You know the American Express card tag-line "Never leave home without it."? Well, I think I'm going to start applying this to my hoodie as well....
No real surf, but a pleasant enough morning, albeit a little overcast, air temperature a balmy 24C. Middle of summer. Desperate for a wave. Never thought for a second I'd need to keep my pip warm. Not that I ever need much of an excuse, I love my hoodie. There's a lot to be said for having a warm head. Despite making you look like a retarded turtle, it definitely does the job in helping you stay warm.
Plus if you have dodgy ears like me, it keeps the water out a bit and hopefully keeps you away from the dreaded surgery that one eventually needs for Surfers Ear - that nasty condition when the bones in your ear canal get gatvol of being exposed to cold water and air all the time and shut down shop, literally. Then a nice man with a drill must come and buzz them open again. About as much fun as root canal I believe. But I digress....
Back to the cold water this morning. You know that when you can feel the water straight through your booties on your first step in you're in trouble! Booties, I like those too. Can't surf without them. Goes back to the days I learnt to surf at Muizenburg whilst in 4th year varsity. Now Muizies gets plenty of thick, slimy kelp pieces that wash into the shallows.
There's nothing that freaked me out more than standing on these bloody things whilst I was trying to learn to surf. So I got booties - cos it meant that even when I stood on them it didn't feel quite as freaky! So there we have it, a pathetic female aversion to standing on icky things has condemned me to a lifetime of bootie surfing! My feet just don't seem to stay on the board without them. Which I experienced in a less than convenient moment a few years ago in the Maldives.
Decided it was time I tried to go bootie-less (for the vain reason that it looks kak in photo's when you're in boardies!) Plus I didn't have to venture out over any coral, just get dropped in the backline by the dingy. Nice decent size set comes through, about one and a half overhead. Stick the drop, so far so good. Get to the bottom and start leaning into the bottom turn - and DWAH! Feet slide off the board, and I face plant in the trough, with what felt like the whole ocean unloading on my head.
K, that solved the "trying to surf without booties" attempt in it's tracks. But I digress yet again. Back to the cold water this morning. When your hands are like iceblocks by the time you've paddled to the backline you know it isn't going to be a long surf. A rogue 2ft clean up set came through, and I snagged the first one (as most Millers regulars will know, there often isn't a second wave!) which I managed to milk to the inside.
On the way back out I had to duckdive the rest of the set - a whole 2 waves. Well, let me tell you, had there been a 3rd I reckon my head would've popped off. Jeeesh it was cold. Kloppende hoofpyn type cold. Luckily the rest of the session was dominated by basically unrideable 1ft slop, so I didn't have to deal with brain freeze again.
But still, it's the middle of damn summer......someone turn up the thermostat.
Eish, amazing how well social networking sites work these days. Well, let's clarify that comment - they get news out there, fast. However, they also have a nasty habit of being a bit like that broken telephone game we used to play as kids.
Information gets somewhat twisted and distorted as it travels around FB, Twitter, emails and the like. Case in point was how last week I got 3 emails telling me about massive surf hitting Vic Bay - problem was, the shots were from the big storm of 2008! But some ou had started an email claiming they were from that morning - and ended up suckering plenty peeps into believing his hoax.
So yesterday it was the earthquake off PE that hit the news. Everyone started talking about tsunami's and the like. Anyhow, it turned out to be nothing more than a storm in a tea-cup. The quake was moersa far offshore, 2130km off our coast to be exact. That's like halfway to Antarctica! Trying to imply it's anywhere near PE is like saying we're close to the Congo.....cos that's about 2200km north of us!!
The ou's at the Geological society said it's nothing out the ordinary - it was only 5.0 on the Richter scale, and we apparently get around 10-20 jolts a year.
Nevertheless, some peeps were hoping we'd get a wave out of it. But you have to remember - you don't want to be trying to ride a tsunami! You can't really surf a tsunami because it doesn’t actually have a face. A tsunami wave isn’t going to look anything like a 25-foot wave at Jaws, Waimea or Maverick's! It’s more likely to look like a wall of whitewater approaching land.
