Central California Coast, September 2003. Photo: Hank Ten
Post session surf reports
for San Francisco, Santa Cruz and beyond.
13, 2004 - 2:00 PM
Driving south the wind seemed to be cooperating and soon enough, we'd pulled off the highway somwhere south of San Gregorio and decided to give it a go. We found a little trail that took us down to an incredible beach and secluded surf spot. I was just amazed at the beauty and splendor of this spot. It felt a bit like a remote stretch of Baja. We suited up on the warm sand and paddled out into what looked to be chest high surf. The paddle out was a breeze, and in no time, sets started pouring in. For nearly 2 hours TB and I shared the waves, talked story and marvelled at our good fortune. Only two other surfers as far as the eye could see in either direction. For awhile the waves really turned on, and one could get a sholder high, zippy left of right. I was really stoked to get some pretty good waves. Of late, I've only really been paddling or swimming, and when I've caught waves lately, they've been 1-2 foot runners in the Bay. It felt really good to stand up on a board and slide across a solid wall of water.
After the session we cruised up to the San Gregorio General Store and got some juice and water and checked out the mellow happy hour scene -- locals quaffing beers and whiskey and enjoying deviled eggs and olives from the bar. Looking out over the San Gregorio valley I was really stoked out on how the day had played out.
13, 2004 - 1:00 PM
5, 2004 - 11:30 A.M.
I hadn't really planned on surfing this day (Saturday and all) but when I checked the waves after an errand I had to run in Aptos, I found the surf was still pumping pretty good from the SW the day before. I quickly suited up and jogged to the water. Crossing the street a girl replied how crowded the lineup looked and once at the water's edge, I saw Nellie and a big telephoto lens. At first I thought, "Crap! I won't get any waves out there!" but after watching it, I realized the lineup didn't look that aggro or crazed. I paddled out on the loaner Ward Board and locked into a few really good lefts almost immediately -- lining up off the northern little rock outcrop. Midway through my 70 minute session I dropped in an awesome right hander. A grom looked to be going left off the peak and I hesitated to make sure before dropping right. The drop in was a bit sideways but controlled and the wave just jacked up and peeled right affording me several really nice off-the-tops. The Wardie really came through on this wave (and the others as well) really solid and responsive as I threw it up onto the lip and then whipping it back around and down the face of the wave. I surfed almost directly at Nellie before kicking out on the inside. After a few more waves I called it a session and hustled home. That eveing we cruised up to Marin for a summertime BBQ.
4, 2004 - 7:30 - 9:00 A.M.
Fantastic surfing this morning. Everyone had called for a macking south swell, and everyone was right. I arrived around 7:00 A.M. and through the thick fog I could see and hear that it was working. It appeared to be closing out more so than I'd like, but that would turn out to be misleading. I suited up and paddled out on a 6'8" WARD Board on loan from Matt H.
Paddling out sans booties or hood, I was greeted with a handful of waves that I took on the head as I made my way out south of the main peak. After 30 minutes of sitting around and missing a couple sets, I started to dial into waves. Over the 90 minutes I nabbed about 8 really fun lefts. The rights were all but shut down. The sets would come with 5-6 solid, meaty waves in them, and you really had to be lined up in the right place to ensure you would beat the section. But if you did, you were in for a good 100 yard ride!! One of the best waves I got was an in-betweener that I had to high line in big way, but in doing so, gained a ton of speed and blazed down a 25 yard section of blue-green wave. On a bigger set wave, I did a similar move, getting up real high on the wave and pumping the board a few times, dropping down the big face, then shot out and around a big section of white water before milking it to the inside where the wave reformed and threw out a little, allowing for a head dip. The WARDIE has this neat "5th gear" that you hit after a few seconds of riding and a few pumps. 6 or 7 guys out, all quite competent with nobody budging as the 9:00 A.M. hour approached. I caught one more good sized set-y in, cruising more than anything, then bellying it in.
