.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Cold Spring Days

Water temp dipped into the sub-50 degree range this morning, settling at 49.3 degrees for the coldest water temps so far this year. Air temp at my usual surf spot(s) this morning was 37 degrees at 0730 hours.

The NW wind swell peaked on Saturday (12 feet at 12 seconds) with some pretty nice waves at the best spots, and some decent rides at the smaller locations. It was ultra crowded. White capping was severe but those breaks sheltered from the direct blow had waves all day. Sunday and today the swell is backing down. There is a small south swell (1.1 feet at 17 seconds from 205 degrees) currently in the water.

Waves are small this morning and the tide is minus early. There is no real energized swell in the water and things look small, small, small for the foreseeable future. There are a couple things of minor interest going on in the North and the South PAC, but in reality these weather events hold little promise for future waves of any significance at this time. But who knows, mother nature is always delivering on promises she doesn't make.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Waveyarder SUP Takes Shape

There aren't many of us that can build a SUP from scratch with wood. Andy Gere is one of the few who has designed, crafted and is almost finished building this labor of love, his first standup paddleboard. Here are the first two post on my blog from last November and December. What follows is the status of the Waveyarder Andy's own words.
Shaping the rails, old school style. I'm going 60-40 ish for the front 2/3s, transitioning to down rails near the tail. I've tucked them under a bit per advice from Doug Haut.
It helps to have something that works as a reference nearby. The key is slow and steady, and try to match the rail bands shaped on each side.
The shaping stands really work well. On edge here for some fine tuning.
After dry fitting the deck planks, I decided to pre-feather them to make it easier to bend them when gluing the deck down. The spokeshave is a tool I really like.
Where does the deck end, and the rail begin? That's the idea...
I gave the innards a quick coat of polyurethane, to prevent any moisture from swelling the planks or ribs. The under side of the deck gets a coat of epoxy rolled on, to seal and strengthen it from the inside.
I taped off the rails to keep the epoxy squeeze out from staining the rails. It worked, but more on this in a later post.
Clamp-O-Rama! I refit the rocker table with all-thread at each station, so no more pesky shims. I used thinner top clamps this time, to get them to bend around the rails. This worked well in most places, getting the feather edge of the top planks to glue down tight to the feathered rails. Wedges were used to force the deck down to the fishbone, which was liberally coated with thickened epoxy, as were the rails inside of the tape line. Lot's of epoxy=strong bond. Nancy helped me steam the planks using the wet towel and cloths iron technique as we tightened each clamp. We worked outward from the center, and despite the over-dry redwood and wicked compound curves, none of the planks split.
Spring clamps secured the nose and tail, and bar clamps helped get the edges down in between the station clamps. It worked pretty well, but there are a few spots with minor gaps along the edge. Nothing some more time with the block plane and sander won't cure.
Clamps off, ready to start feathering the deck to the rails. There's a step of at least 1/8 inch all the way around. I left more at the nose and tail, since these will get lopped off in favor of nose and tail blocks anyway.
See the surfboard, be the surfboard. Yeah, I got up there and paddled a few strokes...

Stay tuned for more,

Giapetto out.

SUP Catching On

The sport of stand up paddleboarding is beginning to catch on in areas outside of surfing. As a matter of fact, many people predict that the largest segment of growth in the SUP market won't be in surfing. SUP is perfect on lakes and rivers, for fishing, and for resorts located next to the ocean or not even remotely situated near the ocean, like in Montana and Idaho.

Physical trainers are beginning to see the value of cross training with stand up paddleboards and it's starting to catch on with triathletes and marathoners as well as other endurance oriented fitness athletes.

The Surtech cross training vid and the discussion on Stand Up Zone linked here are part of the beginning of this growth spurt set to take place in the near future.

Of course this doesn't exclude many other recreational surfers (and some pro's too I'll bet) from becoming totally addicted to SUP!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Morning Shortboard; Afternoon SUP

Got in the water around 0815 at Rey-Reys on the 6'8". Small wind swell and a rising tide made for a few fun rides into the backwash coming off the sloping beach. Still getting used to the 6'8" and tend to be very heavy footed, especially coming off the SUP. Interesting transition, a study in sensitivity. Wind was light, mostly glassy conditions, water cold.

