Sunday mid-day

Surfing 08

Sunday I spent from about 1:30 to 6:00 pm out of the house, in a pretty active state. I went to Short Sand beach (in Smuggler Cove at Oswald West State Park) to surf for about 60 minutes or so from about 2:00 to 3:00 pm. The surfing was ok. Nothing huge, nothing spectacular. I caught the mid-day high tide. The wave I call “the tooth” and the channel by the rocks on the south east end I call “the elevator” were both working. I was in control of my board. Popping up and standing ok. The weather was ok, by which I mean: 60’s, gray, rainy. The water temperature was awesome: maybe 62? I was actually hot in my wetsuit. This was a real surfing day and I finally felt like I was back in the swing of things. Unfortunately, my knowledge of what surfing is like has reached the point where I am pretty conscious of what a weak surfer I really am. Oh well. This is obviously not the summer where I go semi-pro. Ha!

After hiking back up and packing up my car I actually hooked up with my family and friends and we hiked back down through Oswald to the beach and spent a few more afternoon hours there playing with the kids in the sand and surf. It was relaxing and fun. It stopped raining and almost got sunny. That was a blast.

three days of miracles

Surfing (and Kayaking) 04-07

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, July 10th through 12th. The wind has been down, and when it has been blowing, it’s been coming from the south. It’s brought moist warm air and warm surface waters to the North Coast. The hard, regional WNW swell that was kicking up so much sand during the last two weeks fell off completely, leaving only a 15-18 second period groundswell from the S and SSW and SW.

The National Weather Service predicted an upper level trough over the pacific northwest and small waves all week. As predicted, wind waves were down and combined swell heights were rarely above 3 feet around the region. Winds stayed down until Tuesday afternoon. The groundswell swell started off small on Sunday morning, at about 1.6 feet, but had climbed to 3.3 feet by today (Tuesday the 12th). The tide was lined up so that the highest tide of the day was occurring at or just after sunset all three of these days.

Surfing 04. The wind took Sunday off; it was a real day of rest. The surface of the sea glassed over and the water turned green in the sun and clear gray in the clouds. Small rolling waves lapped at every shore from Indian Beach to the Nehalem Bay. If you wanted to take a longboard out you had your pick of 15 miles of beaches and rocks. It was 65 degrees, sunny, and absolutely calm right into the evening. My dad and I started out Sunday morning early, just after low tide, with a trip to Short Sands. We were two of about 8 people there at 6:30 am. There was not a lot happening. The sheltered cove was pretty tame. Well, we had our walk and our cold water paddle out and splash about. There was one really bad downside: I bumped my cheaply made and lightweight Doyle’s nose into the sand on a stupid, shallow take off, and cracked it real good. That’s gonna cost me.

All day Sunday, playing on the beach (with a perfect, sunny, afternoon low tide, where the kids had tons of fun in the wet sand and we rode our skimboards a bit) I marveled at the light breezes and general absence of wind.

Kayaking 05. As the evening approached I checked all the buoys from Tillamook to Astoria and everywhere it was 60 degree water and dead calm, with small local wind waves and knee high groundswell from the SW. I declared that evening was going to be a second session, right in Arch Cape, on Kayak. And so it was. I went out after the kids were down, about 8:30 pm, and stayed out into the darkening evening, only finishing up about 9:30. So many fun rides. Bob Cerelli came out (I knew he would). He taught me a thing or two. Awesome tips thank you Bob. My dad shot some video for about 30 minutes, then finally suited up and brought out his boogie board too. The waters were that irresistible. Totally priceless sunset surf. (It was so calm that I bet it would probably even have been awesome way up at Sunset Beach, too. Oh, someday.)

