Monday, July 4, 2011

Small Surf on a Long Weekend

Sorry, no photos or video this entry.

The good news: 
  • I got three sessions in, over three days
  • Water is warm - 67-70
  • There was more swell each day than the meager forecasts
  • I got to reconnect with Bret Belyea, Chris Lafferty, Bruce Robbins and the 17th Street pod, including meeting Bob "Finman" Davis
The surf was, well, adequate...surfable, at least.

Saturday: SCSP ... what's "surf" v. "swim" ????

Saturday afternoon, I broke a tortuous, four hour, drive from Pasadena to Del Mar by swinging into the Calafia parking lot about 2:00.  With negligible hopes of a parking space on a holiday weekend whilst inland Southern California sweltered, having passed 150 filled spaces, I turned the corner onto the lower loop and was amazed to find an empty space just steps from the beach.  

The sun was out, water temp listed at 69, so I changed into a pair of trunks - first time "skinning" it this year - and hastened onto the sand with my fins.  The lifeguards had cordoned for "surfing" the entire area from the canyon outlet north of Main Peak to the pathway down from State Park - which is to say, virtually all the decent sandbars through the Calafia/State Park area.  A few beginners on boards were scattered through the area, while north and south, in the "swimming" area, hordes of summer beachgoers waded out or flailed at boogie-boarding ("sponging") or trying to dive into the waves.  

I slipped on my fins and waded out, just above Main Peak, one eye on the LG in tower 2, just to the north.  Gentle, waist-high rollers were coming in, and I slid into one, yards from any fiberglass.  After I pulled out, I glanced back at the guard, who signaled me to come north, beyond the surf/swim divide.  I waved that I'd go south, and he nodded.

So I swam south, just below the rocks, where a little peak was operating, unheeded by the fiberglass barneys in the water.  I worked that for five or ten minutes, until the white LG jeep stops ashore of where I'm surfing, and instructs "the swimmer in the water" to move to the south of the "swim/surf" markers at LG1.  Figuring they have enough to deal with, given the thorough paving of all dry sand with umbrellas and sun-block slavered bodies, I complied, and rode the inferior waves in front of LG1, weaving in & out of tourists and sponges, for 45 minutes.

So...I understand the need to offer all those holiday beachgoers a safe preserve, especially given the lack of control of the "surfers" in the water...but is it really necessary to EXclude surfers who happen to "surf" without a board from the only stretch worth surfing?  The only other place I've been where bodysurfers are lumped with "swimmers" and excluded from the "surf" zone is Scripps, and, even there, a demonstration of competency will back the lifeguards off.  

Sunday: Del Mar ... semi-solo late morning semi-slop

Overcast, cool and seeming unpromising, the morning recommended leisure.  Nearing midday, I scanned the horizon at Del Mar and saw some visible lines coming in.  At the hotel, the equivalent of a block's walk from the "blackball" zone at 17th Street Del Mar, I tugged on the spring-weight "shortie," grabbed my fins, and walked down to the beach.  Alone, I swam out, in cool but comfortable water, past the waders and sponges playing in the shorebreak and out to the outside break.  Not a soul between the "surf/swim" markers a block north and a block south.  Today, they were working for me.

It was choppy, and frequently sloppy, but I was surprised to find some shoulder-high sets...some of them quite ride-able, coming in.  For an hour, it was nice just lazing outside, with the place to myself.

Eventually, I noticed a bald guy swimming out to join me, breaking my reverie.  He observed that I'd been getting a few "good ones," and we introduced ourselves.  I've known of Bob "Finman" Davis, through mutual friends, for long time, but we'd not met before.  We spent the next half-hour, sharing waves, swapping stories and getting acquainted.  Skinning it, he chilled after a bit; not long afterward, I headed in as well.

Even less than ideal waves are good for the soul.

Monday: Del Mar ... good news for good friends

I'd pre-arranged with Bret Belyea to meet at 17th Street at 7:00.  When I arrived, he was already in the water, with Bruce Robbins, and Chris Lafferty was just pulling into the metered lot.  It was clean and glassy, and some fun, little waves were in evidence.  Today, I elected to skin it again, though the others were in springs suits and even a couple of full suits. 

I had a most enjoyable 2-1/2 hours in the water with the Del Mar crew.  For most, it was just Bret, Chris, Bruce and myself, with another local joining us mid-way.  About 9:00, there was an apparent shift-change, as Bret, Chris and Bruce worked their way in and the 17th St surf club took their places.  "Finman" bridged the groups.

It was a fun & satisfying morning of surf, accented by the solid bonhomie and banter in the line up.  I always enjoy surfing with these guys.

A highlight, not surf-related, was to finally (!) meet Bret's 22-month-old daughter, Thalia, who was digging in the sand with her mother, Kasey; to see Kasey; find that Bret & Kasey are expecting a son in November!

A memorable morning, with OK surf, but great people.

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