The last day of March 2011 turned out to be very bright, very warm, and without a lot of wind. In other words, a good day for Ocean Beach!
Too bad the swell was wack, all torn up with windswell and short period slop. There was the usual (for these conditions) four to seven lines of whitewater to the outer bar.
However, as whitewater on Ocean Beach goes, it was pretty weak. Everything inside was very mushy. The break on the middle bar was curling over at no more than 3-4 feet, which relatively speaking, is practically flat.
The outer bar looked pretty nice.
I’ve been out in conditions like this before at OB, in the same place (South Sloat), on the same board (Schulz 9/0). That was a fairly epic paddle as I recall, but I caught four or five really nice head plus waves, as witnessed by my friend Tim P.
There wasn’t anyone out when I rolled up, but after watching a guy on shortboard crank it all the way to the outer bar, I decided to take the 9/0 out and play on middle break reform. Not bad, caught a couple and called it a day. Felt good to get in the water.
Walter and I headed off to Marin for the day to check out Muir Beach. Since Mavericks was firing, and it was a Friday, Bolinas would be the only other place surfable, but it would have been packed (i.e., Friday).
We didn’t fool around. We just packed the guns, Parmenter 7/9 Aleutian Juice for me, Walter on my 7/6 Schlictmann.
The inside break wasn’t fooling around either. Mostly top to bottom closers, very hard to get under, and no going around. I tried three or four times to get out past the inside break to see about picking off something a little further out. No dice. After a short break, I paddled out grab one of the inside waves, and lo! a slight lull got me squirted past the close outs.
As it turned out, the outside wasn’t really firing reliably. After a couple of sincere attempts to ride one of the closeouts over the falls, I got caught inside and washed to the beach.
We called it a day at this point.
Walter was on one of his Fabulous Furlough Fridays, and Jee decided surfing was for her, so it’s off to Bolinas for an afternoon.
The weather was great… early on.
After meeting up at the Dean’s IGA in Mill Valley, we piled into a little car with a stack of big boards, and roared over the mountain. Had to make all the stops… Muir Beach was first… lot of changes in the last month!
If you haven’t been to Muir Beach in a while, check it out. The creek is getting rerouted. The windbreak at the parking lot has been cut down, the porta-potties moved, the parking lot re-configured (no more parking down at the end), and a number of other jarring odds and ends. I think it will look better when they finish. Hopefully they will regrade the lot too.
The surf was cranking! Sets were coming in left of the rock at a solid 4-6. At least 6. More or less rideable; if you can ride at Cron, these were good, steep and fast. Make the drop, bottom turn, climb out and over before it closed.
Next stop was overlooking Steep Ravine. It’s surfable. Almost. Barely. Little too gnarly on that day, but I’ve seen it working. Mess it up and you’re in the rocks.
Off to overlook at Stinson. Two people out. Rideable at the lifeguard tower. Looked pretty decent at Mickey’s rolling in around 6 foot.
By this time Jee was jumping up and down to get in the water… so it was off to Two Mile to get her some gear. Easy peasy. With a Rip Curl 4/3 and 8′ sponger, we’re dressed up like seals and off to play with the sharks (hat tip Walter).
By now, the weather had started to turn… but there were still a few people in the Patch, and there was plenty of water moving around. Loads of waves. A little bumpy, but definitely surfable.
Jee got into some whitewater and learned to plane, while Walter and I headed for deeper water and slightly bigger waves. The outside was working at about 4 foot, a very nice size for Bolinas. I was riding the Hinds 10/4. Lotta lift in the tail on that board (which is important, as you will read momentarily).
Since the current was hauling out to sea, I caught a few then headed in to give Jee a pointer or two about catching waves. She caught on quickly and had a blast being pushed all the way in by the foamy stuff.
I went out for another lap, caught a few more waves.
Now, we went in the water a little after noon, but we couldn’t stay out too late as Two Mile Surf Shop closed at 4. On my second trip back to the beach, I did that usual thing… grabbed some shallow whitewater to ride in… but my board pearled! The big 10/4 remember? This was bad… because the back end of the board picked up and drove me face first into a foot of water.
1 foot of water!
I was surfing the sand with my forehead. That was rude. And undignified. But no big deal. I start walking back over to Jee, as Walter was sitting on the outside. She waves at me, we’re having fun!
Then I see her face turn from glee to horror…. she shouts “You’re bleeding!”
