Back from the 2 week jolly to the Bude area; our first trip west since the latest [and nearest!!] failure to get moved there. It was good to get 'back home', perhaps more so it being this area, leaving no doubt that when the renovations are complete this will be where we headed. Emotions now we're back in Lincs are mixed and the frustrations will possibly surface every now and then. I reckon a surf in the next few days will be just what is needed..I wonder...Anyway, as for the surf action over the past fortnight, it'll probably be best to do this a week at a time. 6th -12th Aug
Our arrival on Sat 6th
was delayed by about an hour but the cure was as ever very simple; the first glimpse of the sea and assessing the wave situation. Today was no different despite not expecting a great deal. As it was nearest from our base near to Bridgerule we opted for Widemouth as the chosen break. Not original nor secluded for sure, but at least a sound all round choice. We were pleasantly surprised then to find a cleanish, rideable 1-2' onshore wave though the breeze was light enough not spoil things. Ben was in before I'd finished fitting my fin and chatted to 1 or 2 folks. Suz had to miss out again though having left her contact lenses at the caravan!
I finally paddled out around 4.15 about half way into the flood, and found Ben already into the swing as the big grin testified. Even if I didn't fall into a groove I was glad just to be back in Cornish waters for the first time in 12 months. Sitting out there waiting for the first ride, I just couldn't care less the number of bodies on the inside; they'd have to take their chances. Happily from my point of view 'they' didn't have to wait for long as I was soon having to weave in and out of 'them'. In the next 15 minutes there were 3 more such occasions and the pattern was set. Sure, conditions weren't demanding powerful bottom turns and fast runs down the line, but it was fun stuff as Ben would agree. After two and a half hours water time we both got out refreshed and happy. Suz will have to wait till tomorrow to join that club.Sun 7th
saw us back at Widdy at low tide [2pm] more through laziness than no real swell data to go on. It wasn't inspiring. The breeze had shifted to the NW [as it did for much of the fortnight] and not to the NE as forecast. Consequently what swell there was, was being crapped out as is often the case in this scenario here. Common-sense screamed waiting for at least a couple of hours as it was warm and sunny and wiser to wait for the evening effect to kick in; besides the beach and water were heaving. However Suz needed a dunking to crack the ice and Ben as ever wasn't waiting for anything.
The crowds were a problem though and after half an hour with nothing on the scoresheet I was seriously considering knocking this on the head. An hour or so later and with only 2-3 unsatisfactory rides chalked up, I had at least resigned myself to it being a Sunday afternoon paddle practice. Ben too, wasn't getting much joy either; though at least Suz was enjoying herself immensely.
Around 4pm things improved slightly with signs of an increase to the mean wave size, which at least thinned the crowds out some. The quality wasn't that much better, but it was enough to give heart for a worthwhile finish to the session. The number of rides increased as did spirits, though this did confirm my earlier feelings about waiting till later. When will I listen to myself?! After another hour I spied Suz and Ben watching from the waters edge and caught one in to confer and have a breather. Suz had had a great time so far and was keen for a final flurry. This prompted Ben to nab my longboard which left little option but take out his minimal. I'm glad I did as I felt really chuffed to hitch 3 pleasing rides on it in the remaining half hour of our three and a half hour stint. It gave me some kind of guideline as to how far I've improved since going 'long' 5 years previously.Mon 8th
developed into one of those days you dream about. It's perhaps a bit too far to describe it as sublime but it nonetheless left you feeling pretty good about things. Although it was again sunny and very warm, from a surfing angle it hadn't begun promisingly. We were expecting nothing surfwise till later if at all and had opted to head into Bude in the morning. Our first view of the sea on our way in at Black Rock seemed to confirm our fears. Though the breeze was a very very light Northerly and the sea had taken on those rich blue hues you associate with summer, it looked flat. However as we drove by the NCDC car park further north along the beach there at least appeared to be a small clean wave beckoning.
