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

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Beach Break Under Ever-Gray Skies

The long lived low pressure trough that has taken up seemingly permanent residence over NorCal is showing no signs of going away soon. July has seen one clear sunrise this year. All the rest have been under overcast skies and/or in fog. Permutations of this dismal event include various low pressure troughs that break off forming the dreaded "cutoff low," sitting just off the coast and swirling up southerly, onshore winds from the earliest hours, until the more virulent southwesterly onshores take over for the rest of the day. So, even if the surf was booming, conditions have taken a dump.

The lack of swell make times like these moot for wave forecasting. The dependability of any kind of buoy data is neutered by the capricious nature of an unfavorable weather pattern. As Jerry Lopez says, "surf is where you find it," if you find it that is. I found some yesterday while walking the dog, but yesterday was different from today. Same pattern, just worse. So instead of bemoaning the feckless nature of it all, I went surfing.

Yesterday found me at the turnaround point of my soft sand jog staring at one lone longboarder taking down wave after thigh high wave on nicely glassed off, walled sandbar birthed left-handers. The small and not powerful waves could be easily chased down on his tanker. A quick spin from the tail, two-strokes in and he would be dancing down the line and into the shore break. Even at 10:30AM the wind was light and the sea surface barely rippled. It looked fun.

So I tried it myself today. I was in the water on my new 7-6 GB, paddling out at 0900. Wave size looked to be almost a carbon copy of yesterday, but of course the conditions has taken a much bigger dump, with the marine layer deepening and the onshore flow strengthened. From the start, a moderate southeast wind put chop across the surface and the waves were crumbly. Granted, some sections were steep and hollow for an instant, and the rides were acceptably long for such weak surf and poor conditions. The new board worked superbly. I had no idea it would surf this well in small, relatively gutless surf. This was summer longboard stuff, grab your wide fat fish/mini-Simmons stuff, but the 7-6 Ghostbuster was bringing it's "A-game". If it works this well in junk, what will it do in good surf? To be determined.

I surfed leashless in the nearshore breakers. The sand apron leading into the water was smooth and rock free, or so I thought. After the session I found a scratch perpendicular to the stringer up near the nose. First ding. Only the third session surfed. I guess they all ding up sooner or later. I would have preferred later.

I surfed alone for almost an hour, taking down 8-10 waves in the first thirty minutes when things slowed for the second half hour. Then Buck paddled out. He was the lone longboarder surfing yesterday who was having so much fun. Turns out he's a professional meteorologist, working for the U.S. Navy. Since we're all amateur weather forecasters, our conversation was most interesting. And he confirmed what I've thought for a while. Wave Watch III is the wave model that all commercial forecast sites use. What differs is the package.

We surfed and chatted for another 45 minutes, mostly chatting on my part. As soon as I take my focus off surfing by socializing, the surfing goes right out the window. More chat, less surf, less chat, more surf, etc.

Unless it goes flat, I think I'll try my luck again tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. GW's was kelp groomed glass, despite the breeze that kept things chilly. A few of the better sets had some speed...wouldn't have stayed out as long as I did were it not so much fun.