29th October - 6th November
It's been a while since we made a really early start for the journey to Cornwall, however, after all the problems in the lead up to the trip, it was the only option. By 4.30 am we were on the road in an effort to get past the usual trouble spot at Bristol before 8am. A diversion around Nottingham added 5 miles and 10 minutes to the envisaged journey, but 'mission' was accomplished, and the first scheduled stop at Gordano was made without any hitches. A half hour brekky and coffee stop was taken and even the A30 played ball allowing us to be pulling up outside the address in Newquay we sought to pick up Ben's new longboard; no later than 11.15am. This 9'2" beauty had been picked up off eBay through a former shaper and shop owner [Tunnel Vision] who now distributes boards from home.
The temptation to have a look and see what the surf was doing proved too much. We headed into town and caught sight of a nice looking wave at Towan to warrant a closer look. Ben and I nipped into the Longboard House to grab some extra wax and then pop for a peep from the harbour to see if we'd been seeing things. We had and there was a solid, clean looking 3' wave working all the way down to Lusty, which is where we ended up at what was approaching mid flood. Up in the car park while getting the board waxed and ready the offshore [SW] breeze was rather strong, but the cliffs were providing sufficient protection.
The weather by now was pretty foul as we made our way down to the beach, but as ever Suz wasn't going to miss out and came down to view and get a hot cup of coffee in the process. Ben and I were paddling out then by 12.45, which gave us about an hour and a half before we'd have to get out and think about heading to Bude. In the meantime though, any thoughts of fatigue were quickly banished as the adrenaline began to kick in. The paddle out was pretty easy bar one set which crashed through to keep us focused. The gusty offshore also played it's part and probably as much as anything accounted for it being 15 minutes or so before either of us caught anything of note. Paddling into and timing the wave was tricky at times but once dialed in....
Both our first waves were lefts from a nice peak in front of a small crop of rocks at the south end of the beach. I opted to stick around this area whereas soon after, Ben positioned himself at the opposite end where a regular right was forming. Waves came thick and fast at times and with few in the water [surprisingly] plenty were there for our taking. The vibes were good too, as NQ does at times have a deserved reputation for isolated localism. Still, a smile and a few words always seem to help. At times the breeze dropped sufficiently to make conditions quite tasty, and it was at these times we made hay. I had several exhilarating lefts while one of Ben's in particular caught the eye.
We'd both been nailed by a larger set but had survived successfully enough to reposition easily enough. One second he was sat on his board about to swivel round, the next I see his head whizzing along above the top of the wave at a real rate of knots. No wonder he was chuffed afterwards! Not to be out done, I caught one almost immediately and repeated his actions to the letter even to the joyful dismount. By 2pm though and with the tide now well up the beach, the breeze noticeably increased and the waves did seem to lose their consistency; so we called it a day. The drive up to Bude was thus a very mellow one and once arriving at our destination, fatigue once more returned :o) Sun 30th
Heard word in Zuma's the previous evening that there could be a window of opportunity for a surf this morning. Wasn't convinced personally as the next front was due overnight and I didn't expect it to clear before we needed to set off to Truro to see the Pirates play Sedgley Park. Besides, a good night's kip and a lay in beckoned so much. However, Ben was keen for at least a look.
The weather had indeed been wet and pretty wild overnight and despite it clearly easing wind wise when I awoke, I still wasn't sure it was really worth it; particularly in view of this being a period of spring tides. Obviously still stoked from his own successes the previous day, Ben still fancied a check, so we decided to get up and go en masse kitted up ready around 8am. Half an hour later and probably against better judgment we were in at Widdy in what was a messy 3' cross-shore wave with a still ebbing tide. The rip too was horrendous and proved not only tricky to get through but almost caught out Ben early on as he drifted north towards the rocks much to his frustration and my annoyance.
Suz though was enjoying things on her bodyboard and certainly got the better end of the deal for the near hour we were in. Ben and I settled for the whitewater and reforms inside, though I did manage to get out back once and was rewarded with a banzai ride, which I decided to take in. By 9.30 we were out and getting changed. I'd spotted the car park attendant from the shoreline and decided to make my way back as I'd not nipped back before 9 to get the ticket. I needn't have worried as with only a couple of days left of charging, there didn't appear to be a problem.