In Bude, Nigel at Zuma's suggested a look at Sandymouth and with the prospect of another 'zoo' at Widdy this seemed the logical option despite never before having really surfed the place well or often. While Suz browsed in town elsewhere, Ben and I went and viewed Summerleaze and Middle beach for more eyeball data and were again encouraged by what we saw. Not bad for 1' and north!!
Parking in the top car park at Sandymouth just before low tide [2.36pm] we could clearly see some nice clean looking lines down below us. Having first [partially] suited up, the long trek down to the beach was thus carried out with extra spring in the step. Although the swell may not have been particularly large or strong, expectations for a really fun time were high. Ben paddled out around 2.15 just as I began the walk out across the open beach and hooked his first one as I arrived at the waters edge. Suz hung back for a little while enjoying the rays before getting in a little later.
With the sun beating down from a cloudless sky this just looked oh so inviting. I caught him up as he made his way back to the take off point, and just had enough time to view things from there before the next waist high set trundled in. As I swivelled round on the board to take my first wave of the day, I just couldn't take in how easy it all seemed and with very few others there as well. There appeared to be so much time and space as to be un-nerving; certainly compared to Widdy the previous 2 days. The ride was short but rewarding as I kicked off and turned to see Ben on his next one already. The pattern had been set and we both traded wave after wave, sometimes the same one, but always with a friendly competitive edge in what became the perfect seeming, father-son scenario. In the first hour we netted around a dozen waves each and were totally into it. Suz by now was in herself and we exchanged verbals whenever we rode near to where she was in the 'bather/body-board' section. True, the waves weren't big, but they were clean, easy to pick up on, and great fun to ride.
As the push gathered momentum, some livelier sets began to show which provided an even more positive platform to 'work' with. My only regret later was not taking advantage of this and experiment a little more to find a way to the nose proper. Perhaps I was too busy enjoying just getting ride after ride, and shouldn't detract from what was becoming a great surf. The second hour had produced a similar wave ratio for us both and showed no signs of abating. For a short while we swapped boards again before coming in to rehydrate.
Suz had thought along similar lines just before us and we crossed mid beach. She was having a great time too and was on her way back in before the tide got up on to the rocks. After a few minutes respite, Ben and I headed to a nice looking right peak at the northern end of the beach which we'd noticed three or so other surfers making the most of during our break. It was clear now that the swell had picked up as we'd felt, to a nice and solid shoulder/head high. Something that good was now getting even better. For three quarters of an hour we enjoyed the feeling of these bigger waves at this spot with me this time just edging things wave-wise, including the one where he took me out!! After which we moved back to where we'd been mid beach when the waterline began to lap over the rocks in front of us. Besides, a bigger set came through and rendered the peak to deep to allow the waves here to continue.
The last 40 minutes or so, before fatigue eventually kicked in, still provided an exhilarating time. A mixture of rights and lefts were still showing and the ambiance was still mellow. The wave count had slowed as you may expect, but the quality was there right until my final left when the arms cried enough around 6pm. Ben had called it just before me and Suz was by now watching from the beach. Not unsurprisingly we were all stoked with Ben and I having 30-40 waves each to reflect on. Suz's grin and the barbie back at base summed up what must have been close to the perfect summer's day.
After yesterday's exploits, hopes on Tues 9th
were tempered with caution for more of the same. Plans later in the day to go watch the Pirates play Launceston in a pre-season friendly, called for a closer to base spot to surf, and so Widdy was chosen. The plan was to try and at least beat some of the crowds by getting in around mid morning and surfing the ebb; any earlier was deemed impossible if any kind of recovery was desirable! On the point of setting off and without any real knowledge of the wave situation, we were encouraged when parky texted to say his viewing of the cams had been enough to take the day off and get over for "a piece of this longboard heaven". We pressed on with a slightly revised plan of a quick surf before lunch, with a more 'serious' session on his arrival.
