Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Big Swell

The epic swell came and we sorta missed it. For the past week, it seemed like everyone was walking around with woodies in anticipation of the Big South. The surf forcast maps showed a flame-like swell pattern eminating from below the belt of the equator and nailing the whole west coast. promised 4-6 ft. swells with 17 second intervals. There was even a 5-star day predicted for Saturday!

So we drove over and hit Short Sands on Saturday, timing our arrival to coincide with the falling tide an hour after high. When we arrived at Shorty's, the most swell-friendly place on earth, our hopes were immediately deflated like a punctured beach ball. The full moon made the high tide more like a low tide. Smallish waves closed out across the beach. And the tide was only going to drop lower. To make matters worse, all the swell-horny surfers from Northern Oregon were bobbing in the lineup like a hundred black bouys. We suited up and joined the crowd, only to come to the realization that we wouldn't be getting many waves with 25 people paddling for the corners of the sets, which only came every 20 minutes or so...

So we bailed, hiked back up the hill, threw boardbags over the car seats, and drove in our wetsuits back up the beach to an empty beach break we spotted on the way. When we arrived, with only an hour left to redeem the day, we noticed that the beachbreak had improved tremendously with the exaggerated low tide. As we charged to the water, we saw five other guys paddling out at the same time. We got outside easily and caught a couple, but quickly realized that the other guys had the spot wired, grabbing hollow barrels on a peak further south. Looking at a guy manuvering himself into yet another tube on his fish, I said to Gee, "Why aren't we doing that?"

Without another word, we paddled closer to the wiser guys and tried our hand at the hollower waves. We only had a half hour left before we had to meet our girls in Cannon Beach. Gee and I were both a little tired from the double-sesh and it showed. Not paddling hard enough to get in early, popping up late: it was a dangerous combo in these punchy conditions. I watched Gee stand up late on the back of a breaking wave and go over the falls slowly. Next thing I knew, he was paddling in.

I snagged a 3-foot right and tried to grab my rail. It worked, but I didn't end up in a tube. I was in front of the curl too far. I realized that I probably wasn't turning my shoulders to face forward enough, making it impossible to see my posistion on the wave, let alone drag my front hand to stall. My next wave was a right. I missed the bowling section but made it around the broken whitewater for the reform, which was fast and fun.

Then, I also knew it was time to go. Just when it started getting good. The next day, the swell got a little too big for most of the exposed beach breaks. From what I heard, it became a closeout fest.

Today we're planning on checking out PC, a spot further south that seems to get a little protection from wind and chop. That will be important, since the swell has dropped and the wind is gusting now at 20 kts!

Califone - "Slower Twin"

Pictures courtesy of Slim (from later in the day)!


Patch said...


Well, stoked you got something. The swell down here was awesome, depending on where you went. The swell was fickle in some spots due to some shadowing, but the 'bu was going off, I saw some 12 foot bombs coming off of third point with good shape. Even though it was super crowded it was primo. The better session was earlier at a point with 8 in the line-up for about an hour, the spot lies somewhere north of the Mexican border and south of the Canadian border. As I paddled the channel, heading towards the peak, I saw some waves come in at 8 - 10 feet. You could feel the water swirling around under your feet. The sets were starting up, Some monsters were coming in. I saw a bus with my name on it, I paddled into the third one as everyone else was up and running on the previous two waves. At the peak the bottom drops out and you need a quick up, bottom turn, a little squirt, too dig the inside rail and then begin x-stepping to the nose, a little back pedal a few top to bottom carves a couple roller coasters and then line it up for some more. This break was malibu-like, in that, it was breaking machine-like. Perfect overhead sets with a steep workable face and a great noseriding section. Hope this next swell throws more juice your way.

Pura vida.

Music—Wyclef Jean—La Bamba

Diane said...

Happy Surfing!!

Chum said...

I'll be looking for the next big push. Sounds like an effing great day you had there, Patch! I grabbed some nice ones at IB last night (at last). Man, next time I'm down south (around Thanksgiving) I expect a tour of these secret spots!

Patch said...

Right on Chum, spots that catch the NW will be on the agenda, since, that will most likely be the dominant swell around that time.

Music—The Decemberists—The Sporting Life