31 , 2004 - Memorial Day
Today, I decided to paddleboard out and around Alcatraz. I'd done the
paddle out there a couple times
I would start my
paddle from the Dolphin Club beach,which
is located in Aquatic Park right in front of
I started a little later than I had intended -- around 11:15 A.M. -- and I would pay for this in wind chop and swells, as the west wind had already started to pick up to around 10 knots as I paddled out through the opening into the open bay. Clad only in a speedo and a long sleeve wetsuit top, I think I surprised a few sail boats and some folks on the Blue&Gold ferry boats.
On my paddle out a few fancy looking large-ish sailboats cruised by, steering clear of me and returning my wave. I also saw a loud, gnarly looking powerboat that had "007" emblazoned on the gunell. It was some 400 yards to my west idling quite loudly. When it rev'd it's monster motor and headed in the opposite direction I was slightly relieved. The engine was so loud that if it had headed for me and in the event it didn't see me, I realized there was no way I could yell loud enough above the roar of the engine. It made me think that I really should paddle with a good, lightweight loud whistle around my neck.
Approaching the island the water grew fairly calm and I cruised in between an exposed rock that stands 5 feet above water, and the actual island on the west tip. As I rounded the corner to the north side of the island, the waters grew calmer still, but I realized I was now facing a pretty strong current. I did some knee paddling and made decent progress. To gauge my progress, I sited off different landmarks on the island-- the back of the kitchen, a guard tower etc. Definitely a bit challenging getting through that section, but nothing like the time I was sucked out and under the Golden Gate while surfing Fort Point! Rounding the north east corner I had to hold up -- one large Blue&Gold ferry was docked unloading and loading, while another Blue&Gold ferry sat some 200 yards off the dock. I figured it would not be very polite to charge in front of the waiting ferry in the event the docked ferry pulled out and the waiting ferry wanted to pull in. After a few minutes, the ferries figured it out, and I motored around the island and headed back into the "channel." Now I was on a trajectory that I've swum a dozen times. Sure enough, just like the swims I've done, as I headed into the channel it got pretty nasty and I was cutting through 2-3 foot, sideways runners. At no point did I feel panic, though I thought about what I was doing and wondered how a non-swimmer/paddler would fair. I figured "not well" and continued to cut through the chop. On my approach to Aquatic Park, I realized I'd not paddled east enough and was now west of the opening -- the same mistake I've made swimming this on a couple occasions. But the big difference is that with a 14' paddleboard you can cut across a current a lot easier than when you are swimming.
Once inside the cove, it is smooth paddling. Approaching shore, I spied Matt and Jimmy down on the beach. After a few minutes talking story, I returned to the club, threw on the cap and goggles and did a half mile swim. The showers and sauna felt quite nice at the end of the swim.
27, 2004 - San Francisco
Sitting at the Giants game Monday night, I knew I'd score waves early Tuesday morning. It felt like it was 80 degrees at 8PM(!!!), with nary a breath of wind!! I made sure I didn't drink too much beer, and instead enjoyed the hot night and the game without getting too amped about surfing the next morning. The Giants pulled it out, 3-2, and I I headed home for a hot, restless night's sleep. With wifey gone, Willy and I took turns tossing and turning through the night.
Early in the session I stroked in to a nice peak and went left. I was a bit late on the drop but it held up for just long enough to make a decent, controlled bottom turn. Coming off the turn I laid in to the top third of the wave and dropped down in perfect position for a barrel. In hindsight I should've jammed my hand into the wave at that point, but I did shift my weight back enough to stall a bit and enjoy a clean, dry, little cover-up -- the wave throwing out over most of my body. Accelerating out, I got a got a couple more turns in and shot off the back, elated. One of the better waves I've gotten all "non-season" (it is the end of April afterall.) Over the next ninety minutes we enjoyed a few more waves and got pulled hard up the beach past Fulton. TB and I made a good effort to get all the way back to our starting point. Back at our starting point it was completely glassy and peaky again, with beautiful looking lefts just out of the reach to the south, breaking, mostly unridden. I watched TB nab a really nice looking wave and ride it a good ways in. We tried to hold our position but finally gave in and got dragged all the way back up the beach again!! At that point I was willing to take anything in as it was getting late and I went for a peaky nasty wave and got launched. Finally bellied one in and jogged up the beach. We picked up some trash and headed back to the 70 degree parking lot to change and talk some story. Jake, who'd surfed with us, stoked me out on a demo c.d. of his band Last of the Blacksmiths.