Surfing 06. Sitting in the calm waters that night, I could tell that Monday night was going to happen too. The morning low tide wasn’t going to be interesting, but the evening calm high tide surely would. Winds were again absent or very light, and by Monday evening they just died completely at Arch Cape. (It was funny too, because this delighted me, yet frustrated my daughter, who kept asking me if we could fly a kite; no, thank God! we cannot fly a kite right now, but the winds will surely return). The surface glassed over. Those SW rollers come in and mostly break left towards Hug Point. I did suit up after kid bedtime again, and this time took out my Super Ugly longboard. I started about 8:30, and didn’t stay long. Maybe a half hour. I got several sloppy rides. It is much more difficult to position yourself amongst these waves on a surfboard than it is in a Kayak. Although the seas were again calm, they biggest waves in the pattern were bigger than the night before. The beach break was a rough paddle or wade. I had one or two fun wild rides, and finally, after I almost got washed into the rocky berm north of Leech, I walked it home.

Surfing 07. Tuesday was rainy, and gray. The wind was again dead calm in the morning, but came up stiffly mid day. Yet, on this gray evening the wind died again. The light grew mystical. The seas cleaned up. The rollers became more visible and stable. About 8:30 I took my longboard out. Stayed out until about 9:!5. It was difficult to wade or paddle through the break with my big heavy board, but worth it for a bunch of really fun rides. The winds were dead calm on shore, but picked up out past the rocks of Arch Cape itself. In the rock’s wind shadow the seas were glassy, and the waves, were now mostly about 3 feet. Occasionally waves a full foot higher would break further out, come through and impart their mayhem to my position and to the inside. I got a few kind, glassy rides, and had my good end of day fun.

murphy’s law

Surfing session 03

Very early Tuesday morning, July 5th, did not look especially promising. On the plus side: almost no wind, only very light breezes from NNE, which meant that the beach break at Short Sand would be clean. Blue skies, which meant that the sun would come up over the basin of Smuggler Cove.

On the minus side: waves between less than a foot and two feet high. Pretty chilly water temperature.

Difficult to judge: a tide falling from about plus 5 feet to about 1 foot during the time 6 am to 8:30 am. On balance, I think this is less than desirable.

When I arrived the waters looked flat; the little rollers were almost too small to notice. I almost didn’t go in. But I was there, I had a thermos of coffee, and it was a beautiful day. I suited up, drank a cup, and got in the cold cold waters. I spent about an hour fruitlessly paddling after tiny, not very dynamic waves. I stood up, pathetically, a few times, and fell off my board in the slop, which was only about ten inches deep.

Murphy’s law would predict that during the entire first week of my stay at the beach, I’d find only three opportunities to go, and that all of them would be ill-timed. Oh well, maybe my tide, surf, wind, and weather will align with my chosen time on Thursday morning.

chop and stop

Surfing session 02

Saturday I tried to catch the latter half of the falling high tide, setting out at about 5:30 am for Indian Beach. It was mid 50s outside, overcast, drizzling, light north winds. According to one source, at 5:00 am, the buoy reports said the water was 53 degrees; according to another, they were about 61 degrees in the afternoon. I’m not sure the water can vary that much during the day. The temperature was cold as hell. I definitely had to put on my hood.

By my reading of the tide tables, the tide should have been higher than it was. It was way out. The break zone was compressed. There were indeed 5 foot swells, a bit smaller than Thursday. On an 8 to 10 second period. They were fractured and randomized by wind waves and various cross swells. I knew that the narrow zone where waves were breaking would be difficult to navigate with my too heavy longboard. (I need a good wide fishtail board, I think.) I got beaten up a bit. I think I hit my temple on the board… not cool. I rode only one or two waves and quit early, before 7:00 am.

I’m definitely still trying to get my legs; and get the timing right.

first surf of summer 2011

Session 01

I went to short sands mid-morning on Friday, July 1st. Overnight and in the early morning the winds were light and the surf forecast was 6-8 foot (which is huge), medium period, semi-glassy in AM moving towards junky in the PM as winds picked up. The tide was low right about 8:30 which meant that it was difficult to take advantage of the best wind/surf combination of the day. But I went anyway, surfing from about 10:30 am to about 12:00 pm, on the first half of the rising tide.

Round these parts surf conditions cannot approach ideal unless you have a rising mid-to-high tide coinciding with the morning’s low and/or the afternoon’s offshore winds, combined with a significant wave with low period (4+ feet, 10+ seconds).

The forecast had me thinking that Friday would the first day where I could even get close to this kind of situation. But it turns out it was far from ideal.

