Shewee, the water was ball-numbingly cold this morning. Well, at least according to the guys who were mad enough to venture out there to start with. Weak 1-2ft 8 second swell didn't exactly have me running for my board, and just as well. A jog across the road and a cursory toe dipped into the water revealed that indeed there were ice blocks about!
Plenty of shell-shocked lil crabs on the beach. Don't blame them, I'd also get the hell outta there at that temperature. Yesterdays Herald article mentioned upwelling offshore as being the reason behind all the cold water, so I decided to check it out. I've mentioned it before in one of my blogs, but hadn't gone into too much detail.
How it works is as follows: we have the 'warm' Agulhas current running southwards from Moz down towards Cape Town along the deg of the continental shelf. It's pretty quick, running at about 5-10k's an hour and reaching down to a depth of around 1000m. Cos it's flowing so quickly it causes a dynamic upwelling of cold water from under the current itself which spins up and onto the shelf.
Then what happens is that you get these inshore eddies forming on the landward side of the current (again cos it's moering along at such a pace), and these lil things spin off the edge of the current and head straight towards us, carrying that nasty cold water with them. Add some east winds to that - and that just fast tracks the cold water right into the bay.
And herein lies the rub - it's gonna get worse! Climate change is heating up the oceans, meaning there's plenty more energy stored in them. And that's kinda like giving the Agulhus current the equivalent of a Red Bull. The thing is now running on serious juice, and picking up some extra speed. What it's doing is then just amplifying everything that happens in the system. So where we had some upwelling of moderately cold water, now we're gonna have lank upwelling of ice-cream headache water.
Port Alfred seems to be the main lucky winner in the whole scenario, with a seriously cold upwelling system happening just offshore there. Problem is, with all the east winds, that cold stuff's just getting blown our way.
It might have a coupla interesting complications for us, beyond just making us shiver in the surf. There's a theory that maybe the freezing water just offshore is trapping some big fish in the bay - which is maybe why there've been a lot more sightings of our toothy friends?
Also, you definitely don't want to be trying to fly outta PE in the early mornings anymore. Fog seems to be coming more of a regular occurrence due to the warm air temps and icy water. Fog = no planes landing = you got up early to get to the airport for nothing! Remember that when booking your tickets kids.
Anyhow, kudos to Wes and his mates for braving the 14C water this morning with nothing other than boardies and chest hairs. They actually managed to hold out for 30 minutes, and then only got in cos the waves were just really kak. Respect. Glad to see there're still some tough ou's left!
Gotto love the fog. Perfect timing saw it keep the fun glassy waves out of view from everyone driving to work or varsity yesterday morning. Once it burnt off at about 08h30 there were a few hip high peelers rolling through. Just a lekker morning to be in the water.
Paddling out I spotted what looked like 2 fish tales frommeling on the surface. Couldn't work out what it was so paddled over to have a closer look. Turned out it was actually a swimming crab, and it was his two pincers that I'd mistaken for fins. He hung about for the rest of our surf, with Anne letting him chill out on her board between waves.
Turns out there's a bunch of these lil critters in the bay, and here's why:
“HUNDREDS of mysterious Smith’s swimming crabs, have beached themselves at Cape Recife, apparently trying to escape from severe “upwelling” (cold water) in the bay.
Algoa Bay is host each summer to classic examples of upwelling, which follows on strong and prolonged onshore winds that fold the waves back upon themselves and draw up icy water from the lower depths, wildlife and environment society conservation officer Morgan Griffiths explained. Reports indicate the crabs have been washing up for over a week on Recife’s beacon beach, which runs along the northern side of the cape. But by Monday, the piles of pink and orange carcasses had grown still further.
A very high tide came up in the early hours of yesterday morning and by mid-morning it had retreated taking most of the crab remains with it. The birds had torn into the remaining specimens but there were still dozens of claws and shells left behind at the high-water mark.
Libby Sharwood, co-director of the SA Marine Rehabilitation and Education Centre at Cape Centre, said the crabs seemed to be Smith’s swimming crabs as opposed to rock or shore crabs.
“The species have very large nippers and a very distinct flipper-like pair of claws at the back
“We also had an earlier report from a fisherman in a canoe of masses of them shoaling on the surface, off-shore.”
Attempts were made to help some back into the sea but they simply beached themselves again, she said.
“The gulls were dik gevreet and we saw a heron on the rocks that was also presumably eating them.”