Paddle surfed Sarges and Gdubs on a low tide rising in the afternoon. Weather was warm and sunny so I threw on the spring suit, boardshorts, long sleeve rashie, new Dakine sun protection hat and dark glasses. Got in the water around 3:45PM and was warm and toasty until about an hour later and a couple dunkings. Made me wish I had a full wettie on. But I do love paddle surfing in the lightweight ensemble. It feels so good!

Hat is great but if you're going to wipeout the chin strap needs to be tight or it will be wiped off your head. The verdict on the dark glasses is that they are really nice to have in order to shade the eyes. But are a hassle when they get wet, especially if the water is really cold. Not only can't you clear the water drops off the inside and outside of the lenses very well, the cold water condenses on the inside of the lens next to your warm skin. This fogs the lenses and makes things even worse in terms of visibility. I may try some "Fog Off" but it seems like more hassle than it's worth. So...for paddling, glasses good; for surfing, glasses not so good.

Met a SUPer out at Gdubs who was from Oregon via New Hampshire and Hawaii. Then talked with a longboarder from Seattle who was on his way down to SD to talk with Joe Blair about a new performance SUP. Small world.

More cold weather and strong winds are on tap for this weekend. Small craft warnings have been posted for northerly winds. A Canadian cold front is moving through, lowering temps and bringing cloud cover. Good news is that the wind swell will increase wave size if conditions don't go down the tubes. At this writing (0830 Friday April 18) local winds are already out of the southeast...a bad sign.
April 17, 2008 (Th)
In: 0815 and 1545
Out: 0940 and 1715
AT= 50 - 80 degrees
WT= 52 degrees at the farshore buoy
Wx: Clear, hot and sunny with offshore fog moving in
Tide: 3.8 to 4.2 Rising; and 0.8 Rising to 1.9
Wind: Calm to light offshore
Sea Surface: Glassy with a slight roll
Buoy: NWS
Buoy delivering sporadic data:
0800: 6.2 feet @ 12 seconds WNW
0900: 6.6 feet @ 9.1 seconds NW
1000: 6.6 feet @ 10.8 seconds WNW
1500: 5.9 feet @ 10.8 seconds NW
1600: 6.6 feet @ 10.8 seconds NW
1800: 5.9 feet @ 11.4 seconds NW
Bob Miller Bluecoil Devolution 6'8" DT5
Fin set-up: Future Quads: Scimitar 451's
10'4" Angulo SUP with Infinity paddle
Fin set-up: Thruster with Bluecoil 5.5" center fin and FCS Occy sides
Bathymetry: Sand bars
CDIP: 4.8 feet at 11 seconds from 310 degrees and 1.7 feet at 17 seconds from 175 degrees and
5.5 feet at 9 seconds from 310 degrees and 0.9 feet at 17 seconds from 180 degrees

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Big Winds Blow Offshore

The big story the last couple days are the high winds and pressure gradients. As the blustery northwest winds rage down coast, they bounce over the mountains and blow straight into the faces of the waves. Too bad there isn't much in the way of waves to get face sprayed by.

The local wind swell in the water is better than I expected actually. I surfed Sarges and GDubs on a lowering tide mid-morning with Sam, Pricscilla, Michael and Al. Everyone got a lot of waves even though the waits were sometimes kinda long. Wave quality got better as the tide lowered, and the gusty offshores held some faces and walls up much longer than usual. As the tide dropped those little inside zippers were breaking in about a foot of water. Kelp got me a couple times but with the thruster set-up it's not bad at all.
April 15, 2008 (Tu)
In: 1020
Out: 1235
AT= 56 - 63 degrees
WT= 51.6 degrees at the farshore buoy
Wx: Clear, sunny and breezy
Tide: 3.2 Falling to .71
Wind: NW to NE and back at 3 to 12 mph
Sea Surface: Mostly glassy in the kelp to mild wind texturing in the spaces
Buoy: NWS
Sporadic buoy data
0800: 7.2 feet @ 12.1 WNW
1100: 6.2 feet @ 12.1 seconds WNW
1200: 6.2 feet @ 12.1 seconds WNW
1100: 7.2 feet @ 12.1 NW
10'4" Angulo SUP with Infinity paddle
Fin set-up: Thruster with Bluecoil 5.5" center fin and FCS Occy sides
Bathymetry: Rock reefs
CDIP: 6.2 feet at 11 seconds from 305 degrees and 1.1 feet at 12 seconds from 195 degrees

Monday, April 14, 2008

What Goes Up; Must Come Down (Freefall That Is)

Mother Nature has withdrawn her three day preview of heaven, and plunged we mortals back to our earthly reality. Fog covers the rock reef points and sandy beaches while a niggling, sniping, bone chilling southeast wind makes a small, irritating mess of the ocean's surface. Temps have taken their cue from the dotcom and mortgage busts, literally dropping through the floor. While Saturday and Sunday's high's were in the 80's, today's forecast is for the 50's.

