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

Saturday, August 29, 2009

First NPAC Swell of the Season; Conditions Perfect

Finally, fantastic conditions and an almost ground swell, conspired to create a beautiful morning of surfing in weather fit for Polynesia. Andy G and I hooked up for a pre-dawn, first light paddle out at Sarges. Already the usual suspects were on the scene and taking down some long and fast, well shaped rights. The tide was perfect too, riders were well out of the kelp and making sections was fun and exciting. It's what surfing's all about.

We surfed Sarges for a while, catching about a half dozen waves, then headed to Middles for a few more. We roamed around between Middies and catching the wide ones that everyone surfing at GDub's was out of position for. That's what SUPs are for right? We take the ones the laydown surfers can't or don't take, the leftovers, the trash. They shouldn't call us sweepers, we're more like Trashmen and women. (Although I don't think many women would relish being called "Trashy," but most guys would wear it as a badge of honor. "Yeah, you can call me trashy!") Of course, every once in a while we ARE in the right spot at the right time to take that set wave of the day. The waves seemed to get a bit more inconsistent and fatter as the tide came in later in the morning. But a sea spray mist hung heavy on the surface all along the reefy coastline, so there was still plenty of power left in the best waves that came through.

There were a lot of waves today and surprisingly, not all that many people out. Must be because Summer is "over," and everyone is back to work or back to school. It's not like the swell wasn't fairly well hyped. And it's the weekend. Go figure.

After surfing, M and I took Cloud for a walk at Platty's and Can Openers. There were a couple guys out dropping in on some overhead bombs with not much room to run. A few guys nailed some decent corners but overall the rides were short and violent. Beach break for sure. What a beautiful day!

August 29, 2009 (Sa)
In: 0605
Out: 0830
AT= 59F to 75F
WT= 58.6F
Wx: Clear and sunny with some high scattered clouds
Tide: 3.1' Rising to 3.8' Falling
Wind: Light offshore to light from the SW
Sea Surface: Mostly glassy with some backwash bump at the higher tide
10-0 Angulo EPS/Epoxy Custom SUP with Infinity Ottertail carbon fiber paddleFin set-up: Thruster with K2D2 4.75" center fin (fourth mark up from back) and RFC Speedwings
Bathymetry: Rock reefs and sand
Deep Water Swell and Wave Face Heights CDIP Archive
Buoy: NWS (Farshore-Nearshore)
Time NDBC Data (approx.) CDIP Data
0500: 8.2 feet @ 13.8 WNW - 6.2 feet @ 11.1 WNW (280 and 170) (4-6 ft. wave faces)
0600: 10.2 feet @ 12.8 WNW - 5.2 feet @ 13.3 W (290 and 170) (2-4 ft. wave faces)
0700: 9.5 feet @ 12.9 WNW - 5.6 feet @ 13.3 W (295 and 180) (4-6 ft. wave faces)
0800: 9.2 feet @ 12.9 WNW - 5.2 feet @ 13.3 W (295 and 195) (2-4 ft. wave faces)
0900: 8.5 feet @ 12.9 WNW - 5.9 feet @ 13.3 W (295 and 185) (4-6 ft. wave faces)
1000: 9.8 feet @ 12.9 WNW - 6.9 feet @ 13.3 W (295 and 185) (3-5 ft. wave faces)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Small Combo Swell in Perfect Conditions

Conditions just don't get better than today. Air temp at paddle out, a balmy 65 degrees. An hour later it was 74. A touch of humidity brought to us from the remnants of TS Ignacio made it feel tropical, like surfing deep in Mexico or Hawaii. The wind was light offshore with just a touch of ripple on the pure green and glassy sea surface. The sky was studded with high clouds on a blue field. Too bad the waves weren't as good as the conditions.

Due to the lack of sand movement, there just aren't any sandbars working to create good waves. The swell picked up a bit over yesterday, and it was pretty consistent, it's just that there wasn't much shape, and very few peaks with corners. It really looked good from the beach, but once in, I spent a lot of time chasing peaks that just weren't there. There was an occassional drop in and quick pump before the curtain dropped. But mostly, it was close-outs.

