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

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Three End of July Entries

Tuesday July 27, 2010 - Surprised by the Sun and a Few Waves

I guess a four board quiver (two SUPs and two surfboards) isn't enough. So now I'm in research mode for a summer, beach break longboard...sort of, I mean, sort of a longboard. OK then, say it like it is, my name is Gary and I'm a boardaholic.

So after checking out a used longboard on Craig's List at a local surfboard factory, I was heading home through one of the tourist towns, noting how nice the afternoon had become. It was hot and sunny, a rare occurrence in these parts this Summer. Dare I even call it Summer? Just outside the kelp line and into the bay the wind wasn't really blowing all that much. So I drove home, grabbed my 10-0 Angulo SUP and beat feet back to China Beach for the launch and upwind paddle to the aforementioned tourist town.

By now the wind was up a bit and it was a full on paddle into the headwind and my destination about 4/5's of a mile away. Paddling directly into the wind was a futile affair, so I tacked left and right. 25 minutes later I was floating in what would have to be the line-up with two young guys, absolute beginners both, on soft longboards. What little teeny peelers were coming through were reeling off about three feet from the rock ledge that looks up at the cliffs above. Is that makeable? Why not? So I started wide, in shallower water and rode these little offerings one after the other. This is one of the things SUPs are so great for, ride the little waves no one else can (or wants to) ride.

About fifteen minutes into the session, these bigger peaks started drifting across the outside reef, putting up honest-to-God decent take-offs and rideable walls. Sun and surf, what a great surprise! As the surf got better, logically I guess, the crowd got bigger. After 45 minutes there were six SUPs and six surfboarders trying to surf not that many waves in a small area. My last wave almost resulted in several collisions and fin gashed groms sitting way inside so after I successfully negotiated that chaos I called it a day.

What took 25 minutes to get to in a head wind, took 10 minutes to do with a tail wind. Gotta love it.

Thursday July 29, 2010 - Gray Overcast with Drizzle at the Beach Break

Each day's morning weather has been remarkably the same. The only thing the NWS is seeing in the way of change is "persistence," which means that everything is going to stay the same. It is a given that each morning will be overcast. The variations of overcast are: overcast with drizzle; overcast with fog; and overcast with fog and drizzle. With an upper level low pressure trough parked over all of NorCal and most of the rest of the state too, the wind is almost always onshore. Variations of onshore are: light onshore; moderate onshore; and brisk onshore. This morning was no different.

Eric let me borrow his Bob Miller 9-2 so I could research various aspects of board design. We met at VPA's early, and determined that the tide was too low. So we headed to Manny's and determined that the wind and swell pretty much sucked. So Eric went to work and I went back to VPA's to wait on the tide a bit. After a while, I said screw it, I'm going surfing and I did.

This is all beach break, and it's remarkable for this time of year, that there are any sandbars left for this stretch of beach. But periodically there's a nice little left that is rideable, albeit the rides are short. The bonuses this morning. No one out but me. A nine dolphin pod that swam right through me and the line-up. Onshore winds that came up early and then calmed. Water temp at 59 degrees (Yee-haw, it's like a frickin' hot tub in here!). Inconsistent but not too, knee/waist high runners.

Eric's board is really more of a performance board and I'm looking for a noserider so me putting in the pivot fin, when he uses the board with a 2+1 set-up, was kinda counterproductive. It didn't turn worth a damn, and the big fin didn't help with the noseriding much. Live and learn.

Next time I'll put the Mikey DeTemple fin in and see how that one does.

Saturday July 31, 2010 - North Coast Change of Pace

Andy had a golf tournament over the hill early this afternoon so we had to get going early, and he needed to stay on his side of town. I headed to his house through no crosstown traffic (the first bonus of the day) and banged on his door at 0615. He was taking a crap. (The first bonus of his day?)

From his house to the Grove is a short, pleasant walk, even while carrying our Angulo 10-0 Custom SUPs. We banked down the sand dunes, warmed up and were paddling upcoast by ten til seven, heading to Mayans. We counted on a fifteen minute paddle as we moved down along the long rock reef ledges and around the first point, through the thick patches of kelp floating like islands in the clear, cold water. It didn't take long to pass the last signs of civilization, and although we weren't very far from town, the rough and rugged coastline makes you feel like you're in the wilderness. Which, when you think about it, you are. I figure that anytime you venture into the food chain and you're not very high up it, you're definitely in the wild.

Andy started coming to this place last year and I've been meaning to join him for about that long. Today was a good day to do it because even though the swell was small, there was enough juice in it to show on the north coast. Just about everything is bigger up here. Bigger cliffs, bigger sea lions, bigger whites.

We nosed around for a bit, looking for the best of several peaks that were breaking along this particular stretch of sheer cliffs and small pocket beaches. We finally settled on one that had a rideable shoulder that half the time would form a small saddle at the end of the ride, giving you an out before the last unmakeable section; and the rest of the time would just go square in about 12 inches of water. It wasn't a long ride, but it was fun and fairly consistent. We were the only two guys surfing while lot's of fisherpeople in boats were lying just off the kelp beds trying their luck. Four guys on paddleboards in two groups of two glided by outside in the rolling, gray seas.

The sea surface was generally rolly in the line-up too. We bobbed around, riding up and over numerous windswell bumps, paddling back and forth chasing down the capricious little peak that didn't want to stay in one place. More than once each of us got pitched off our boards by backwash from the cliffs, or side swell from some nonconforming, incoming wind wave as we paddled full speed to pick up a diagonally moving peak. But all in all we caught a lot of good ones, taking down our fair share in the fun and fast sections over the shallow, grass covered rocks on the inside.

The paddle back was punctuated by a few larger waves that were inhabiting formerly waveless expanses on the reef during our paddle up. So we headed out to sea and paddled just inside the kelp beds so we wouldn't get inadvertently beat down by some mutant rogue. SUPs is so much the call for places like Mayans. There's no driving in here, and walking in takes more effort than most people are willing to make for the quality of waves we encountered. But on a SUP this was no big deal. The paddle in, is a big part of the fun.

I don't think Mayans can hold much of a swell. It would probably be pretty rude in a real swell that's packing some punch and size. Shape would disintegrate and in a higher tide so would any surfers board that was unlucky enough to wash into the cliffs. But for today, and our typical summer surf, this was a score.


  1. Gary,

    You've got what it takes to fashion a killer "surf journal" book. Love to see you use your superb communication skills, superior, seasoned Stoke and people person skills to get your cerebral cortex OUT THERE mobetta. You are the King./Herby

  2. We'll write one together called "The New Stoke," about the higher consciousness of accepting all wave riders in the line-up, regardless of surf craft. (We know the Fast Pencil publisher already.) In unity we will explore the efficacy and right living of loving one another. Your wave! No, your wave! No, no, your wave!

  3. In my book, a good surf session always starts the same way...

    Fun surfing with you this weekend, South is still working a bit, and I scored a super fun late session at the Lane. Light crowd, clean conditions and plenty of fun waves.

    As far as the book goes, Herby's got it right. When does it go to press?