Three Sessions with Joel

What a great visit from Joel Barron. It was great to hang out with him for the first time in seven years. For me, an “old guy” whose obsession with surfing began later in life, it’s especially gratifying to have old friends who have also come to share my passion. Thanks, Joel, for taking the time to leave your perfect and warm California waves for our choppy cold business.

Surfing 16 (7/6): Junky Running — Tuesday AM at Indian Beach

For our second session I took Joel to Indian Beach on Tuesday morning, close to high tide again. The conditions were not perfect, as the wind had started to come up. But there was some fun riding to be had. After paddling in along the customary route on the north end, we had to move pretty far south to find the breaking peaks. But the 4-5 foot waves were completely inconsistent in their breaking pattern, and we soon got tired chasing after the breaking peaks in the middle. Those several times we got caught inside forced us to battle back out through the beach break, spending precious energy. It was hard to wind up in the right place, along a breaking corner or wedge of the steep waves. On days like this, you have to have perfect timing and position unless you want to get pounded by the central, close-out section of the wave, or miss it altogether. For me this happened a few times, though, before the end, and I can say it was pretty fun. We surfed for about 90 minutes.

Surfing 17 (7/6): More Shape than Substance — Tuesday PM at Oswald

Tuesday afternoon, the weather could not have been more sunny and beautiful (or so we thought until we got to Wednesday!). We played on the beach and bided our time until the evening, and then we went back to Oswald. It was a blast to be back there for an evening session on a second day in a row. It was smaller, and, if anything, smoother and glassier than the first night. We went into the middle, and chased a bunch of waves, catching a few. The shape was brilliant, and the beauty of the moment was extreme. But the size was small, and the waves failed to set up fully where they would have produced a really exciting ride. Most breaks had multiple breaking humps and quickly closed out. And there were a lot of people out. So we got our selves tuckered out. At the end of the session we again paddled down to the south end and I found that the same conditions applied as the previous night. The south end was more choppy, but also bigger, steeper, and, once you had found your position, better surfing overall. So the night ended up with quite a few exciting and gratifying rides.

Surfing 18 (7/7): Sunny North End Playtime — Wednesday AM at Oswald

Twelve hours later we again hiked down to Short Sand, starting to really feel the pain from pushing our 40+ year old bodies as we had been doing. Wednesday would shape up into a really gorgeous day. It was super hot by mid morning, over 75 degrees on the beach, and everybody was out and sunbathing or setting up for a full day of fun at Smuggler Cove. The waves, such as they were (kinda junky and disorganized, and small, but pretty glassy in spite of 10 knot winds, because the wind was ENE) ended up being crowded by thrill seekers. We went north on the beach to suit up, and ended up paddling all the way north. We did find some ridable waves but the conditions, aside from the weather, weren’t the best. We had fun chasing those waves but both complained of lacking full strength for paddling, etc.

Not-Surfing (7/8): Too Sore, Too Tired, Too Picky — Thursday AM Non-Session at Indian Beach

Thursday morning we were dragging. And the weather, after such a beautiful day on Wednesday, seemed grim and foreboding. We nevertheless motivated ourselves to get up and drive to Indian Beach. Once there, our sore and tired bodies spoke much more loudly than the feeble stoke in our hearts. Looking out, nothing about the surfing appealed to us. The tide was semi-out. Slate sky. Water ashen clay and splashed with foam. Nobody surfing, but two guys just finishing up. We watched for a while and talked about all the reasons not to surf it. The wind chop was as big as the waves, which looked to be 2-3 feet at max. Together, wind and swell turned the beach break into swirling froth of barely surfable closeouts. We were so sore (and I would become more and more sore over the next several days). And so tired. So we went to Pig N’ Pancake in Cannon Beach instead and talked about how good the waves are in California, and why.

Next time, I’ll come visit you, Joel!

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