thinking about surfing






Surf: 5.6 ft at 8.3 s from the NW at 306°

Last minute weekend getaway on the coast!

Meghan had some extra space on her tent-cabin camping trip so I tagged along. It’s a great spot, plenty of hiking including a nice hike out to the dunes and cliffs Franklin Point. What a view! As the sun started to go down, there were hundreds of searbirds diving just offshore. Pelicans, gulls, cormorants, all kinds of birds. Total amazing mayhem.

The next day we walked to other direction to check out some tidepools.

Ant the way back we met up with some friends in Pacifica to cool off (so hot this weekend!) The rips were very strong and the shorebreak really stomping so bodysurfing was kept to a minimum. Still nice to get wet (carefully.)


Neoprene Jacket and Shorts:
I wanted to do a review of my Seea neorpene after the Hawaii trip last fall, but unfortunately didn’t have any photos of me sporting the goods. Super glad I packed my jacket and shorts for this trip, the water was in the 70’s in southern California and the neoprene was perfect for morning and sunset surfs.

First up on these: the fit.

I’m a large and the jacket fit perfectly. The sleeves fell right at the wrists, even with my long arms. The shorts are high waisted, which was very comfortable (no sunburned lower back, no water flushing down my shorts.) I did wear bikini bottoms under them. My legs might be a little bigger than the intended fit and the cuffs rolled up a bit my first paddle out. It wasn’t immodest or anything, but I thought I’d feel a bit more comfortable with bottoms under, just in case. I do this with the surf-suits, too. It’s just more comfortable for me. Doing so also makes it so I could take the shorts off for the hike back up the cliff once the sun had warmed things up.

People in the water usually ask about the zipper. It’s padded enough by the cut of the neoprene that I don’t feel it paddling. I can unzip it to about the middle of my upper chest before the zipper clacks on the board. I tried it unzipped all the way and it was fine but caught a little extra water. The zipper feels pretty sturdy and is easy to zip even with cold or sunblock covered hands.

So far it’s held up to hikes down cliffs (in CA and HI,) it’s held up to drying over the side mirror on the van, it’s even lasted through a really long (sad) six months put away between trips.

Love it! It’s pretty classic, not too girly, and not too dude-ish. I’ll admit, my roommate burst out laughing seeing the shorts out of context, but thought it looked super cute all together.

It’s also easy to mix and match the shorts and jacket with other stuff. I wore the jacket with my palm-tree leggings and the shorts with my rashguards no problem. It was especially helpful in Hawaii where the water was so warm I mostly ended up wearing the shorts and a rashie in the morning.

Surf Leggings:
In other gear news: I finally got to try out my surf leggings! Yay!

I got these for Mexico trips and hadn’t gotten a chance to try them out until now. These are GREAT. No sunburn, no board rash, no hiking up or slipping down. I got the Pacifica ones which are very lightweight. It should be perfect for Mexico so I can keep covered without getting overheated.

They came to about mid-calf on me which is either because I’m tall or is the older style of cut. The ones on the site now look like they are closer to ankle.

They got the same treatment as the neoprene, but with the added challenge of having to charge through brush coming up and down the cliff. No snags!

Definitely getting a pair of the Calaifa leggings when they’re in stock again.



Surf: 5.9 ft at 19.0 s from the W at 281°. Low Tide.

After Friday’s wet but successful hike, we came back on Sunday for round two with other coworkers and kids. Weather was sunny and warm, a rarity that I’m not sure was appreciated by the little ones. Everyone pulled through. The parking situation was definitely a little wild west, but doable.

Afterwards we hit the beach. I was able to get in a little bit of surf. Not every wave was a closeout, but it was crowded. After working a few lumpy, congested waves, I opted for fins and caught a few more.Saw a sea lion bodysurfing another wave nearby. Even managed an on-wave high five, ha.

Some sand castle building, some sunburn getting (whoops), and a little bit of swimming.


Surf: 3.3 ft at 7.1 s from the W at 277°

The surf looked pretty blown out and meh this morning so we skipped surf and headed to the new Devil’s Slide trail that just opened up off highway 1.

What a great little trail. It’s the old highway 1 router from before the tunnel, so it’s paved rather than a “trail,” but wow, it’s something special. Before the trail it was a bit of a white-knuckled drive, rather hard to really get to check out the view or watch the birds. There’s so much neat stuff to look at! We even saw some sea lions swimming around.

About halfway through the walk it started raining. Pretty amazing to watch the stormclouds come in over the water.

Great spot. I’d recommend checking it out on a weekday as the parking lots are small. There is a shuttle from Pacifica that leaves once an hour on the weekends: Looks like the best place to pick it up is at Pacifica Beach, but it also picks up a variety of places around town.


