Friday, August 29, 2008

Waves for Labor Day Weekend - a little more energy

There will be some surf this weekend...again nothing super exciting but the wave heights will continue to inch up over the next couple of days.

Both Saturday and Sunday we will have a mix of S-SW swell (185-210), local windswell, and some background WNW energy. None of it will be very big but it should add some power and consistency compared to the weaker waves we have seen most of this week.

Average exposed breaks (the ho-hum SW spots and the top WNW facing ones) will have surf in the knee-waist high+ range...with a few inconsistent chest high sets sneaking through. These areas will continue to be on the soft side unless there is a really good sandbar or section of reef that can help them out.

Top spots, the standout SW facing surf breaks and excellent combo beach breaks, will have waist-chest high surf with a few inconsistent shoulder high sets showing on the lower tide.

Winds are forecast to be on the light side...mostly light and variable in the morning with some pockets of light onshore texture at times. W winds around 10-15 knots will fill in through the afternoons.

Looks like South Orange County and North San Diego (from La Jolla Northward) will have the biggest surf tomorrow. The North South Bay and Southern Ventura will be semi-decent as well but not as big or as consistent.

I don't think that it will be worth driving very far this weekend. The swell mix isn't great and it won't be consistent enough to overcome the weekend crowds. So even if you find a playful peak you are going to sit around waiting for your turn when sets are like 20 minutes apart. (can you say lame). Personally I think your best bet is to surf your local spot, bring gear that can handle the small surf, and try and take it easy. There will be better waves next week as the new S swell fills your energy for those days.

Have a great labor-day weekend!

Less working this weekend!

Swell Semi-Alert - Finally the South Pacific comes back online

Just to head off the hype before it gets started...this isn't a big swell...hell in the scheme of things it probably wouldn't even stand out as much of anything...but considering that we have had a couple of weeks of near flatness it is definitely worth mentioning. So hear it goes.

The details

A few days ago we had a decent storm spin up down in the South Pacific...right around the 40S Latitude and 120W Longitude...which is basically due south of Southern California. The storm made a nice push northward (right at us) as it intensified...eventually capping out with winds around 40-50 knots and nearly 30-foot seas in a fetch that was aimed our direction.

Check out the Wavewatch III swell can see the storm (with the yellow blog just off the coast of Chile) the wave heights are in meters.

Here you can see the swell moving (this map tracks the dominant swell period). Watch the yellow blob move out from the storm area...oh and keep an eye on the darker red (long-period) SW swell that fills in behind the S swell.

Finally here is some QuikSCAT satellite data of the storm as well...this is the core of the fetch that set up a day or two ago.

The surf

I know what you are saying, "gee the charts are pretty but what about the waves?"

Well those are on the way as well...we can expect this new S swell (175-190) to move into SoCal late on Tuesday Sept 2nd...setting up some new waves before sundown.

The peak of the swell will hit on Wednesday September 3rd and hold into Thursday September 4th.

Like I said above it isn't a great swell...I expect the average S facing spots to see surf in the chest-shoulder high+ range with a few inconsistent head high sets.

Standout S facing breaks, mostly through Orange County, will have chest-head high surf with a few head high+ sets sneaking through at the top breaks in the area.

Winds and weather are looking good for this swell (at this point)...and there may even be some background WNW energy to help break it up at the combo while it isn't the biggest swell it should be a lot more fun than we have seen for a couple of weeks.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Friday’s Surf – Almost there

Friday will be a semi-surf day…sort of like what we have had the last several days.

Basically small, soft surf for the average spots and some inconsistent chest high sets at the standout breaks. There will be long waits between sets but if you don’t have anywhere to go there are worse ways to spend your time.
Swellwise we are going to have a mix of the small S-SW energy, local windswell, and a touch of new SSW swell that shows up later in the afternoon. Again it won’t be very big…lots of spots will hold around knee high with inconsistent waist high sets.

Standout breaks, mostly in North San Diego and South OC, will have some inconsistent chest high sets…which will start to get a little more consistent late in the day.

Winds will be mostly light, with some slight eddy S-SW texture at the more exposed breaks. Afternoon winds will come onshore around 10-12+15 knots.

Bring your small wave gear (and some patience) and you will likely be able to have a little fun. Don’t spend a lot of time driving…it won’t be worth burning the gas.

Long-range…looks like the flat spell is finally going to break…I am watching the possibility of a better S swell lining up for the first week of September (3-4th). It is still sort of pulling together…check back I will have more updates on Friday.

Tropical Update for the wrong ocean - TS Gustav

I should have probably titled this post "Why does God hate New Orleans?"

Normally I wouldn't bother talking about storms that can't send us surf...but this one seems like it would be worth a post.

I have been watching the Gulf of Mexico forecasts for the last couple of days and it seems like Mother Nature has a serious bone to pick with Louisiana.

As you can see TS Gustav has formed down in the Caribbean and is doings its best to rain out every giant spliff in Jamaica.

If that wasn't bad enough...every forecast for the past 48 hours has Gustav intensifying as he tracks across the Gulf of Mexico and then slamming into the LA coast (sometimes with tracks that go right over New Orleans).

Here are a couple of forecasts from the NHC and the NRL.

From a wave standpoint it looks like Texas will have a good shot a getting swell from Gustav...possibly arriving late Sunday but peaking Monday afternoon into Tuesday. Surf Size will depend a lot on how fast Gustav is moving and how intense he actually becomes once he moves into the more open waters of the Gulf.

At this point I would definitely expect head high and even overhead waves for North Texas (probably bad weather too). Further south there should still be plenty of shoulder-head high waves and better winds. Remember that this could change pretty rapidly if the storm changes direction or slows down in its storm track.

Anyway if you ever had a hankering to surf Texas for some reason...this would be a chance to get some real swell.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ding Repair 101 – Fixing Your Stick the right way

So here is the first post in what will probably be a series on how to repair your board.

If you are like me then you probably have at least attempted to repair your board at some point during your surfing lifetime. It seems so easy...just mix a little of this, a little of that, a little sanding and viola you are ready to get back in the water. Riiiiiight things are never that easy...I don't know about you but when I was first starting to fix dings I would generally turn my board into a total cluster-f*@k of a sticky, itchy mess that has very little to do with being watertight and is more about making your board more ugly than it was before, as well as ruining your clothes at the same time.

