Friday, November 29, 2013

Swell Sliding in the Rain

I can't remember the last time that I've surfed in the rain, particularly in Southern California!

Starting early on, the forecast was for a significant swell to hit (finally!) but for there to be pretty widespread, sometimes heavy, rain ahead of it.  Usually, in SoCal, rain means pretty lousy conditions and always it means contaminated run off!  I was holding out for a decision, but as the week progressed, the swell forecast remained unchanged while the weather forecast increasing showed that the rain would be nearly entirely well off shore.  Winds were forecast for not more than 5kt, from the Northeast, or Southeast, benign directions.  

So my anticipation grew daily and I set out south with high expectations.  However, along the drive, I was in rain for well over half the 72 miles.  In the early morning hours, the rain had come onshore.

A light sprinkle was falling as I crossed to the rail, to join Craig Thomsen, checking it out.  The rain and breeze made it chilly, and the surf appeared squirrelly - sometimes lumpy, seemingly long lulls, and some sets when they arrived were pretty walled up.  After over a half hour of watching, Craig was unconvinced.

Nonetheless, there was some size.  Faces getting at least a couple of feet overhead at times.  And, there was a rising south swell mixing in with the dominant, long period, WNW.  Certainly, the period was giving it some unusual juice.

A few of the sticks out there were making it work...

...while others, well, weren't:

Some with skills were milking it...

..and then, there were the clueless.

Craig went for the raincheck, but there was too much happening out there for Mark Ghattas and I not to break this 2-month-long drought of surf.  Honestly, it would have to have been terrible for us not to get in.  What it proved to be was very good.  For the patient, there were some sizable waves with well-formed shoulders and some long rides.  Mark got one right away and was hooked.  Mine came later in the relatively short (1 hour) session.  

The south swell was creating some lefts, but it was mainly and hard.  Sets were only one or two waves and there were lulls, so, even though surfers were pretty well strung out by the steady current, the paucity of waves without a stick already pulling it to kept this from being a really exceptional session.  But there were some great waves.

Oh, yeah, the rain.  Strangely, there was either no wind or a bit of offshore.  Through the hour, a drizzle would come and go, sometimes morphing into a true, light rain, with big drops plunking the water around us.  Actually, it was kind of cool.


So, with the rust that's built up over the past couple of months, and a pretty decent swell, I decided today was not the day to try taking out the GoPro for the first time.  I'd like to practice a bit with it in some smaller stuff first, I think.  Nonetheless, practicing my video skills, I used the iPhone to capture a bit of live action this morning.  Gives an idea of the swell, anyway.

Swell Slidin' in the Rain from Hank Haldeman on Vimeo.
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