Monday, June 27, 2005

Well, blow me down.

The weekend started out with amazing potential for surfing and spending time with my wife. Thankfully, the quality time I got with my spouse over our three days at the beach almost made me forget about how utterly crappy the surf was. Almost.

We stayed at our neighbors' gorgeous beach house perched on a hill overlooking the beach at Oceanside. Some friends of ours, another couple, met us there. When we arrived, I immediately assessed the surf, which was pretty disappointing. So the four of us grabbed lunch at the overpriced Rosanna's (the town's only restaurant) and I downed a couple beers, enjoying the company.

After lunch, as we walked back up the hill to the house, I noticed the waves improving a little with the rising tide. As I suited up and trotted back down the hill with my board under my arm, I ran into a family who was just arriving at another vacation home for the weekend. I asked to borrow sunblock, and commented that even if the surf was below average, at least the sun was shining. The father said they had prayed for sun all week. I replied that they had done a nice job with that, wishing they had also made an appeal for swell. "God bless you!" The Christian man called after me as I continued toward the beach.

Long story short, I made the paddle outside with dry hair and joined another surfer (sporting the prerequisite moustache and Russo longboard). We caught a couple mush-burgers and fought the intense longshore rip that pulled south at what seemed like 15 knots-per-hour. "Beats sitting in front of the TV," said the longboarder. "Or working out on a treadmill," I huffed as I battled the whipping wind and relentless current. After an hour, I bellied one back to shore - a half-mile from where I entered the water - and ran back up the hill to my friends and a nicely chilled bottle of rose.

Later that night, after getting tipsy, we hiked on the beach and explored rock formations and tidepools the unusually low tide gave us access to.

Sunday was a bust. I bid everyone farewell at 11:00 in the morning and drove 25 miles south to Pacific City, a popular spot where I was sure to find surf and some much needed wax. It started raining around Cape Lookout. I stopped and considered trekking two miles down to the legendary "Camp," but decided against it, since I had no way of knowing how flat it might be. And the rain was pissing down harder.

I noticed a few surfers out at Tierra Del Mar, but the waves were as bad as Oceanside had been, so I continued to drive south. Pacific City was a joke. The waves were windblown mush and I counted 2 longboarders, 3 inflatable kayaks, 2 dory boats, and 3 wave runners in the lineup. The waverunners were catching bitchin' airs off of the whitewater. At least I got some wax at the surf shack south of town.

So I made the decision to drive back up the coast toward my ace-in-the-hole Short Sands, figuring if it was breaking anywhere it would be there. An hour later I arrived in the crowded parking lot. It was 3:30 on Sunday and the weekend warriors were packing it in. On my way down the trail, I passed some guys from Portland's Gorge Performance surf shop. Their review of the conditions were as follows: "Small and crowded." Truer words were never spoken. I surfed for a couple hours, catching some two-foot closeouts. I noticed that I would blow takeoffs more often and pearl all the time on these sloppy waves. Going right was a complete disaster. I couldn't find the pocket. The conditions deteriorated and I trudged back up the path to the parking lot. I took a picture from a viewpoint on Cape Nea Kah Nie, speculating that during the right swell direction it could be an amazing right point break.

I pretty much gave up on the prospect of getting any surf for the rest of our mini-vacation and focused on hanging with my wife, who had been as patient as a monk as I searched coastal Oregon's nooks and crannies looking for any semblance of a wave. We watched movies as the rain came down outside. We slept in and read our books, drinking pressed coffee and eating junk food. It was complete relaxation. At 4pm on Monday we started getting ready to go home. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the waves improving as the tide rose. She said it first: "That was a big one, wasn't it?" Three surfers made their way out into the water. "Do you want to go out there with them?" Five minutes later, I was jogging back down the hill again. I told my wife to hang my board bag over the rail of the deck in an hour, so I could tell how long I had been out.

The waves were finally picking up, five-foot walls of whitewater tumbling in at short intervals. Oceanside is one of the few "rights" that I have encountered in Oregon. Factoring in that and the strong rip, I paddled in on the north side of the beach. When I reached the outside, I talked to one of the other surfers. We agreed that you'd have to catch these waves late in order to ride them. They practically had to break on your back since they were big, but not steep. My first ride was a short right that sent me down the beach and into the rip. I failed to tap into a powerful enough wave to propel me inside to the bowl section. I had a difficult paddle to get back to the takeoff zone again. I watched the other surfer drop in and admired his smooth carves and the speed he generated. He did a hard off-the-top turn as the wave closed out and paddled back toward me.

"I could really use a 'left' right now, to get me back up there," I said, motioning to the takeoff spot a hundred yards away. As I said it, a big watery wedge approached and sure enough the peak feathered to the left. "There you go!" He yelled. I paddled into it and began dropping down the face. As I pushed up I was very unstable. The face was choppy - this was the first legit wave I had seen in a while. I was about to crash and burn, but I hung in there with my right hand still on the deck of the board. I stood up completely as I reached the bottom of the wave and leaned into the bottom turn. I was hauling ass. The whitewater sprayed me as I raced along the shoulder. The wave itself was taller than me and bumpy as an old dirt road. I rode it until I stopped moving and the board sunk under me. Although I must have looked like a clown, at least the thrill was there.

Moral of the story: Bad conditions can make you feel like a complete kook again. Just when you think you're starting to progress, the fickle Ocean comes along and bitch slaps you with a reality check.

...Oh yeah, and in the end it really isn't all that important anyway. My incredibly tolerant wife taught me that.

Music: Coldplay - "What If"

1 comment:

Slim said...

Sounds like your weekend fired about as well as mine!