I swipe my hand over my face, it comes away covered with blood. Awesome! (I was tempted to lick my hand… j/k. Sort of
No big deal. Just a little scrape. I traded boards and took the sponger out to catch a few. Not a bad board. Stable, not real responsive, but that’s ok.
By this time, it’s starting to pour, and it’s definitely time to pack it in.
We finished it off with a nice snack at the Sand Dollar in Stinson, and called the day a raging success.
Respect the ocean boys and girls. It’s not the big ones that will get you, it’s the little ones when you’re not paying attention.
It was big yesterday at Sloat. 11-13 on the outer bar, and breaking way, way out near the shipping channel. Several people were out there.
When it starts to get really big, it breaks so far out, it’s hard to judge the size.
Unless someone catches a wave… then you can see big it is by how much of the wave is looming over their head! When it’s twice as tall, that’s “double overhead.” That’s big. Big enough anyway.
Late in the afternoon, I took the 7/9 Parmenter gun – the Aluetian Juice – out. Having been in the water once since July (the month before), I didn’t have high hopes of much more than getting really, really wet.
The longshore was screaming south when I first got in up at the outflow north of Sloat. The tide in SF Bay had been very low, but incoming tide on the beach.
When the longshore is this nasty, I typically do laps. I’ll paddle out as hard as I can and beat my head against the inside break. If I don’t get through the inside break, I’ll ride the whitwater in and walk back up the beach for another lap.
On my 4th lap, I found myself through the inside break!
There’s typically a sweet spot between the inside break and the outer bar where it doesn’t break very hard, if it all. A deep water channel of some sort. Maybe I got lucky and picked up a rip, or there was a slight lull. I noticed that the longshore had started to die off very quickly as well.
Whatever it was, I was clear of the inside break and facing only two more lines of whitewater to the outer bar.
Too bad it was starting to get dark!
Had it been a little earlier, I would have hung out in the channel and waited for an opportunity to bolt to the outside. In my experience at Ocean Beach, if I can get through the inside break, I can almost always find my way outside.
But I snagged a frothy piece of whitewater instead and took it all the way into the beach.
It was nice out there. While I was changing (in the rain!) back into street clothes, I watched a guy drop into an easy 12-13 footer, make a nice sweeping bottom turn, climb right back up the face of the wave and pull into the barrel at the top. Very, very sweet. A bunch of us watching, thumbs up all around. I’ll get there one day.
Tags: Ocean Beach
I have this Taylor 8/4 gun I bought for $200 at Aqua Surf shop back in February or March 2009. It’s in immaculate condition: white, 2-3 pressure dings on the deck, no cracks anywhere. Very nice tapered pintail. I have a picture somewhere, I’ll post it later.
In any case, I had not been in the water since the big south swell late July at Bolinas. Sad, right? Especially since I’m supposed to be working for myself and have all this time to surf. Uh huh. More on that later.
So I roared out to the Ocean Beach, Sloat as usual, and jumped into a messy froth of whitewater. The outer bar was cooking at maybe 7-10, but the period was short. I didn’t look it up at the time, but it was acting like a 13 second swell. Typically four to five lines of whitewater, not much in the way of lulls.
Talk about weak…
Ok, the 8/4 is harder to duck dive, but still, I do like to get outside in the inside break, and that just didn’t happen.
So I rode 3 on the inside. Wiped on the first, stuck the popup very nicely on the second, spilled on the last trying to turn out from the wash.
All in all, a good day. Better than staying home!
Tags: Taylor gun
Another great day at the beach!
There’s a nice south swell shutting down right now. I didn’t surf over the weekend. I did go out to Sloat and watch it breaking clean at 6-8′ and just felt sick that I didn’t bring a board. But Monday after a big weekend is always mellow. All the kooks have had their fill and have to go to work. The rest of us can enjoy a relaxed session on uncrowded lineups.
And sure enough, Bolinas was not very crowded, and the people that were in the water were very mellow. As it should be. I was supposed to meet a friend out there, but I didn’t get his txt message until later. According to the swell models, Bolinas was dead, so went to points south. Good thing I didn’t know it was supposed to be dead!
So… how was it?
It was GREAT!
I got in the water around low tide (~10am), which by my estimation was about +1 this morning. The patch wasn’t working, but the channel was firing outside with nice 4′ sets. In fact, it was firing hard enough that my 10/4 Roger Hinds was just too much board! I should have brought my SF 9/0. I could have surfed the 7/3 really.