I am not sure where the breakdown usually occurs in the process...maybe it is the sudden time crunch you feel when you drop the catalyst into the resin and everything starts to heat up...maybe it is just the fact that none of the materials seem to work well together until they bond up in the final product...maybe it is just the pure stickiness of the resin that seems to get on everything. All I know is that if there is a way for something to go wrong it probably will.

magic potion

Anyway enough about my incompetency (actually I am not too bad at ding-repairs now that I have been doing them for 15 or so years)...I figured that there a lot of you out there interested trying it for yourself or at least learning what is the proper way to make a repair. I probably could have walked you through some sort of retarded fix myself but I figured that it we should probably talk to an expert who has done this for a living. So I went to Brad Nadell over at to see if he could help walk us through a ding-repair.

There are a lot of different places you can accidently munch your board, some of which are pretty difficult to in the interest of everyone's sanity (and our outer layer of skin that we can potentially lose) we thought it would be best if we start with a relatively simple repair.

So here is the have been out surfing at Lowers, ripping (like you usually do), and after a long session you head to the beach to hang out with your hot swimsuit model girlfriend (or boyfriend...if you swing that way). As you belly across the inside cobbles at low tide you feel that gut-wrenching crunch as your board bottoms out on a particularly sharp rock. After doing the ankle-snap dance to the beach you see a nice big hole in your bottom deck. You being the handi-capable person that you are decide to fix the board yourself.

I actually let Brad smack a hole in the bottom deck of my board so that we could walk through the repair...though I think he got a bit of evil satisfaction taking the hammer to my thruster.

Hmm...that rock was surprisingly shaped like a hammer.

So here are the steps...they break down into three stages that sound easier than they actually are: Prep, Glassing, and Sanding

Stage 1 - Prep

1. Set up your workplace - Having a large enough area to work is important since you may need to walk around the board to get at it from different angles. Ideally your workspace will have some shade and will be well ventilated. Also remember that the resin can make a horrible mess so make sure you are either doing the repair over some sort of floor covering or an area that you don’t mind trashing. (like next to your beat up camero that you have on blocks in the dead grass of your front yard).

2. Plan out the repair in your head - It is good to have a battle plan thought out before you actually put the tools on the board or activate the resin. Think about the steps you need for the repair...will you need to fill the hole with q-cell? Will you need to have a couple of sheets of glass? What sort of finish do you want the board to have when you are done? Do you need pigment for the resin? These are the sorts of questions that you need to address before starting.

3. Lay out your tools and materials - Get out everything that you will need for your repair. Make sure you have enough.

For this repair we actually were doing the repair in a glassing/painting/shaping bay at Tim Stamps factory. Below is a list of the materials that we used...(if you click the links you can actually order these products from the online store...see isn't that handy!)...actually I hope this doesn’t come off like an advertorial, Brad and the gang were super cool to donate their time, expertise, and materials for this story…and since I am a big fan of supporting surfer-labor I thought that linking up their products would be a nice way to thank them. Show 'em some love if you need a board fixed.

a. Q-Cell (a ground-up version of surfboard foam, you mix it with the resin to create filler)
b. Squeegee
c. Laminating Resin
d. Surfacing Agent (turns lam-resin into sanding resin)
e. UV Catalyst
f. Mixing Buckets
h. Tacky Glue (for sticking sanding pads on the sander)
i. Resin Brushes
j. White Pigment
k. Sandpaper (80-100 grit for prep/repair...then 220-300+ for the final sanding)
l. Mixing Sticks
m. Rubber Gloves (please turn your head and cough)
n. Fiberglass cloth (not pictured)
o. Mask/Respirator (not pictured)

4. Prepping the Ding - Once you have your workstation, tools and materials in place you can finally get to work. First thing is that you want to get the ding in shape so that the repair materials will bond properly with your board. You start by sanding the area with 80-100 grit paper. You need to be a little gentle in this process so you don't end up sanding away healthy parts of your board.

Ideally you are going to want to sand a slightly concave bowl around the the ding is the deepest section of the bowl and it gets progressively more level to the deck of the board as you move further away from the ding. (This will let us layer in fiberglass for the the patch will hold and we can get the bottom deck to be flush when we are done sanding.) It is best to take this part can make the mistake of sanding too much...or not sanding enough...both can be problematic.

Once the sanding is done you pull out any broken fiberglass so that you can get the filler to actually touch the foam core.

5. Cutting Fiberglass Cloth - Next you want to measure out some fiberglass so that you can properly cover the hole and the slight depression that you just sanded into the board. 4oz cloth is usually enough for a repair...particularly if you are going to be layering extra-cloth to create the patch.

We actually used three circles...each one bigger than the create the patch that we would be glassing over the filled hole.

Stage 2 - Glassing (AKA sticking to things)

A few notes on this stage of the ding-repair

For this repair we used a cool product that Brad had brought along...I don't know the specific name... but basically it is a UV triggered catalyst...sort of like what you would see in other solar-ding-repair kits but you can drop this catalyst into standard laminating resin and as long as you stay out of the sunlight it won't trigger the chemical reaction that causes resin to set. This is particularly sweet because it gives you time to work with the resin...getting the ding or glass job properly set before setting off the catalyst. Naturally this might not be the best set up if you don't have a shady place to fix your board...if that is the case you will want to stick with the standard resin/catalyst that activates immediately when the two chemicals are mixed.

Also...Brad pointed out that you want to know the difference between Laminating Resin and Sanding Resin. So here is a quick little definition of the two resin types.

Laminating Resin - Lam resin is the "pure" stuff you want to use when you are trying to get the resin to stick to either the surfboard foam core, ding-filler, or to other patches of rough sanded, already set, fiberglass. This stuff will eventually dry out and harden but it doesn't really lose the tacky, slightly rubbery feel. It also doesn't sand very will always see the "cross hatching" of the fiberglass cloth as you rough-sand it.

