Wednesday, March 24, 2010
I was surprised that the WSW swell which was working all long the coastline south of us, was actually nudging into the bight. There was enough energy to push in 2-4 ft. waves along the lower reefs, much bigger of course further West along the bay shore.
In order to take advantage of the necessary lower tide, I paddled out at 12:30PM, even though I knew the winds (which had been a lot like Spring these last couple days) were going to be blowing harder than normal out of the southwest. I hoped they wouldn't get too strong. But just because you hope for something, doesn't necessarily mean it's going to happen.
Six to eight wave sets were coming in consistently about every 20 minutes which is just about right for a southerly swell. But in between were some fun, smaller WNW wind swell waves. I surfed my favorite spots from YH, hitting all the reefs to the east. Because of the southerly swell direction, the lines were sectioning periodically along the reef. So instead of one long continuous 300-500 yard ride, you could get (if you timed it right) four or five 100 yard rides. The idea was to take the first or second wave in each south swell set, kick out at the next peak down, then take the third or fourth wave from your new takeoff spot, kick out at the next peak down, etc. etc. That worked pretty well and I was fortunate to pick up four or five nice combinations that way.
About an hour into the session the wind really started to pick up out of the SW. After a set of good rides the paddle out the back was directly into an 8-12 mph headwind, which increased into the afternoon. Finally I had to get out to make a dentist's appointment (what a bring down...from surfing to the dentist's chair), so I started the paddle back to the takeout. The combination of being pretty tired from a lot of paddling and the growing wind velocity, now blowing 12-19 mph, necessitated my tucking the paddle under my chest, and prone paddling back to the takeout. It was futile to try standing up and paddling into that wind. Paddling as hard as I could was keeping me stationary at best. That is one of the big downsides of SUP surfing, but then on the upside, you can always revert to prone paddling. Works for me!
In spite of the heavy down coast winds, the water temp has managed to stay consistent with the Winter temp of 54-55 degrees. This is warmer than last year, but much cooler than some, and not like a true El Nino year. If we get a more "normal" Spring, with lots of upwelling caused by the heavier Spring winds, I hope we won't see near as many dead baby sea lions this year as last. That was pretty sad.