Not looking too clever with gales forecast on and off until after Thursday at least, though there may be a window on Tuesday. All we need is the wind to drop significantly as it may be from the west. Earlier expectations of something better by the weekend could now be brought forward a day?Mon 31st
Before coming away there was a doubt about today being surfable and nothing over the weekend had encouraged any different train of thought. The swell was promised and had picked up from yesterday to a pretty lairy 5-6' as we saw at Widdy in the morning on the way into town. It was obviously too heavy for us and with signs of a similar rip to yesterday with the tide still on the way out until 11.25, chilling out until the afternoon seemed the best call. For once Ben took this on board and after lunch crashed in style with a near 2 hour siesta.
We set off from our digs around 2.30pm and my inkling was for a look at Summerleaze which should provide some shelter from mid tide onwards. For good measure we drove by Widdy once more and although there was still some spectacular waves, the paddle out, particularly on a longboard looked not on. The wind though was clearly easing and the scene at 'leaze was promising on arrival. The Breakwater was taking a pounding already, but there was an even cleaner and controlled wave wrapping round into the harbour. What's more they had a tempting 2-3' size to them and could even increase as the tide progressed. We weren't to be disappointed.
Ben had paddled out first and I wasn't far behind. He'd settled in a mid beach spot but I suggested he use the rip created by the river to get out a bit further before heading towards the pool where the expected right peak was showing. It paid off immediately as he took off behind my back and experienced a long satisfying ride back towards shore. I wasn't far behind and snagged a steep take off which allowed a deeply buried rail to perform a strong backhand turn to go right, before throwing in a cutback back towards the pocket. The tricks ended there though as I was too slow in turning right again as the broken whitewater unhinged feet from board. But it was a stoked already father and son combination that hooked back up again after the long paddle out.
This pattern developed quickly and we were soon providing entertainment for Suz who was watching from various vantage points overlooking the action. The hotter guys were taking on the bigger gnarlier stuff beyond the Breakwater; even so some wedgey stuff was also making it's way through and increased the rush levels particularly on takeoff. It also nailed us on occasion when the odd sneaker, snuck through. One did me over good and proper in the first hour which required me to go back in for the earplugs as my left ear felt as if it might burst. It had though been acquired with bravado on a particularly ambitious take off which almost came off. Feet had hit the deck and I was sure I'd done enough...until I felt the deck reverse the desired rider/board set up and end up above me!
Ben in the meantime was enjoying a rewarding session which saw a [claimed ;o)] 'five', which I could well believe as I spotted one or two walks. This spurred me on to purposefully experiment with some strolls of my own, which for the first time in a while gave cause for hope for finally cracking this skill. One ride saw me get one foot at least beyond the badge and make my way back again. Was I chuffed? And it had been witnessed from above by Suz.
Reluctantly, though pleased with our efforts, we were both out after a rewarding session around the 2 hour mark a little after 5pm. The really satisfying bit being that it had not been expected.Tue 1st
With the weather forecast to worsen at some time later in the day, the decision was made to head to Widdy with a now or never approach. Ceefax had put it at 3' and cleanish but it was easily 5+' and really heavy with plenty of whitewater to battle against, let alone through. A visit to Summerleaze wasn't really an option as the tide was now well out it being 10.30. Suz though was bound to get some real fun even if Ben and I would have to make do with the white stuff.
It was immediately obvious that we were never going to break through this lot so Ben and I 'made do'. Ben to his credit started experimenting with some tricks, namely reverse take offs and helicopters which caught the eye of the nearby Outdoor Adventure instructors. Suz indeed was having a whale of a time, enjoying the rollercoaster rides these sort of conditions throw up inside.
After a while I begun to wonder if the weather may hold up long enough for a repeat visit to Summerleaze as per yesterday. With this in mind I suggested this to Ben and we decided to ease off and save energy for later. We messed about with Suz for a while until she was ready and we needed lunch.