The winds were a strong NW (oriented like N given the angle of Short Sand beach), and way higher than forecast for the late morning. They screwed everything up. Plus, the waves were junky and complicated by a multiple cross swell and local wind waves. And moreover, not having surfed for six months, it felt like nothing was working right for me.

My huge and heavy single-fin 9′ 6″ Bruce Grant Super Ugly board was a liability rather than any kind of aid in the pounding beach break. Once I got outside the break zone, the southbound current caused by the 10+ knott winds meant nearly constant paddling just to maintain position. And then everything went wrong on every wave I tried to ride: balance issues, purling, cramped feet, calves, hamstrings, exhausted paddling arms, etc.

It was an awful first day. An inauspicious start to the summer. But, the worst day surfing… I was so glad to be back in the water. I spent about 90 minutes in the water and wore myself out.

Better luck on Sunday, I hope.

Maui no ka oi

“Maui is the best!”

Ok, maybe there’s someplace better, but it doesn’t even matter if it’s true.

It’s currently Saturday, January 8th, 2011. My last post was on Saturday, January 1st. I’ve been so busy with my family on this vacation that I just can’t find the time to catch up with my blogging. This post is just a quick update to my “training” blog that logs the surfing sessions I got in since my last post. Too many awesome details have already slipped from my mind, so this won’t be a piece of literary mastery or even a decent memorial, but whatever. If you’re a friend, and you want pictures (not of me surfing, but whatever) check me out on the facebook.

Sunday, January 2nd. Went back to Launiupoko beach park again. The surf was better than the day before. My family had less fun (the cousins didn’t join my wife and kids) but I had more fun, more rides, and… for the first time I really felt like I was “getting” the surfing element of the “Stand Up Paddle Surfing.”

Monday, January 3rd. Took the whole day off from surfing entirely. I guess I was tired and sore. Also, the original plan was to take my SUP board over to the most famous of Maui’s surf spots, Honolua Bay. I took a hike there in the afternoon, with my dad for company and my boy JZ in the backpack. It was windy, very sunny and hot, and perfect 4ft waves. The spot was crowded with locals and tourists alike. Most of the passable waves were being dominated by some pretty skilled riders. And no SUP surfers out there; the steep cliff climb down to the put in spot in the middle makes it a difficult place to show up at with a SUP board. But looking at the waves and the line up I knew I could hang with this crowd. On regular surfboard. So later in the afternoon I rented a 9′ quad fin from Maui Surfboards (cool guys there, by the way) and planned to go out the next morning.

Tuesday, Jan. 4th. I woke up about an hour before sunrise (at 6:00 am; sunrise at 7:04 am) and slowly, quietly got geared up and departed for Honolua Bay. After a stop at the Honolua Store for coffee and use of the facilities, I hiked down in the growing light of pre-dawn and was the first guy in the water. The waves were very small (1-3 feet at most), and the breaks all end on coral and rocky points. But they are awesomely shaped and regular as a clock. A bit later I was joined by two tourists from Japan and a local on a shortboard. He turned out to be a pleasant enough guy although he was pretty grudging with the aloha at first. (I smiled and said, “how you doing?” when he paddled up to the spot where I was riding; he didn’t smile, said, “fine thanks; another day in paradise” and his look was on the polite side of stink eye; but later, when I gushed at the morning double rainbow that appeared over our heads, breathing out an audible “unbelievable” he finally gave up some surfer love with a smile and we traded a few comments about how amazing the spot is; localism sucks but appreciation and aloha win the day). Other surfers and tourists observed from the cliffs above. I rode a few waves, some of them pretty awesome. And the technical skill involved in keeping that rental board free from damage on the rocks… that’s priceless. YES! I surfed in Honolua Bay. Next time I’m in the area of Napili Bay — if I ever am again — I believe that’s all I’ll do while I’m there. Dawn patrol at Honolua. An unforgettable two hours in the water. Maybe a little chilly in the January wind before the sun emerged from behind the hills. But I’m not complaining! Later that afternoon, before making dinner for my bro John’s birthday, I got out for another 45 minutes or so of vigorous paddle surfing. So yes, it was also a double. What a day. We finished it up with some delicious home cooked grilled fish, veggies and rice, ice cream, and plenty of libations.

