November 29-December 5, 2020

November 29, 2020

With his points earned from heading home early yesterday, M— wanted to try heading north. We met at Anchors just in case the wind completely disappeared…it did not. There was a dying NW swell mixing with a rising NE swell, both forecast to be 6-8 feet. The moon is full today and low tide is just before 9:00 this morning, at .51 feet. We headed from Anchors to Hideaways, hoping for some clean, head high waves. What we found was a messy, mixed up swell, but we headed down the cliff anyway. 

As we got our boards ready, watching someone paddle straight out to the center of the reef, and planned our own path out to the peaks closer to Hanalei, I noticed the large monk seal sleeping against the cliff. It was still there when we ended our session two hours later.

As soon as I started my paddle, I knew the waves were bigger and more mixed up than we thought. Often, there is a fairly thin line of white water where the sets pitch over the shallow edge of the reef, but today the zone of churning white wash and crashing waves was wide and wild. I made eye contact with a guy sitting in the middle, inside. I had seen him on our walk down and I thought maybe he had just ended a ride. I noticed him paddle in a bit, then one way and another, then he seemed to set himself and he headed back out, only to stop again. That is when he looked over at me on my way out, and he kind of shrugged and headed all the way in, giving up I suppose.

Eventually M— and I made it out and joined the two or three other guys, all searching for corners in the wild wide ocean. The first set came in fairly quickly, confirming my growing suspicions that this was a bigger swell than anticipated, easily two or three feet overhead. M— and I agreed that, though they are fun and paddle well, the Seasides were not quite enough board for today. I missed wave after wave for maybe 20 or 30 minutes before I finally scratched into a hefty right. I made the long drop, turned and just headed down the line, fast and smooth, unwilling to turn much or cut back. I wasn’t convinced the twin keel fins were enough to hold me on these beefy monsters.

After that first wave, I found a rhythm, catching a dozen or more big rights, much closer to Hanalei than we usually sit. Most were variations of that first wave: big, fast, smooth, with a nice bottom turn then just trimming down the line. I eventually was brave enough to paddle into one larger wave fairly late, just behind the peak. I dropped in straight with white water blocking my view down the line but I managed to get around that first little section to open wave. I found myself properly in the pocket now, right hand trailing on the face of the wave. This one connected to the inside section where I was able to make a few hard snaps and pull into a little closeout.

We talked between waves about the virus, the visitors still pretending this is paradise, the mayor’s attempts to keep us safe, and school, of course. Also, what does 15 tons of gravel look like? Tired and glad to have found so many fun waves despite the conditions, I caught a left in, steeper than the rights, and we called it a day.

***

December is the tenth month of the old Roman calendar. The middle of Makahiki here in Hawaiʻi Nei, with Makaliʻi rising over the horizon at sunset. The end of our old calendar, just before that nameless time, too cold and dark in higher latitudes to even name the marching of time until everything after and March comes back again, with the light.

December 2, 2020

Today there was an extreme high tide, well over 2 feet, just before sunrise, which broke on a clear day, “a bluebird day,” as C— said, and Erin and I watched Oahu appear on the horizon.

Sunrise from the deck, Oahu on the horizon

The tides were basically flat the rest of the day with the low being at .46 feet around 1:30 pm and the next high topping out at .61 feet just before 5:00. The winds were light, really nonexistent all day, and the moon was shrinking towards half. The first massive NW swell is pounding the islands, peaking this afternoon over 35 feet, but Wailua Kai was still and flat.

I brought the girls home after their day at school with me, quickly changed, and headed down to Anchors to take advantage of the light winds, hoping for just a sliver of the NW swell to wrap in. I took the Ebert twinzer out again, but this time with proper twins next to the nubs. I had time to notice the evidence of the earlier extreme high tide as I jumped three feet down to the shore, mixed with exposed gravel and a piece of an old wall, and I paddled out, through more bits of plastic and swarms of mangrove pods than I’ve noticed before.

As I sat waiting for waves, the mangrove pods swam around me, bumping under my arms, snake like the way cats can be. There was definitely swell coming in, but only chest high, and it was mixed up. Waves were running up on each other, coming from two or more directions, crumbling outside or breaking way inside, usually. Maybe one wave in five was breaking cleanly but I managed to find dozens of fun rides anyway. I am always amazed by the power of the wave out here, regardless of the size. I even managed to find one or two super long lefts that I connected through the various bowls and bends. The twinzer felt fun, biting into the wave just enough, lively under foot, fast, loose. I canʻt wait to ride it on a proper day somewhere.

***

“This is the stone that I wanna turn
These are the people that I love
These are the eyes that look above
This is the town I'm living in
This is the hard drive
This is the ocean
Have you ever felt yourself in motion”

December 5, 2020

The tide was high again, pushing just past 2 feet, peaking around 8:00 this morning. The winds were gone, the skies clear, so I ran down to check Anchors in the 90 minute window I had after my PD work was finished and before the CSA box was ready to pick up.

The water was green, scummy on the inside. A woman sat in her car with her surfboard talking loudly as I squinted out at the lineup, sipping my last sips of coffee for the day. I only looked for a few seconds, maybe 30, then got ready and paddled out. There is always a line in the water on the way out at Anchors, sometimes visible, sometimes just felt, where the ocean water takes over from the fresh water coming out of the canal. Today that line was marked with a suddenly surging current pushing north to south, stronger than I have noticed out here. The massive NW swell from a few days ago shifted as it faded but never fully disappeared and today was being reinforced by a new NW swell and an NE bump. All of this energy was pushing across the reef and out to the channel.

I made sure to stay well off the reef, aiming for the outside peaks I could see. As I made the long trek, I could see fairly large swells rolling straight in, near the channel markers, out of the ordinary. As I neared the lineup, my nervousness had built and I had basically decided to catch one left and head back in. The sea was much wilder than I could see from shore, waves easily overhead, but shifting and breaking all over the place, plus the current. I paddled all the way out, well past the outside channel marker, cut north and almost immediately paddled into an outside bomb, fat, fast, a few feet overhead. I popped up and tried to fade right, down in the pocket, thinking I could cut back left and hit the inside sections, but the wave faded as it slid off into the channel.

A monarch visited me, fluttering near my head. I saw no airplanes today.

My head was telling me to paddle in as my body paddled back out, but further north this time and a bit inside. I found a few decent lefts here and was lucky to not get caught by any surprise sets. A few sucked up as I paddled, leaving me that near vertical drop to navigate while trying to get down the line. I even picked off two big rights before I took one last long left as far in as possible. 

As is usual for me now, I paddled in towards the other anchor, closer to shore, in the middle of the bay, looking for one of those dinky waves that rolls across the shallows. I found one that was maybe chest high at the peak. It walled up nicely for a while then the bottom dropped as a section in front of me started to close out. I took a high line and had time to see the anchor popping out of the water beneath me as I floated past.

Later in the day, we took the girls and Cosmo up to Kepuhi for some family beach time. That NW swell was lighting up all the spots, from the bowl across to Middles and Waikoko. Huge, clean waves were rolling in way outside Kepuhiʻs reef. Iʻve surfed out here once before, one a clean but small day. 

Monster set at Kepuhi

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