Buoys: 6.2 ft at 21.1 s from the WNW at 291°

Checked the buoys in the am and they looked like nothing I wanted a piece of, but I did want to go look so I headed down to the beach. Sticker and Carl were already out. We watched them for quite a while. While I love watching folks get big stuff, I got breakfast instead.

Our friends at Quality People’s have shot a few videos of spots I love to surf in MX.

Here’s one with the Seea crew at a boat spot I surfed on my last trip:

Diosa De La Costa from Quality Peoples on Vimeo.

And another at my favorite spot, the first day of this last trip:

Getting Lost In The Beauty Of It All from Quality Peoples on Vimeo.

In addition to their wonderful videos, they have wonderful clothes!
They’ve just launched their online store:

I’ve already picked up a shirt. <3 IMG_7709


Did a little ding repair today.

My Vaquero survived the trip to Mexico. It survived a cobblestone point break. It survived boats and cars and falling coconuts. It unfortunately wasn’t able to stand up to me whacking it against the wall at the house like an idiot. Maaaaaan.

If I hadn’t just picked up a board from an Alex, I would have had him to the repair.

I also needed to do several repairs on my other longboard, so I figured I’d give it a go. I practiced first on the longboard, sanding, patching, sanding, patching.

When it came time to do the Vaquero, I took plenty of time. I cut off the lose chips of fiberglass with a razor. I sanded and sanded with tape to keep from going overboard. I filled, I cured, I sanded, I filled again, I sanded. It was hours of work, but I’m pretty happy with the result.

Just knowing I can do a repair that doesn’t look like a glop bomb is a big step forward. It’s not perfect, but I’m still proud.

Now to watch it like a hawk to make sure it doesn’t leak. :S

YAAAAY My board is ready YAAAAY.



I’ve spent the last few weeks e-stalking my board through the process (and trying not to bug James with OMG ISIT DONE YET!!!)

Here’s a little of the process with photos from Sunset Shaper’s instagram feed.

Step 1- Give your block of foam over to your glasser. Watch foam get put in a pile, loaded in a truck, and moved to the glassing shop.



Step 2- When the glasser posts a workshop picture, assume every board that’s even remotely the color you asked for is yours. Freak out when you see even a hint of it in the background.



Step 3- Shamelessly talk about step 2 on twitter as a passive aggressive hint that you’d really like to see photos. Freak out when you get one. OMG OMG OMG OMG.


Step 4- Wait for glasser to post finished pics. Adjust expectations along with instagram filters. Freak out that it’s done and not be able to sleep wanting to go pick it up.


Step 5- Go get it!!! But maybe make sure they don’t close early that day cause you’ll show up to a locked door after racing across town after work and completely freak out (in the bad way, not the good way you’ve been freaking out all along.) Thankfully someone’s waiting for you to pick it up so it all works out. YAY.


Step 6- Take several thousand pictures and post them to the internet. Eventually stop before you drive everyone crazy, but have fun. (This step is optional and is based on how much freaking out you’ve done. OMG YAY)



Step 7- Surf! 😀

Thanks everyone at Sunset Shapers. This has been an absolutely blast.

If anyone is looking to learn more about shaping, or just wants a new board and can’t make up their mind, I highly recommended their shaping class. You get a sweet new board and you’ll have a lot of fun making it.



Back when Sunset Shapers opened, I recalled reading on their site about shaping lessons. I filed that bit of info away in the “Oh man, I’d love to do that” archives.

Just before Christmas, they had a coupon for lessons via Facebook. I got one, hoping it would finally get me to move shaping lessons from the “I want to do that” column to the “I’m totally doing that” column.

It did!

I had a little chat with James about what I wanted to make. The options came down to a proper noseriding longboard and a fish. Feeling like I’d get more use out of the fish in local waters (or on trips) I went fish.

The classes are divided up into two 3 hour sessions.

The first session is about the blank, the tools, the shaping room, the process of removing the outer “bark” from the blank, using the surform to smooth everything down, deciding on templates, measuring, measuring again, trimming the extra foam off.

Gordon was great. He answered all my questions. He walked through everything and was happy to share info.

We started here

A 6’5 blank. Nice and wide for fish.

We measured here:

Overall board length: 6’4
Width 1ft from the nose: 15 3/4″
Wide point: 21″
Width 1ft from the tail: 16″

We round a combination of templates that made a smooth transition between all the points of measurement.

The act of shaping is all about creating a craft with smooth flowing, lines through smooth, flowing strokes. The template needs to flow so the water can flow, right?

Tim reminded me of this scene:

At the end of the day, we had a square railed, fish shaped block of foam:

Day 2 was all about the finesse. Bottom contours, rail shape, tail details, nose details, basically everything that gives this board it’s character.

We started with lots and lots of passes with the surform to trim the board down to the thickness we wanted (2 3/4″) I got to do a lot of this work (since it was harder to mess up, ha) and was getting the hang of using the surfom correctly.

