Busy busy busy. What can I say. We've had some really good days in the past two weeks. And not much time for blogging.
So first some of the 2011 Halloween pictures. All from Moana Cafe in Paia, and courtesy of Rebecca .
BTW - There are some very well known windsurfers lurking in that crowd. Folks were extra festive because everyone knew a huge swell was soon coming with Jaws breaking potential. And that Monday had an interesting setup - starting with flat conditions, the forerunners would soon arrive bringing the waves up to potentially 10-15 ft, and then that evening and night the real big stuff was going to show up with the surf quickly building to 30-40 ft (on select outer reefs - ie "Jaws").
The only question was the exact timing of all this. Kanaha was flat as a pancake in the morning, morphing into 20-30 ft waves by that night. Plus the wind was very light. So it was some trepidation that we rigged up and ventured into lowers on this day, really not sure what to expect. And what we got was, in fact, an awesome day. I found out later that we were getting not exactly forerunners, but the swell from the earliest beginnings of the storm when it was furthest away. This resulted in a 23 second period. Now in the past several years of studying waves here in Maui I have never seen anything close to 23 seconds. Perhaps 17 seconds for some of the bigger swells last year. I'm not even sure if it's possible to get a north swell greater then 23 seconds (as distance to source and period are closely related) So what does a 23 second period mean for a windsurfer? First the incoming swells were very easily to spot, because between them it was so flat. Second the conditions were extremely smooth and glassy between the waves, making the surfing part of the experience that much better. Plus it was way easier to get out over even the biggest waves. JP has a video from this day on his blog which nicely shows the conditions. I could go on, but this day was definitely one of the best I have ever experienced, and it was so unexpected. And nothing better then unexpected goodness!
I should also mention how much I love the 92 Goya quad board that I now have. It makes these light wind days so much fun! I've been able to go out with a 5.3 Goya eclipse on super light wind days (one day it was averaging 12 for awhile and I was still able to slog upwind to uppers and catch waves). Once on the wave I feel like I'm riding a small wave board that can turn as quickly as I want. The quad fins guarantee no spin-outs or slip ups no matter how sharp (or sloppy) my turns are. This subject requires a separate post, but it was definitely a key to having fun on this particular day.
Before continuing, all this swell talk reminds me to include a link to this excellent explanation of wave and swell fundamentals. Read it and be educated.
Also this day featured some drama at the end. A few of the Kanaha windsurfers at Uppers tried to milk the light conditions a bit too late. Since this wasn't really a trade wind, but more of an on shore breeze (just enough for my 5.3 and 92 quad board combo), it quickly died as the sun set. (Julia and I had come in long ago before the complete shut off). In fact the wind actually turned a bit off shore. And by this time the really big waves were just starting to show up - not a good time to be swimming with gear! About four or five dudes were still out in the break. For the young studs (Nick and Riley) this was no big deal - they quickly de-rigged just before getting pulled into weird wave and swam it in (years of practice). But we had a slightly older friend who was somewhere out in the waves and it was almost totally dark. His wife was more then a little nervous (as were we when we realized the situation). Fortunately, a group of SUPs and surfers had gone into lowers as the wind died, and they ended up helping our friend (gave him a surfboard) and de-rigged and brought in all his gear. So a big thanks (!!) to those guys and gals for bringing in yet another stranded windsurfer (most of them are also windsurfers so it's good karma all around).
Now on to the day we finally made it to Jaws. First the pictures...
This day started out with an amazing sunrise. I'm normally up before the sun (gotta make the doughnuts) but I don't always catch or notice the sunrise (which never seems to get as much credit as sunsets, maybe because we're all still sleepy). Our friend Geoff gave us a call that he was driving down to Jaws a bit later and we accepted the offer of a ride. I had work to do so I couldn't get there any earlier then noon (and unfortunately just as all the tow-ins were finished). We met up at Hookipa were the sets were totally closing out. The beach was being scoured of sand, the water was reaching the parking lot, and a seal, obviously seeking a calm refuge to take a nap, swam up and hiked onto the beach (there was a tiny corner of sand that was mostly wave free).
So we got to Jaws just as the last tow-ins were leaving. That was a bummer, but seeing these huge waves for the first time was definitely worth the effort. Hopefully you can get a sense of the size even without tiny specs of surfers on them. In fact I kind of like these "all natural" waves, because almost every shot you see from Jaws has surfers or windsurfers all over them. TIP! Yes I have a tip for anyone driving down to Jaws in the future. First car pool if you can. Second, the dirt road down isn't great, but assuming it hasn't rained much, any decent car should make it. If it has rained (much) please don't bother. And when you drive out, instead of turning 180 and taking the same road out, thus causing a traffic hazard in the process, note that the road heading west from the Jaws lookout is actually a loop back to the same starting point. If you take this road out then you don't have to squeeze by all the traffic coming in. Also you'll get to see the really cool wrecked truck in the photo above (which was stripped, flipped over, blown up and burned, then covered in graffiti). Nice!
After leaving Jaws, Julia and I drove to the west side and discovered that some of the giant north swell was wrapping around and we surfed some nice head high waves. All by ourselves in fact. Pretty amazing I might add. Two monk seals wer also napping on this beach. I can only guess they had left their usual hangouts on the north shore which were being pummeled by giant waves, in order to find some peace and quiet. Of course all the tourists had to start taking their pictures, waking them up in the process. The next day the waves in the north shore were still huge, and the wind was stronger but very north. Julia and I drove back to the west side but the sweet waves from the day before were gone - probably because the swell was smaller and more north and thus wrapping less. We continued to drive north through Lahiana (and a massive traffic jam) and eventually ended up at Kahanna. A good twenty or so windsurfers out playing in the head to loge high surf. I had a hunch this might be the case and we considered joining them. However we got there literally just as a driving rain started up with the wind going down. Very bad timing! But we did get a chance to check out the "secret" launch and I have to admit it should stay secret because in fact there is only enough parking for about ten cars. That and a shallow reef plus fluky wind combined with a long drive means it's not likely to replace Kanaha anytime soon - but it's good to know the option at least exists (I've heard it can be good once or twice a year). I think we had great sailing the rest of the week, though honestly I can't recall so well as we just had some really great days recently and it's all starting to blend together in my head. More on that later...
Windsurfing, surfing, Maui, The Gorge, and random rants.