Sanding Resin - Sanding Resin is actually almost like the Lam Resin but it has a few other chemicals, including paraffin wax, that hardens into a smoother and more ridged surface that is much more suited to the fine sanding that you need to do in order to do the final smooth-out of the ding-repair.

Ok with that out of the way...on to the repair.

1. Filling the hole - A big deep gouge, like the one that we put in my board, required us to use a little filler to create a plug that will stick to the foam of the surfboard and at the same time provide a stable sticky platform for the fiberglass cloth that we will use to patch the hole later.

You might be able to get away with just dribbling laminate resin in a smaller ding or crack but when the ding is big enough that the patching glass can bend or dip it is a good idea to paste in some filler before starting the glass work.

To fill this ding we used a substance called Q-cell which is basically finely ground up surfboard foam that you mix into laminating resin.

2. Mixing the Q-Cell - Creating the resin/q-cell mix is sort of an art...there is no hard and fast mixing ratio. You start by mixing the resin and catalyst together and then adding q-cell until it gets to the thickness/tackiness that you need for it to stay in the ding. You may also want to add some pigment so that the filler plug doesn't look bright green/see-through. We added a touch of white to this repair.

The filler should be malleable enough to spread around but it shouldn't drip a ton. For a ding like the one in the flat part of the bottom deck the filler can be a little thin...but a repair on the rail or the nose you might need the filler to be almost like super soft play-dough. Or that gummy bear that has been in my pocket all afternoon and it nice and squishy.

3. Filling the hole (didn't I have a section titled that already?)

This part is pretty easy. Take filler. Fill hole.

Smooth filler to the top of the foam.

4. Placing the Patch

Ok now that you have the filler in place you take the lovely fiberglass circles that we cut out earlier and place them on top of the filler...ideally before the filler has set.

Start with the smallest circle of cloth (the size of the hole)...then follow with the next biggest size until all of them are placed.

5. Apply the Lam Resin (without the q-cell filler)

Now you apply the lam resin...we already had ours mixed with the UV filler...but if you are working without the UV component you will mix a separate cup of Lam Resin and drop in the catalyst to set it off.

Once mixed pour a fairly liberal amount onto the cloth patches.

And then take your squeegee and smooth the resin over the cloth...making sure that it saturates all of the cloth, and that you smooth out any air bubbles that might have formed.

6. Let the resin set (drink a beer, take a nap, or something)

For our repair we actually took the board out into the sun and let the UV light set off the catalyst. This UV technique actually really sped up the hardening process and the board was ready to be rough sanded in just a few minutes.

The hardened laminating resin will look something like this.

Stage 3 - Sanding (and some more glassing, then more sanding...damn are we done yet?)

1. Sanding the Lam Resin - Ok we are in the home stretch now. We start the sanding process by rough sanding the laminate resin and our patch.

Ideally you should use something like 100-150 grit paper to do this part. Don't get trigger happy though...just sand enough to take some of the rough parts off the lam resin. If you sand too much you might end up having to do some another patch job (I am speaking from my own dumb-ass experience here).

2. Applying Sanding Resin - once you have the lam resin sanded then you mix up a batch of sanding resin to paint on over the repair. For our repair we used the same laminating resin that we had been using (the stuff with UV catalyst). We added a touch more catalyst and some surfacing agent which is basically the chemical cocktail that is mixed into Lam Resin to turn it into Sanding Resin.

Using a brush, put on a thin coat that covers all of the repair area and laminating resin. Then let it harden (or in our case take it back out into the sun to cure).

3. Final Sanding - Once the sanding resin has set...bust out the sander again but this time use increasing finer grit until you achieve the smoothness that your board originally had.

You should probably move up into the 220-320 grit paper fairly fast...and if you are looking for a super smooth finish...try and hit up some wet-sanding paper (generally above 800-grit) and hand sand it for the final polish.

Final Stage - Go Surf

Once the board is sanded, and water-tight, it is ready...though it is always good to give the patch a couple of extra days out of the water so that it can cure properly.

Have fun shredding on your newly healed stick.

A big Thanks...

I would really like to thank Brad and the Gang at If you are around North Orange County and need ding-repair gear (or even shaping gear for you ambitious guys out there) drop by their shop...they will load you up with the right stuff. If you aren't in the area but still need repair materials or blanks check them out online...they ship all over the world! (Make sure to tell them that you read about the shop on the blog...they will give me free stuff)

Also I would like to thank Tim Stamps at Stamps Surfboards for letting us use one of his shaping bays to make the repairs in style. Make sure to check out his design line-up. He has a lot of groovy shapes (so groovy in fact that I just ordered one myself!) Make sure to tell him that you saw him on the blog...and say hi to his dog Cowboy!

Thursday's Surf - A few more waves

Thursday looks surfable...again nothing great...just sort of summer-fun-ness.

We will have a mix of slightly stronger S-SW swell energy from a couple of different sources along with some WNW energy from a couple of other NPAC sources (You can tell I am putting a lot of scientific effort into this one). Basically it will be the same sort of swell mix we have had over the last several days but with a touch more energy.

Most spots will be in the knee-waist high range with a few waist high+ sets on the lower tides (and the good sandbars).

Standout breaks, mostly the SW facing combo beach breaks, will see some chest-high surf...maybe even a couple of inconsistent shoulder high sets. San Diego will be the biggest and most consistent surfwise since it is a bit more exposed to the swell mix. Other combo spots along the other regions will be fun as well...just not as consistent.

Here check out the CDIP model...this is what it is going to continue to look like tomorrow morning.

Winds will be ok...there will be a touch of eddy at times. So watch for light S-SW onshore wind through SD and Orange County...spots further north should be clean but may have a touch of NW texture still lingering as well. All spots see onshore winds around 10-15 knots by the afternoon.

I wouldn't spend a lot of time hunting around for surf...just plan on mostly the summertime love. Small, soft, but with occasional playful waves and nice weather. Like I said it won't be great but it is always better than work.

A pic of the new grommet

Hey guys...just wanted to say thanks again to all of you that sent on the well-wishes and words of encouragement last weekend as our new baby was being born.

Me having the "proud father" gene that all men seem to have I thought I would pass on a photo.

Here is a pic I took right before we came home from the hospital. His name is Robbie (Robert) James Wright...and he already eats as much as I do, and can beat me at xbox-360.