Wednesday, Jan. 5th. Second to last day, and I did not waste it. The swell picked up slightly on this day, from 2-4 feet, and, as it turns out, there were ride-able waves in the Napili bay. I caught a few of them with the SUP board, and started to feel like a pro! I had a very long session, nearly two hours in the water. I paddled out to the point on the north end of Napili Bay and I learned, from some CRAZY local boys riding boogie boards on the standing wave that breaks out there, far from shore (!) that the surf spot there is called “scorps” as in “scorpions.” An appropriate name. I did a crazy thing during this session. Here’s what happened. A crazy fat wind came up and blew out the surfing opportunities right in Napili Bay. It was right then that my dad came out on his rented 12′ soft top and said he wanted to paddle out to the point, the place that turned out to be scorps. I paddled with him about 2/3 of the way, then I came up with the idea of porting my board across the rocky point, from Napili Bay to Kapalua cove, where the waters would be gentler for the final leg of the paddle out to scorps. You should have seen me trying to carry that crazy board without dropping it on all the sharp and slippery lava rocks (my neoprene VFF aquas served me well, but they weren’t quite sticky enough to keep me from sliding perilously around a lot); but tenacious! I made it. And no damage to the board. Thank you Jesus. Then I paddled out, past what was probably a ridable wave, except I didn’t feel like risking that unknown spot just then. I watched the crazy boogie boarders, and then proceeded around the outside of the break and back into Napili Bay. Oh my freaking God! It was crazy rough windblown waters; 2ft wind swell at 3 seconds, or something like that, in patterns warped by the submerged point break. Basically, a dome shaped curved wave breaks onto the point in an arc that runs 270 degrees of a circle. All those waves want to push you back on the point, and they were magnified by a weird SW headwind. However… I triumphed. I was like Jason the Argonaut paddling my board; I might as well have paddled it through a class 3 rapid. Except I didn’t have to dodge any boulders. Whatever. I worked my tail off to get back to shore. The end of an awesome day.

Thursday, Jan. 6th. My 42nd birthday. And our last full day on the Island. Most of the family (with the exception of John, who had to work) went back to Launiupoko beach park, and spent the afternoon there. When we first got there conditions were perfect. 2-3 foot swell, light wind. I paddled out and the first thing that happened was I caught an awesome wave right back in, all the way to shore. And back out again, catching as many waves as I wanted to. I was really surfing. It was an excellent culmination to this SUP adventure vacation. But the wind was onshore, and not favorable. When it picked up, as it did later in the afternoon, the waves got blown out and it became MUCH harder to surf. All my hours on the board, battling rough surfaces and headwinds paid off well. I was definitely one of the most confident SUP surfers out there that day. So much fun. This was followed by a glorious evening with John, Dad, Ebet, and Yael at one of my favorite bars in the universe: the bar at the restaurant at Napili Kai Beach Resort (it used to be called the Teahouse of the Maui Moon; now I think it’s just called the Seahouse). We ate and drank well. But apparently I picked up something, because…

Friday, Jan. 7th. Departure day. My plan was to rise super early and go out. All night long I could hear the swell building. I could hear it because I was awake. Sick. With intestinal cramps. What I didn’t know was that the waves had picked up to 8-12 feet! When I arose in the morning I saw the most amazing spectacle. Perfect (if a bit stormy) well formed longboarding big waves rolling straight down into Honokeana Cove and Little Maks! But I was completely debilitated by … Tourista? Food poisoning? Spare you the details. It reminded me of my bout with Giardia from last summer. Anyway, there was a SUP boarder right there in the middle of the pack, off shore. I could have gone out and had some of the best rides of my life… but I could not. Had to pack. Had to stay near the bathroom. Couldn’t risk going into a cramp and getting caught inside those monster waves. Anyway. This was a kind of fitting end to my trip. The Island and Ocean and storms got together and said: this is what we offer to the locals. To those who stay. Aloha. Maui no ka oi. Come back and spend your money again sometime!