It’s not often it’ll stack up cleanly into a breaking wave; as only a portion of the wave is able to stack up tall anyway. This is cos the wave is often over 50km’s long and the tail end of the wave is still travelling at 200km/h! So what happens is that the shore end of the wave becomes extremely thick, forcing this wall of water to run far inland – not exactly where you’d want to be going with your board!
Let’s face it; we know how little control we have over our boards in the whitewater. On a tsunami, there's no face, so there's nothing for a surfboard to grip. Plus the fact that generally the waters full of debris dredged up from the sea floor, makes for a less than ideal ride! This is not what you want to be caught paddling around in!
You can't duck-dive the thing either cos the entire water column is in motion, not just the top few feet. You also can't bail, cos the trough behind might be another 25km away, and all that water is moving towards you.
So, don’t plan on riding too many earthquake generated waves – they aren’t all they’re cracked up to be! Best place to be if we get one coming our way is to be nowhere near the beach!
When I worked with Surfline in creating their Pipe Surf report, we ended up having to link in to a private weather station out in Lovemore Heights, cos for some strange reason the data feed from the PE airport wasn't in the format that Surfline could import.
This meant that the winds on the surf report were sometimes a bit out, as what happens that end of PE can be different to what's going on at the beach. Lucky for us, a new weather station at NMMU has just come on line, so the kind peeps at Surfline have updated the surf report so that it pulls data from here instead.
Which is great, cos now it means the winds you see on the Pipe Surf Report should be pretty much spot on accurate as to what's happening at Pipe right then, when you look at the report. Remember, the Pipe report is updated automatically during the day to incorporate Surfline's predicted swell for that time of the day (and they're pretty flipping accurate), and the live weather from the NMMU station. So what you see on the report is actually what should be happening at Pipe right then.
Nice to check back during the day to see how conditions are changing, or if you're wanting to keep an eye on the wind to see when the west pulls through. Winds are updated every 30min or so.
So there you have it peeps, go check out the new and improved Pipe Surf Report under the Forecasts tab on the main menu. Now if only it wouldn't say stuff like 0-1ft (like it does today), then we'd all be a lot happier....
Go on, give it a try. Take a few deep breathes in and out then see how many seconds you can hold your breath for.
It's something I've struggled with for ages. I have a nasty habit of bleeding air out of my nose as soon as I wipe-out, cos I have an aversion to water gushing into my sinuses. The problem is, doing this means you have bogger all air left rather quickly, which gives rise to an equally quick onset of a mild state of panic as you scratch for the surface for a gulp of that all important oxygen. The end result is that I tend to avoid the bigger surf because I'm not into self-induced near drowning experiences!
So I was stoked to find out that freedive guru Hanli Prinsloo was stopping over in Cape St Francis to host one of her renowned breath hold courses for surfers. An eclectic mix of big wave surfers, free divers and I (the odd one out!) met at Gumby's house on Saturday morning.
We started out with some yoga, as apparently this can improve your lung capacity by nearly 50%. The pain of putting your body into positions it had no interest in being in was outweighed by the amusement of watching John Elliot, all 6ft7 of him, trying to do the Eagle pose - which should be renamed the "Twisted Koeksister".
Duncan Scott obviously moonlights as a go-go dancer, as he had a freaky ability to bend himself rather easily into all the various positions. Give the man a tutu! Recovering between "Down Dogs" and "Lizards" it turns out Duncs stops water moering up his nose in a wipeout by pulling his top lip up and blocking off his nostrils, rather like an exaggerated snarl. Gumby does the same. Now no matter how hard I tried, there was no ways my lip was getting anywhere near my damn nose. Duncan calls it Muntu Mouth. Maybe I don't have enough African genes! Damn, not fair - as it's a flipping useful trick.
