Saturday, July 11, 2015

Swell on Schedule

You can see a summer swell coming from a long way off.  Born deep in the Southern Hemisphere, waves are on their way 10 days before they get here.  Since last week, the models have forecast a playful, long interval, head-high swell to arrive on Friday and last into Saturday.

On first glimpse, crossing the railroad tracks, there it was.  The wind was calm, the tide mid-low, and water temp bumping up on 70, and the water was full of surfers ... not!  It was nearly deserted.  Mainly because, as is hinted in the picture above, it was pretty walled up (arriving parallel to the shoreline and breaking all at once instead of peeling).  

Surfline, and the other websites, had warned to head to the point breaks instead of the beach breaks.  It appears that, in Southern Orange County, people took notice - I couldn't resist taking this shot of Cotton's Point, a mile & a half south of where we stood:

Click on it for a full-screen image.  I counted over one hundred heads in the water!  As one of the guys standing at the rail, watching, commented: Even if only one decent wave comes in up here, that's more than you're going to get down there!

But there were decent waves, as the tide fluctuated, and the swells hit the various sand bars along the Park area:

Yeah, you had to be picky.   While there was head-high size, it was often walled:

 But walled is where the bodysurfer loses his disadvantage against the surfer.  There are still short rides, tubes and easy exits, while waiting for the occasional corner.

As Hugh and I swam out at the main peak, there was only one surfer in the water.  The area further south, just below the campground, was starting to fill in with visitors from the campsite who would have paddled out in anything.

After an hour or so, more & more guys started paddling out.  Few regulars, none particularly proficient.  That left the two of us shifting around to avoid them as they'd see us score a wave or two and move in to shadow us.  But there were plenty of waves for us.  Rights & lefts.  A few long ones; mostly short, fast and hollow, though.  

As the lineup filled in, the wind, onshore today, started picking up, first ruffling the surface then starting to make the top of the waves crumble into the the midsection, eliminating the tubes that had been our compensation for the shortness of the rides.  We'd had a good 90 minutes ... time to call it a morning and leave with all the good pickings behind us.