Turtles and Toddlers (3 SUP sessions)

Thursday, Friday, Saturday New Year’s Day, I got out for three more sessions on my Stand Up Paddle board. The wind has remained pretty constant at around 10 kts, mostly Northly and Easterly, so the surface has not been ideal, but it’s been a good training period for developing my skills on a SUP board.

The waves died out on Thursday (12/30/2010), and I only had a 45 minute window in the afternoon, but… you gotta go! So I paddled down to Little Mac’s (aka Little Makaha or Little Maks), mostly with the wind, and cruised around trying to catch the tiny swells. Mostly this ended up being practice just getting the board into position and turning it around. I learned stuff like… you have to keep the board moving, even just a little bit, or you become progressively less stable. There was nobody there of course, except for sea turtles. So many sea turtles live in these little bays, it’s pretty neat. I had some communion time with these awesome creatures.

Paddling back against the wind was a real beast.

Friday, New Year’s Eve day, was about the same as Thursday, except I had permission to take two hours. Again I paddled around the Southwest point at Napili and across Honokeana bay to Little Makaha and chased after the tiny swell, fruitlessly, for a long time. I did come close to riding a couple of small swells but I’m just not there yet. I also explored the apparently unnamed cove to the south of the spot, I saw at least 10 turtles, and had some funny and startling close calls paddling around them. The wind was still high, but since I wasn’t in a hurry, it was not so much of a stress to paddle back against it.

Saturday, New Year’s Day, we loaded up our whole family, and my sister and brother in law loaded up their kids, and we took an afternoon outing to Launiupoko beach park, Southeast of Lahaina. John and Ebet rented a longboard along the way. It was a bit of a logistical challenge to get everyone situated there (parking, boards, beach toys, floaties, food, towels, changes of clothes, yada yada) but once we were settled it was a perfect place for family fun and some surfing the mini-waves. My time on the board Monday-Friday was paying off, as I was able to stay standing most of the time and get around where I needed to be. The bigger swells were still a bit of a challenge for me, but I got some really sweet little rides. Meanwhile, the toddlers played and had fun in the really warm wading pool behind the seawall. After I was done playing around, Lena put on her floaty and came out on the board with me! We took some really fun tandem boogie-style belly rides together on the junior waves at the south end of the park. Lena’s screams of excitement were music to my ears. She was really brave, and did not cry when waves splashed her face, etc. Then off to Aloha Mixed Plate for a family meal and libations. Fun times.

10k Walk/Sprint and a Long Paddle to Little Mac’s

10k Sprint Workout

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Wednesday morning early I went out for a 10k distance walk/sprint session with my brother-in-law John Chun. It was good. John’s a natural athlete and had very little trouble keeping up with me. I had my VFFs on and that felt pretty good except, toward the end I developed a little blister on the ball of my right foot beneath the big toe, and I have pain in the joints, again, below the index and third toes of my left foot. I’ll have to ask Corey about those.

It was an out and back course, kinda funny shaped, about 90% of a circle run one way and then the other, 3.1 miles each way. We started clockwise and then finished clockwise. About 2 miles total are on Hwy 30. See the map at right:

Results: 10k (6.2 mile) total distance. 5 min walking recovery / 1 min sprints. Nearly 13 complete rounds (12:36 seconds of sprinting total). Total time: 1:17:36. (12:31 min/mile pace).

A Long Paddle

Late in the afternoon, in spite of a pretty strong E wind, I took out my SUP board and paddled around for a while.

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I started by going from Napili Bay northeast towards little Kapalua Bay. On the point between Napili Bay and Kapalua bay there are submerged rocks that create a perpetual mini-big-wave break. Surfers are out there regularly when the N/NE swell gets above about 2 feet. I don’t know what they call the place, but I would call it Shark’s Tooth. It looks deadly to me. I paddled safely around the outside of it on open water, and into Kapalua bay, and rested and watched the crazy waves for a while. Not for me.

I paddled back into open water, outside the point, and straight across the open water headed for the southwest end of Napili Bay.