It’s always like that. When I don’t bring a board, it’s going off. When I only bring a long board, there’s a short board wave breaking. I do this about once a year: leave home without a board, or with wrong boards.
Do you ever do that? Take off someplace else because you “don’t feel like surfing” when you’re at home. Then you’re like “I wonder what it looks like out there.” And it’s just going off! And you would sell one of the boys to get in the water.
As I said, the 10/4 was a little too much board. It doesn’t have a lot of rocker, and these waves were rolling in slow, then standing up fast. I pearled a couple of times before I got it dialed in. Oh yeah… I got caught inside three times! Sucked… but not bad for a dead south swell.
Great day at Sloat on Sunday morning. Rolled into the south lot around 10am. Sunny, puffy onshore wind, not quite glassy, but close. Tide incoming(?) around 3-4 feet. Swell supposedly around 7 feet at 10 seconds. Very peaky, lots of waves, but a small cross-cutting swell made for a lot of mushouts.
The outer bar was working intermittently, nice 4′+ face, mushing out quickly which robbed the wave of it’s energy.
Waves not breaking on the outer bar provided some nice peaky inside bar action. Short, but not bad.
These short period swells are nice because they don’t into slamming closeouts all the time. With so many waves, there’s lots of peaks, which means waves for all. People were spread out nicely, instead of the usual all huddled up together in a small takeoff zone.
Caught one on on the outer bar, then paddled inside, caught a couple more and called it a day. Had to help a friend move later.
Superb day at Bolinas yesterday. Of course, being a Saturday, with 2-3′ south swell coming in at 16 seconds and the starting from 0 and incoming tide and the sun out, it was crowded. Did I mention the light, nearly offshore breeze? That too. And that water was warm? Outflow from Bolinas lagoon stores up in the Patch… if the tide is outgoing late evening on a previously warm day, the water at low tide is toasty warm.
From my estimation, the sets were coming in roughly 5-10 minutes apart, generally between 5-12 pretty nice swells. I haven’t seen the Patch in that condition in a couple of years.
There were lots of waves, and lots of room on the waves. Because of the way the Patch sections off, it’s easy for people to take the right and the left, and for people to come in way behind someone already on a wave. Yeah, yeah, I know about cutting back, but no, you aren’t cutting back 75 feet through slow moving white water. You just aren’t. Really you aren’t. Waves in the Patch can be shared. And that’s actually pretty cool.
Of course, as friendly as the patch is, with all the newbies mixed in with the old dudes, and most everyone really friendly as usual, *I* had to get snaked.
Some SOB stroked in from 50 feet to my right, around outside me, came in right behind me to my left, and snaked right in front me. I was sitting right on the peak, perfectly positioned. I would have run him over. Then, of course, he cuts back left, and a clean right breaks empty all the way to the beach. This was definitely a deliberate move: “I’m going to snake that dude over there.”
This is an open letter to you, man, and all your ilk.
Yeah, you’re a Big Man… because you can snake people in the Patch.
Why don’t you come on down to Sloat on a double-O day and try that. Seriously. You’re a big man, right? Just go right on ahead and snake someone out there.
This burns me up so much more because I was giving waves away, and all this dude would have had to do is just call it. Yep. “My wave!” And it would have been his. I would have let have have it, no problem at all.
I guess that wouldn’t have been any fun at all.
In other news, after 4 years Miss J is still driving the same truck, still surfing the same board, still paddling butterfly, and apparently, still hasn’t learned to turn. Definitely one kook I stay far away from. She dropped on me in the channel several years ago, ran me over, then cussed me out for being in her way.
Had a long talk with Steve Hill about how much Bolinas has changed over the years. I’ve started going out there in early 2003, and even I can feel how it’s changed since then. It’s a new crowd out there even since then. Can’t wait until fall!
In any case, it was a great day, and overall I had a blast. The Patch doesn’t always work that well, and I surf it maybe 2-3 times per year. When it’s on, as it was on Saturday, it’s as nice as San Elijo.
Believe it or not, duck diving a longboard can be done in certain circumstances, but it can also be substantially different than duck diving a shortboard.
I surf mostly at a beach break (Ocean Beach, San Francisco). It can get really big (triple-O). There’s not really any channels, and not always a handy rip, so grueling paddles can be more normal than not. I’ve surfed it with everything between a 6/6 to 10/4, and I’ll go out up to solid double-O conditions.