Ben and I were both in by 11.15 and enjoying a pleasant couple of foot or so with a light onshore. It was obvious by the conditions, and by overhearing others that it had been better earlier but it was no good crying over spilt milk. We surfed for an hour or so, though with the extra numbers in the water, and no doubt some fatigue left over from yesterday, the quality and number of waves ridden was down. Ben did though manage one stonker that stood out and so we were at least pleased with our efforts and hopeful of more to come later when Parky got here. Even so, I decided to move my fin to the rear of the board having missed a few waves through apparent lack of speed.
Parky arrived around 2pm as expected and so Ben and I headed back in having had a nice long rest. Suz also now got in having watched earlier, but it was clear that conditions wave-wise had worsened. The sun and the swell was still there, but a serious rip was generally trashing the waves either side of the bathing area. The paddle out was OK and in my case it was straight into my first tasty ride making me wonder if the fin setting change was the cause. Either way, by the time Parky joined us it was getting worse and I only managed a couple more rides and plenty of trashings in the closeouts that were now predominant. Parky and Ben weren't faring much better and by the time Ben and I got out around 4pm I couldn't even catch one to ride in! At least we'd have better opportunity to catch up with Dave at the latter part of next week when he planned to come over again.
With the waves clearly deteriorating yesterday, confidence wasn't high for any improvement today Weds 10th
. Tensions surfaced on and off between father and son, even after a quick check late morning revealed something rideable at Widdy, which indicated to me reasonable prospects later after low tide [3.30pm]. Patience on Ben's part to wait for better options, and my lack of understanding for this impatience being the catalyst.
The Town beaches in Bude had been earmarked in preference to Widemouth as early as Monday owing to the formers seemingly finicky form to now. And so with us two still simmering, Suz was relieved to be striding off to the bathing area around the corner from Crooklets as we paddled out at Middle Beach. The mood as it was totally opposite to the still sunny warm weather enjoyed since Sunday. But this surfing lark can soon change that!
The rips that had messed things up yesterday at Widemouth were apparent here too, though not as strong and as destructive. Drifting northwards along the beach was an issue with the surf schools about, but a lot more manageable, even with the swell quite small at this pre-low tide stage. Even so the vibes between us improved and memories of a couple of days previous did arise despite a lower wave count; some 5-6 each in the first hour.
As the tide turned the quality of wave improved as the rip eased right off and reversed the drifting trend towards Summerleaze instead. A pleasant waist high right began to show with the take off at Middle Beach before rides' end at the rivermouth. Consequently wave quotas picked up with me choosing the earlier take off point and paddling into position a bit more, while Ben opting to take off from the shallower spot closer in instead.
The effects of the last few days were obviously having an effect on the lad when he called it a day around 5pm, around about the same time as Suz who was strolling over content with her efforts. I rode one in to check in with them before paddling out to a cheeky looking left showing off Barrel Rock. Amazingly only one other longboarder had cottoned on to it, and a more competent bodyboarder who could venture out from the lifeguarded area in front. Technically therefore this was in the bathing zone though it was clear there shouldn't be any problems if we kept wary of our positioning before take off. Happily I didn't incur any wrath from the guys in red and yellow and enjoyed the most satisfying 4 rides of the day in the half hour I surfed it.
At this point it appeared to drop off a bit and so I paddled back over towards Middle and rode one in, intent on checking out a peak at Crookies. This turned out to be quite steep and dumpy and had to be the potential channel I noticed on walking out earlier. So, after yet another 3 hours in, I too called time.
13th -20th Aug
Three days without any action was beginning to tell by Sun 14th
, more so because one or two less than ideal opportunities to at least get wet may have been passed over. I rang ZJ's to save the short trip to Widdy for a surf check and had my suspicions confirmed that there was swell still showing and that the breeze was still to the NW though forecast to lessen as the day went on. Crackington was my obvious choice as the high cliff there should provide at least a little shelter and so I texted Brox who'd arrived in the area the day before with Gill of this intention to get there around 2.30 [HT 12.20].