Happily the weather had held off until the appointed time to set off to Bude once more just after 2pm. We parked up in front of the Lifes a Beach bistro overlooking the harbour just as one or two others began to turn up. The tide wasn't quite far enough in, so we had a few minutes to prepare; mainly for getting back into those cold wet wetties! As with Monday we were in again by 3pm around mid tide and just as the waves started to wrap round into the shelter of the Breakwater. It wasn't long before we were back into the groove we'd found yesterday, though it is fair to say it would have been nicer to be fresher. Had we been so it is likely that some more waves would have been successfully caught and ridden than we finally totaled. However that shouldn't detract from what developed into another satisfying surf. I can certainly claim plenty of scalps as can Ben in what was again a good clean 3' wave.
After an hour and more than half a dozen plus good waves each we both rode in and swapped boards for a short while, giving me the first chance to try out his new acquisition. Immediate thoughts were it needed a bit more wax and it's general characteristics certainly differ from what I'm used to. That said it's nice to handle and certainly capable of pulling off some memorable waves. I'd be intrigued too, to see how it handles with a tri fin set up. In the few minutes I was on it I missed several before saving the best till last when we agreed to swap back. I pulled in to an obliging wave which tempted me into turning left soon after catching it. The short video footage taken by Suz confirmed this to be the right decision, and it maintained enough for me to ride all the way in. Ben too caught a similar ride to use to come in with; also caught on camera.
The remaining three quarters of an hour I surfed were to be fair a mixture of fortunes. Some good positioning, one or two helter skelter take offs and rides; plenty of nailings, before a last wind late on. Ben had got in a little sooner than I eventually did, fatigue getting the better and always a signal not to ignore. Trying to carry on in such circumstances is inevitably an unwise move as it always contributes to missed waves or very poor take offs at best. Besides the early evening gloom we can associate with 5pm courtesy of the clocks going back over the weekend, couldn't be ignored along with the approaching bad weather.Weds 2nd
Hadn't been too sure of what to expect today though we were prepared for a 'day off'' if necessary. As it was the southerly breeze wasn't as strong as feared, but after the wild night wind-wise, a cursory check seemed prudent. We therefore walked the couple of miles into Widemouth to kill '2 birds' as it were and bought some provisions from the shop there as well. The swell appeared to have dropped slightly and from a distance looked more make-able than yesterday morning. The consensus was to come back down after lunch and see if we could make a little hay from the start of the push.
In the short time taken to walk back, have a bite and grab the gear, the breeze picked up slightly as had the wave size no doubt partially due to the former. On entering the water just before 1pm though, the rip had lessened from yesterday, but the lines of white water felt even more relentless. I was the first to break through to the cleaner stuff and immediately caught a nice right to get me in a more confident frame of mind. This appeared to inspire Ben some more and he made his way out more successfully as I begun the struggle once more, having come in too close to stay out of harms way inside. Ben too caught a right but came in too as he was concerned of his proximity to the rocks at the northern end of the beach.
This unfortunately was as far as our action went sadly as for the next hour or so we both had to content ourselves in the white stuff. I made several attempts to get back out; indeed the opportunities did seem to appear more often as the tide came in; but without success. Though it's better than nothing, having to play around in this zone doesn't quite do it now, for either of us. As 2.30 came and went we made the shorter trudge back up to the car park with an air of defeat, though not [hopefully] dejection. These kind of days [should] only inspire better things next time out, and provide a lesson in what to do to improve further. The consolation if any, was that only 3 had managed to get out and enjoy the bigger stuff out there but then knowing who they were and their respective abilities, you just have to sit back and admire.Thur 3rd
A day of rest. The north coast was blown out though I dare say we'd have found a rideable wave at Harlyn or something on the south coast. Besides such had been the foul weather overnight in some parts south that we decided to give it a miss anyhow. This was a chance to just let the aches and pains subside and a dodgy gastric situation personally, settle down!Fri 4th
The wind which was quite strong as forecast had by this morning swung round to the NW. Not good for anywhere I know of on this stretch of the north coast though Crackington may have afforded some shelter. However, we'd toyed with the idea of searching out somewhere south the previous evening as BBC's Spotlight was talking in terms of a clean 3-4'; so we stuck with that as a base plan.