Smith’s swimming crabs live out at sea, where they are eaten by tuna. Records note that they were first described by science in False Bay in 1838 but then not seen again until 1978, when enormous numbers appeared. This sequence happened again in 1983 and 1993.”
By Guy Rodgers, Herald 18 Feb 2011
The article about when we're allowed to surf Hummies and when we're not raised some lively debate. Good - cos the more peeps talking about it the more the word will spread about the thin ice we're treading on. Hopefully everyone will see the big picture and play by the rules, whether we like them or not.
Surfers as a rule are pretty anti-establishment at the best of times, so when someone like a lifeguard tries to tell us what to do we don't generally take it that well. Unfortunately we're going to have to suck up our knee-jerk reaction to authority and rather choose to live to fight another day - well, make that surf another day!
This is where we as a surfing community can maybe do a bit of our own self-management. Let's not have an "us vs them" attitude about this. If you're out there when the lifeguards call the surfers in, then encourage the guys to paddle in with you, and explain why. Don't just sit out there and slag the lifey's off, and ignore their instructions to get out.
Yah, you might feel like a breeker cos you're flipping your middle finger at the establishment, and sure, you might still pick off a coupla more waves. But for what? So you can antagonize the authorities to the point that they're so gatvol of us and our inflated sense of self-importance that they eventually just boot us out of Hummies for good?
I'm not pointing fingers at anyone, I've done it myself back in the day. Coupla years back I also refused to get out the water at Hummies. Just John and I out there, small perfect lil waves, not a soul in the water. Next thing they're calling us in. Whaaat? So we ignored them (ignorance is bliss!). Next thing a cop van comes screaming onto the grass above Hummies and the police come running down and yelling at us.
Gave the policeman a piece of my mind as to why he was wasting his time on this kak instead of being out there doing his job, like catching murders and rapists, not surfers! Anyway, long story short - some research into the regulations revealed that everyone was just doing their jobs - surfing is prohibited at Humewood. What good did it do do just shoot the messenger.
Better to try be part of the solution, not part of the problem. It's a rule, we can't change it - although if you want to, feel free to run for office, get your seat in the municipality, and then re-write the rule book. But hell, that's a long shot. So better we just try work within the existing system as best we can.
We're fortunate the beach manager allows the lifeguards to permit surfing at their discretion. By law he doesn't have to. So why don't we rather just be thankful for at least sometimes having the opportunity to surf there, instead of getting into a huff when we get jerked out.
I'm not for a minute saying I wouldn't be the moering to be called in when the waves are fun just cos some ou is wading knee deep at the beach, but nowadays I'll stick my head down and paddle in. Not cos I'm some spineless "yes Sir, no Sir" wimp, I can see the big picture. And the big picture means I want to surf at Hummies again in future.
Jeepers, the man should buy some lotto tickets considering that he seems to win everything he touches at the moment. On Monday night he took down the 2011 Laureus World Sports Award. It's his 3rd one, also having won the Action Sports person of the year in 2007 and 2009.
Slats turns 39 on Friday, and it's fair to say he's achieved pretty much all there is to achieve. If we strip it down to the numbers it makes scary reading:
- 10 world titles
- youngest (20) and oldest (38) winner of the ASP
- all time leader in career event wins on the ASP (45)
- first surfer to be awarded 2 perfect tens in one heat (Chopes 2005)
- has sung on stage with Ben Harper and Pearl Jam
- had his own band with Rob Machado called The Surfers
- starred in a TV series called Baywatch
- has his own Playstation game
- was voted as one of People magazines "World's 50 Most beautiful people"
- and is basically the best surfer on the planet!
What more is there left to achieve, that's the question. Rumour has it he's considering doing the big wave tour this year, so let's wait and see.
All should be good in the Life of one Robert Kelly Slater, provided of course he never tries his hand at acting again! Many of you will be far too young to remember the horrendous TV series Baywatch which Kelly starred in as Jimmy Slade. Horrendous because of the complete absence of acting skill and their ability to make it appear as if people could drown in about 2ft of water! But hey, provided you pack the screen with hot chicks in bikini's, including one Ms Pamela Anderson, and buffed out ou's, no-one really minds that the storyline is about as advanced as Grade 0 reading.
Check out the snippet below for a good laugh at scary 80's fashion, what Slats looked like with hair (and him shooting the pier) and plenty of completely irrelevant eye candy. And marvel at how a TV show with such kak acting and storyline managed to run for 11 years!!