Monday, January 29, 2007

Session 7018: Wouldn't you hate it when...

Dp this morning at the usual DP break with the usual DP crowd. A stokemaster buddy and I were sitting on an empty spot just by ourselves as the main crowed were fighting towards the north. We had much less waves but I'd rather avoid the crowed than to wait a bit longer for a few waves.

We waited, waited and waited and nobody was paddling out to our direction. But listen to this, just when a set started to come, this long boarder paddles up just in time from nowhere and "threatening" to catch waves.

I am happy to share the waves, but, wouldn't you just hate it when that happens?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Session 7017

I slept in and slept over this morning until 9:00 AM. I actually had a vivid dream about a surf trip and I guess I was enjoying this. I was in a place like Waikiki where there were beach front hotels and you can either walk on the street along the beach or on the beach. I had to make a phone call, and I saw an interesting looking, a kind of a tacky, payphone pedestal decorated with shells. Well, I go up to it, I find out that the telephone set was ripped out of it.

I have actually been noticing this all over the places in real life. I guess payphones are starting to become museum pieces. I don't know the significance of that dream, but that's basically where the dream ended.

This morning, I had a very short time, so I went to the Jetty. The tide was super low. During this period, the water looked very confused, creating lot of ripples all over the places, doubling and even tripling up, and totally closing out. I did not want to bother with the breakwater area because it was already crowded with long boarders too, and they were shooting up their boards up in the sky every time close out sets came. I don't want to be there when that happens.

I was there for about an hour and scored two waves that were actual rides but the rest of the times, I had to quit paddling into the waves only to protect myself mixed up in the impact zone which was only about knee high. It is really tricky to know what's really ridable and what isn't because even under these circumstances ridable waves do happen especially if you start from the edge of the shoulder location of which changes all the time. I just paddle and hope that it happens where I think it would be. When it works, it requires a bit of fast take-off tactics.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Session 7016: Post Operative Session

This is the first session after the dental implant surgery. You'd not want to break the jaw right away, so I had to be careful. The night before I went to Big5 and got a mouth guard priced at $1.45. It has a $8000 dental gurantee. But if you read closely, they what they give you is up to something like $250 per teeth. You need to cook it first then fit it while it is soft. It fit OK, but occasionaly I felt like I was ready to puke as it pressed at the back of the tongue. But eventually I got used to it.

As for the surfing, I picked a local uncrowded beach. The waves looked good, with occasional overhead sets passing by and without much wind, it was on easier range for getting out, for this place. Normally we all need to fight lots of inside white breaks to get out.

I did not want to be out too long but I got one good wave, the kind you can see the wall forming in the right corners of my eyes. But that was it.

I was grad that I came back without an incident though because if there was an incident, I could not surf tomorrow and will be in somewhat of a problem with the dentist, and of course, with other people too!


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Thoughts For The Downtime: Implants for Surfers

I am down for about a week this week. So my WavLOG fans, sorry about no fun surf report. You know that there is a way to write a comment on this BLOG, so you are welcome to write whatever length stuff in there. You can also start your own Surf Blogs too! It is really a fun way of keeping the log of your humble start, the rise and eventual fall of your surfing career, but it would be a great way of looking back and remembering all the good and bad things that has happened.

The reason why I am down this week is because I had a missing tooth for quite some years and it is being replaced this week. I have also seen many surfers with missing teeth, for the reasons we are too familiar with, so I thought I write about it.

If you happen to lose one completely, implant is actually quite a good way to go, if you can afford the expense, but then I think something as important as a teeth, you should seriously consider it because if you go the way of bridging then you basically have to damage the adjacent teeth by shaving them down and capping them to construct a bridge over the missing section. I happen to believe that you should keep as many healthy teeth as possible, since they won't grow after a loss (unlike the shark in the ocean.)

Speaking of this, my dentist was very concerned about impacts while the implant would stabilize after a procedure, and I was discussing about various impacts with my dentist yesterday, and wearing a full helmet is also very helpful in this regard as quite a bit of jaw bone is protected from side impacts. Sure it does not look fashionable, but considering the expense, and the downtime that I can avoid it is a good insurance to have. He also suggested that I should look into getting a mouth guard.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Session 7015: Thinking About Rip Currents

This morning, I wanted to have a local uncrowded session with my neighbor buddy. We checked out a local beach. One of the things that is still difficult to gauge is how difficult it is to get out, let alone the quality of the break.