We arrived first and parked up at the 'honesty' car park up hill where we suited up ready for battle. Conditions were quite messy but certainly do-able with a waist/shoulder high wave clearly showing signs of improvement. Ben was in as ever like a shot around 2.30 with Suz and I joining him half an hour later; around about the time Brox & Gill pulled up. As I paddled out using the left hand channel, I saw Ben catch a reasonable right which I commented on as he joined me out back. There wasn't much time for deep conversation as I immediately snagged one myself for a short banzai ride of my own. Three more followed in the next 30 minutes which gave clear indication that we at least going to have some fun on our first surf proper at the Haven.
Ben's company in the line-up temporarily ended after he'd taken a couple more waves with a sugar low. At that time Brox appeared out there in his place, clearly happy to back in the sea after nearly a year without. Ben got back up to speed after a spell on Suz's bodyboard before rejoining the 'Big Boys' for a last enjoyable spell prior to the conditions poo-ing out around 5.30. All in all a nice baptism to the place with a dozen or more waves of varying quality and length with the vibes continuing on into the car park afterwards.
With the weather calming down again by Mon 15th
, hopes of a cleaner wave were boosted with a check of the town beaches in the morning while Ben sorted out a new wettie at Zuma's [a tidy C Skins X-act 3-2]. However, by the time we pulled up at Widdy around high tide [13.48], a cross-onshore breeze had developed from where else?...the NW! Conditions were not good and any chance of a satisfactory surf appeared wrecked. I got out after only 20 minutes with a handful of gutless rides to show for it; it was that bad. Though ever the optimist I wondered if it may improve once the tide had receded onto the banks. It didn't, though I did go back in around 4.30 for an hour or so having been entertained earlier by some of Ben's experimentations on my log. There was some success though as Suz reported with glee her first proper 360!!, and we again tallied up with Brox and Gill; as ever a pleasure. Oh and cheers to Tony for helping us get out of that sneaky deep sand in the car park!!
A pre brekky eyeball check on Tue 16th
confirmed fears for the next 2-3 days...clean yes...but flat or as good as. The following morning [Weds 17th
], I rang Zuma's again just to save a wasted journey and so we opted to head to Trebarwith Strand for a more staid beach visit. Our stop there was shortened by the tide and after a rushed lunch on the rocks we called in on the way back to base at Widemouth to continue our 'lazy beach day'.
As ever, you hope for a surprise in these circumstances, but with high tide approaching [4.30ish] it wasn't inspiring. The weather was still glorious but apart from what appeared to be a small peak at the north end of the beach, prospects weren't encouraging. Even so and after some nagging by Ben to go back for the boards to at least get a paddle in, I relented and he and I returned to the 'van for the gear. We were back and in by 4 leaving Suz with instructions to top up the car park ticket. Even so, after only a few minutes I still wasn't convinced feeling it was just a waste of time.
After only 10 minutes I voiced this opinion to him and decided to make the long paddle over to the north end of the beach over the rocks where I'd earlier seen that peak. As I approached the spot I noticed that the few already there were at least getting some rides; one in particular, and so hopes raised a little. Conscious that this was the first time I'd ever surfed over anything approaching a reef, I watched for a few minutes to gauge the form; I was desperate. It paid off as within 10 minutes I had pulled into a pleasing little right giving me more chance to improve my backhand technique; something this trip has given me more than normal.
By the fourth wave I'd gotten into a nice groove and was at last beginning to enjoy myself, and in such a short space or time as it was now only around 5pm. Could it get any better? Well yes and how! Over the next hour everyone was treated to a fantastic display by some dolphins which easily distracted us from our surfing. No-one cared even though plenty of waves snuck through un-used as we felt so privileged to witness a magnificent show. Not long after this ended though not without a ride or two more, this spot became just a bit too shallow so I got out and moved back down the beach to where the others were. We conferred over the dolphin experience and went back in; Suz now also suiting up for some action.