No matter. Today was definitely good just because of the conditions.

NOTE: As per usual I take a few photos after my sessions to document the blog post. I just happened to shoot the best wave I saw all morning. The series shows a neophyte longboarder who didn't even know what hit him, and then held on for dear life. Nice ride.

August 28, 2009 (F)
In: 0805
Out: 0905
AT= 56-74F
WT= 58F
Wx: Clear and warm with high tropical clouds
Tide: 3.5' Falling to 3.4'
Wind: Light offshore
Sea Surface: Glassy with very light wind ripples
6-0 Freeline (Mini-Simmons) Ghost Buster with twin glassed on keel fins
Bathymetry: Sand bars
Deep Water Swell and Wave Face Heights CDIP Archive
Buoy: NWS (Farshore-Nearshore)
Time NDBC Data (approx.) CDIP Data
0700: 4.3 feet @ 11.4 SSW - 2.0 feet @ 14.3 WSW (290 and 165) (2-3 ft. wave faces)
0800: 4.6 feet @ 10.8 SW - 2.0 feet @ 12.5 WSW (310 and 185) (2-3 ft. wave faces)
0900: 4.9 feet @ 11.4 SW - 2.3 feet @ 15.4 SW (295 and 180) (2-4 ft. wave faces)
1000: 5.6 feet @ 10.8 WSW - 2.6 feet @ 10.5 W (280 and 175) (2-4 ft. wave faces)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sunny and Hot with Weak NPAC Wind Swell

It felt good to get back out on the SUP, even if the waves were small and swamped by the high tide. The launch at Sarges was sunny and clear with sun diamonds sparkling off the surface of the sea. The wind did funny things. While blowing predominantly southwest from the Point, it was blowing from the southeast in Sarges pocket cove, only about a mile away.

The paddle up to the Point was calm and peaceful. I picked up one wave at Scimi's, and another at Tres 8's before the non-stop paddle to La Jolla's. You could clearly see the wind line just offshore. There was a two foot roll in the water out there, and I had to stabilize in the kelp beds to take pictures. No white caps though.

The paddle back in a following sea is always more enjoyable to me, even if you can't see the swells coming. It's just a wee bit more mellow. Construction work is still going on big time as the workers armor the cliff against any further erosion. The County finally realized that since surfing is a multi-million dollar business that brings scads of revenue into the community, they'd better make sure the surfing areas stick around for a while. The surfers weren't all that happy with the armoring idea, thinking it would change the waves. No one knows for sure. It just might one of these days, although it's hard to imagine.

I picked off a couple of backwash battered bumps at GDubs before paddling the final leg to the take out at Sarges. No one around today really. One 40-something "babe" on the beach and a couple boogers at the pocket cove point break.

Weather tonight is tropical and humid. Taint dragged up from the remnants of TS Ignacio. I love this weather, but it won't last long.

Note: All the pics taken today were with the new Olympus Stylus Tough 6000. Since I just got the camera as a replacement for my old Oly a few weeks ago, and the surf has been so flat, I haven't had a chance to use it a lot. After a brief screw-up with the default exposure setting on the camera, it's set-up like I'll use it. So far, not bad.

August 27, 2009 (Th)
In: 1345
Out: 1500
AT= 68.7 to 74F
WT= 57.4F
Wx: Clear and sunny with some high scattered clouds
Tide: 4.24' Rising to 4.8'
Wind: Light to light moderate from the SE and SW
Sea Surface: Glassy to light wind ripples with some rolling wind chop
10-0 Angulo EPS/Epoxy Custom SUP with Infinity Ottertail carbon fiber paddleFin set-up: Thruster with K2D2 4.75" center fin (fourth mark up from back) and RFC Speedwings
Bathymetry: Rock reefs and sand
Deep Water Swell and Wave Face Heights CDIP Archive
Buoy: NWS (Farshore*)
Time NDBC Data (approx.) CDIP Data
1300: 4.3 feet @ 12.1 NW (320 and 175) (1-3 ft. wave faces)
1400: 4.6 feet @ 10.0 NW (315 and 175) (1-3 ft. wave faces)
1500: 4.3 feet @ 16.0 S (320 and 170) (1-3 ft. wave faces)
1600: 3.9 feet @ 14.8 SSW (320 and 170) (1-3 ft. wave faces)
NOTE: None of the south swell was registering as rideable on the nearshore buoy.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

NPAC Wind Swell & Fading South

Only someone who is desperately wave deprived would have paddled out this mid-morning in the wind chopped, rip smeared close outs that were consistently drumming up against the shore. The words to that country song, "the girls all get prettier at closing time," kept circling through my brain. I surfed the GB1 for about 40 minutes, taking six waves and four wipeouts before throwing in the towel. I body surfed more successfully than board surfed.

