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

Thursday, October 14, 2010

South Swell Pokes In

Thursday October 14, 2010

I didn't think we would see any of this south swell. Nothing much was right about it. It was inconsistent, birthed from a series of weak storms in the southern pacific, coming in at too steep a swell angle, and best of all...the commercial forecasters weren't really touting it as anything much. But when I picked it up this morning, first on the nearshore buoy, and then on the tourist town's smudged and spider web shrouded surf cam, I thought it was worth checking out. Glad I did.

I haven't been out for a week having endured a major muscle spasm last week doing what? Trimming my toenails. I kid you not...trimming the nails. There are just certain positions that my stenotic arthritic back won't do, apparently the posture I used to trim is one of them. It was one of those T-12 lower thoracic spasms that feels like an earthquake and you just have to wait it out, hoping it ends soon. Then when it's over you just say to yourself, "that was a bad one." This one was the kind where you can't stand up straight. You're bent over like the stereotypical cartoons you see of a little old man hobbling down the street, hunched over his cane.

I tend to treat muscle spasms with ice and gentle stretching but I did too much. I underestimated the severity of the injury and therefore made it worse. Two days later I was on the doc's exam table getting a prescription for muscle relaxers and in "take it easy" mode. But that did the trick, a couple days rest, and back on the the ibuprofen trail along with working my way gently into my stretching and strengthening routine. So by today, eight days after the injury, I was ready to go.

Fall is the time of readjusting our tide patterns from low in the morning to high in the morning and so forth. Usually a dawn patrol surfer, I've learned to enjoy sleeping in a bit, and then catching the mid-morning low tide, which usually isn't all that low. But on the positive side, with low tides in the 2.5 to 3 foot range, the kelp issue isn't as severe. Granted, it takes a better swell to show at the higher tides, but you know you take the bad with the good.

I paddled out on the L41 8-0 SIMSUP, heading across the backwash from the point at Sarges, enroute to GDubs and some nice looking sets peeling in over the reef. You couldn't ask for a more beautiful Fall day. Only ten surfers out, all longboarders having a great time in the 2-3 ft., clean and glassy waves. As per usual I hid out off to the side, taking the swing wides that were dealing out unmakeable sections for the folks sitting on the main peak. The SIMSUP does it all in surf this size so I could grovel for the smallest waves on the inside, or paddle hard out the back and pick off the set waves if they were lined up well for my position. While the south wasn't super consistent, it put up a lot of waves and there may even have been some WNW wind swell waves in the mix. But from the way the waves were moving in and over the reef, the beef was all south.

Barry joined me after a while and we rode quite a few off to the side. Then the main peak emptied and I took a few from there. But it was just about that time that a gusty southwest wind blew up and cranked hard enough to make stand up paddling a chore. Not impossible, but a chore. I took a few more and was blown back down coast to Sarges where Sam was surfing. I haven't seen Sam in a couple months so we blabbed and surfed together for another half hour before taking a windy, bumpy couple of waves into the pocket beach. Once in we talked Tahitian stroke, new boards (Andy loaned Sam one of the new 9-0 Angulos which he's diggin'), shoulder injuries, otter tail paddles and the political/domestic necessity of blaming me for all this SUP madness. I've got big shoulders, lay it on me.

Steve and MikeyB hustled down the stairs with their longboards, heading for a lunchtime session at Sarges and for whatever reasons the wind calmed. Sam had to go and I thought "shoots" I might as well paddle back out and surf with those guys for a while. The wind died down but the tide was pushing a lot of water through so it was fat and bumpy. It didn't take long for the "southerly surge" as the NWS likes to call it, to carry in a dense fog bank which eventually penetrated deep into the landmass, especially for Fall. The wind kicked back up, vis went down to nothing and I was done.

But overall it was a great "tweener," that was both uncrowded and fun.

Postscript: On Friday and Saturday we experienced a Summer Redux, or should I say the "Season That Ate Our Summer" all over again. Friday was gray and overcast but the south swell was still showing, and putting up some fun waves according to Ron who grabbed some fun chest/head high peelers on the L41 8-2 bat tail SUP. Saturday morning was overcast and gloomy, and the south swell wasn't even showing on the local buoys. But the southern buoys are still spiking a southerly swell periodically, even though the swell angle is mighty steep to be getting into our local breaks. But who knows, maybe we'll get a little jump up later today or tomorrow?


  1. Sorry to hear your back has been flarin' up (no fun). A buddy just called to say the north coast is pickin' up today's swell.

  2. Yup, surfed 2nd Bowl between 8/10 Thurs. AM too--surprisingly fun!

  3. Hi, i loved your board!
    Now I am going to inspire miself on it for my self made sup. Are the templates you posted the right ones?If yes i could use them as a starting point. I plan to change a bit the tail width making it slightly narrower. Have you seen the new board from Rusty, it is called the dwart, also the new dumpster diver from Channel islands(interesting boards for summer waves) and my idea is to make a sup fusion of a mini simmons and a dwart or something like that. In 8 foot x 30inches and 4 1/4. Let´s see what i can do. I am expecting to get 120liters.
    Regards and thanks for the great blog, entertaining and inspiring.
    Carlos from Spain.