Perhaps it was too much to ask Hurricane Sandra to rescue us this Thanksgiving weekend from November surf fizzling out. I got a call from a friend who spent the holiday in Seattle with family bummed that he would miss out on the wave festivities. He texted me Saturday to say that he would be home that evening and was ready to go for tropical driven surf. Got together with Derek McClean, the Long boys (Henry, Steve and Kai), and Patrick Britton to celebrate the holidays. Over three pizzas and some finely crafted micro brews from Left Coast Brewery, Alpine and Modern Times we took an opportunity to get together and celebrate the holiday weekend. Time and responsibilities don’t give us the same ability to all be in one place at one time like we did when we were teens and twenty somethings down at Salt Creek. The friendships have lasted but the freedom that once allowed us to be at the beach all the time and together has faded over the years. Left Coast will be pleased to know that Steve was stoked on the Trestles IPA, and so much so that he accepted my Left Coast key chain and took an empty big bottle (bomber as they call it) back to Texas as a keepsake from the coastal region that he was born in. He will be looking for places that carry Trestles in the Fort Worth, Texas area.
Derek and I had hatched a plan to trunk it today the day before. A late morning with a gentle breeze made for water that was not only tolerable but still comfortable. Yes, we know that it is late November! The funny thing was that there was just enough swell to make it rideable and gave us hope for the predicted increase out of the southeast from Hurricane Sandra. For the record Surfline was over-optimistic and the inconsistently reporting Solspot was dead on. Solspot thought we would get little or no bump from Sandra and they were absolutely right. Surfline had sets up to chest high and I didn’t see any like that Saturday. It is odd to me that Solspot got it right with forecaster Adam Wright missing in action and new forecaster Austin Geron indicating that if viewers wanted an on time forecast during the holiday weekend, they should donate to Solspot so that he could pay for child care for the week. Apparently his child had a week long Thanksgiving Vacation from school that he was unprepared for. It was still bizarre.
During out impromptu holiday get together Henry said that a buoy hit 1.5 feet suggesting that the swell from Sandra was picking up and producing surf in the 2-3 foot range. Henry is one of the most knowledgeable dude’s I know in the surf community studying buoy readings and knowing how they predict wave heights. It was a shock when I got to Salt Creek this morning to meet the boys and the surf had taken a turn for flatness. Armed with a coffee, I enjoyed breakfast burritos from Derek’s wife and put on a rash guard and trunks to head down for one of the smallest days I can ever remember paddling out on. The company was great but the lackluster surf demonstrated November surf fizzling it out.
Channeling my inner Ron Pringle, the Laguna body surfer who inspired us with his trunks into December in 2014, I was determined to trunk it again. Derek, despite bringing a 4-3 full wet suit stuck to his guns and paddled out in trunks also. We got some looks and some people laughed while asking us if we were wearing trunks! We proudly answered yes to all those with the guts to ask us if we were really that crazy. There was a noticeable chill on the water that had me worried at first. The winds were offshore this morning as opposed to the light and variable onshore winds late morning yesterday. They produced a wind chill factor that threatened to rain on the parade so to speak. Much tougher to deal with though was the lack of surf and the waiting. I paddled between the south end of the point and gravels just to stay warm. I got a few weak waves and suffered the indignity of watching perhaps the 4 biggest waves we had seen all morning while walking up the hill. Why does it always seem to work out that way?
So November surf fizzles out! There is a couple of decent shots coming out of the north west potentially throwing additional chill on the water that seeks to halt this streak of wearing trunks. I know Derek and I are committed to this, and we were the only one’s not in a full wet suit. Patrick gets an honorable mention and a trunks challenge ribbon for making an effort with his long sleeve spring. The funny thing is that he has ambitions for trying to get through December with that full suit minus the lower legs. I have no doubt he will be tested with rains and the approach of the shortest day of the year. That day is the Winter Solstice. I don’t know if any of us will get very far into December but we will make it. While we don’t make any money for it or get any special recognition for braving winter water temps, it will be fun just to say we did it.
November surf ended in the infamy of smallness. It wasn’t very good, but it didn’t manner. I have known these guys for a long, Long (Henry and Steve) time. Get it, or is is just me thinking the play on the word and their last name is clever? Either way, it was great to see Steve whom I have not seen since we were in our early 20’s. For the folks not doing the math at home, that is 25 years ago. Where does time go? It was also great to hang out with Henry and his son Kai. Henry is someone I knew in passing in my late teens and a true friend since my early 20’s. Those friendships are special to me as are Patrick and Derek. I am blessed to call those guys my friend. We got skunked on surf, and the water was a little cold as we sat their motionless in between long lulls and sets struggling to get into the 2 foot range. I have always said that Salt Creek was a place that you could come back to and revisit friendships. Riding that place for 30 years and building those friendships I can tell you that Salt Creek has not changed in that respect. It is still a place that friends come back together despite circumstances pulling them opposite directions. It will always be a special place to me because of that.
November surf fizzled out, but it could not take our enthusiasm for getting together and being among friends that have been riding together for a very long time. Let’s do it again soon!