After practicing some static breath holds on the mats (at which I was particularly crap - a whole embarrassing 58 seconds compared to some ou's 4 minutes!) it was off to the lounge to learn some really interesting theory. Like for instance, it's much better to black out under water if you run out of air than gulping water in desperation. Turns out your throat goes into an automatic spasm when you pass out and stops water getting into your lungs - which effectively buys you another minute or two to get rescued.
One of the key points of the theory session was emphasizing that holding your breath is really a mind game - your mind wusses out WAY before your body actually needs air. All the guys had their own little mind games to help them through heavy hold downs. Gumby imagines he's just down there free-diving and looking for a mussel cracker, whereas Duncan says he has conversations with himself whilst he's getting thrashed under water. Says he gets the lil positive voice to calm down the panicky voice and bargain with it, saying just hold on for another 10 seconds....then another....then another. Hell, my panicky voice tells my calm voice to p**s right off! Must work on that.....
Then it was off to the pool - practising breath holds in the water. I managed to up my time to 1min20, although still wussed out before my body even went into diaphragmatic contractions (which is what starts to happen as you system starts looking for air). Some of the guys managed over 4 minutes.
A 45 minute swim session from hell followed - certainly realised how unfit I am! All in all an excellent day, and I'd highly recommend that any of you looking to improve your breath hold time email Hanli to find out when next she's in our area for a course.
She trains all SA's big wave chargers, so us average surfers can definitely learn a few tricks to improve bottom time and hence get you out there in bigger waves.
At last the curse of summer seems to be lifting, albeit only slightly. The forecasts look like there might be a wave on Sunday and Monday. Nothing gangbuster, but at least waves. Saturday would actually be the pick of the bunch, expect it's east - how unusual!
And of course I'm pretty sure the surf will cook on Monday, as I have to be up in Joburg for work. I can almost guarantee with a 100% certainty that every time I get on a plane the surf arrives, so I don't see why Monday should be any different! Have resigned myself to being the surf sacrifice. So to everyone who gets waves on Monday - remember to say thanks next time you see me.
Fishing lately has been just as uneventful as surfing, not much happening other than some idiot Vaalies who still don't really getting this whole boating deal. Trawling up the Krom yesterday from the mouth with 2 rappies out, and were just chatting about how nice it was that all the Vaalies had gone back home and that the the river had returned to normal.
Well, in a moment of pure irony 1 minute later some muppet roars out the canals into the river and moers right past the back of our boat - and proceeds to snag both our lines, pulling Garth's rod right off the flipping boat! Goodbye fancy ass Shimano rig, R3000 set-up off to a watery grave thanks to some twit who has absolutely no idea about boat etiquette. AAAARG! Some ou's seem to leave their brains on the jetty when they get into their boats....
Anyhow, things are looking up - pumped my first blood worms of the season this arvie, and managed to get some tapeworm too through sheer luck. So holding thumbs we'll catch fish tonight....Would most certainly prefer to be catching waves, but fish is a close second!
You're not going to like this peeps, but all indications are that beasterly easterlies and colder waters are here to stay. Chatted to a mate this morning who's a professor in Ichthyology at Rhodes (that's the science of fish), who also does research on the ocean currents around SA and Africa.
Turns out that the Aghulus current, which runs down eastern Africa and past us here in PE, has warmed up considerably over the past decade. This has resulted in the current picking up speed. The faster flow has created greater friction as it brushes past the continental shelf, and this is causing an upwelling of cold water which is flowing inshore. The researchers reckon that the waters between Port Alfred and Plett will become permanently colder as a result of the current flow changes. So off to buy those 4/3's and booties. Seeing as I already surf in those, I might have to invest in one of those heated vest things that Mush swears by!
Okay, now onto the bad news about the winds. Appears as if the easterlies are going to become an even more frequent occurrence. Due to climate change, things are hotting up - which sees the interior of the country becoming warmer than normal. This heating causes a stronger high pressure over the Free State, which tends to push the cold fronts further offshore - keeping the wests and the waves away from PE.