Can't quite tell but he sort of looks like a regular-foot to me.

Anyway Thanks again!

Adam and Family.

(ok back to the surf stuff!)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Wednesday’s Waves – hump day surf…lets just get past it.

Wednesday is looking like a surf day…nothing great but a bit of an improvement over the smallness we had on Tuesday.

We will have a mix of S, SSW, SW, and a little WNW. (Which sounds like a lot of swell until you add them all together and the total wave energy is still below waist high).

Most spots will see surf in the knee-knee high+ range through the morning. Standout SW facing breaks, and the really good combo breaks (mostly through San Diego) will have some waist-waist high+ waves sneaking through.

The swell does pick up a touch more by late in the day…a little more SW swell starts to fill in and mix with building local NW windswell. This new combo could set up a few chest high+ waves at the best spots before the end of the day.

Winds will be pretty similar to Tuesday, mostly light and variable with an intermittent eddy that is trying to get kick started….so a few of the OC/SD breaks may have some light onshore texture. It is supposed to be hot, muggy, and we might even see a couple of thunderstorms over the desert late in the evening.

I think it is going to be another “small/soft wave gear” day on Wednesday. Don’t expect a lot of pep out of the surf…just sort of mushy dribble that will get softer on the higher tides. Really I think your best bet is to bust out the small-wave board, wait until the sun gets nice and high, and then paddle into a few before taking a nap in the sand for a couple of hours.

Here is a little video I found on youtube to help us get through the hump day! Really I can't wait for fall, and some real surf again.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tuesday's surf - man I am ready for Fall

Tuesday looks rideable but I don't think it will be that great of a surf day.

The same small mix of S-SW energy and background short period WNW swell will continue to leak in.

Average spots will be around knee-waist high. Standout SW facing breaks and the good combo spots will be around chest high on inconsistent sets.

Shape will be on the soft side, particularly as we hit the high tides, but it will be surfable...and may even have a couple of halfway decent sections on the good sandbars at the low tides. I just wouldn't hold your breath waiting for the big sets.

Winds are forecast to be light and variable through the morning with some increasing W winds around 10-12 knots for the afternoons. There will also be some increasing humidity from Julio down in the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California or whatever you want to call it). With the extra humidity it will be worth watching the conditions later in the evening, the heavier air and potentially cooler temps inland may let us get some late evening clean-ups over the next couple of days.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Monday’s Surf – More of the same

Monday looks rideable…but overall it won’t be anything exciting.

We will have a mix of small S-SW swell and some weak WNW energy lurking around the background (I am sensing a pattern here).

Most spots will continue to hold around knee-waist high.

Standout SW facing breaks and the excellent combo spots, mostly in San Diego and parts of South Orange County, will have some waist-chest high sets.

Winds will be on the light side once again…mostly light and variable but with a few areas of light S-SW texture as you move into SD and OC counties. W winds around 10-15 knots will be on tap by the afternoon.

It is basically the same combo we saw over the weekend…so like I said nothing amazing, just some inconsistent, small, but sometimes playful waves (if you have the right gear and get on it during the lower tides). Don’t waste gas hunting around for waves…just stick to your local standouts.

Looks like we should start to see an increase in surf later this week (around the 27-30th) again nothing huge but a touch bigger and more consistent than what we are currently seeing.

Tropical Update – TS Julio (not in our swell window)

From a surf standpoint there isn’t much really worth saying about Tropical Storm Julio. He had a chance to move into our swell window but it looks like the winds in the upper levels are steering him back towards Baja.

Here is his Track...make sure to look close at the storms current position.

Here is a close up shot from the GOES Satellites.

It is worth mentioning that Southern Baja is going to get completely douched with rain over the next several days…and even though Julio isn’t a hurricane a tropical storm strength system is no joke.

I expect lots of rain, lightening, and the potential for serious flooding (including flash floods) for the region over the next few days. Even SoCal will have a change in the weather, probably not rain, but expect the humidity to skyrocket as we move into next week.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Waves for the weekend – Not a lot of changes

There will be some rideable waves this weekend but overall it is not going to be very exciting.

Both Saturday and Sunday will see a mix of low-grade S-SW pulses, some local windswell, and some background WNW energy.

Most spots will be around knee-waist high. A few of the standout SW facing breaks and good combo spots will have some inconsistent chest high-chest high+ sets that sneak through on occasion but expect long waits between bigger waves.

Winds will generally be OK as well. There will be some slight eddy circulation at times particularly through San Diego and Orange County during the mornings. Most beaches will have light/variable winds but OC and SD may have a touch of S-SW texture at times. All spots will have W winds around 10-15 knots by the afternoon.

It is basically boring summertime surf this weekend. Lots of gutless, mushy, mini-waves with an occasional set slipping through at the top spots. San Diego combo spots should be the biggest this weekend but “big” is sort of a relative term…it won’t be worth driving very far for any of the surf and it really won’t be worth jumping county lines (unless you folks in Santa Barbara just can’t stand another weekend of summertime flatness).

Oh yeah make sure to check out the long-range outlook that I just posted. Here is the link if you are to lazy to look for it.

Click here for the Extended Range Forecast

Extended Range Forecast – Where is the f-ing surf!?!

A few of you have been asking if there is any significant swell heading our way, which is a pretty legit question considering that our swell has really backed off compared to what we had earlier in the summer.

So I decided to throw together a quick look at the extended range forecast.

Here goes…this is a graphical representation of what I have been looking at.

Actually it isn’t quite that bleak…I am seeing some signs of life on the very end of the forecast model but nothing that is going to break our small-swell-spell anytime in the next several days. Really the storm activity occurring all over the Pacific has been right on the bubble of turning up the wave heights but nothing has really broken loose the way it needs to. That being said I am seeing enough positive signs in all of our swell producing regions that I think we are going to have something (possibly several somethings) brew up in the next 5-7 days, which could have us back into fun surfboard riding by early September.

Here is how the regions are sort of breaking down right now.