Here’s the key difference between long and short. Duck diving a shortboard gets you under the wave and squirted out the back. With the right wave shape, the lip will help push you through as you take the lip right about on your backside. You can learn to come out paddling.
Duck diving your longboard
With a longboard, your focus isn’t getting under the wave so much as maintaining control of the board as you take the white water pretty much in the face, so that you can resume paddling as fast as possible. Here’s how:
- paddle as hard as you can into the wave
- plant the nose right where the white water meets the green
- grab the board *tightly* on the rails and push your body up. The board isn’t going to under the water so much. You want the water to go through your arms.
- Get as much of your body off the board and in the air as possible, letting the whitewater go through your arms and under your body. I keep one set of toes on the board and put the other foot in the air for balance and to act as a “rudder.”
- As soon as the whitewater gets under you, “plant” the tail of the board as deep as you can and roll it down forward. If you’ve ever used a post hole digger, it’s the same sort of motion. The natural bouyancy of the board will tend to want to push you forward as the tail comes back up. You’re going to be too far up the board to paddle without perling, so when you come back down, get repositioned for fast paddling asap.
If the whitewater is stacked more than about 3 foot, you’re better off turtling and rolling back over. This is not that easy either and it’s hard to hold on to the board in bigger water. And you have to get back on the board and figure out which way to paddle afterward.
If the wave face is standing up pretty good, paddle as far and as fast up the face of it as you can, then stick the nose through the lip duck dive style, right before it curls over. You can do this pretty high on the wave and not get sucked over the falls.
In this last case, you want to think “Michael Phelps” and give it that extra effort; paddle as hard as you can all the way up the face and through the lip. If you slack off… you risk going right back over the falls and getting blown back to the beach. With an out-of-control longboard coming down who knows where.
Since I’m on a roll…
Advanced duck diving
DON’T try this crap if you aren’t comfortable in the water and don’t know your break, and don’t have some rapport with your fellow surfers. I’m just putting it out here because it’s what I see in practice at OB. In practice… by old dudes 60+ yo who go out in big conditions on their big boards. I was asking one of them (M____) this winter how he managed it and he told me: “If it’s too gnarly I just swim it out.”
If the surf is big enough to matter (10′-11′+), and the Big Boys got their Big Toys out, watch what they do. I’ve seen a lot of ditching and swimming, and to be fair, when it’s big, you are NOT going to be able to hold on to the board directly, the white water will tear it from you. Conversely, when it’s 8′,9′,10′+ and you’re caught paddling straight into the peak on an outer bar, the safest place for you to be—for everyone involved—is swimming straight down to the bottom as hard as you can. This turns you into a “boat anchor,” keeping you from getting blown back to shore in a giant spin cycle, and believe it or not, helps control your board. It won’t go flopping all over the place when your pulling down as hard as you can from the end of the leash 9 foot under water.
Otherwise, trying to hold your board under big, snarling whitewater is just going to get it ripping uncontrollably out of your hands, may get you a torn shoulder or cut by a fin, knock you unconscious, or hurt someone else in any of a myriad of ways.
However, you can often control the board pretty well by holding where the leash is fastened to the tail. If you’re getting worked bad, this is a good way to get back in without hurting yourself or anyone else. The other surfers will watch you to see whether you’re in trouble, but if you’re holding on and getting washed in, everybody’s cool.
Don’t be a kook
Obviously, do NOT even do any of this with anyone in the general vicinity. Take your lumps back to the beach and try again. This last winter (2008-2009), I was denied at OB probably 4 times, and once it took me 5 tries to get out. I’ve seen people paddle continuously for close to an hour… then get blown back to the beach. It happens. It’s worth it.
If you do ditch your board in small conditions, and when it’s crowded people are going to think you’re lame and they’re going treat you like a kook. I learned all this stuff by paddling out in really crappy conditions when it wasn’t crowded, and finding my own peak ride on.
Just spent a couple hours at at OB late morning. Superb! Period was short enough with the right tide that it was peaking and wedging all over. And the outer bar was working with a nice shoulder high longboard wave.
Worked for me. Had the 9/0 SF Surf Shop shaped by John Schultz. That board is getting old, but what a great board for OB!
And the weather… 81 degrees in San Fran, little puffs of wind at best… almost but not quite glassy. The beach was crawling with people.
What a great day!