So there you have the "good" news - our water's getting colder, and the easts are going to become the norm not the exception. How's THAT for sucking coconuts....
The challenge is on to find a decent wave along our coastline that's offshore in an east!
Jeepers, this easterly is doing my head in. I'm so over summer, and we aren't even halfway through it yet. Had a look through the stats on Wind Guru, which showed we only had 6 days of west in December. In other words, 84% of the time it blew east.
Looking back to December 2009 and 2008, they had 11 and 9 days of west respectively. So by all accounts we're quite entitled to be gatvol of the east these holidays, it HAS been worse than usual. Add freezing water and hardly any swell to the mix, and you have a potent combination to create widespread misery amongst the local surfing population!
At last a brief respite is on the cards, with a west coming through from Saturday through to Monday. There's even a bit of groundswell predicted for Tuesday next week, but unfortunately it coincides with the return of the easts. Bogger.
The holiday makers are pulling out of SF in droves - even non-surfers hate the persistent easts! The irony of it is that Joeys weather is perfect this time of year....all they need is a sea though.
Just wish that wavepools were more economically viable, we could sure do with one. I've surfed the one up at Sun City. Once you get over the fact that chlorinated water doesn't float you as much, and that wiping out on concrete isn't that comfortable - all's good.
You can sit in exactly the same spot, and every 4 minutes to the second a roar emanates from behind the wall and out rolls a decent sized wave. Nothing wrong with artificial perfection! It's also a trip walking through the casino carrying your board and have everyone looking at you like you're bonkers! Highly recommended.....
Surfers are first class lurkers. We make hanging out at the beach an art-form! Still, there's nothing better to do on a warm summers day than just parking off, watching the waves and talking rubbish.
The water out this way has been freezing, a head numbing 14C to be precise. So despite being totally wave starved, sessions are still fairly short, meaning plenty of beach hang time. You'll be amazed at what sort of interesting stuff you can learn whilst watching the surf. Take yesterday for example:
I was sitting up at the point snapping a few shots after my surf, and in the space of an hour learnt about how to wrestle & kill a monster fish when you're spear-fishing (grab it in the gills, bring it to the top, then stick a knife into the back of it's head through it's brain - easier said than done I'm sure!); how to solve the problem we've been having with our river boats transom and who the best person was to fix it (Rob in 7th Ave Walmer does a great job with aluminium apparently); how to stop the motor's on our ski-boat moored in the harbour from corroding (you need zinc plates and brass washers); how to line-up at Mavericks and why the wave is ideally suited to paddle in not tow surfing (there's 2 outer pinnacles on the reef that focus the swells onto the take-off zone, giving you a bit of a feather before it lurches, and behaving more like a huge point-break than a ledge - all neatly explained by Duncan with the aid of 3 pebbles, a twig, a bit of bush and some drawing in the sand), and split my sides laughing at a helluva funny tale about one of PE's baalies.
The story goes that as a youngester the baalie was quite a hottie, so got asked to be one of the surfers to model for a fashion show hosted at the old Elizabeth Hotel (now Garden Court) by Stellenbosch Farmers Wineries and a well-known clothing chain. The organiser had decided that surfers would make cool models, so roped in some of the more presentable locals, showed them a coupla runway tips and let them loose.
Now the baalie in question quite fancied the idea of strutting his stuff on the runway and having the chicks ogle at him, so was making the most of the opportunity and giving it all he had. However, he hadn't twigged that cos the runway was raised up off the ground that meant that the doorway he had to exit through as he left the ramp would be a bit lower than normal. He was so preoccupied with sussing out the chicks he didn't realise he'd have to duck as he walked off and proceeded to walk face first into the doorframe! Hero to zero in 0.3 seconds! What's that saying about "pride comes before the fall"?
So there were go, one flipping funny story and some interesting titbits of information, all gleaned by doing nothing other than sitting shooting the surf for an hour! Might not beat being in the water, but it comes a close second.