Not So Smooth Sailing at Salt Creek

24 07 2017

And you thought you got too close to The Point at Salt Creek (one of our near neighbor surf spots).

salt creek sailboat aground

Source: Surfline.com Salt Creek live webcam

Checking the surf using Surfline webcams this morning, we happened across a marine safety response.  What looks to be a couple Dana Point Marina Harbor Patrol boats are assisting a grounded sailboat on The Point at low tide.  A couple hours prior, the tide bottomed out at about -1.38′.

From what I hear from various ocean lifeguards along the Orange County coast, grounding of boats isn’t all that uncommon.  And, it is seldom very clear as to exactly what happened, many times occurring at night.  One can only imagine what would have distracted a pilot from his/her navigational duties long enough to run into the rocks on a relatively clear night, with houses lit up on the beach and 60-foot coastal  bluffs behind them.

Or, maybe they lost their anchor or had a medical emergency that kept them from their duties.  Or, maybe the boat was full of illegal drugs making their way north.  Just very unfortunate all around.  Fortunately, there was little to no surf on this warm, tropical morning.  During the time we were watching, there was no sign of the pilot or anyone else from onboard.  Hopefully, everyone got out safely.

It’s a good thing we haven’t seen this happen at Uppers lately.  It can be a little dangerous for our already sometimes dangerous Crowd.

Smooth sailing!?

 

 

 

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More Sharks in the Future! Thanks El Niño 2017

30 04 2017

We may need to change the name of this site to “Trestles Shark Crowd” in the future.

Over the last few years, the number of shark sightings has increased at Trestles and other local surf spots.  Shark experts say the increase in sightings comes with increased numbers of sharks off the Southern California coast due to improvements in the local fishery.   The good news is that after decades of efforts, the Southern California fishery has improved, reflecting a general improvement in many, though not all, portions of the local ocean environment.   The bad news is that means surfers need to become even more aware of their surroundings while taking advantage of California’s many great surf spots.  And, from time to time, we are going to see beach closures like other sharky areas of the world.

In the evening on Saturday, April 29, 2017, a woman was bitten by a shark while swimming with fins in the shallows of Church, that classic surfing area at the mouth of San Onofre Creek in the San Onofre State Beach, at the northern edge of San Diego County.  You can read more details in this Orange County Register article.   This article references remarks by Dr. Christopher Lowe, a shark researcher at California State University Long Beach.  Not only has Dr. Lowe been quick to remark in the past about the improvement of Southern California fisheries, but in this article he described to the reporter how El Niño conditions a couple years ago extended the amount of time juvenile sharks have stayed in local waters to eat and grow.

Assuming Dr. Lowe is correct (and he is considered an expert for good reason), more shark sightings are likely just around the corner.  The National Weather Service prediction center of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted on April 13, 2017, that it is very likely an El Niño is going to form in Fall 2017.  As the water warms and reverses the effects of ocean currents, it will also be more likely that hammerhead sharks will show up at Southern California beaches, heading north from their usual foraging areas in warm Mexican waters.  And juvenile great white sharks will have less reason to head south to to those warmer waters after birth.  So, they will be hanging out even longer off our coast, increasing the number of shark sightings.

We are not predicting some sort of Sharknado, but we will likely hear more reports of shark sightings near our favorite surf areas.

So, tune into Trestles Shark, er Surf, Crowd.com for more info in the future.

[By the way, we can personally attest that only a small percentage of surf spot shark sightings are reported through the media.  Most surfers would say that sharks are just part of the ocean environment.  We enter their world every time we paddle out to catch a few.  So, why both reporting a natural occurrence.  Welcome to the Crowd Ms./Mr. Shark!]





More Rain for San Mateo Creek, and Trestles

17 02 2017

At 3:00 pm today, the City of San Clemente surf report from the pier reported sustained winds of 45 from the southeast.  That’s enough to grow waves locally.  Below is a screenshot from Surfline.com’s T-Street webcam; and it is only beginning to build.

The weather reports were predicting rain that would be the heaviest in the last 10 to 20 years (kind of a typical weather forecaster’s vague speak).  At any rate, below is a screenshot from Weather Underground showing the radar imagery for what is headed this way.

Lots of rain headed toward the headwaters of San Mateo Creek, our favorite Southern California pristine watershed that flows out to the Pacific at Uppers.  The bottom has already changed this season, with more to come.  It should set up some great waves by the time the summer south swells show up later this year.

In the meantime, maybe California is finally limping out of its long drought.

The El Nino winter last year fizzled out with no real rain, even though all the experts predicted heavy precipitation.  It may be that if you look at the last several El Nino events, the heavy rain doesn’t actually show up until the first rainy season after the sea surface temperatures return to an ENSO-neutral condition.

Regardless, it’s great to see the San Mateo flowing with life again.  Rain, rain, don’t go away.





Angry Mud

24 01 2017

In Southern California, our rivers (a euphemism) and streams don’t really flow all that often without a boost from urban runoff (from overwatering and all sorts of wasted water with all sorts of contaminants).  But, when it rains hard and long, the soil sponge lets loose and surges all the way to the ocean from miles inland.  The result is muddy surf from Baja California to Santa Cruz.  Add a good swell and strong wind, what do you have?  Angry Mud.

p1010510

Looking northwest from San Onofre Bluffs State Beach.