The North Pacific – There is a definite increase in activity in the NPAC storm track…in particular the area just under the Aleutian Islands and the higher latitudes in the Gulf of Alaska have actually seen a couple of decent sized lows (at least for summer) spin through. Unfortunately these storms haven’t been super strong and haven’t dropped far enough south to put a bigger amount of fetch into our swell window.

This is what we have been seeing in the NPAC…

And this is what we want it to look like…

The Good News is that these first storms have a tendency to erode away at the strong NE high pressure…as the gap widens, and we see more energy from the WPAC tropical bleed into the higher latitudes, the storms become more intense and can dip further into our swell window. After seeing these latest storms roll through it appears that the NE High doesn’t have a great grip over the Gulf of Alaska, which in turn means we should have an earlier start for the NW swell season as we move into early fall.

The South Pacific – The SPAC never really shut all the way off but it did get a little beat up by high-pressure over the mid- and lower-latitudes. One big ridge of high-pressure sort of set up shop right in the middle of our prime S-SW swell window, which sort of shunted all of the storm action around, setting up a mostly zonal west-east flow rather than the south-north movement we need to send bigger swell our way. What ended up happening is that storms would move out from under New Zealand, setting up some small SW swell for us as they did, but then the high-pressure would push them back toward Antarctica before they really got going. Eventually they would spin off the high but they would be too far east to send us much more than a cursory S-SE pulse (basically just enough swell to keep us from going flat).

The Good News is that the high-pressure that has been causing so many problems is starting to move out and we should see the SPAC swell window open back up…in fact we should see some more SPAC storms move into the window with swell-generating fetch over the next 3-5 days.

The EPAC Tropics – After a quick start to the tropical season it has sort of died down over the last few weeks. This has been mostly in response to the stronger NE high-pressure, strong winds aloft, and some water temp issues.

The Good News…the winds aloft are starting to improve. The downtime between tropical systems have let the water-temps in our tropical swell window stabilize, and the NE high is starting to reconfigure a bit which should allow for more favorable conditions to develop. It even looks like we may see a new tropical system (maybe even a depression) form over the next few days.

What this all means (in English please)
Basically it means we are going to have to wait a few more days…even as much as a week or more for our next significant swell (unless of course the tropics really pull their crap together).

If you are really jonesing for waves, and have a little extra coin, there is a halfway decent head high+ SW swell that will move into Southern Mainland Mexico and Central America on the 26th…peaking overnight into the 27th before dropping slowly off. It isn’t much but it will be better and more powerful than anything we see around here.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Friday’s Surf – A little more energy

Friday will be more of a surf day as we see a slight increase in both S-SW and WNW energy.

The new WNW’er is actually showing pretty good up along North and Central California (a fat lot of good that is doing for us)…but some of it is leaking around Point Conception this afternoon. It looks like this energy will hold overnight into Friday and mix with a slight increase in the S-SW energy that has been leaking out of the South Pacific.

Here is the CDIP model from this afternoon…I expect it to be pretty similar tomorrow morning.

Overall most spots will be around waist high…a little inconsistent on sets but fun when they come through. The top NW facing breaks and the better SW facing combo spots will be in the waist-chest high range with the potential for a couple of chest high+ sets on the right tides.

Winds will be on the light side again…mostly light and variable to light S-SW through the morning and then W winds around 10-12 knots by the afternoon, but stronger up at spots North of LA.

I am still not super excited about the surf tomorrow…it will be rideable, but sort of inconsistent and soft even on the sets. If you have the right equipment and the right attitude you can still probably have some fun, but don’t expect any sort of critical sections. Since we have a mix of swells you won’t need to hunt around a ton…likely you will be able to find a halfway decent wave at any of your local spots that have open WNW or SW swell windows.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Thursday’s Surf – Starting to look like groundhog day out there

this would be the greatest groundhog's day ever!

Thursday will be another marginal surf day…semi-rideable at the best spots but only if you get the tides, winds, and the inconsistent sets just right.

Swellwise we will have a mix of mostly S-SSW leftovers and local windswell. There is another pulse of WNW energy (290-300) that is slowly filling into the background energy but it doesn’t look much better than the current swell mix…basically just a slightly punchier windswell.

Most spots will be in the ankle-knee high range. The top S-SW spots and the good combo breaks will have some waist high (maybe even waist high+) sets.

Really I am very excited about the surf tomorrow…it will be longboardable or maybe even surfable with a fishy shape if you are open minded…but overall it is going to be pretty soft and slow. Definitely a good beginner’s day…especially if you aren’t comfortable in sizeable surf. I will be probably surfing my pillow, building a sandcastle, and/or changing the unending flow of poopy diapers.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wednesday’s Waves – Slow pickup

Wednesday will be barely rideable for most areas…but on average it should be a touch bigger than it was on Tuesday.

We are going to have a mix of very small but increasing SW energy, local windswell, and some of the more northerly counties (like Santa Barbara and Ventura) will see a slight jump in WNW energy late in the evening. (Check out the other post on the WNW’er that I put up before this one).

On average most spots will continue to hold around ankle-knee high with some rare waist high sets. Standout SW facing spots and some of the better combo breaks will have some rare chest high sets. Look for the biggest and most consistent surf to show at the better SW facing spots in San Diego and South Orange County.

Winds are forecast to be clean again on Wednesday with mostly light and variable conditions in the morning. Increasing W winds will build in around 10-15 knots by the afternoon.

Personally I don’t think it is going to be much of a surf day…but I generally get bogged down in surf that is below waist high and have to resort to longboarding just to get any sort of ride. If you are just looking to paddle around, maybe catch an inconsistent set or two, and look at the girls/guys/seagulls on the beach then it would still be worth throwing the board in the car…but just don’t drive very far for your beach day.

Random Storm Tracking – Doctor I think the NPAC patient has a pulse!

So I have been watching some increasing activity in the North Pacific for the last couple of days…we had a little low spin up under the Aleutians late last week and push in some NW swell for a few spots over the weekend.

Well looks like another storm has brewed up…

Now before you get all excited and start spinning in circles while you are thinking about driving to all of the winter spots within the range of your new hybrid (you hippy). I need to point out that this isn’t a very intense storm. About the only reason I am mentioning it is that the rest of the Pacific Ocean seems to have fallen asleep, and the low is OK considering the time of year.

