First experience with a wall of water

3 months 3 weeks ago - 3 months 3 weeks ago #33146 by MCImes
I've been on the ocean in southern California for a few months now and had my first experiecne with 2.5m / 7ft @ 7 seconds swell. Wow. that's both awesome and scary.

I have paddled many times in 2m @ 15 second type swell which is usually fun but quite manageable. usually the waves are moving too fast to completely catch, but you can get some fun runs if the wind is blowing 10-15kt. I usually paddle out about 1-2km from the harbor mouth and surf the waves back a couple-few times.

Yesterday was something else. 20tk winds in line with smallish ground swell. Waves were Clean, Steep. Fast. Scary. Rowdy. i think rowdy is the best adjective for it. I've seen 2m waves multiple times before, but the shape of consistent 2.0-2.5m @ 7-8 seconds interval waves means every 10th wave is about to break its so steep. My harbor is perfect in that it has break walls where you can 'select your swell size'. I shot out from the leeward side of the break wall into the fray and had about (10)  1km runs between the point and the wave break. good times!

Wow. I Am so jealous of you ZA'er's that have linear wind/swell all the time. I have never been picked up and shot by a wave so hard in my life. Its the first time I've leaned all the way back and hammered as hard as I can to ride down the face, had the hull in semi-plane, and still had the spray blowing back over me. I set a new personal best speed record of 22kph / 13.6mph on a run and had multiple over 19kmh/12mph. F$&*$ awesome. Rowdy.

At the same time, I didn't venture further out because I was stability limited, the water is getting cooler, and it was certainly the largest conditions ive experienced. All in all I had a good time and kept it on the edge of my ability, but it really made me realize something. I desperately need 2 boats instead of 1. I need a 46cm Swordfish for flat-medium conditions and a 52cm bluefn for the big days. On the flats the SF would still challenge me and be more competitive with the pack. On the big days, i just need stability for days.

I completely understand what the wise mean by 'you're faster in a more stable boat' when its rough. In flat water its somewhat easy (with some dedication) to master up to a 46cm boat (IMO). in rough water, what I saw yesterday, I want a 52+cm boat like the bluefin because in big stuff, you're going with the wave no matter what boat youre in. you could be in a bathtub and ride 2+m @8sec waves, but you're not going anywhere if you're swimming. Just being comfortable enough to go out and enjoy the waves without excessive fear of dying must be amazing. so far, im not there.

So, 1. ive decided now im on a quest to sell my boats and find a swordfish and a bluefin for the best of both worlds. 2. my new dream is a downwind with 2.5m @ 8sec swell the whole way. If I was going downwind the whole time, it would have been pure bliss. 3. A steep, double overhead+ wall of water is something crazy to look at. Really makes you think about things and how small you are. 4. keep your head up. I kept an eye on the horizon and it paid off more than once to know what was coming 10-20 waves out. 5. "big downwindS for life" is my new slogan. the joy of riding a big swell for a good long run is indescribable.

to those of you who regularly get big stuff, have any advice for me? anything you may not immediately think of that changes with large and or steep waves?

Current Boats: Swordfish S
Past Boats: Epic V10 g0, Stellar SR g1, Fenn XT g1
"When you've done something right, they wont know you've done anything at all"

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

3 months 3 weeks ago #33148 by d0uglass
Awesome! I would have never thought to be jealous of short period windswell (usually I'm jealous of places like California with the long period groundswell and light or offshore winds so good for surfing and sup surfing) but I suppose for surfski the ideal is different than it is for board surfing. Here in the Gulf of Mexico we get  short period windswell if we get anything.

Stellar SEI 1g

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

3 months 3 weeks ago #33151 by PSwitzer
Sweeeeeet!  The bomber downwind has hooked you in!
as far as advice goes...    When it is big/ steep enough that some of the swells are breaking hard, not with little whitewash pillows capping but actually having green/blue lips crashing around, you've got to be way more selective in which runs you decide to catch.  Goal is to get in early when a run is being born, not charging hard to drop in over a lip...

I blew it big time outside Diamond Head Buoy when the swells were stacking against current, took off on a biggie and got pitchpoled.  That kind of thing can snap your leash and break boats/paddles with no problem so for sure keep your emergency comms on your PFD in those conditions.  

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

3 months 3 weeks ago #33154 by SpaceSputnik
Are remounts reliable in these conditions?

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

3 months 3 weeks ago #33158 by PSwitzer
Remounts in big wind/swell are no problem. Caveat= need to be solid on either side of the boat because getting in on the upwind side is the only option when it's really blowing.  As far as having a wave explode on top of you during the remount, the breakers are more or less random in open water so the chance of having one land on you while you're getting back in is pretty small. Perhaps McImes can speak to his specific conditions, it sounds like he's getting into some really tightly stacked stuff.
The following user(s) said Thank You: SpaceSputnik

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

3 months 3 weeks ago - 3 months 3 weeks ago #33162 by MCImes
Last weekends conditions were outliers in terms of size to interval ratio. Truly amazing. 

I never even thought about being pitch poled, but can see what you mean. Normally I think of PP happening near shore or in the surf, but if the wave is steep enough I can see how it can happen anywhere including in open water. Good to keep that in mind as the waves steepen, thanks for that advice.

To be honest, I am unsure about remounting in such chaotic conditions. I did some practice near the edge where the breakwall meets the ocean. I have never failed a remount on my XT or SR, but also havent remounted in extremely steep waves like that. I have a good remount, but that day would have been a test, for sure. My backup plans on that day were: 1-dont go out very far. I rode the waves from the break wall point into the beach in loops (stopping 100+m before the first waves were breaking) which is about a .8km run, so was never more than .8km from shore. 2- wore plenty of cool water gear. If all else failed I could spend several hours or more in the water with strobes and such. 3-dont be dumb, act slightly scared (or at least quite cautious), think ahead.  4- the break wall concentrates waves, so if I capsized at the worst point, i could have floated a little while I likely would be blown into slightly calmer water on the inside of the wall blocking 20-50% of the swell. 5-if the S really hit the fan and remounting wasn't happening, the wind and waves were blowing in hard enough that if multiple remounts failed I could have cut my losses and swam in to the beach. we had a strong 20kt up to 30kt on shore wind that day. I know that likely wouldnt fare well for my boat (going through 2m+ surf unassisted) but hey, you gotta take some (reasoned) risks to have some fun. 

I went out with @TVE on Saturday for another rockin' paddle. we did about 4 miles each way up then downwind in some of the best conditions we've had all year. the wind built all through the morning and on the way back we had 15-20kt tail wind with 1-1.5m wind swell at probably 6-7 seconds again. The combo of 1.5m @ 6-8 seconds w/15kt tail wind seemed about perfect. Runs were moving fast, but they were steep enough to catch. Lots of work to catch the run, but screaming fast once you were on. 

The winter is turning into some great times! The funny part is both my neighbors think the water is cold at about 60f/15c and have basically stopped surfing. Silly Californians. Cold water is called ice :) 

Check out the bouy data pics below as well. That's a picture of good times. 

Current Boats: Swordfish S
Past Boats: Epic V10 g0, Stellar SR g1, Fenn XT g1
"When you've done something right, they wont know you've done anything at all"
Attachments:

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

Latest Forum Topics

Advice on home made ERG. (7 Posts)

6 hours 49 minutes ago
Bitemekaos's Avatar

Kid's surfski (and life jackets) (2 Posts)

22 hours 13 minutes ago
insalt's Avatar

Flappy tail - is it a bad thing? (6 Posts)

1 day 7 hours ago
Protected by R Antispam