West-northwesterly winds have turned back onshore with the highest SFO-SAC gradient seen this month...a whopping 5mb. Winds are projected to clear out the low clouds and fog and bring cold temps. There's talk of a frost advisory for Tuesday night.

Surf is in the small range with the "always gets waves" spots showing some rideable peaks and walls on occasion.

Gone for now is the leisurely and luxuriously warm paddle and surf of yesterday but, Hope Springs Eternal. For we who love warmth, in this wrong latitude tropical mime, what makes these recent occurrences so special is that they just don't happen very often. Their rareness is what makes the experience so extraordinary, notable and worthy of appreciation. It is what keeps us chasing our tail, looking for perfection that is always flawed, and always fleeting. Chasing the tropical dream to all corners of the earth.

We await the next coming.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Dual Shortboard/SUP Session

Weather as good as it gets! High yesterday of 82 degrees, today the mercury is pegged at 88. Light offshores have quelled the ocean upwelling. Ocean temps are up three degrees over a few days ago. The only downside...very small surf! There is a weak combo swell in the water that isn't doing much in providing good surfable waves. Where it's breaking size is waist high.

The NPAC storm track has effectively shut down. Rumor has it (if you're not checking this out on a daily basis then you're going to miss some good waves this summer) that the mostly dormant SPAC is waking up with a nice storm headed north. Since a high pressure ridge has moved in over CA the local winds that produce local waves has shifted in favor of the warm offshores. Thus, warmer ocean temps and much smaller waves.

I paddled out on the 6'8" DT5 at Rey-Reys for a few super glassy, shore dumpers at 0933. The board works great, catches waves easily, and wants to pull in and run even when there's no shoulder to do it on.

Since I've started SUPing I'm totally digging the no wax environment. I put clear grip on the nose of my SUP (and it works great) where there is no deck pad. I thought I could do it on the whole 6'8" shortboard. Wrong! Not sticky enough. It works good on the nose of the SUP 'cause you're only up there for a few seconds, and not doing much but standing there...trying to look cool. But on the shortboard you're applying pressure and torque to the board surface and there just isn't enough friction to get a good grip with your feet. My wetsuit doesn't stick to it very well either. The package of four clear grip sheets (10" X 18.5") only covered from the tail to about midships which was OK for the tail (I don't like traction pads) but stopped short of where it needed to go under my chest to complete the coverage. So I waxed the rest. This actually gave me a good comparison of the two, and the clear grip just doesn't have the stickiness needed. So...back to wax for the shortboard.

I surfed the shorty for about an hour, got out and headed over to Platty's for a paddle and surf on the SUP. The weekend crowd was thick and festive with kids, bbq's, footballs and surf schools everywhere. The weather was so nice, and the sea surface so glassy and smooth I didn't want to get out. I paddled down to the big resort (two-mile round trip), surfing a few small ones at The Wall and in between before calling it a perfect day (except for the surf).
April 12, 2008 (Sa)
In: 0933 and 1112
Out: 1040 and 1225
AT= 67 - 81 degrees
WT= 54 degrees at the farshore buoy
Wx: Clear, hot and sunny
Tide: 0.26 Falling to -0.34 feet Rising
Wind: Calm to light offshore
Sea Surface: Glassy with a slight roll
Buoy: NWS
0900: 3.9 feet @ 11.4 seconds NW
1000: 3.6 feet @ 14.8 seconds S
1100: 3.9 feet @ 11.4 seconds NW
1200: 3.6 feet @ 14.8 seconds S
Bob Miller Bluecoil Devolution 6'8" DT5
Fin set-up: Future Quads: Scimitar 451's
10'4" Angulo SUP with Infinity paddle
Fin set-up: Thruster with Bluecoil 5.5" center fin and FCS Occy sides
Bathymetry: Sand bars
CDIP: 2.5 feet at 10 seconds from 310 degrees and 1.4 feet at 14 seconds from 190 degrees