That being said it does look like it could kick out a mini WNW swell for us later this week.

Here is the current QuikSCAT (that one was for you…Scott you sick puppy. I think the Iraqi sun has gotten to you) pic of the storm as it pulls together on the edge of the Gulf of Alaska.

Here is the Visible NOAA satellite image. You can see the fairly tight rotation in the low…it is very well developed for a summertime NPAC storm.

From a swell perspective I am expecting some new WNW swell (290-300) to move in late on Wednesday (basically just after sundown in Santa Barbara and Ventura)…but show best on Thursday the 21st.

At this point I am looking for surf in the knee-waist high range at the average WNW facing areas with some bigger chest-chest high+ sets at the standout NW facing areas, mostly in Ventura, the South Bay, and San Diego.

It isn’t going to be much of swell, it will feel a lot like a punchy windswell, but considering that we haven’t had much of anything from this region since the winter season closed up shop I guess it is ok to look forward to.

Anyway that is about all I go at this point…check back tomorrow and I will dial it in a bit more.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Tuesday’s tiny waves – some longboard fun

Tuesday isn’t going to be much of a surf day…there will be waves, even rideable ones (if you have the right equipment) but overall we are going to have issues with lack of swell, tides, and increasing onshore winds.

The swell mix in the water is pretty small…mostly leftover S-SW energy, some local windswell and some very background NW blips.

Most spots will be in the knee high range, maybe even going flat on the high tides and occasionally showing a waist high+ set on the low-to-high tide push.

Standout S-SW facing combo spots will be in the knee-chest high range…there may be a very rare set on the tide swing but expect to wait a while for it.

Winds will be clean early but look for building onshore bump by midmorning and W winds around 15 knots by mid-afternoon.

Personally I am not planning on much surf tomorrow. It might be good for a longboard on the lower tides, or maybe even a fish or quad if you are a lighter surfer, but overall it is going to be pretty soft, slow, and inconsistent. The beach breaks with good sandbars will be your best bet…but even those won’t be worth driving very far. I think I may stay home and surf my pillow…or go to the gym (gasp!) and work on my beefcake3000 routine.

Monday morning surf report – not much out there.

There are a few rideable waves scattered around SoCal this morning but nothing that is looking particularly interesting.

We have a mix of small S-SW energy and some background WNW energy as well.

Most spots are running around knee-waist high with some of the better combo breaks seeing some inconsistent chest high+ sets.

Right now it looks biggest at the combo beach breaks of San Diego and Orange County…with a couple of bigger waves sneaking into Southern Ventura and the North half of the South Bay.

Like I said nothing looks great…most spots are seeing some onshore texture and the surf is on the slow side…but occasionally a small peak pops up and you can string together a couple of turns.

Also…I just wanted to thank all of you for the emails and comments with the words of encouragement for my wife and I. My son Robbie was born on Saturday around noon. (He is a big boy already about 8lbs 10oz). Both he and his mother are doing great. Thanks again!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Waves for the weekend – no baby yet

Well the new kid hasn’t popped loose yet…looks like we will be going in to be induced tomorrow…so I had a few minutes to crank out a forecast for you guys. See how dedicated I am? Hahaa…well actually I was checking to see if I might be able to squeeze one last session in before he comes.

Anyway looks like the weekend will be fun…nothing great…but rideable, with a few playful sized waves at the top spots.

Surfwise we are going to have a mix of S-SSW energy from the Southern Hemi, local NW windswell, and a steep NW swell (295+) that shook loose out of the Gulf of Alaska a couple of days ago.

The NW’er won’t be very big, really most of the energy was aimed towards NorCal and the Pacific NW, but some of it will push down our way. Look for the top winter spots with steep NW exposure to be around knee-chest high. Like I said nothing great but still better than summertime flatness.

The rest of the spots that are exposed to S swell, or even can combo up some of that energy (like a few of the better San Diego spots), will have surf in the waist-chest high range with some chest-shoulder high waves mixing in on the best sets.

Winds are again forecast to be light and variable in the morning with some chance at light onshore flow in the more open areas. Spots with high cliffs or some protection from the wind will be the cleanest. Look for W winds to build in around 10-15 knots by the afternoon.

It won’t be worth driving around a ton this weekend…so I would probably stay at you fun local spots if you have any. The S facing beach breaks of San Diego (the combo spots too) will be the biggest but I don’t think it is worth wasting much gas for an inconsistent shoulder high wave.

Have a great weekend!

Tropical Update: TS Iselle is not much of a wavemaker

TS Iselle is pretty much a bust.

She moved into our swell window a few hours ago and promptly started to weaken and fall apart. Current forecasts are expecting Iselle to weaken back to tropical depression strength by later today and then die off slowly over the weekend.

Looking at a few of the images from QuikSCAT and some of the other satellite photos I can see that Iselle never really got much going…and even the storms radius was pretty small.

At this point I am not expecting any sort of real swell from this tropical system…maybe some very weak background energy on the buoys but nothing that would be considered rideable.

Here is the latest NHC forecasts to check out.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Friday's Surf - A few more fun ones...and my last day before clone #2 arrives

Friday will be another surf day, but like Thursday you may have to hunt around for the better waves.

We are going to have a continuing mix of SSW energy and local windswell. Most spot swill hold around waist-chest high on sets. Standout S facing breaks, mostly through Orange County and San Diego, will have some shoulder high sets...and maybe a couple of rare bigger waves sneaking through.

Winds are forecast to be light and variable again in the morning with some building onshore flow rolling in around midmorning and then eventually topping out around 10-15 knots by the afternoon.

Best bets are about the same as Thursday...the good combo beach breaks and a few points/reefs that have exposure to the S swell. If you found halfway decent surf on Thursday you should probably head back to the same spot on Friday. Water temps have been a bit squirrelly lately you might want to bring along your suit just in case the wind knocks the water temp down overnight.

Note on Forecast Updates: My wife is about to pop with our second baby boy...she is basically due at any I may not get a chance to do many surf updates over the next couple of assured though, if I get an extra-moment or two I will post some sort of nonsense for you guys. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Surf on Thursday - Some fun ones

Thursday will be a surf day...nothing great...but a few playful peaks here and there at the standout spots.