Then, from there, I paddled past Honokeana Bay to the southwest point dividing it from the next bay down. There I found a cluster of local surfers, young men and old, floating in the surprisingly consistent and rolling swell, but with a short, 8 second or so period.

I waited and watched from a distance for a while. Then after a while I grew bolder and decided I might be able to catch a swell. I paddled for it, paddled harder, missed several, and then fell into the water in plain view of everybody. A young guy paddling out smiled with good humor; I said, “I have no idea what I am doing here.” He laughed and advised me on my foot placement. I asked him if the place had a name. Little Mac’s he said. What a cool spot.

After a short while, and after falling into the water like an idiot a bunch of times (I was tired by this point), I paddled back, against the wind. It was a hard hard slog!

I charted my path roughly on Google Earth and it looks like it was about 2 miles worth of paddling, total. Not a bad end to my day.

Brother in law John Chun caught a bit of me struggling against the wind and chop there at the end, as I came back to Naplili bay. In all my kookish glory. Don’t judge me. It’s just for fun!

You can’t tell this AT ALL from the videos, but I was fighting a strong headwind, and significant chop, which is why I am digging so hard and leaning so far forward with each stroke. Finally, I was facing some difficult waters and hard going, so I got down on my knees to finish out the ride. Not exactly elegant, but a great time and good exercise.

More SUP Surfing

Tuesday morning came, and with it a long morning drive to Kahului and a visit to Hawaiian Island Surf and Sport; that got me back in the game for Stand Up Paddle surfing. The guys at the shop had a good humor about my wreck, considering it was a truly nasty ding. Karl, who was helping me, did not make me feel like a kook. He didn’t have to. My first day out on the board and I smacked into some coral? Noob.

Cost me $175 to repair. I added the damage waiver to the remainder of my rental, which is now running to nearly the full cost of a new polyester or epoxy pop-out fun board. Next trip? Anyway… “Whatever you do, don’t hit the Island,” they advised. Indeed.

I got out for about 30 minutes in the late afternoon. Grey skies. 10 knot winds, rough surface, light swell. I paddled as much as I could. And fell a lot. The new board is 32″ wide and 10’1″ long. Very stable, but a different feel than the 11’1″ board I started on (and dinged up so badly). I didn’t ride any waves (none were there to be had).

It’s all good practice.

Stand Up Paddle!

Trying something new: this morning I got up on a stand up paddle surfboard, and went out into the rolling swell in Napili Bay (here on Maui). This was my first time on a SUP surfboard. Man it is not easy.

I didn’t catch any swells, but I did come close once or twice. It’s a real challenge to maintain your balance, and a challenge to get the balanced, stable forward momentum you need, in the right direction, to catch a swell. I’ll get it soon enough.

I am not at all thinking about training at the moment. Just paddling, and some sprinting and screwing around. I’ll try to get some pictures.

In the afternoon I went out for a second session, about 45 minutes. It was great. I caught several swells and rode them like a regular surfer guy. Stand Up Paddle surfing is more challenging than I imagined. Wind, chop, and swells combined produce a seriously difficult challenge to maintaining balance. Core, legs, and arms are constantly working whether you are in motion or staying still.

Unfortunately, on my last ride of the day (it’s always the last ride) I managed to pearl just a bit, and fell, and got myself a most expensive surfing lesson. I was chasing small swells on the southwest end of Napili Bay, where the rocks are shallow. I had several safe rides through a channel in the rocks, but this time I lost balance and fell. Underwater for a moment, with eyes open, I found myself drifting past a wide, jaggedly sharp, hook-like formation of coral that reached up towards the surface. I recall thinking, I might just get killed by something like that. That could gore me, or rip open my back or break my skull. A short time later I paddled in. It was peaceful, beautiful, deadly.

When I got up to the grass, and laid down my board, I noticed a huge and awful looking gash on the bottom, up near the nose. What a ding! I knew right away that the pearl had done it. What an unfortunate mess. Later I called the rental shop in Kahului. This mistake was going to cost a couple of hundred dollars. Holy crap. But to me, surfing is like crack cocaine. I resolved to learn my lesson and move on. And I’ll figure out how to pay for this obsession later.

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