This post won't be long, mirroring my brief session this afternoon.
Up here on business; two blocks from the white sand crescent of Carmel Beach. On arrival Sunday evening, the surf looked semi-decent - waist and sometimes shoulder high, and fairly smooth, but time didn't permit getting in. Mentally, I committed to using a couple hour break in the afternoon Tuesday to slip in my first surf in Northern California.
I'd asked a couple of exiting surfers on Sunday about the water temperature. One said 56, the other 60, with a debate ensuing. Silently, I thought, "ok, cold." Having driven up, the fins were in my trunk. With the warm summer waters South, I'd removed both my 4:3 and 3:2 to inside the house, but dug around and found an older, slightly leaky 3:2. Not ideal for upper 50's but maybe enough.
Through midday Tuesday, a heavy overcast coupled with mild onshores. I decided to first check it out. A stroll along the beach left me unmoved. (Pictures here are from that stroll.) The surf had lost a foot or so of height, sapping my enthusiasm for dunking in sub-60 water in a leaky, lightweight wet suit and dreary conditions.
Early afternoon, the sun burned through but the wind had picked up to a steady breeze. I went to the pool for a read in the sun, but the sound of waves in the distance kept drawing my mind back to the water. Warmed by the sun in the protected pool area, I committed. I figured by now the small swell would be trashed by the steady onshore, but a dip in the ocean always brings some benefit.
I slipped on the wetsuit, and walked down the hill to the oceanfront, carrying my fins and finsocks. Emerging from the oceanside mix of pine and cypress, the wind in my face was stronger, steadier, and colder than I'd anticipated. As I crossed the fine, white sand, the gaggle of locals and tourists trying to enjoy the sun through the cool breeze eyed me with degrees of curiosity to incredulity.
Finned up, I slipped into the water, which wasn't as cold as I'd feared. Certainly not over 60, but no stinging and no "ice cream headaches." Although the waves appeared sloppy, much less clean than the photo above, they were more rideable than they appeared. There were even a couple of shoulder high breakers strong enough not to crumble under the onshore onslaught. As it turned out, I spent a pleasant half hour, dodging kelp strands along short little slides and emerged the happier for it.
And so I sit, back in my room overlooking Carmel Bay and north to Monterey Peninsula, preparing for the evening activities but evidently - by the length of this entry - more satisfied by my NorCal baptism than I realized.