Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Semi Secret Spots

We all have them.  Everyone else knows about the good spots.  Right?  Where I grew up surfing, everyone knew that the Ogunquit Rivermouth was the place to be.  With its near perfect rights coming off the rock point and hitting the sandbars that made up the submerged rivers banks.  Rights would roll for a hundred yards or more.  But what about Firehouse?  Or Outsides?  Or Insides, even?  It seemed like almost no one knew about these spots, or surfed them.

Just an empty line up at a scary ledge.  When this wave hits you, it feels like you've been slapped by a 2x4.

I'm sure everyone here has heard of Steamer Lane and Mavericks.  Sure, because those are the best waves around.  Or at least the most famous.  But this coast is littered with great waves between the Golden Gate and Big Sur.  Sure, spots like Steamers has consistency on its side.  And Mav's, well, it has girth.  But we have submerged points that grind forever.  Ledges that make you think twice before every drop in.  Coves that turn tiny swell into head high wedges.  Reefs that peel from a perfect A-frame.  And many of these spots remain empty.  Perhaps because you can't see them from the road.  Or are just a bit off the beaten path.  They may require a bit of a hike to get to.  A cliff to down climb.  And many of them are frequented by the landlord.  But for what ever reason, you can still score empty waves in a land where the surfers seem to seep out of the wood work every time a decent swell rolls into town.

Monday, November 21, 2011

On Thanksgiving swells and a La Nina November.

November tends to be a good time of year in these parts.  One can usually rely on a steady stream of moderate swells and pristine conditions.  Off shore winds grooming swells arriving from the dateline and Gulf of Alaska.  Picture perfect points, squared up reefs and ledgy pits.  Or, you can end up with the typical La Nina early season almost swells.  We have had more of the latter this November.  Smaller swells that dribble around the corner into town, or twisted and mean swirling action on the open coast.  We have even had a number of south wind days.  Of course, when the Rip Curl was up in the city, we actually had a few days of really good waves.

When Kelly was (sort of) taking #11 at OB, the Lane was looking like this.

This little longboard indicator section was going forever, right along the cliff.

Lots of twisting, popping and spinning.  This guy rotated out of this.

Paddling through the Slot.

Small, but fun waves with not too many folks out.  Guess everyone was up or down the coast.

November was not flat.  It was not like a meager summer month.  There were plenty of swells in the chest to head high range and mid periods of 12-14 seconds.  But this is autumn.  We want deep water breaks to come alive, and allow us to practice our skills a bit before those 15@20 monsters begin to hit the coast.  Remember last January, right?  Usually, by now, I've taken my 7'6" out at least once.  This year, she still has a layer of summer dust on her.  Oh, well.  Guess we can just have some fun on the short boards.

When it is small, it tends to be playful.  Making the most of this little gem.

Sometimes it is just fun to take out the log, lean back and wait.

Others choose to go for a long paddle.

Another spinner.  And he also landed it, if I remember right.

Working to make a little speed.

So what about a Thanksgiving swell?  Almost every season, we are blessed with a swell for the holiday.  Often it is right on Thursday.  Other times we need to wait to later in the weekend.  One year I recall Sloat with 10 foot walls.  Another, Swift, even bigger.  It is not looking huge at this point, but we have a pretty nice fetch lined up from the Aleutians to right off our coast.  If the next storm plays out rigth, we could be talking about a few ten footers.  Maybe in town even.  Got to love how that works out.  Go out and play while every one else is getting drunk watching football and loading up on turkey and pumpkin pie.  Of course, every surfer I know plans to get out and have a few waves.







Even when it is small out there, and sometimes especially when it is small, certain places deliver.  That certain sandbar just up the beach a ways.  The little corner of that cove no one seems to care for.  That rock pile just past the supposed good spot.  That ledge at the bottom of a crumbling cliff.  That reef a few hundred yards further north than the main one.  And spots like the Lane that can pull in a bunch of energy to make something happen.



I love how you can just barely see this thing bowling up.

Throwing the tail up, out and around is always a blast.

So if you plan to be in town, or some where along the coast, you may want to take a little time off from the family and paddle out.  Or bring the whole family out to the line up.  Thursday could be a bit rainy, with a storm driving through Santa Cruz.  While the new swell will get here late Wednesday night, with a fetch this long and broad, we should have waves lasting through the weekend.  And with this storm system moving fast, the SW demon winds will be short.  We may even luck into some easterly flow by Friday.  Or you could go over the hill, head to the mall and shop like a good American.

Getting up on that lip.

These two probably surf better than you.

Finding a little bit of the green room

Classic off the lip.

Regardless, there is another shift in the weather pattern happening.  We should be quite a bit less wet through the first half of December.  And if a few good sized systems could just steam roll across the northern Pacific, we would be game on.  We are moving into that time of year, that often, as long as the local weather cooperates, we can get swell daily.  Here to is a good finish to the month, and good start to the next.

Total glare fest, but I like his shadow in the foam.

This section can often offer up pain or pleasure.

All 85 pounds, driving hard, down the line.  She took it to the stairs.

Slower shutter fuzz.

Whatever you do, at least get down to the water and relax a bit.