I have not been back here for at least 3 months if not longer. There has been a report of this location good in the past few days.

The first attempt was horrible. This place is famous for its side currents (and that usually means there is a sandbar out there somewhere!) But I did not reach the outside and instead after good 5 minutes of paddling, I was already 500 yards or so further south, but I did not make any progress to the outside. My buddy did made to the outside as he is a much stronger paddler. It really makes a difference.

I just got out, walked up the beach and this time I carefully located a channel and rip current. A place like this the water comes from both sides, and collide in the middle so it is not much rougher surface to paddle, it is exactly like paddling away from a spewing jet in a Jacuzzi bath. But the speed at which I can get to the outside is remarkable and often scary.
I was actually thinking about it just as write it.

The spots where channel happens are usually consistent from one break to another, and so I almost unconsciously know where to go to get a ride in 3-4 beaches that I frequent, and as a bonus just around the channel are good shoulders that break towards the center of the channel so if everything works out basically you can have a "flight pattern" that molded after the flow of the water. This is probably one of the reasons why I tend to have better times with places I know well.

Another interesting thing about around here is that the rip currents do not always flow in the textbook direction of "straight to ocean". They usually goes rather diagonally to the beach. It is almost easy to get confused whether I am carried in side current.

Third thing about the rip current that I know about is that the flow changes constantly. If I want to take advantage of it, then I wait for big clean-out set to come and then wait for it to die down, then jump in. That's when the current is highest. So conversely I am much less panicked about currents as I know currents will slow down as bigger sets passes by, and furthermore I don't get out if I know it is going to be a big day that I cannot paddle or ride back if I was caught in currents.


Friday, January 19, 2007

Session 7014: The Sun Directly in Sight

This morning, it was fun. Some fun little poppers here and there, and paddling out was smooth. We are now getting to the time of the year when the sun comes up, it can be directly towards the beach, and it is often impossible to see people ahead.

I am usually very careful, but I must admit, there were some few close calls where someone is paddling out right into my line of surfing. I would wish that people would paddle around a bit and not go so directly back into the lineup especially like today where the waves are popping up at similar places. But this was a famous beginner break. While I wait for a wave, I usually look towards the horizon, but I also look towards the beach to make sure that people are not starting to move into my line of surfing. I usually track 2-3 people who are paddling out, or just finished the last ride and see which "vector" they are taking, and mentally calculate their future points.

Reverse of this situation happens in the late summer and fall when I am out late in the afternoon. In this case, the sun is directly in my eyes when I paddle out and wait for the waves.

Luckily around in this area, this stops to be an issue in the summer especially because usually we are blanketed with a thick cover of fog. So I actually welcome a bit of fog in the morning and late afternoon.

This morning, a bit of cloud cover started in the east as the morning progressed and I think that made it much safer for everyone. Unfortunately, the condition deteriorated rather quickly.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Session 7013: Lone surfing, at least for a while...

Another bone-chilling morning. Sky is also crispy clean and clear. But the high tide was just about 30 minutes ago, so I being afraid that there won't be a neighborhood surfing this morning, When I arrived at the parking across from the beach, that is separated by a highway, the ground was covered with white frost. It has not warmed up yet. I step out of the car to take a look.

The traffic is backed up all the way to the second light so I always tend to make a spectacle out of myself. Especially when there is nobody else around getting ready to get in. This is often the case, I don't really care that much. But it sure can look stupid when I am the only one seemingly interested in "surf here." As cars pass by, drivers look at me intently, sometimes a school bus load of groms would also pass by and that sure cause some excitement among them too.

"Shoot! It might be flat." But I know enough by now that sets don't come often for good 5 to 10 minutes, so I wait and observe patiently. There is a moment of excitement and my heart start to pump a tiny bit more when I see the horizon starting to darken, and then start to lift up, like someone pushing rug from the behind causing it to wrinkle up.

"It's a GO! It's a GO", I shout silently. I quickly run back to the car, open the rear hatch and scramble for the rest of the stuff. Upzip the board bag and pull it out, quickly checking the level of wax; there is enough, great!

And with the bright yellow Stretch F4 Quad in my arm I run to the beach as if there will be a bunch of other people would would come and steal my waves. Again running along the traffic jam. I often wonder what crosses in their minds when they see I do this. The most correct version of it seems like "Oh, there goes that suffer bum again. Doesn't he have a job to go?" Or, perhaps if they know surfing at all, they might be thinking; "Oh, look its him again. That guy never learns, it is so flat here I don't know why he is going there all the time." Actually I don't care what they think, but I am really curious to find out some day (and if you are one of these morning commuters reading this, you can send me a comment).