It wasn't that there was no swell. A new wind swell with some decent numbers is starting to make landfall from the NPAC. The entire south swell event never really materialized for us anyway, so it was a complete non-starter. But today, the ever present onshore winds just blew a layer of chop on top of the lightly white capped offerings. I would either get hung up at the top and get pitched, or take off in the fat flat, only to have the wave jack up over the sandbar, and get pitched. The primary outcome of today's sesh was enjoying the opportunity to have my ass handed to me as a replacement for my head.

After the session I ran some errands and returned to the scene of the mugging to see if the perpetrator had repented. Actually she had, sorta. The winds had backed off a teeny bit, and the swell increased in size a tad. But it was still looking pretty junky. Maybe tomorrow's dawn patrol?

August 26, 2009 (W)
In: 1055
Out: 1135
AT= 56F
WT= 57.7F
Wx: Scattered low clouds with overcast burning off
Tide: 3' Rising to 3.4'
Wind: Light to semi moderate west, directly onshore
Sea Surface: Moderate wind chop with light white capping
6-0 Freeline (Mini-Simmons) Ghost Buster with twin glassed on keel fins
Bathymetry: Sand bars
Deep Water Swell and Wave Face Heights CDIP Archive
Buoy: NWS (Farshore*)
Time NDBC Data (approx.) CDIP Data
1000: 6.2 feet @ 12.9 NW (310 and 190) (2-3 ft. wave faces)
1100: 6.2 feet @ 12.9 NW (315 and 185) (2-3 ft. wave faces)
1200: 6.6 feet @ 12.9 NW (315 and 180) (2-4 ft. wave faces)
1300: 6.6 feet @ 13.8 WNW (305 and 190) (2-4 ft. wave faces)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Small Wind Swell & Very Small South

Things have been in the doldrums around here for a while. The coastal weather has been foggy and cold for the most part, with daytime temps averaging below normal for much of the last month. Adding insult to all this Summer injury, the Lockheed Fire has smoked us out like weenies in the barbecue. Then we were supposed to get some much acclaimed south swell, nada. The farshore buoy showed 6-7 ft. south swell waves at 17 seconds, but it wasn't getting in. So we've been taking our best shots with nearshore wind swell and whatever dribbles in from the south...not much.

In the last two weeks I've spent more energy walking the dog than surfing. I haven't been wanting to be outside at all, much less surf, in the smoked out conditions. So I've been on a self enforced surfing exile. I coulda road tripped, maybe I should have, there was too much other stuff going on though, so here I stayed. But today I got a few small, inconsistent lefts at the local beachie.

The surf was 2-3 ft. at best and really inconsistent. I surfed for an hour on the Ghost Buster 1. In that hour I got five waves on six sets (I missed every wave in the first set) and did a lot of sitting around. The good thing is that four out of the five lefts I got were really good rides. Fast and glassy with dredging end sections. So it wasn't all in vain. It was cold and water temps (while reputed to be at around 58F) felt more like 54. My feet were red and numb at the 45 minute mark. I guess it's back into the booties.

Looks like the NPAC is starting to wake up, we're sure not seeing anything from the south. Ghost Buster 2 will be ready sometime this week. Everybody knows that you'll surf anything when you get a new board.