If you look closely at the photo above, you can see the angry mud from The Point all the way to Upper Trestles.  In fact, if you zoom in, you can see a kite surfer risking his life (or at least an upset stomach) to catch some waves and some air. Today, January 23, 2017, the mud plume extends at least a mile out into the ocean.  It will take awhile for all that sediment from the local watersheds to settle down. But, at least it replenishes some of the sand lost over recent years from local beaches.

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Looking southeast from 350 feet above Doheny Beach, toward San Onofre in the distance. Notice the mud plume from San Juan Creek.

The photo above shows a view toward San Onofre from Doheny Beach, just outside of the Dana Point Harbor jetty.

Surfing in South Orange County today, or in the next few days, brings a whole new meaning to the saying “Here’s (angry) mud in your eye!”

 





New WSL Format — the Scrum

14 09 2016

In what can only be seen as a wink and nod to its fiercest critics, the World Surfer League (WSL) has adopted a new contest format for its cadre of professional wave riders.  It’s called the “scrum” format.

For years critics, who are also, oddly enough, usually also fans of professional surf contests, have complained (or whined) of organized events that only test participants in a rarefied environment.  Two to three contestants surf against each other in perfect waves (sometimes) while the beach is completely closed to any other surfers.  The critics wonder how well these contestants would fare if they had to surf in crowded, competitive conditions “like the rest of us.”

So, here is how the scrum works.

At 4:30 am, all 34 pro contestants simultaneously receive a text message on their phones telling them the scrum is on, along with the wind and buoy reports.  They must then race to the Cristianitos parking lot, drop their bikes, and ride like crazy down the trail to the beach.  Those who happen to live closeby can ride their bikes directly to the beach.  But, no headlights allowed for anyone.

There is only a single 3-hour heat, all in.  Last man (this is the men’s contest) standing wins.  They can bring their best game faces, but the rules are the local rules.  No such thing as priority.  You’ve gotta earn it through tactics learned through years of experience.  Mad-dogging, blocking, shoulder hopping, back paddling, rail bumping; it’s all legal, if you can get away with it.

Some of the new contestants will try to work  their way to the peak by giving a few set waves to the veterans, hoping for some scraps or nuggets.  They may even try chatting it up with the vets, but there is not much hope for the nice guy approach in the scrum.

In some cases, disputes over priority may have to be settled on the beach by individuals or “teams.”

Longboards are allowed, but are generally discouraged.

That is the scrum.  Sound familiar?  Here is a photo, courtesy of the Surfline Lower Trestles live stream. Scrum in progress.  Anybody keeping score?

scrum

We hope you enjoyed this fictional story about a zany idea that has no basis in fact or any relationship to any real surf industry persons or organizations.





Tropical Cyclones – Then and Now

3 09 2016

History does repeat itself.

Even though 2015 was in El Nino mode and 2016 is in La Nina mode, there seems to be an eery similarity in the tropic cyclone pattern in the northeastern Pacific.  Late August/early September 2016  is looking a lot like the same period in 2015.  Check out this map of just a couple storms being tracked by Surfline’s HurricaneTrak.

090216 hurricanetrak 2

What isn’t shown is the disturbance west of Acapulco that may just be enough to jack up the waves for the 2016 Hurley Pro at Trestles and Swatch Women’s Pro.  Here is the National Weather Service advisory from the National Hurricane Center.

090216 nws hurricanes

Could be some fun contests in 2016, much like the contests in 2015.





A Tale of Two Breaks

25 02 2016

This is a strange swell.  Two different breaks; two different swells.

Here is a screenshot of the Surfline report for Sandspit, in Santa Barbara, California yesterday afternoon as the new swell worked its way down from north to south along the coast.  Looks kinda fun, right?  Typical winter swell, right?

sandspit

It was amusing to watch it in live action.  The dense crowd looked like a flock of ducks fighting the current in a river.  They would all paddle with their noses in the same direction, even though the current was much stronger and faster than they could hope to paddle against.  They would all paddle toward the jetty.  Then the backwash would suck them all out and to the left.  Like the ducks, no real chance to paddle into the ideal position.  Just turn and go.  If you got in the right spot, you were assured of a fun little barrel.  If not, you either became one with the backwash, flying into the air, or you were dropped into the sand with the surfer next to you scrambling to get out of the way.  The swell direction seemed pretty good for Sandspit.

Looking for good waves along the coast to the south, they were few and far between. They either had size and lousy shape or they were too small to be fun.  Something was just a little strange about the swell’s behavior.

Then, this morning it happened.

Our favorite spot lit up!

trestles report

Strangely enough, the strong typhoon-driven swell from the W/WNW that closed the North Shore (Hawaii) beaches manifested itself as more of a southwest swell.  As with most west swells, just a couple degrees of direction can dramatically change where the waves will be good and where they won’t even show up.  I guess it mixed in with a little bit of pure south swell.  As a result, Surfline is calling Trestles “Good” today, a designation seldom used in this area.

Most of us usually don’t like a “Good” designation because it tends to draw a bigger crowd to deal with, but it sure is fun to see our favorite spot start the summer season a little early. So, come on down and join The Crowd.