We will have a mix of S-SSW energy, some leftover tropical bump and some longer-period energy from the SPAC...we will also have more of the local WNW windswell.

Average spots with some exposure to the S swell will be in the waist-chest high range. Sort of inconsistent and gutless during the high tides, but with a few rideable sections if you get it with a little less water.

Standout spots, mostly the combo breaks with S swell exposure in Orange County and Northern San Diego, will have surf more consistently in the chest-shoulder high range with maybe a rare plus set sneaking through at times.

Winds will be similar to mostly light and variable in the morning with building onshore flow through midmorning and into the afternoon. Look for onshore winds to top out around 12-15 knots at the more open spots by late afternoon.

I would probably try to get on things early...the wind came up pretty fast on Wednesday and was pretty tore up by 11am (at least in my neck of the woods...a few of the areas with higher cliffs and more protected spots were cleaner). Try and stick to the S facing beaches but don't drive very won't really be worth much gas.

Tropical Update: New Tropical Storm Iselle

Hey gang...we had a new tropical storm spin up pretty fast this morning...basically it jumped from a tropical wave (which is usually a concentrated area of thunderstorms and weather disturbances) to Tropical Storm Iselle with winds already above the 35-knot range in just a handful of hours.

Currently she is about 600 miles SSE of the Tip of Baja moving WNW around 7-9 knots. Forecasts have her strengthening over the next couple of days...possibly becoming a very strong tropical storm or even a weak hurricane.

You can see on the NRL Satellite picture she is already starting to show some signs of convection and rotation both in the upper and lower levels of the storm.

From a swell perspective this storm is already in the Tip of Baja swell window and should be generating waves for those exposed breaks. Based on today's forecast I would expect new tropical SE-SSE swell to begin slowly building on Friday, likely peaking overnight into Saturday with surf in the chest-shoulder high range...and maybe bigger if she gets more intense or slows down in her movement a bit more.

She isn't as well positioned for SoCal though. At her current rate Iselle has about 30 hours of traveling before she reaches the SoCal swell window and there is still a lot of things that need to come together for us to get swell from Iselle...

If I were overly optimistic, (which I am not at this time), based on today's forecasts I would be on the lookout for new tropical SE swell to show at the exposed spots of mostly Orange County, late on Sunday and into Monday. In reality I think that we have about a 50/50 shot of SoCal getting much surf from Iselle...cross your fingers...maybe we will get lucky and she can hit our window with a halfway decent storm track and lots of power.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Wednesday’s Waves – Fun surf but a little finicky in places.

There were a few fun waves out there on Tuesday but they were a little hard to find for some reason. It is a little hard to tell why, probably the mix of windswell and tropical swell sort of cancelling each other out in some places and making the surf more fun in the others. If you missed out…well I am right there with you…I was up early and on a spot that was good the day before but instead of the fun bowly peaks like I saw on Monday it was inconsistent and mushy, and chilly enough without the sun that bout froze my nads off. Anyway…now that I got a better up close look at the tropical swell I am not as excited about it as I was. Ok on to Wednesday…

Wednesday will be a surf day but you may have to hunt around for quality waves.

We are going to have a mix of slowly fading SSW energy (both tropical and Southern Hemi) and some local windswell.

Most spots will be in the knee-chest high range. Standout spots, with good exposure to the S swells and the ability to pick up some of the windswell, will have some shoulder high sets…maybe a rare bigger set on the low tide.

Winds will be light and variable with some light texture in the morning. Onshore winds out of the west will build in around 10-12+ knots by the afternoon.

I think that South OC and North San Diego will probably be the best bet…particularly those standout points and beach breaks that are scattered around those areas. North OC and North LA have been a bit fluky, there are a few spots that have been working but not enough areas to really make it worth traveling to those areas to look for waves. Ideally I would say stick to your local spot, try and have fun with what you have, and grab a few in the morning when it is clean.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Tuesday’s Surf – Playful peaks and a fun swell combo

Tuesday will be another surf day.

We are going to have a mix of S-SSW energy from the southern hemisphere, some tropical S-SW energy from former Hurricane Hernan, and a punchy local W-NW windswell.

Most spots will be in the waist-chest high range...even the windswell spots.

The standout combo breaks and top S facing breaks, mostly in Orange County and North San Diego, will see consistent chest-shoulder high surf with some inconsistent head high sets.

The surf will sort of be like this CDIP model….with a bit more SSW energy from the South Pacific.

Winds and weather look pretty good tomorrow as well…mostly light and variable winds through the morning with a couple of spots with light texture. W winds around 10-12 knots for the afternoon…and possibly lighter winds setting up again late in the evening.

I think that the combo beach breaks will be the most fun on Tuesday…they were pretty playful on Monday off a similar mix of swell…I think it will carry overnight. Points and reefs should continue to be fun as well but maybe a little more sectiony and broken up thanks to the mix of swells.

Random afternoon update - Fun swell mix

During lunch I had a chance to catch a few waves at one of the fun S swell spots, a local beach break here in North OC. We actually ended up paddling out around 11am or so and it seemed like the swell mix, the weather, and the tides all seemed to come together just right.

The wind is starting to get to it now but there were definitely some fun peaky waves rolling through. It was mostly S lines but with enough punchy windswell pushing through that it was breaking it up...and setting up a few ripable rights. Sizewise it was hovering around chest-shoulder high on most of the sets...but occasionally there were some head high (almost overhead) peaks that would roll through. It was pretty damn fun thanks to the big sandbar.

It looks like OC and North San Diego are the best call right now...they are just getting the lions-share of the swell energy...North LA is seeing a few fun waves at the point breaks as well.

Expect it to be pretty bumpy if you paddle out in the next few hours but keep an eye on it later this evening...there is a good sized marine layer (semi-fog bank) holding off the may move in and damp down the winds as we head towards sundown.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Surf on Monday – More Tropical S-swell

Monday is looking pretty surfable.

We are going to have a mix of tropical S swell from Hurricane Hernan, some background SSW energy from the Southern Hemisphere, and some local WNW windswell.

Most exposed breaks will be in the waist-chest high range with some less consistent shoulder high sets.

