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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April Wrap-Up

Absolutely awful. Two sessions. A real letdown. What a waste of gas. Oof.

4.24.13 Swept Along by the Current in Oceanside

Well, I did it again.

I let the surf forecast pundits, the so-called experts, get me excited for the day's conditions.

Because of the devil south wind and the wave-smothering rising tide, I had to get out there early.

I have a theory about south winds being worse than onshore winds.  Onshore winds' damage to waves can be minimized by the surface-smoothing kelp beds, if  a spot has them.  Swami's is an excellent example of this.

Unless you're surfing a spot with a favorable headland set-up (Scripps is an example) south winds will destroy the sea surface.

We are in Spring, season of south winds.

The scuba flag was pointing in a side onshore direction, so it wasn't all  that bad.  Once I spotted the waves, I was pleased to see only slight shape deterioration.  I parked The Rad in the free lot, suited up and made my way to the beach.

There was not much out there.  Sure, there were some rare head-high sets, but the vast majority of them would close out.  All of them seemed to section within five or six seconds of first foaming.

I walked farther south as I continued to scan the wavescape.  I noticed a sizable contingent of spongers out.  Many more than usual.  Was there an invisible blackball in effect? Had there been a virus that had wiped out stand-uppers, with just me and a few of my brethren left to regenerate our species (not sure how that would work as I saw only dudes)?

I paddled, after a ten-minute walk out, in search of answers.  I got my first wave pretty quickly.  I was hanging out on the inside after pulling back from both waves of a set.  A bump came, and I whirled for it.  I got a pump on it, then realized it was hollowing out a bit on the inside.  The wave did throw out, but not enough to allow me into the part after which I lusted most.  I received a cruel slap to the temple for my efforts.

My next wave arrived ten minutes later, and it was a right.  I dropped in and noticed the wave immediately chubbed.  I did a weak cutty, recovered and had no choice but to fade off the back.

I was getting in a sort of Bermuda Triangle of waves.  None seemed to break and I was heading towards the pier on the current, where there was nothing much better.

I decided to go in and hoof it back south.  On my way to The Strand, the beachfront street, I found an almost empty tin container of Mexican candy someone had left.  I picked it up.  I noticed a cigarette butt, then another, then another.  I started piling them into the candy container until it was full.  I couldn't believe how many cigarette butts there were.  And this is in a country with $1000 fine for littering!  I was pretty disgusted by my species.  I found a trash can, continued to walk and practically shed a tear

I composed myself and paddled back out.
I caught a left on which I had the good fortune of watching it close out.

On my way back out from the last wave, I got a look at a quick left on the inside, where the only juice seemed to be, and pumped once, then levitated up to the falling lip.  I floated for less than two seconds, then airdropped down, consciously attempting to match the angle of my board with the slope of the wave.  I was successful, as evidenced by the burst of speed I enjoyed.  There was nothing to hit, so I kicked out, amped. 

My last wave was another close-out.

Monday, April 22, 2013

4.17.13 Steep South Swell Makes Oside Harbor the Call

The moratorium on having either funky Spring winds or absolute flatness had been lifted, and I was amped.  I shot up to Oceanside and saw some worthy peaks just north of Wisconsin Street.  Apparently others had received the memo about the favorable conditions and combo swell in the water, as it was crowded for 6:30 Oceanside standards.

I trudged north, towards sweet relief from the crowds.  Northside didn't have much, but I did get a sick view of a guy on a bike, wearing his wetsuit and booties, with his surfboard riding shotgun.  He had a small bag slung diagonally across his back, which I presumed to be his dry clothes.  He turned down to the frontage lookout and I proceeded to see what Jetty/Harbor had in store for me.

Jetty is a fickle wave. It needs swell to overcome offshores of this magnitude.  The set waves seemed to be right at the cusp.  I saw three dudes running towards the water, which always raises one's stoke level.  I decided to park and suit up.

After walking onto the windswept sand, I opted to try my luck on the peaks to the north of the jetty; peaks collectively known as Oceanside Harbor.  I have my own names for the waves  a hundred yards past the jetty.  The sandbar that sits just south of the big condominium building visible from the freeway I've dubbed Condors, and is great because the wave just off the jetty swallows up the crowd and I can surf Condors with only one or two heads battling for waves.

The wave that breaks towards the northern jetty (the one that is the southern boundary for the boat entry/exit point) I call Avalanches, and can work really well on a big swell.  This wave is usually not too crowded as it's a ten-plus minute walk from the parking area, but it's hardly ever prime because of the swell requirement.