Now I am at the shore, and verclo the leash as I look up the water to see if it is a good timing to get out. Unlike Montara, getting out here does not require me to time to entry and jump in. In fact if I jump in, I'd break the fins even on a high tide session. I usually walk until I am about mid chest or so deep. This also shows me how far the shallow part of the water ends.

The initial trickle of the water is always the coldest, so I kind of wade slowly at first. I jump on the board and start to paddle out slowly, the first wave to get under through and I just hope it won't be cold. It usually is. Once this part is over though the rest gets increasingly easier, like the initial pluck of needle in a flu shot.

As I get further out, I start to paddle a bit harder to generate additional warmth, and when I am completely soaked and the water immediately around my body heats up then I am all set for the rest of the session.

When I am further out like this, there is not many other places as peaceful as this, and as I sit all by myself out in the water, the sun starts to pop atop the Santa Cruz mountain range, casting warm rays against my face and the whole body. The black suit can quickly absorb heat and I can even feel it through the 4 mm thickness of rubber.

To top this experience off, the waves came rather gently and built up quickly. I had two waves I thought I would not catch, but I got in smoothly and negotiated over some bouncy back washes. Whey they all work out it is just so much fun.

So I was glad I did the plunge this morning. Sometimes, but not always, the nature gives me rewards at a bit unexpected ways.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Session 7012: Go for the Shape, Not the Size!

I should really rely on my instinct and knowledge, and like taste in foods, each person like, or should I say pretend to like, certain size of waves. That is not the case with me, I prefer to get into wave with good quality shapes. I even like to surf knee highs if the shape is good, I can often create long rides out of such small waves.

When I go for bigger waves as just a criteria, then it happens like yesterday where I did not ride much instead, rolled and pulled under in close out sets.

Today the swell eased a bit more and it was a lot smaller but the waves popped up at the right size and shape, and I had some fun quality rides.

I am not scared of big waves as much any more. I have been on bigger quality waves where it is double my short stature too, but these are far and few between around where I hang around. Again it is the shape, and the crowd, and not the size that really matters whether I have fun or not.

NW 8-9 ft and not much more than 9-10 seconds and no wind, and when that comes, I know some surf forecast says "small, not fun" but that's when I pick up a short board and head out when the tide is medium. I know there will be fun wave out there just for me.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Session 7011: Record Cold, But I Surf On!

A record cold weather in this past week. There is already a report of billion dollar damage to California orange and strawberry crops. But I am proud to say that I did not skip the beat, and we all surfed on. Actually, it is not the water that I am afraid of being cold. With wetsuits, booties, squid-head hood, gloves and ear plugs, I am completely bundled and surf pretty much any time of the year around this area, and in fact, with the water temperature still at 51 to 52 F, once I am in the water it isn't any colder than any other days this time of the year. In fact, I have surfed at the Jetty in late April or May amidst spring up-welling when it was 48 F, so I know it can get even colder in the water.

However, I am not saying that there is no toucher. Winter surfing means we need to work with longer period swells, more tidal water movements (as we are actually closer to the Sun than in the summer) and once I am out of the water taking off the wetsuits can be punishingly cold.

After having got sick of fighting the crowd, I've decided to pick a local and less frequented spot this morning. As far as that goes it was a tremendous success, since beside myself there were total of 2, or may be 3 more surfer in the entire mile stretch of the beach. But catching the waves were really tricky this morning. Either the waves backed off, or closed out, seemingly nothing in between. And when I got caught in one of the big closeouts, I thought I was going to die. Then I caught one wave which was decent to start with and built up to be a fun wave but then the next moment it transfromed into a huge shorebreak this location if famous for. I did an emergency jump off and saved my board, life or both.

I paddled back a few more times, and when the chill set inside the suit, I paddled hard in one direction or another just keep my body to generate more heat, that works, and if anything it was a great opportunity to burn more calories. And at the same time my body is tightening up squeezing more water out of the system and you know what happens next.