For the next two hours or so we shared plenty of clean, mellow waist/shoulder high waves; swapped boards and had a generally great time. The swell was also showing promising signs of building, so prospects tomorrow looked good too. In this spell we noticed that Joss and Pete Ash were in the water which gave further inspiration if any were needed. Not surprising when you consider how much of an influence they have been on this family's surfing progress, though they wouldn't be aware of this.
No surprise then that it wasn't until past 8pm before we got out totally stoked and knackered. My wave tally was again well into the 30's as at Sandymouth a week earlier, whereas Ben could also add to his tricks CV with a [claimed] Hang 5. Well he is a stone lighter please note! But I have to confess that he is definitely showing great promise with the longboard which makes the old man smile with pride.Thur 18th
dawned with the swell still in fine fettle. Ben and I popped down to Widdy to confirm this before texting Brox and Parky who had arranged to come over with his lad Lewis and his mate Andy for a camp-over. We couldn't wait till later though and just had to get in as soon as, with it showing a solid 3' and clean with little or no breeze. Back to base, pick up Suz and the gear and straight back it was then! Brox pulled in to the car park at Widdy around the same time as us just before low tide at 11am and was as impressed as we were with the waves. It should be no surprise then that no one hung around with the gowning up and getting in bits!
Early on with the tide nearing the end of the ebb, conditions were really good, and the quality of rides was up there as you like it. Quantity wasn't the issue and it was also good to be able to watch the likes of Joss Ash again show us lesser ability guys the way to do it. Worryingly though just after low tide, the rips that had messed things up last week, showed up again though weren't as drastic, and as the flood got more underway they eased. The first signs of Parky's arrival perhaps showing? Who knew for sure but there certainly seemed to be a pattern developing concerning his 'influences'. Happily at the time though, the promised windier, wetter weather still seemed to be holding off and hopes that conditions wouldn't cave in before he got here still held out.
At least that is until we got out around 1pm to try and save some energy for later, when things began to get gloomier ever increasingly. Over the next couple of hours or so the breeze gradually picked up and around 3pm when he apparently had crossed into Cornwall as he later stated; the rains and wind arrived! Mercifully it didn't last as long as feared, but by the time he had pitched up at our site and got over to Widdy by 5pm, it did look as if it may clear up some. The waves had messed up, but by the time he paddled out on his new Very Blue Surftech noserider to join us it was at least rideable of sorts. Oh how we ribbed him about being here yesterday or even that morning!!!
Even so, we remained in the water until around 8pm and at least scored some rides to make it worthwhile. Brox it should be noted claimed his most satisfying wave for a very long while as well. I took a while to notch my first as I'd decided to revert back to having the fin at the front of the box to see if that made any difference. I wonder if it did taking into account the early frustrations, but by the end I was at least getting into a few of my own. Ben also had one right that stood out from the rest with a super fast down the line ride which was seen more clearly by Suz and Gill on the beach.
For the last hour or so, the two lads got in on the inside and were joined by Parky after we'd made our way well shattered from what had been 9 hours in the water in the previous 24! The post surf barbie put on by Parky was therefore most welcome and set a good seal on a great day.
Overnight the weather again worsened with the NW wind getting up quite a bit before easing in the morning of Fri 19th
although it was at least sunny in between the showers. Parky had decided to move onto his own caravan at Porthcothan later in the day but came along to Crackington Haven in the afternoon to at least check out if he could get in again with that Very Blue Board once more. Brox and Gill were already parked and suited by the time we got there around 3pm and as we made our way down to the beach we found Parky and the lads also there in the council car park.
Only Brox and I went in for a surf as Ben was feeling the effects of a broken nights sleep, and Parky decided that the 3' or so gnarly waves just didn't look worth the effort. Gill also went in for a spot of body boarding leaving Suz also back onshore not bothered about going in , in what were clearly challenging conditions. As I waded out and waited for a lull in the wind assisted sets memories of that session a couple of years back at Praa, and thoughts along the lines of "What the hell am I doing here" came flooding back. I saw that Brox was struggling and knew that he'd probably end up on the inside which hopefully he'd get some use of.