I anticipated a northern-moving current because of the south swell.  As I was assessing my strategy for the day, a ginger guy in his early 20's skipped past me clutching his 5'6" quad fin.  The thing was tiny!

I walked north a bit more. I paddled out south of Condors.  It took a good five minutes before my first wave arrived.  It was a bigger right and I was extremely late on it, an observation which didn't crystallize for me until I was popping up and the stiff offshores laid into my board.  I air-dropped awkwardly and skipped off the deck, just as my fins were biting into the water.

I caught another late one, but it was a left and tucked into a switch crab grab.  I got some tunnel vision, my first in a while, and got treated to a surprise double-up which made the barrel wider but also way too racy for me to make.  I will leave you in suspense as to what happened...

My third wave was a bit better, a lined-up left on which I was able to jump in before it reached critical mass.  I pumped a few times, then bottom-turned hard, snapped, threw a ton of spray, but ended up splayed upon my back as it closed out over me.

My next one was a quick left which closed out on me fast.  I pulled through the wall.

My fourth left in a row was very fast and I lost the footrace with the curl.  I pulled through the foam only somewhat successfully.

My final wave was another quick one, but I had a jump on it. I pumped just once and was prepping for a hit on a somewhat open section when the lip throw surprised me.  I floated over it, but was too sideways in my trajectory and biffed.

I went in as I could feel my outer pecs getting a rash.  This wetsuit has less than ten sessions left in it...

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Update: Illness and Travel Plans

On Saturday March 30th, I went to the beach sans wetsuit and con skimboard to open skim season.  The warm weather and mid-day high tide ensured I wouldn't be too cold.  A friend of mine swears that wearing a wetsuit while skimboarding is akin to laying down with a man so I waited long enough to avoid the hurtful whispers and accusatory stares she would likely bestow upon me the next time I meet her acquaintance.

There was very little swell and the shorebreak didn't really have much going on.  I skimmed maybe a dozen times before zoning out a good half-hour, not finding a single decent hit section or launch pad.  I felt sluggish and I packed it in.  The next morning, I woke up with a sore throat and as Easter Sunday progressed, the telltale signs of a sinus infection gingerly crept in.

I was feeling well enough to continue my gym routine as usual, but on Wednesday night I went a little too hard on the guitar jamming and blew my throat out.  My voice was useless on Thursday and not much better Friday.  It still suffers from an octave or so drop to the extent that passers-by may mistake me for someone who did in fact complete puberty.

This setback pushed me back into full-borne cough/cold/fever/congestion mode and I've been functional but pretty miserable.

I'm still feeling the symptoms and have kept myself out of the water as a result.  Today I managed to complete a full routine at the gym so I am very close to being at full strength and will likely go for a surf drive tomorrow morning.

My wife and I found out we're expecting our first and likely only child at the end of February.  It's due at the end of October.  Thanks to the discovery of the fetus, my plans to go to India for a wedding were scuttled and will be parlayed into a boat trip to the Mentawai islands of Indonesia.

This is exciting for me for several reasons:

1. I've never left the northwest hemisphere of the planet.  The Mentawai are in the southeast. Padang (my last air connection, in Indonesia) is JUST south of the Equator.
2. I'll be surfing a whole new ocean, so far having only amassed the Pacific and Caribbean.
3. The trip would normally cost $4500, but airfare has already been paid due to the India plans.  Interestingly enough, I will be only about two hours by air from India.
4. Ten days of only surfing.  No internet. No phone calls. It is very likely I will not see a single woman during the entire trip which will be trippy.  Luckily my system is set to hermaphrodize AFTER fifteen days of not seeing a woman so I should return a heterosexual male.
5. The Mentawais are the most wave-rich zone on the planet.  Swell comes roaring from storms near Antarctica and funnel east and north.  The multiple island setup allows for there to be surfable waves as long as there's swell.  Problematic winds can be sidestepped by going to the opposite side of an island, where the winds will be offshore.
6. I can surf waves about which I've dreamt for years: Macaronis, E-Bay, HT's and Greenbush in particular.

So far I've had trouble finding someone to go with.  My last hope appears to be Missed-It-Mike, who has a big work project ending in August.  My goal is to go in early September, approximately six weeks shy of the due date.  I'm getting a little push-back from the Mrs. as she's afraid I'll miss the birth, but the chances of that are somewhat slim.

I will be taking my day-to-day 6'1" DHD, a step-up 6'3" for the head to slightly overhead days and a balls-to-the-wall 6'6" or 6'7" if it gets double overhead.  All will have GoPro mounts and I'll move the camera from board to board as needed.

Stay tuned...