I'd surmised that enough swell would wrap around to sheltered spots as near as Pentewan near Mevagissey, though we may have to search as far afield as Kennack on the Lizard. We found Pentewan to have nothing more than a clean ankle slapper so we moved on to Gorran Haven which was if anything, smaller. At this point I was beginning to think we may have to the extra mileage and make for the Lizard. To do that though we'd have to press on on the same road we were on via Caerhays. As we passed the castle gardens on the right with the small beach on the left, a much more promising sight caught our eyes. Here we were literally only around the headland and there we had found a clean[ish] 2-3' wave. No arguments, we turned round, parked up and we all made the necessary preparations to get in.
By 12.30 Ben was in first [as ever] and as I made my way towards the waters edge I saw him take at least two nice looking lefts, one of which he snagged on my way out. No question where I was headed! The paddle out was straightforward and I positioned myself at where I thought would be a peak. I wasn't wrong, almost immediately a tidy looking shadow approached which I swivelled round to turn my back on; paddled and felt that glorious feeling once more. The ride wasn't the longest I'd ever had, but it was sweet and set the right tone. We'd stumbled on what appeared to be a gem, on the day at least, and were being presented with an opportunity to enjoy potentially our last chance of a wave on this trip, and a crisp clean one at that.
I hadn't been sure of the exact state of the tide, but it soon became clear that it had been the last stages of the ebb. The waves kept coming and for the most part we kept snagging them. There was a short period around what must have been low tide where it dropped off, but this was shortlived. As the push got going, the wave did seem to improve some though the breeze did appear to shift slightly more cross-shore [W?].
After an hour or so I decided to nip over to where Suz was surfing to get the waterproof camera to finally use up the film we'd begun in the summer. With conditions as they were it could prove the best chance we'd had. On handing me the key she informed me that she was finding it OK if a bit limp as by the time the wave was reaching her the impetus had been lost. I'd wondered about that observing from where our rides usually ended/the paddle out began. Still it was good to get in as ever without the crowds she has to put up with during summer day times. The photo shoot coincided with a brief period of off form from Ben, but some pix were snapped which hopefully will process OK.
Ben then moved over to the other end of the beach to try his luck with the rights while I returned to catching some rides myself. This going of separate ways only lasted half an hour if that, but we'd both snagged a handful more each. We met up again at the waters edge as we both timed a ride in each to hook up with Suz who had by now got changed and was wandering along the beach. I handed the camera over which provoked the inevitable father-son and boards pose before we swapped sticks for a final hurrah lasting till about 2.30 when we both decided to call it time. As with the first, the final ride in was particularly sweet. Were we pleased with our decision this morning? Silly question!
Upon getting back to Poundstock, we were offered an extra day at our digs, though the forecast wasn't inspiring. Even so Parky made contact, the end result being a possible meet up tomorrow.Sat 5th
Surfing wise we should have known better and taken the hint first thing. A breakfast time check at Widdy and the town beaches found that despite a lighter south westerly than through the night; 3' and messy was as good as it was going to get. Harlyn would have been an option though by the time we'd arrive it'd be too near low tide to be worthwhile. Traveling back down to Newquay Bay and somewhere like Lusty could have been do-able but with the long journey tomorrow it just didn't appeal. Well it did but minds were proverbially in two and remained so well into the afternoon!
In the meantime, having spoken with Parky around 10, the meet up was called off which was a pity. Mind you with conditions as they were there were calls for the Curse of Parky striking again ;o) Anyway we 'ummed and arred' about a thrash about for an hour or so, but we decided not and headed back to base to drop the stuff off and head into town. Later after lunch Ben and I finally cracked around 2 pm and went down to Widdy to kill an hour or so before the rugby on the telly. Why we bothered I don't know as it had worsened and when we trudged back after only 20-30 minutes there was only one word for it-cr*p! We returned to the car to get changed only to discover that we'd left the towels back at base. Now what was I saying about knowing better?! OK, never mind, when you look back on the week we've had and the almost constant battle against unfriendly winds and spring tides; to manage the 4 excellent sessions in amongst everything, then who are we to complain?