August 24, 2009 (M)
In: 0815
Out: 0915
AT= 54.8F
WT= 58.6F
Wx: Marine inversion low clouds and overcast with misty drizzle
Tide: .6' Rising to 1.1'
Wind: Calm to light south easterlies
Sea Surface: Glassy with some light wind ripples and chop
6-0 Freeline (Mini-Simmons) Ghost Buster with twin glassed on keel fins
Bathymetry: Sand bars
Deep Water Swell and Wave Face Heights CDIP Archive
Buoy: NWS (Farshore*)
Time NDBC Data (approx.) CDIP Data
0700: 7.2 feet @ 7.7 NW (310 and 180) (1-3 ft. wave faces)
0800: 7.2 feet @ 9.1 NW (305 and 180) (1-3 ft. wave faces)
0900: 6.6 feet @ 7.7 NW (310 and 185) (1-3 ft. wave faces)
1000: 6.9 feet @ 8.3 NW (315 and 185) (1-3 ft. wave faces)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"Surfing In Santa Cruz" Hits Bookstores

My friend Thomas Hickenbottom co-authored the best book on surfing in Santa Cruz Cali in the early 1960's that's ever been published. I wrote a piece for the local newspaper. You can read about half of it here. (Editors....cheesh! Actually I liked some of the changes the (non-surfing) editor made. But substituting the word "gremmie" with "grommie" was ignorant beyond well, words. What a kook!)

I attended the book presentation at McPherson Center Saturday night with M, which was well attended and fun. I ran into a lot of folks I haven't seen in a while and it was good catching up. I'm glad I got my signed copies of the book early. The place was just mobbed after the first hour and up until closing.

If you're interested in the real deal, get a copy. You won't be sorry you did.

Footnote: Thomas will be signing copies of the book this evening at Bookshop Santa Cruz, so it's not too late to get your signed copy. This is a keeper that you'll be stoked to share with your little "groms." (Modern day synonym for, and translation of the 60's term, "gremmies.")

Book Review: Surfing in Santa Cruz by Thomas Hickenbottom with the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum and the Santa Cruz Surfing Club Preservation Society.

How could a surfing museum fit into a backpack? The answer is Thomas Hickenbottom’s book, Surfing In Santa Cruz. This excellent pictorial history could only come from a native son with credibility and local knowledge. The book offers the reader an ultimate insider’s look at the roots and evolution of modern day surfing in Santa Cruz.

Hickenbottom’s insightfully organized stories and pictures, impart historical facts and life to the surfing world, as it evolved from the heavy wood boards of the 1950’s and before, to the light “foamies” that emerged in the early 60’s. It is this time, this era, which has contributed everything to the current age of surfing as it is known and enjoyed in Santa Cruz and around the world today.

As a surfer, writer, and local, Hickenbottom is the “perfect storm” for creating this meticulously documented first-person retrospective on the beginnings of surfing in Santa Cruz.

Thomas started surfing in 1959, an 11 year old “gremmie” (youthful surfer). He progressed quickly, and as a member of the premier O’Neill’s Surf Team, was one of the first sponsored surfers, competing in contests up and down the coast, surfing against and beating the best surfers of those days. His meteoric surfing career was disrupted by the War in Viet Nam; but Thomas never lost his passion for surfing. In retrospect, Hickenbottom still thinks Santa Cruz surfing didn’t get the recognition it deserves, because of the geocentric nature of the Southern California surf media.In addition to his creative power on water, Thomas is a first class writer. Having earned a degree in creative writing at UCSC, he has published short stories and poetry. Following Surfing In Santa Cruz, he is ready to find a publisher for his first full-length novel about the destiny of a colorful cast of wild West Coast surfers during the turbulent 1960’s.

His knowledge of places, events and people stretches back to the early days of surfing and the first Santa Cruz Surf Club. Without his contacts, many of the stories and photos, especially from private collections, would not be available to the public.

As a title in Arcadia Publishing’s prestigious Images of America series, Surfing In Santa Cruz is a wonderfully rich collection of images and stories of what surfing in Santa Cruz was like in the early days. To have all this together in one volume, bound between the covers of this affordable book, is for surfers like finding a secret surf spot.

The author will be signing books and talking story with a literal "Who's Who" of Santa Cruz surfers on August 15th at the McPherson Center. Join seven decades of local surfers, including Gary Venturini and Danny Anderson (60's rippers), Harry Mayo, Bill Grace from the 30's/40's gang, Betty Van Dyke and Dave McGuire from the 50's, from 6P-9P as they celebrate the publication of Surfing in Santa Cruz with Thomas Hickenbottom.