Here’s Gordon trimming down the stringer so I can do more surform passes on the bottom:

Next we worked on the bottom concave. Single to double concave. This took lots of very small movements, checking and rechecking the depth, and plenty of eyeballing.

So much of this is by feel or by sight that Gordon had me look at things in progress so I could see what it looked like if one side was less concave than the other, then showed me how to fix it. We did this with the stringer too, I’d look to see where the stringer was too flat, then Gordon would get it nicely into a smooth shape again.

It was really interesting to see how everything evolves. The board isn’t ruined if there’s a little more foam here, it is still in progress and can be brought back into check (within reason, you obviously can’t add foam back in.) The point being, every stroke or step doesn’t have to be perfect, but the change has to be slow and symmetrical so that the finished board is perfect.

I had so many questions answered. So many thing I thought maybe were aesthetics, actually had real reasons behind them. Like the swallow tail, there rails on the tail are very square on one side and rounded on the top, allowing the water to release under the board for speed and turns, but hold over the top to keep the board in the face nice and snug for more control.

Rail work was super delicate. Gordon did all of that work. I mostly said “yup, that’s even” or “looks a little rounder on this side”

The finished board:



Next steps: cutting fin boxes, cutting the leash plug, and glassing!

This part’s really exciting. I don’t get to sit in on it, but I’ve done a ton of sketching, holding boards, and talking to James about options. I sketched so many MANY options, dozens at least, before settling on this guy:


Now to wait for James to do his magic.

I highly recommend this class to anyone who wants to know more about what goes in to hand shaping a board or anyone who wants to be able to better read how a board will perform. It’s a great class.

I’d love to shape another board. Gordon said the best way to do it is to find a board I want to copy, bring it in, and book some time with him of James to help. They’d leave me to do more of the work myself and help guide in the hard parts.

Very stoked. 😀


At the end of November, I spotted this article in Surfing Magazine:

This article got me thinking. I’ve spent the last year struggling with my surfing, mostly struggling with fear. I took a few pretty good beatings last winter. One where my ears ached, where all I could see was dark water. One where I gasped at the surface only to suck in foam. More than one where I felt lucky to be all right.

I’m not sure if it was the size of the wave, the character of the break, or the fact that I was being drug through the wash by my longboard, but it felt like an eternity under water.

I don’t have the most confidence in my lungs. I’ve had asthma on and off. I get barking coughs with the slightest colds. Having my lungs tested by brute force was a bit terrifying. Sure, I made it through the hold downs from last winter, but part of me wonders if I could make it through the next. That part of me pulls out of waves I should have made. That part of me sits too far outside for my little board. That part of me is frustrating the heck out of the rest of me.

This class seemed like exactly what I needed.

There are much better articles about what you’ll learn from Hanli’s class, including this one by Cynthia. I’ll spare you the lecture (it’s better first hand anyway) and summarize what I learned instead.

Hanli teaches you an amazing amount about what your body does to survive under water. She focuses on yoga, relaxation, the mechanics of the dive reflect, and some swimming intervals. I highly recommend reading up on it and catching her class if you can.

From this class I learned I have a much greater capacity to hold my breath under water than I thought. I managed to go two minutes before I started having diaphragm contractions (the first hurdle one much get over in holding their breath.)

My first attempt was cut short by my typical roadblock: the mind game. I went through the breathing exercises. I waited fro Hanli’s go ahead, then took a big breath, belly, chest, and shoulders. I flipped over and waited. Maybe a minute or less, I started feeling like I had to swallow. Crap. There’s no good way to swallow in a dive mask. Now I’m thinking about swallowing. I’m thinking about how I’m laying face down in a pool. I’m wondering how long it’s been. I’m distracted and I’ve already started to fret. I gave up. I didn’t even get the time from Hanli. Shoot.

My second attempt I worked much harder on the mental aspect of it. I watched the seabirds fly overhead while doing my breathing exercises and tried to keep that image in mind while floating face down. This attempt went much better. Again, I didn’t get a time, Hanli said later it was about 2 and a half. Wile it may have been closer to 2:20 and certainly the shortest out of the whole class, it’s sill much longer than I’ve been able to hold my breath (while counting, who knows how long I was down on some of those waves.)

The interval training kicked my butt, I should probably start lap swimming, but overall I left the course with greater confidence. I now know that if I can stay calm I can last about two minutes. Hopefully I won’t have to.

Even with the class, I’m still struggling with fear. Even telling myself it’s going to be okay, I’m still feeling like there’s a big bubble of air in my gut and I can’t breathe. I’ll take some work. Hanli sent us homework to do to keep in breath-holding shape and I’m hoping to keep practicing the yoga exercises.

The greatest challenge will be the head game. Still, it’s nice to know I’ve got a little lung power on my side.

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