Standout S facing spots, excellent combo breaks, and spots that traditionally break well on shorter-period S swells will have surf in the chest-shoulder-head high range. The top spots, mostly in North Orange County, will have some overhead faces mixing in at times.

Winds are forecast to be on the light side through the morning but expect some light onshore texture at the open beaches. W winds will build fairly early mid-morning and should top out around 10-14 knots by the afternoon.

Here is a shot of the O-side buoy…that I grabbed on Sunday evening…you can see the tropical S swell showing pretty well. Even though the hurricane reached Cat-3 it doesn’t look like it had a grip of time to establish fetch for this swell, the swell periods showing on the buoy are a good indication of this…the peak of the energy is really between 10-12 second periods…if the storm had been moving slower, or more towards SoCal, we would have likely seen longer periods (probably 14-16 second periods).

It doesn’t really matter a ton except that a shorter swell period means that the energy will wrap and filter through our coastline (and nearshore islands) a little bit different than a longer-period swell will…sometimes this can really help shape, and sometimes it makes it even crappier…a lot depends on the break and the rest of the swell mix. I think that tomorrow it may make it worth hunting around some different S facing won't be all time or anything but it may be a bit better than you would expect. Still if you are short on time or gas-money I would probably stick with the classics and try and watch the tide swing as well…mushy semi-windswelly S swell doesn’t really get better on a higher tide.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Waves for the weekend - Waves, Sunny Skies, Crowds

Looks like we will have a couple of surf days on tap over the weekend.

We are going to have a mix of SSW swells, local windswell, and building tropical swell from Hurricane Hernan showing over the next couple of days.

Saturday will be mostly a mix of the SSW energy and local windswell. It will still be playful as the latest SSW'er continues to peak. Most spots will hold in the knee-waist high+ range while the standout S facing breaks see some chest-shoulder high+ faces rolling through at times.

Late in the evening we will start to see some minor SE tropical swell from the first stages of Hernan (back when he was still a tropical depression) start to slowly filter in. I am not expecting much of a change in size but there may be a little more consistency as the energy blends into the mix.

Sunday morning will also be pretty similar to Saturday with lots of waves in the waist-chest high range and the top spots in the chest-shoulder high+ range. The tropical S-SE swell from Hernan will continue to build throughout the day and should start to peak late in the afternoon (and will hold overnight into Monday). There will be some head high (maybe even head high+) waves at the top S-SE hurricane swell spots (mostly North Orange County) as this swell starts to peak.

Winds look very similar to what we have seen over the last couple of days. Mostly light and variable winds in the morning with a few areas that will have some light onshore bump...not enough to blow it out...but expect a little bit of funky chop. Afternoon winds on both Saturday and Sunday will be out of the W-NW around the 10-15 knot range.

I think that the morning session is going to be where it is at this weekend...conditions will be clean, the tides will generally be on the low side, and the full crowd won't have descended on the beach. It does look like it is going to be pretty warm inland over the weekend so expect parking, blackball, and crowd issues as everyone starts looking for the coast to cool them off. I don't think that it will be worth driving very far for surf over the weekend either...try and stick with the fun waves close to home for Sat/Sun...Monday may be worth driving a little further as the hurricane swell hits a bit better.

Finally here is a little view of the current swell will be like this over the weekend...just a little bigger.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Friday's Surf - Friday Fun Time

We are going to get to do a little surfboard riding on Friday.

In fact I actually caught a few waves during lunch on Thursday as the new swell started to mix in with the previous one. For some reason North OC had some wind-funky to it that we just haven't been able to shake for the last couple of mornings and that sort of bled over into the while there were a couple of decent sized sets the shape wasn't that great. But the water was warm and I escaped the desk for a little I am not really complaining.

On Friday we will have a mix of SSW swells and building local WNW windswell. Most of the average spots will build into the waist-chest high range with a couple of rare chest-high+ sets sneaking through.
Standout S facing spots, and good combo breaks, will be in the chest-shoulder high+ range on average with a few head high waves coming through as the swells mix it up a bit.

Winds will be mostly clean but there is a chance for a little of the W-NW texture spreading down from SB/Ventura down through North OC...not enough to blow it out...but enough to give it a little bump. OC is actually on the it may come in cleaner through the morning if the winds shift a tad. All spots will have W winds around 10-15+ knots by the afternoon.

I think that the points and reefs in San Diego and Orange County will probably be the best call from a shape standpoint on Friday, north LA should be fun as well but a touch smaller than spots further south. The SSW swell is still a bit lined up, so while there are corners sneaking in at the beach breaks I think it will be a lot more workable at spots that can hold the wave a bit better. I still wouldn't totally rule out the beach breaks, especially if you have one close by, the building windswell may help to break things up and the smaller crowds might make it worth a paddle out.

Tropcial Alert - Hernan...starting to kick a little ass

Our latest tropical system...TS Hernan is looking a bit better than he did yesterday. He is slowing down and becoming more intense and more organized...all of which were issues that I was having with him yesterday. (Really he sort of needed to sack up a little bit with a name like Hernan...)

Current forecasts have Hernan moving WNW (285 degrees) at about 12 knots. His wind speeds are already up into the 55-knot range with gusts hitting about 65-knots which puts him right on the edge of becoming a hurricane. In fact the current forecast model says that he will reach CAT-1 strength sometime in the next 12-15 hours (sometime late Thursday night or early Friday morning) also shows that his swell-producing wind radius will grow as he intensifies.

You can see in the satellite that he is already becoming more organized...with the upper level circulation beginning to match the surface level winds.

This is a QuikSCAT pass that caught him as he started to intensify this morning.

And finally here is the current NHC forecast track.

Now that he has started to make some improvements I will go ahead and revise my forecast as well...I still expect the mix of S-SE tropical swell to start showing some very minor energy late on Saturday (mostly after sundown). The swell will continue to build into Sunday and will eventually peak Sunday evening into Monday. At this point I am expecting the decent S facing spots to have chest-shoulder high sets with some bigger waves mixing in.

Standout S facing breaks, particularly breaks that focus tropical swells like those in North Orange County, will be closer to shoulder-head high on sets with a few bigger waves mixing in at times.