Long Flat Spell

Surf's been pretty small for a while now. Major high pressure in the SPAC has blocked the formation of any big storms, only now is there something coming our way from a storm that kicked up off the Ross Ice Shelf last week.

The biggest news was the Lockheed Fire which has burned off around 7K acres of forest and wildland. Firefighters worked hard and no houses were lost. The cool weather and relatively light winds didn't hurt either. Go marine layer!

Jesus and Maria are glassing Ghostbuster 2, fins go on Friday or so, it should be out the door early next week.

I haven't done much surfing or paddling. The smoke's been pretty intense and I'm not all that excited about exercising in a 7,000 acre campfire.

Looking forward to some decent weather and a few good waves again.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


It's a good thing it's flat. Gives time for Mr. "Predator" to move on. I got chores to do anyway.

Rare? Maybe not. But the dolphins will keep us safe! Maybe not.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Combo NW Wind & Southerly Hurricane Swell

A nice combo mix of northwesterly wind swell and southerly Hurricane Felicia swell was forecast to make landfall this morning. I was thinking that the wind swell was for sure, but was more skeptical re the southerly Hurricane swell. Usually tropical swells don't make it into our swell window, but I think this one did OK. Buoys were showing a mix of NW and SW swell which made things kinda confusing, but the CDIP Nowcast maps looked good. StormSurf nailed this one right on the head too.

Woke up early, but later than I wanted. Grabbed the gear, threw the SUP on top of the car and arrived shoreside by 0620. I wanted to paddle out into the dawn patrol in a fog free sunrise. Wrong. While it was sunny at my house, ten minutes away at Sarge's, it was socked in with fog thick as an arm wrestler's wrist.

The swell was in but the tide wasn't. Walls were long and corners were few. A light wind was coming off the fog. I got cold. I went home and back to bed. An hour and a half later my wife woke me up and we took the dog for a walk down at Platty's. The sun was out, not a speck of fog in the air. Crystal clean glass walls were peeling fast down the beach in both directions. We ran into Paul who was walking his dog..."there are some nice corners out there!" Yes. They were a wee bit fast but only one guy out on one of the many peaks up and down the beach. Surf was 3-4 ft.

Now I'm chomping at the bit to get home, grab the Ghost Buster and head to the beaches. Which is what I did. When I got there the wind had come up a bit, but not enough to ruin the clean walls that were still coming in. Yeah, there were a few people, but enough peaks were working that the crowd was pretty broken up. Waves were very consistent, waist to chest and enough good sliders on the lefts and rights to keep everyone happy. An even mix of long and shortboarders. One SUP guy.

I surfed for an hour before conditions worsened with a building (but not bad at all) onshore wind and several rips chopping up the sea surface. Surfed leash less and almost looked forward to losing my board so I could body surf in and paddle back out. What a great workout.

I started out in front of the life guard tower and surfed up the beach a quarter mile, picking various peaks as the current pulled me along. The tower peak was bigger and an easier paddle back out. The final peak I surfed was smaller, but the sand bar was more built up farther out, so there was a lot more white water to paddle through.

Weather is superb with a heat spell goin' on, and water temps are finally climbing back up. I hope we get more of this all week.
August 9, 2009 (Su)
In: 1125
Out: 1235
AT= 67.2F
WT= 59F
Wx: Sunny and warm
Tide: 3.8' Rising to 4.3'
Wind: Calm to light southeasterlies
Sea Surface: Glassy with some wind and rip chop later
6-0 Freeline (Mini-Simmons) Ghost Buster with twin glassed on keel fins
Bathymetry: Sand bars
Deep Water Swell and Wave Face Heights CDIP Archive
Buoy: NWS (Farshore*)
Time NDBC Data (approx.) CDIP Data
1000: 7.2 feet @ 9.1 NW (315 and 210) (2-4 ft. wave faces)
1100: 7.2 feet @ 8.3 NW (310 and 200) (2-4 ft. wave faces)
1200: 7.5 feet @ 9.1 NW (320 and 200) (2-4 ft. wave faces)
1300: 5.6 feet @ 9.1 NW (315 and 195) (2-4 ft. wave faces)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Like Yesterday But Smaller

The swell is backing down slowly, putting up 1-3 ft. faces with long waits in between sets. There weren't as many waves per set, the standout waves were only going chest high and there were very few of those.

