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

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Two Wind Swell Sessions In Between The Rain

Monday, December 27, 2010
Today was all about homecoming. All it took was a small northwest wind swell in decent conditions and everyone showed up. It was no surprise. For over a week we’ve been gripped by back to back weather systems which have brought rain and unfavorable nearshore winds to the reefs and beaches. Today’s 10 ft. at 12 second nearshore wind swell was messy and nothin’ to write home about, but it was ten times better than what we’ve been getting in town recently.

I ran into so many friends it took 20 minutes just to get from the street to the beach. Priscilla, Michael and Joanna were at the gate, along with J’s dog Riley. Jo had her new board which is a mini-Simmons so we had to talk and eyeball the new ride for a while. Ron was heading down to the shore with his 10 ft.
SUP and John and Sean were coming up the trail. Tim was on the landing giving it one last look after his dawn patrol session with the usual suspects.

It was shift change when I paddled out through Sarges which was a lot less crowded than an hour ago, making for Middles which only had two SUP guys on it and looked OK. The swell was soft and lacked energy, but the 2-4 ft. peelers put up an occasional fast section over the inside reef and was a whole lot better than nuthin’. Ron and I surfed there for about a half hour and a few others SUP
surfers paddled out, one of whom was Steve, who’s been riding the beaches a lot lately. Haven’t we all!

I lasted almost two hours before it just got too inconsistent and small to be all that much fun anymore. The sun was out, the surf was up and it looked like Boreal on a Saturday afternoon. Which made not good enough for the amount of people who were now jockeying for waves. Time to call it a day. It was good to get some while the gettin’ was good. Tomorrow it rains.

Wednesday December 29, 2010
If half of life is all about showing up, the other half is about showing up at the right place and at the right time. This happened today.

Yesterday’s 1.88” of rain (at my house) put us almost five inches ahead of this same time last year for total rainfall. They say the snow pack is at about 150% of average. La Nina is supposed to be mild and dry. Not necessarily. My take is that La Nina can also mean no really big storms can get going in the cold water. It doesn’t mean there won’t be a whole lot of little storms. And that’s what we’ve been having.

But today it started to dry out, putting up occasional showers before the sun came out steady about mid-afternoon. I was standing on the cliff at the lookout in one of those little showers getting soaked and trying to decide whether it was worth paddling out. Yeah, there was a little nearshore swell in the
water, mostly blown up by the northwest winds which were spinning up as the low pressure system exited our area. Not a lot of guys out, seven. Not bad really. The weather was probably keeping people away and no commercial websites were pimping the swell. But it was inconsistent. I wavered, but didn’t really want to go back home empty handed. Then a sweet looking six wave set came through that lined up nicely along the low tide reef. That was enough to make me head for Sarges and the Yellow House.

The wind wasn’t bad but it was up with occasional strong gusts. On a SUP,
surfing in windy conditions makes for a lot of extra effort, but I’ll take that any day if it’s low tide, 3-5 ft. and the howling offshores are making the waves stand up for two to three hundred yard rides down the line over the kelpy reefs.

I paddled out at 12:45, almost dead low tide, heading for Yellow House. I surfed there for forty-five minutes. The place was a shadow of it’s usual self. No sand, not big enough, lot’s of kelp. But zero guys out and still seven at Sarges which looked much better but still was inconsistent. YH wasn’t even breaking off the point. The best
waves were in the middle of the little pocket beach bay and while there were a few fun rides on offer there, it didn’t take much incoming tide to swamp it. I’d been keeping my eye on Sarges and when it got down to four guys, I headed over.

My first ride there was a swing wide that put up a nice peak right off the cement wall. The wave had a long wall and nice shape, giving up some nice corners in past John’s buoy and then beyond. As per usual, the smaller waves faded away in the deeper water. By now the wind had come up a lot. According to the personal weather station
nearby, wind was mostly steady out of the west northwest at 4-8 mph but gusting regularly from 9-18 mph offshore. I spend a lot of time knee paddling unless I was paddling out the back and therefore downwind. For over an hour it was either me, Teak, Eric and Dave, or me, Eric and Dave, or just Dave and me. We got lucky on the incoming tide which sent us several back to back 5-6 wave sets which were the biggest waves of the session. Rides were long and fun. Lots of climbing and dropping, turnbacks and bottom turns in the peeling racy walls who's tops were feathering off in long streamers by the screaming winds. It was definitely classic. It just doesn’t happen this way very often. We all felt blessed, and we all know how fortunate we were.

After two hours of almost non-stop paddling or surfing I was spent. Right place, right time, right on!


  1. Looks fun, hope there's some left by the time I can shake loose and get out there...

  2. If not today then another day fer sure.

  3. That was a fun session on Monday. I watched yesterday, but was concerned about the bacteria count. I shouldn't have looked at the river (chocolate rapids)...

  4. I hear ya. It was pretty chocolatey on Wednesday but as we know...better to be on it than in it.