21, 2004 - Santa Cruz, Ca.
There crowd ranged from two to eight in the 90 minutes I was in the water and most everyone was pretty accomplished. I dialed in to no less than a dozen waves. Many of the 6-8 foot waves were a-frame peaks though some closed out pretty hard. I managed a few really good waves out there. The highlight was a big set wave left that came in at me like a big, easy softball pitch, but gained in size and steepness as I made the drop. I took off sorta sideways and slid just a little, angling my board down the line. Dropping down the face, I made a medium sized bottom turn, then banked into the pocket, hoping the wave would throw. It didn't, and I continued back down off the bottom and towards the lip as a fellow surfer hooted me down the line. I thanked him with a small spray as I went off the top. Another turn or so and I was off the back of the wave, stoked. Another real nice wave came ten minutes later. This one was a non-set wave left in that magical inside area between the two rocks on the beach. Fast, open faced and makeable, I gently pumped down the wave, with the wave doing much of the work. I really noticed that crouching a bit more than usual and staying "springy" with my legs really helped my form and speed. I took a final big set wave that more or less closed out and I straightened out and headed for shore. It felt really good to surf this old, familiar break and watch it do its thing.
10, 2004 - Santa Cruz, Ca.
Out in the water this morning we opted for the nothernmost peak. We'd watched some really clean lined up waves as we paddled out. Nothing spectacular, shoulder to head high, but glassier and cleaner than I'd seen at this spot in quite awhile. The crowd was pretty easy going -- 12-14 mellow surfers. Over the couple hours in the water, I nabbed a number of very mediocre rights and a couple really fun lefts. Growing up surfing here, I almost never went left. I don't know if the break has changed or if we're just surfing a different part of this break. Nonetheless, the lefts were pretty satisfying allowing a few good turns and a decent amount of speed. After 2 hours I caught a good right in, having to bottom turn around a guy paddling out and trimming down the line. I kicked it on the beach for 15 minutes and when I realized Jimmy wasn't coming in, I dashed back out over the low tide reef and surfed and talked story for another hour.
20 , 2004 - Los Angeles, Ca.
After a leisurely morning at his place, including a great breakfast that he cooked up, my wife and I took off around noon, headed for El Porto (Manhattan Beach) in hopes of an afternoon go-out. I picked up the Driftwood that was sitting in TB's parent's rafters and headed to the beach. What I found looked a lot more like Ocean Beach in the summer than LA! Onshore, dribbly, cold conditions. In fact, it was pretty much unsurfable. So, the Driftwood stayed in the car and Julianne and I opted for a beach run. Starting around 26th Ave, we headed south towards the Manhattan Pier. I dropped her at the Pier and continued on to the Hermosa Pier, running in board shorts and a hooded sweatshirt that I actually needed. Halfway down to the Hermosa Pier, a kite boarder summoned me to help hold his giant sail as it came down softly onto the sand. All I had to do was grab hold of it and steady it and he took it from there. He thanked me profusely in his Italian accent and I continued on, alternating between the cambered hard pack and the softer sand along the berm crest. There is something really magical about running on the beach. I read somewhere once that there is an actual chemical reaction -- of the water and air or somesuch-- and that is what you feel when you run along the beach. At any rate, it sure is an invigorating workout. The beach was fairly clean and fairly deserted, especially for SoCal. Running along the water line on the way back I was surprised by how cold the water felt on my bare feet. During my 45 minute run I envisioned getting into great shape and cranking in a few Swim / Run events this summer. We'll see.
20 , 2004
After an hour or so TB got a decent sized right to the inside as I went left. He paddled back out and described how at the end of the wave his board had come back and whacked him in the head. Pulling back his squid lid, he exposed a decent two inch gash on the left side of his head. Nothing to freak out about, but enough of a gash to where he probably didn't want to be out surfing much longer. After another wave or so we headed in. My last left was maybe 8 or 9 feet and re-formed nicely on the inside allowing for some good turns on the 6'8".