But when I get up tomorrow morning, I would feel the urge to get out and do it all over again.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Session 7010

The same spot as sesion 7009. Even though the bouy readings are just about similar than yesterday, the wave quality has changed significantly. I brought out my F4, and there were some fun stuff at the start of the session, but when the crowd started, that was it for me. After a surfer came directly at me, I knew there will be a down time. So that was it for me.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Session 7009: Smaller Than Expected, Fun!

This morning, we debated whether to go to Santa Cruz or not. Just about when we were ready to get going, Ren called me and checked the cams and she said to go to OB. Then I talked her into still going to Santa Cruz, and she agreed to that if we all go together from HMB. Then 30 min later, she called and said Linda Mar looks good, so that's (as usual) where we ended up.

Well, it was actually a good idea, as it turned out. Due to and thanks to the prevailing cold weather, though it was really clear and sunny, the parking lot was about 1/2 or less full even though it was already way past 9 am on Saturday! But there was no wind and so it was a smooth paddle out and waves were on mush side so it was perfect for a long board session, for which, I brought a 9'0 Walden Magic.

As I wrote in a few sessions back, as soon as I paddled out, I got one wave, and then another and so for a while I was catching quite a few waves. I have not been on a long board for some time, but every time I take it out, it is just so much fun. I really wish that I had the speed of getting out and the easy of taking off with a long board, and at the same time, I had the agility of a shot board once I am up on the board. Some people might think that short board with duck diving would get you out anywhere, but in my case, they are just about an even trade... Because I can paddle so much faster with a long board, I can actually make it to the outside more often than on a short board.

Speaking of that, also, once you know how to ride a short board, you can actually be a bit more radical on a long board, by which I mean, I would try to make as fast and tight of turns on a long board as a short board. And remarkably it is actually possible. The way it can be executed is that for faster turns I need to sit toward the back of the board and set up the direction. But then once the turn is set up, you'd want to walk forward and set the board for the rest of the turn, at leas that seems to be the theory. This actually require much more dramatic motion on the board than on a short board where a mere movement of knees and hips can cause these effects.

But these are the things that make it really challenging and fun.

Hope there will be many more days like this.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Session 7008, Punishing Session

With the swell and wind getting little less than yesterday, I opted to go to a "bit more expert" spot this morning. When this spot fires, it can be really big, but fun, especially when I was getting a bit more confident, I was eager to try.

Well that confidence crumbled and in less than 45 minutes I had to curl my tail between the legs and get out.

Punishment number 1: It looked small and easy enough from the shore, but once I got in the water, I was not making great progress to the outside. Every time I looked back, the person standing at the beach was basically the same size as before, even though I thought I paddled good couple of minutes.

Punishment number 2: The current. This spot always has some strong side currents, it usually goes down south. I could not find a channel either. Knowing that there is some current I started at the camp site, then I was paddling out towards a person at the peak. When I thought I was nearing the edge of the inside white wash section, I did not see the person. I thought he got out. Then I looked back and I was already at the south edge of the park! I decided to catch the white water, made the shore, and walked back for the attempt #2, which resulted in the same story. So just in two paddle out attempts, I decided to end the session.

Punishment number 3: The cold gust. Now, it was completely sunny alright, but by the time I got back to the car the wind started to howl, and I am not talking about some nice summer breeze, but is is a 48 degrees F. The wind evaporated a lot of water on the wetsuit and I was already cold. When I took the wetsuit off, the wet rush guard started to become really cold. It was the coldest change of cloths I have ever experienced in any recent memory.

So did I have fun? Of course, I did. I did get out, I did get wet, I did paddle out and came back,and the nature taught me, I still need to be better and stronger surfer. Never a dull moment in surfing.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

No Session Today, Tummy Ache

Went to MacWorld yesterday then we endulged ourselves with good food, only to find out this morning that my tummy is achy. Can't have an episode inside of wetsuit that would be ugly, and I've heard a story about somone actually had an accident. He had to take it off and back in the ocean. Would not be so bad if the water is somewhat warm, but not today. The prevailing wind has upwelled the cold water, it seems. The water temp is now at 51 F!

Session 7007: First Wave Luck

I don't know if this happens to you or not, but a great number of times and regardless of which break I am in this happens.

I paddle out, and there coms a wave, and I catch it and that's the best ride for the whole session. It is never repeated again for the whole session. Another thing of this is that it is also usually rather nice ride.

Yesterday, I tried to figure this out, and so I actually got out of the water in a middle of a session, and then try to paddle out again. But the result is the same, no same good wave comes.

