Until two days ago, the first few days on the rock have been advisory-size surf plus or increasing swells.
Two days ago swell settled down a lot from the night before. Checked a spot early. Looked super fun, solid few feet overhead, rights and lefts, tubes. Rode the bike home, grabbed the gear, and headed back up. Swell is supposed to start increasing mid-afternoon. Want to get out there before that.
In the 30-45 minutes or so it took me to get back to the break the surf was pumping, much bigger already with wave after wave. Swell wasn’t supposed to hit until late, so if they got that wrong, maybe they got the size wrong too?
A slight side note here is that one of my neighbors, a long-time resident, and charger, was telling me stories about people getting stuck in the lineup during increasing swells and having to paddle from Sunset all the way to Waimea just to have a chance to make it to the beach. At my home break in Florida, that’s like paddling from Juno Pier to Jupiter Inlet.
Anyways, I saw a spot a few hundred yards down the beach that was not picking up the swell direction as strong and headed there. Looks manageable. Watch for a few minutes, and paddle out. Catch one. Paddling back out catch a glimpse of a big set coming. I pick up the pace to make it out in time and as soon as I get to the wave face and start to duck dive, a rock the size of a dining room table surfaces a little more than an arm’s length away from me. Not cool.
Flipped around and went in. That stuff is ‘need to know’ info. Double overhead is no time to be learning about my new little friends.
Went back to the same spot with the rock that evening before dark, knowing there was a rock there this time. Only one other guy out. The place is kinda like Sebastian with a wedge right drop. Ended up getting two solid ones. Stoked. Making progress.
There is a system at every break that must be respected.
On top of knowing when a particular wave breaks good:
- Where are the peekaboo rocks if any?
- When a big set hits, will it break way outside or right in the same vicinity as the smaller waves?
- What to line up with on the beach to be in position?
- If nobody is outside, what to the lineup with to be in a decent position out?
- If a leash breaks, what is plan B to get to the beach safely?
- Then, cataloging who’s who in the lineup, the pecking order, etc.
Now, at Pipe / Backdoor, the system in place is a bit more complex as far as regulating who gets waves.
My calculations are more respect based than anything.
Respect for the ocean, respect the other surfers, respect for the lifeguards, and everything else to the point where you don’t want to be a kook out there by getting in people’s way, getting hurt from something stupid, dropping in on someone, or just not holding my own.
Knowing limits, respecting them, learning new equipment, and working your way up in larger and larger surf at the various spots.
Swell forecasts for the next week look small and hopefully get a chance to navigate a few spots and catalog the different ‘need to know’ info.