Entry: Monday May 2, 2011
Location: NB to the L41 and Back
Swell: 2.3 at 12.9 NW (46042) 2.0 at 12.5 WNW (46236)
Conditions: Clear and sunny with light ruffles, glassy in the kelp
Tide: 3.8 falling to 3.5 ft.
I love the first full blown days of Spring when the sun shines without blemish, the sky is crystal deep blue and the wind takes it's own Spring Break. There is so much promise in time like this for a future Summer of warm days and "warm" water. (Sixty degree water would be a veritable hot springs.)
For all surfers and especially for SUP surfers and practitioners, it's time for surfing to take a (partial) back seat to the expanded opportunities and joys that stand up paddleboarding has to offer. When there is no surf, there is an entire ocean coastline to explore, there are productive and meaningful paddle races to seek out where all level of ability and contestants can be found from the laid back prosaic to the rabid professionals and recreational cruisers. It is a time to get excited about the newness of it all. The new season, the new conditions and the new experiences and adventures that are now hidden but waiting to be found. I can hardly wait to seek, enjoy and savor the coming days. (But please, please, please, please, please...not so much fog this year!)
Something even newer than a fresh Summer season may be in the making as I wonder about expanding my SUP practice from only surfing to distance paddling, touring, downwinders and maybe even a race or two. I have to blame Andy and Sam for this. They both expanded their horizons gradually during the last several seasons. Andy by nature is a pretty competitive guy so after a couple races on his SUP surfboard where he got left in the dust I think his competitive spirit as well as his keen mind started, well, racing. He tested a few race boards before settling on a Bark Dominator which he got from Sam who seems to be the more fanatic of the duo. Sam travels the state, racing from Santa Barbara to Tahoe and has evolved and fine tuned his taste into his second custom Bark Dominator. But lucky for me these guys are friends and a veritable treasure chest of information on what's happening with the scene and the boards.
We're gonna paddle this Saturday, Andy and Sam on their own boards, and I'm renting a Bark Competitor (Tuflite) from Covewater. It should be a fun paddle and interesting to swap boards around for comparison. This is a pricey endeavor though, so I am cogitating on finances to see how I can make this all happen. I'm not going to be surprised if I end up with no conventional surfboards and a full SUP quiver that includes a SUP shortboard (8-0 L41 SIMSUP2), SUP all-arounder (10-0 Angulo Custom), SUP distance/race board (to be determined) and a SUP noserider (oh, did I forget to mention that?). That's another project in the works with L41 maestro Kirk. The ultimate SUP noserider aka "Tip Time SUP." Stay tuned.
I launched at NB's heading upcoast for what was supposed to be a "fitness" paddle. What that means is that I just try to keep going at a steady cadence. But as per usual, sight-seeing, all the interesting stuff one encounters on the sea surface, and friends foiled "the plan".
I had numerous sea life sightings and in addition to the usual suspects like seals and sea otters, herons and sea gulls, I had my first glimpse of a bat ray this season, a leopard shark and a beautiful and delicate jelly coasting through the kelp beds.
There were a lot of paddlers out today, and as I neared the L41, I saw someone floating in the big kelp bed off Sarge's. It was Joe whom I haven't seen in quite a while. We worked together at the Fire Department for many years. I hailed him and paddled out for the first major diversion of the session. We paddled up to the lower L41, watched a few waves, chatting all the way before oaring our way out into the kelp beds further offshore and then letting the gentle southwest wind blow us back down coast to wherever it would take us. Standing on water, our eyes and sense being drawn into the pale green pastel depths, we let ourselves be amazed at the vertiginous canyons descending between the kelp islands. After a while Joe's friend arrived on scene so we just all sat down on our boards, hanging on to the kelp and solved the problems of the world. It didn't take long. SUP more, stress less. Done!
After 45 minutes of this leisurely enjoyment I bid them a good day and headed back down to NB's and the take out. It never ceases to amaze me how you can go up coast and down coast in a headwind. Time it just right, and that's what you get. But both ways the winds were light, adding just that teeny bit extra resistance that makes you stronger in the long run.
It's gonna be a good Summer.