If this happens to you too, why not write a comment. I want to know.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Session 7006: Surfing IS STILL Difficult

Monday could have been surf day, but I had a dental app at 8:00. I should NEVER make a doctor appointment first thing in the morning as it would cramp my surf life style!

But this is Tuesday 9th, I did a DP in Pacifica.

Surfing is fun but sure it is difficult. One of the things that make it difficult is catching a wave. I have been at it for many years now and I am not just a weekend warrior, but I do surf 3-4 time, and often all 7 days out of a week, and yet, I just don't feel like I have perfected the art of catching waves.

Just look at this mornings', and for that matter, any other sessions.

I carefully select where I paddle out. I even see that occasionally, among close-outs, there are some peeling lefts in the mix. I know it would be the "best bet" out of the beach where I happens to be.

So what happens, when I paddle out. One wave after another, I see a wave coming, I know "this is it!", and then I take off, I see that it is breaking like a good wave ought to, I continue to paddle in to the wave, pushing the front of my 5'10 board so it would go in, the board starts to catch the wave, and I am paddling and kicking like hell. If I kick any harder, I know I would get a leg clamp. Luckily the board continues to go into the wave. I feel that it is going to left. I paddle harder on my right arm, and push the left edge of the board into the wave.

Then I get up. As soon as I do that, "Ka Boom!" the wave changes into this white mess of a close out. I am still up and riding inside this mess all right, but the next moment, I am jostled up and down, then the more white water would just eat me up.

All right, that was a bad wave selection.

So I paddle out again, duck diving though "I could have gotten that wave, let's get further out..." type waves. Then for good next 5 minutes, there is nothing, but I see all the waves break further inside.

Don't give me that crap! I paddle in.

As soon as I do that, it's time for a bigger set.

OK, you are not going to fool me about this. I am going to wait inside and let you reform.

Of course, that never happens.

I give up, paddle back in against this prevailing rip current where I really don't want to bother finding the edge of it.

Now, I am back in a member of a normal society driving to work, as I pass by the north part of the beach where I did not pick to go, there are beautiful peeling waves.

And that's how it usually happens.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Session 7005: Quickie at Jetty again.

Well, one cannot be greedy. Nature only gives a bit of fun at a time. Surf got smaller, messier, and 45 minutes, I was out.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Session 7004: Jetty, Small but Fun

Still under the aftermath of big winds in the past few days. Kazu and I checked around the breaks and decided that Jetty is the only option for a local surfing. Nice and smooth breaks but lacked a bit of power if I can be picky.

Glad we paddled out, there were some fun waves out there. Should have taken a 6'4 JC or a 6'5 Stretch Q, the 5'10 continues to be a bit more difficult board to catch waves.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Session 7003: Back@Home in Pacifica, Great

Home break welcomed me back. I had a fun session, until, of course, it got crowded.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Session 7002: Ventura Surfers Point

Ventura Surfer's Point Rocked Solid

Oh man, oh man! Best session was the last session on this So Cal vacation. Today we are going to head back to Half Moon Bay.

This morning, I did a DP at the Surfer's Point in Ventura and some really solid swell lines coming in... you could see them coming a mail away, and when they hit the shore became easily overhead but very nice rolling breaks. Nice wave shapes, very long rides, sunny sky, could not ask for a more perfect DP. The wave shapes were rather gentle to get started so it required some paddling by everyone to get into the waves, but once in the waves there was a plenty of room to go all the way to the bottom then up and cut... Just about everything I know how, I was able to do it several times in a ride. If I had a long board, it would have been much better in terms of the wave counts, but my Stretch F4 with myself on it did not too badly... the sharper Mr. Ridell should not be ashamed of.

People here are always very friendly too.

Some challenges,

The waves were crashing right into cobble stone shore. I had to time the sets, then jump in and paddle as fast as possible. Yeah, this is similar to standard Montara get-in trick.

One time I rode all the way to the section that's about 1/2 way between the piers and the beach park. Gosh the side current was so strong I almost had to miss the stairs. This is, again, being beaten up in big shore breaks while negotiating the cobblestone bottom to reach the stairs... I was prepared to damage a board or a fin. Luckily there was a lull moment when I got out.

How was your surfing today? Be sure to write.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Session 7001: San Onofre

I opened 2007 session at the "Old Man's" in San Onofre. Nothing to write home about, it was basically closing out, and I did not have too good of a session. Should have gone to Carlsbad which actually looked decent.