I paddled the SUP out at 0611 for a two hour session. Stroked over to Yellow House and stayed there the whole time except for a brief foray into one of the inside reefs. Jamie was on it in the dark, surfing Sarges. I was alone over at YH until Greg joined me at about the 30 minute mark, followed by Priscilla and Patrick.

Greg got the wave of the day, and that was it, there was only one, but he got a good ride out of it. I was hoping for a sunny sunrise, but no luck. Over three weeks now without a clear sky sunrise. Well like Greg said, Fall is coming.
August 5, 2009 (W)
In: 0611
Out: 0811
AT= 55.1-56.8F
WT= 56.3F
Wx: Marine inversion layer overcast
Tide: 0.0' Rising to 1.5'
Wind: Light to light moderate from the SE
Sea Surface: Glassy to light wind ripples
10-0 Angulo EPS/Epoxy Custom SUP with Infinity Ottertail carbon fiber paddleFin set-up: Thruster with K2D2 4.75" center fin (fourth mark up from back) and RFC Speedwings
Bathymetry: Rock reefs and sand
Deep Water Swell and Wave Face Heights CDIP Archive
Buoy: NWS (Farshore*)
Time NDBC Data (approx.) CDIP Data
0500: 3.3 feet @ 14.8 SSW (no data) (no data)
0600: 3.3 feet @ 14.8 SSW (320 and 220) (1-3 ft. wave faces)
0700: 3.3 feet @ 14.8 SSW (325 and 205) (1-3 ft. wave faces)
0800: 3.3 feet @ 14.8 SW (325 and 215) (1-3 ft. wave faces)
0900: 3.3 feet @ 14.8 SW (335 and 210) (1-3 ft. wave faces)
1000: 3.3 feet @ 14.8 SW (325 and 210) (1-3 ft. wave faces)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Inconsistent 15 Second SW Swell at 2-4 Ft.

Paddled the Ghost Buster out to Sarge's hoping for a few small ones in the new south swell. No one was out. Wind was calm, skies overcast and the water even kinda warm. The waits were long and the waves walled and pretty weak.

After a while I paddled down to GDubs where it was much more crowded. Again, the waits were long but the sets were cleaner and there was a bit more size to the wave faces. Sectiony and wally waves prevailed but periodically there'd be a nice slider. Scimi's once again looked best but I opted to stay put.

After one longish ride I saw a clean empty set roll through Barry's Reef so I paddled over and took a few. Got one nice wall with a little run to it ending with a fun schwak off the lip. But BR's was really inconsistent so I headed back over the GDubs for a few small insiders before paddling back to Sarge's and ending the two hour session.
August 3, 2009 (Tu)
In: 0825
Out: 1025
AT= 59.3F to 61.7F
WT= 55.8F to 56.5F
Wx: Marine inversion overcast, clearing to partly cloudy and sunny
Tide: 2.6' Rising to 4.0'
Wind: Calm to light southwesterlies
Sea Surface: Glassy with some backwash bump at the higher tide
6-0 Freeline (Mini-Simmons) Ghost Buster with twin glassed on keel fins
Bathymetry: Rock reefs
Deep Water Swell and Wave Face Heights CDIP Archive
Buoy: NWS (Farshore*)
Time NDBC Data (approx.) CDIP Data
0700: 1.3 feet @ 15.4 SW (320 and 215) (2-4 ft. wave faces)
0800: 1.3 feet @ 16.7 SW (325 and 210) (2-4 ft. wave faces)
0900: 1.6 feet @ 15.4 SW (315 and 185) (2-4 ft. wave faces)
1000: 1.6 feet @ 15.4 SW (315 and 210) (2-4 ft. wave faces)
1.6 feet @ 15.4 SW (320 and 220) (2-4 ft. wave faces)