Saturday, December 30, 2017

Diminuative Del Mar Delicacies

December was in doubt.  Not since a memorable session in the Park with Allan and Joe had conditions aligned with availability.  The long weekends of Thanksgiving and Christmas came and went while I remained dry.  It would be sad to close out the year without another session.  Forecasts for the 31st were minimal but there was a chance of some small remnants from a middling mid-week swell lingering into Saturday.

Headed down to North County San Diego to escape the swarms of tourists that inundate Pasadena for the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl, I texted my Nicaragua companions, Bret Belyea and Chris Lafferty, that Saturday morning might find me checking it out in Del Mar, most likely forlornly.  I remained uncommitted but hopeful.

(image only; actual video below)
The morning surf cam was not encouraging.  Although still influenced by an early high tide, the crumbling, waist-high waves on the Del Mar cam held little promise.  But on a clear, bright, sunny winter morning, what would be better than a little time on the beach?

By pure coincidence, as I pulled into a metered spot in the parking lot by Jake's, Froggy (Bill Schildge) came walking by in front of the car.  He'd not been at Del Mar in more than a month, yet here the two of us were.  That was promising.  As we watched the surf from the vantage point beside the Life Guard headquarters, we first were surprised by the number of surfers in the water and then again by some small, but nicely formed and very clean little tubes peeling across.  Waist and chest high, occasionally maybe even shoulder high, they actually looked fun.  I texted Bret and Laff to let them know and headed back to the car to squeeze into my 4:3 wetsuit for the first time since last winter.

Although around 60, the water felt icy on my bare hands as I made my way out, easily, to the line up.  Three long-boarders were working the peak in front of the LG HQ, but happily shared with Froggy and myself.  Eventually, as a few more of the inveterate Del Mar Bodysurfing Club denizens made their way into the water north of us, the Black Ball came out and we had the peak to ourselves.  Shortly, Bret joined us - first time I've surfed with Bret in many months! - and Froggy peeled off to join the growing band of DMBC heads in the water 100 yards to the north.

For a full 90 minute session, while my hands grew accustomed to the cold and my toes gradually numbed, we had the peak in front of Jake's to ourselves.  Most of the waves caught were in the waist high - plus range, but there were a few larger.  Most were surprisingly hollow, offering short but fun little tube rides.  A few were longer, but most pretty short.  Unarguably, though, there was a steady flow of surf-able waves...much better than expected or even hoped.

As I exited, the DMBC crew, too, were gathering for their post-swim breakfast & beer congregation in Jakes, and I got a chance to chat a bit with DMBC majordomo Vince Asky and stalwart John Hughes.  Also, I'd not seen her in the water, but another that I was happy to see from our Nica trip, Meredith Rose, was ashore.

As I was about to head out, Lafferty arrived, prepped for a swim.  Sorry not to surf with him (though that certainly would have meant less waves for me!) it was good to at least say hi and catch up a bit.

It's always amazing how much mental peace can come from an hour or two in the surf, in the company of those that share the connection to the ocean and waves.