This was definitely a session to remember.
08 , 2004
1:30- 3:30. After the session, I snapped a couple photos (108 Kb), then headed over to the Fillmore Auditorium on Geary to pick up a couple tickets for the upcoming RatDog show in March. After grabbing a burrito, I checked out the beach again around 1:30 and it looked like it was cleaning up. I paddled out at the north end on my 6'4" fish. The waves were awesome for all of about 10 minutes before the wind shifted too northerly and it got funky really quickly. With a fierce longshore current running, I got out after 45 minutes, walked up the beach, then paddled back out for 3 more waves. This second session was fun, but not nearly as thrilling or fulfilling as the morning sesh.
06 , 2004
Towards the end of the session TB and I drifted north and watched Jimmy take a set on the head as we sat safely in the channel to the south. We both tried in vain to scratch into a set to get one in. After more waiting, I finally dialed in to a large left, paddling hard into the blinding off-shores wind and spray and smoothly dropping down the ten foot face. It felt surprisingly good and smooth, especially for a 6'8". The crackle of the breaking wave behind me was much louder than usual. I bellied in on an inside wave and almost got pitched on that one too. All in all it was a fairly good session and nice to be in some large conditions amongst the clear, green-blue water of San Francisco. Walking up to the lot we chatted with a South African lady who was contemplating a go-out. Check out this photo of the inside bars heaving. Hate to take one of these on the head on your paddle out!
01 , 2004
Overall I had a nice solitary sesh. Waves were a little hard to figure out, and many of the waves you thought would jack up, didn't, or were kinda doubling up with the wave in front of it. Nonetheless, if you were patient, you could get a good one. At the end, I was getting pretty cold and felt pretty clumsy in my poor fitting Billabong wetsuit which was filling with water from every conceivable opening. (The 2003 Rip Curl Elasto is at the cleaners/repair shop yet again for a blown seam!)
As I headed up the beach I saw a few guys with these colorful fish boards. I approached them and found out it was Manny from Mandala Designs. Really cool looking boards, and judging from the way the guys were riding them in the line up, they look like they'd work well. Will have to keep an eye our for one of his "Demo Days." The veggie "Chinos" burrito and Coke went down nice afterwards.
11 , 2004
North of Santa Cruz. Low to minus tide. Medium large waves. Surfed with MattH and Jimmy. First ones out into the lineup, last ones in, as darkness fell. Waves were a bit bumpy at first but really cleaned up nicely as the afternoon wore on. Surfed my 7'0" which at times seemed like too much board. But, glad I surfed it for the bump and for the ease of getting into them. Ran in to old grade school chum, Brad B out there.
Caught a few pretty good rights throughout the session. Watched Jimmy score an almost perfect looking right hander as I paddled back out to the peak. Towards the end of the seshy,I worked the rare left for a handful of waves. Pretty steep drop as the wave jacked up over the reef, but then you could get around the section and float down the line on a really nice section or two. Felt really good going left and getting some turns in. Felt like I was "surfing" again. MattH claimed it was one of his best sessions ever. We hurridly hiked out of their in darkness and I sped home to help prepare a pre-Christmas dinner for the family.
Well, I'm not gonna give up surfing and sell all my boards, wetsuits etc. Yeah, finally had a decent little session. Paddled out at the most famous surf spot in Santa Cruz and scored some decent waves. Conditions were really clean, off-shore, but the tide was a bit high making for inconsistent, somewhat sluggish waves. Nonetheless, the waves were certainly good enough to produce some fun rides. Started off the session by casually jumping off the rocks and stroking over to the several-person crowd with a dry hair (under my hood.) I caught two rights almost immediately -- drop in, medium bottom turn, medium off the top, back down, then off the back. Nothing too riveting, but enough to get the stoke going and enough to remind me how nice it is to get in a couple fluid turns. After the initial couple waves I sat for awhile before getting another couple shorter ones, ate it on one take off, and had to pull back from a several that I was too late on, or didn't have priority on. Stroked in to a pretty sizey, ledging left and made a smooth drop, but the wave didn't materialize beyond that. Finally towards the end of the 90 minutes out there I caught a real nice peaky right. Fairly steep drop, then proceeded to surf the wave for a good 75 yards (it seemed) -- backside turn off the top, then back near the curl to let it reform. The glassy, blue-green water actually reminded me of Lake Tahoe for a split second as I carved into the buttery surface on my 7'0". Overall, a real nice session. Only a handful of surfers the entire time. I left when a couple longboarders and a knee border joined the crowd and when I absolutely had to get out to get to a meeting in time.