Then I saw the gap I was looking for and broke through quicker than I had imagined. There were a handful of locals and one of the lifeguards already out there and it was soon clear that it was indeed quite hairy. However after a few minutes once more sizing up the best tactics I settled in for what I decided would be a short and sweet, but kamikaze surf. I figured it may all be over with the first ride when I found myself unable to get back out again. How wrong I was even though it took me a good 20 minutes or so to catch my first ride proper.
I'd missed a couple and waited my turn patiently for another opportunity which suddenly came again in the shape of another larger set. I let the first two through and made my intentions clear about the next one. I had started to wonder if I should have reset the fin to the front of the box to make it looser, but with an extra couple of paddles into this baby, such thoughts disappeared. Maybe speed had been the key after all as I felt the board lift and then slip down the face. No further hesitation was required and I popped up nicely with ample time to reach the bottom and turn powerfully left. On reflection I should have perhaps brought her back sharply up the wave and maybe attempt a step or two, but it was so nice just shoot quickly along the line before pulling off 'pumped' !
No worries about getting caught inside now as adrenaline kicked in and I was back in the line up without too much fuss, ready for some more. In the remaining 45 minutes or so I caught three more banzai type rides, one of which was very bumpy and I did well to keep on the board voluntarily. The final one I rode determined not to risk spoiling the session by going off the boil. But it had been fun and been a further indicator of my own progress again. Sadly there was no further action on this visit as conditions didn't really improve enough on our final day [Sat 20th
], but at least we enjoyed Brox and Gill's company into that evening with a fish 'n' chip supper and a go in their 'bus' to fetch it.
Ended up in a rush to get off this morning, what with a stack of chores to get done and then a minor father-son difference of opinion. In stepped Suz banging heads together and packing us off to surf it out of us!
Everything pointed at Sandilands being the better option today and so we headed there. Knowing that there was little or no wind forecast, and also with yesterday's difference in swell size between there and Skeg', there wasn't really any choice. On arrival we were greeted with the sight of the golf club flag pointing inland though without any real force. Nervously, and dreading that this would be compounded by no swell worth speaking of as well, Ben and I climbed the rise out of the car park for our first glimpse of the sea. Happily there were still the remnants of swell and not too badly messed about now that Low Water had passed and the tide now in flood.
Paddling out was a little lumpier today, but nonetheless still easy, and almost immediately the first wave was caught by Ben. As his short and crisp ride came to an end, I was into my first of the day; albeit an even shorter and less smooth action. The duck had though been broken, and Sunday's mare had been laid to rest. Two more similar excursions soon followed, before I hooked a chunkier wave that had enough body to dig the rail in and turn along the face.
That was definitely more like it and set the tone for the remainder of our 2 hours or so in the water. This time we were matching each other's wave count; around 6-7 an hour, and making the most of conditions that were deteriorating as the tide pushed ever inwards. We both got out around 1.30 about mid tide, by which time it had really poo-ed out to barely a 1'+ and a lot messier. But we had definitely surfed out our earlier differences which can't be a bad thing, can it? :o)
Made a late call to head over to the coast yesterday afternoon to try and find a rideable wave and make use of a shortlived swell.
Found Sandilands just after high tide messy and quite large, but with signs of the wind dropping which may clean it up some. Unfortunately this process may have taken some time so Ben, Suz and me decided to head to Skeg as it would already be more sheltered from the NW if likely to be smaller. It was and it was.
Even so Ben and I suited up and went in to try and make something of a clean, small and lacking any real power, wave. This was not helped by the sea bed config which allowed sets to approach with promise, but die at the optimum take off points in a deeper channel, before jacking up again at the waters edge! I struggled and had by far my worst session in a while. Not one wave! Ben snagged some, one in particular early on before the ebbing tide killed it all off.
Overall, not an ideal run up to our trip west later this week :o( May have another bash this morning before the swell dies off and try and recoup some confidence.