Met MattH at our usual spot en route to the beach. Rounding the bend on our approach, I was stoked to find real clean, off-shore conditions. Waves looked headhigh-ish! We drove the length of the beach but decided to paddle out at the south end. At first I tried my luck on the inside bar, but it seemed 9 out of 10 waves would double up and be unrideable. So after a few short rides, I paddled more outside where MattH was surfing. I was a good 100 yards south of him and I watched some really, really nice waves pour in on the outter bar. Some waves to my south, some to my north. I couldn't seem to dial in to the 2 or 3 good sets that came in over the 40 minutes I was out there. They seemed to always be "just out of reach." I think this is typical of more of windswell conditions with moderate to hard off-shores. It certainly wasn't like some of the sessions I had early in the season at this spot when I could pick of 15- 20 waves in a session.
"Damnit! This isn't going to last!" I told myself. "The ocean doesn't just keep serving you perfect sets... and if it does, the crowds won't stay in the parking lot much longer!! You gotta get on one of these!" Well, after seeing a few really good sets that I couldn't get on, I settled for a couple lesser waves that would have a decent drop, but then would kinda back off and then fizzle. I watched MattH take a real nice right hand drop, but then that wave too sort of fizzled out. At the end of the session we tried the inside. We both watched a regular footer get an insane backside tube ride (a 4 foot wave or so). He must've been pitted for 3 or 4 seconds, and acted very nonchalant as he came out and peeled off the wave. While disappointed that I did not lock in to any meaty walls that I could really carve, it was an o.k. session. Looks like tomorrow will get big and we'll have waves through the week so there is still hope that I can break my slump by Christmas!
Jimmy and I checked out the beaches south of Santa Cruz. Waves were
largish and fairly smooth but not that appealing. Some were flat and
sluggish, some looked like they were pretty juicy. Only 1 or 2 guys
out so hard to judge the conditions. We decided to check the East Side.
We found some decent waves there (see trio of images below), but mostly
they were either kinda warbly from the approaching high tide or closing
out. The best waves were at Pleasure Point, but turns out there was
a contest there! Argh! So we headed back to the beach break south of
town and paddled out. The nice thing about the session was the lack
of crowds. It was really just the three of us. Over the course of the
session I caught about 6 waves -- all pretty slugish. My 6'8" handled
the waves nicely, there just wasn't much push. I paddled for, and pulled
out of about a dozen waves, watching them close out down the beach in
either direction. Watched one spectacular wave close out the entire
beach and watched a spectacular barrel.
Here is what we
Jimmy and I thought we would try our luck on SCs West side. The swell was in, the tide was dropping, but the weather had a lot to be desired. Pulling up at the break we found pretty choppy waters, but waves pouring in over the reef. We quickly suited up as a light rain came down and paddled out off the rocky point. Conditions went from fair to poor in the hour we were in the water. I got a few short, bumpy rides on my 7'0" and Jimmy scored a couple nice drops/rides.
3 , 2003
Real mellow, small waves this a.m. Not pinner, but small, glassy, clean, a-framey, and quick. Met up w/ Jimmy around 8 a.m. and paddled out. Beautiful clear morning at the beach, fog bank hanging low in the golden gate, but clear at the beach. Surfed the 6'4" fishy which was the right board. Got a couple decent waves out of the 12 or 13 that I caught. Caught one nice left in particular that I got enough speed on to do a fairly smooth, clean floater/off the lip that I landed. But, mostly, I couldn't really get in the groove to get in early enough to get down the line fast enough. TB joined me late in the session and we traded off a couple waves before I caught one in and railed off to work in downtown SF.
Part 2: After getting
out, I picked up a message that TB was just paddling out at VFs. So
I drove up to check it out. I was enthused by what I saw as I drove
up the Highway. As I reached the parking lot, I realized I had an extra,
dry(!!), 4/3 in the back of my truck, so I suited up and paddled out.
Much better waves during this session. Clean, quick a-frames. The thing
I noticed most was just how thick and fast these waves were compared
to the previous session (20 minutes prior)!
Good size surf this morning, but the shape was rough. Met TB in the lot at 7:30 and the waves looked pretty crunchy, and a little disorganized, but definitely clean enough and manageable enough to paddle out. I've got a bit of a cold or something so was a little less enthusiastic than TB, but definitely game. After some 15 duck dives we made it out. The waves were thick and pretty peaky, but very difficult to read and get into, despite surfing my 8'0". After a good 20 minutes and backing out of a couple waves, I dialed in to a right just after TB got a right. Nothing to write home about -- the wave was a little overhead, slight bottom turn then skated off the back. In the middle of the session we saw this beautiful, bowly left pour through -- 2 or 3 real nice waves that got me a bit more excited. But it wasn't really to be. Could never get in the right place. Only surfed about 3 waves, and ended up catching my final wave in well into the dunes. Overall, a good experience and hang, though not the best surf session. Waves seemingly were cleaning up as the tide was dropping out.
Didn't have big
expectations for a Sunday sesh, but the weather had cleared up nicely
from Saturday's rain, and the buoys indicated east wind and a little
juice. Pulling up at the beach I was elated to find super clean a-frame
conditions. Not pumping, but decent size (2-3 feet overhead on sets?)
Quickly suited up and paddled out the 6'8" Rusty. Parked just south
of the bathrooms and paddled straight out from my truck. Conditons were
fun: a-frames, nary a barrel, but overhead fun.
I managed to get my fair share of waves until the "longboard blockade" started dominating all the set waves, sitting a good 50 yards further out than the short boarders. No worries. Jimmy and I paddled south and scored a few more good waves down there. All in all, a really solid session. Got home and finished painting the rest of the bedroom that I'd promised wifey I would paint. Big swell should be hitting late today (Monday) and Tuesday. We'll see...
13, 2003 MH and I paddled out south of Sloat under grey, cloudy afternoon skies.
Only a couple dudes out. The surf sure didn't look like much from the
lot, and truth is, it wasn't all that great. But good enough to get
about 10 fun waves. Set waves were nearly head high and had just enough
push to get some speed and nail a couple good turns. Wind was out of
the south, so it wasn't too crumbly, even though it was quite textured
and bumpy. Surfed my ever fun 6'4" fish. The big carbon fibers fins
carving nicely. After the session we kicked it until we headed out to
see The Sheets in
MH and I paddled out south of Sloat under grey, cloudy afternoon skies. Only a couple dudes out. The surf sure didn't look like much from the lot, and truth is, it wasn't all that great. But good enough to get about 10 fun waves. Set waves were nearly head high and had just enough push to get some speed and nail a couple good turns. Wind was out of the south, so it wasn't too crumbly, even though it was quite textured and bumpy. Surfed my ever fun 6'4" fish. The big carbon fibers fins carving nicely. After the session we kicked it until we headed out to see The Sheets in San Francisco.
1, 2003, Tuesday
28, 2003, Tuesday
Standing in the warming lot looking out at the clean waves after the session it was hard to head off to work.
26, 2003, Sunday
20, 2003, Monday
Surfpulse.com had this to say about the conditions on 10/20:
18, 2003, Saturday
10, 2003, Friday
An offshore flow is supposed to set up soon. This would be a welcome relief to the onshore flow we've had for seemingly a couple few weeks. We'll see if it materializes.
13 , 2003 September
11 , 2003
11 , 2003
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