So a storm came through on Thursday afternoon and persisted into the night, it lifted Steve’s tarp and pull pegs and we had to scramble to secure his site.
The onshore nature of the weather event straightened the predominantly south swell and allowed some size and power to make its way around the headland and produce some waves at the point.
The kids had an early surf, we usually pack up and leave on Friday afternoon but we decided to stay till Saturday so we thought we do some tidying up and let some water get under the waves.
We headed down for a surf mid morning and were pleasantly met with double the swell we had experienced most of the week. It was about 3ft plus producing head high sets. Emma and I went out for a surf whilst a mate went for a swim.
After a few waves I noticed he had swam out to the point to watch the wave action. I paddled over and asked if he wanted a go on my board as my arms were getting tired from all the paddling I’d done this week and since the larger waves were breaking further out I needed a break. I had a swim as he surfed.
It was a beautiful day to be floating in the warm ocean, sunny, blue sky, crystal clear water, fish were appearing in the waves, sea birds were diving and catching fish. There were seagulls chasing a bait ball and fish striking it from below. I kept my eye on it as it ebbed and flowed behind the waves.
Then a helicopter appeared, the one that passed by every day over the beaches, an unmarked Robinson, I had assumed it was a sight seeing operation until it stopped and hovered for a while behind the break. It got lower, spun around, had another look and moved up and did the same again.
This isn’t good, that was no sight seeing joy-ride, they were shark spotting!
A few guys paddled past and mentioned the chopper and I joked about the close proximity of the bait ball and that if the water turns red and my hat floats by it was a shark. I was used to this situation ; bait ball comes in, seagulls land on the water, fish strike from below, potentially attracts the attention of sharks so Lifeguards/Lifesavers go out in IRB to investigate and hit shark alarm if warranted. No shark alarm no panic I thought.
Just then a Lifeguard paddled past and says “get out of the water, the chopper has spotted a shark”. I immediately head for the reef where there are submerged rocks and stood on one about knee deep in the water. I got my mates attention and told him what was happening, then yelled at Emma to attract her attention and gave the danger and return to shore signals. The guard had enough to do as there was no shark alarm sounding at all so he had to paddle to the end of the point to alert the surfers whilst the other guard closed the beach by dropping the flags and getting all the swimmers out of the water from the flagged area.
At this point we were back in the shallows and identified ourselves as Lifesavers and got a bit of a de-briefing from the Lifeguard. The Chopper had spotted a 2.5m “sea creature” 80m from shore, that was deemed to be “threatening” and advised the Lifeguards to “GET EVERYONE OUT OF THE WATER NOW”.
The local Police arrived and took over the management of the situation. They and the Lifeguards watched from the upper level of the club with binoculars for about 30mins or more trying to make a risk determination. Meanwhile the instant crowd had dispersed due to lack of excitement or the necessity for a latte or kale shake.
It was like the holidays were over and the punters had all gone back to Newcastle or Avalon. Only a few surfers, the Lifeguards, the Police and us remained at the patrol tent watching the ocean for signs of the critter. We listened inintently on the conversation between the Police and the Lifeguards. It was a bit like “buggered if I know” and “if you think it’s OK we’re Ok with it” and the cops were gone.
The Lifeguard then turned to me and I asked “Beach open?” He had hardly said “Yep” and I was of and running down the steps to the rocks, ran over the rocks and paddled out to the break and had the best session of the holidays getting some head high sets from the point to the beach, then across the flags in a nose ride section.
Here is the link to the Ripcurl site where you can replay the surf session
My already too tired arms hated it but I would not give up, the conditions were good for about 2 hours then the incoming tide started to reduce the wave quality to the point that all I thought about was beer.
I paddled in and since my arms were like noodles and the tide was coming in, as you can see from the GPS tracking on the satellite image, I just floated up the creek so I didn’t have to carry the board as far.
With a total of 23 waves in 2 sessions and the added excitement the day brought I slept well that night and did not bother surfing on Saturday.
We packed up camp and left at lunchtime and we were back in Sydney by nightfall with another Crescent Head adventure under our belts.
Thursday April 14th
There was a small wave at the Point on Thursday so we all paddled out to the Club House break again as this was the only place that was not crowded.
I took out my 7S Superfish XL that i have had for a few years now as mentioned in my Blog where I demoed the Isaac Fields model longboard ( see link below)
This is a great watch that Jenny I bought me for my birthday. It is where all the satellite images come from overlayed with the wave and paddling data. You can sync the watch to your phone or PC and then upload your surfs to the Ripcurl Cloud and Facebook. There is a website where you can share them and all the stats. You can also follow other surfers and see their sessions. Here is a link to the one of mine. http://searchgps.ripcurl.com/#/logbook/following/5710234e5001c00c24bb12a6 As the satellite picture shows I went all the way back to the campsite and swapped boards.
When I got back to the beach Jenny was at the club house again with the camera.
This time I was my on my 9’8″ and managed to get a few more waves.
In the afternoon Jenny went up to the skate park to take some shots of the kids
Wednesday April 13th
The lack of waves again made us go swimming, IRBing and SUPing.
Jenny had a ride in the IRB with Cynthia
Connor and Alan took the boys out for a ride on the ski-biscuit then the others all had a turn
Steve caught some waves near the flags and jenny waded out with the camera to take a sequence of shots that I made into a video.
Ron and I did some more IRB training, we went down the the corner again where the waves were bigger and I actually had a go at driving in the surf zone. An IRB has a tiller control not a steering wheel and a twist throttle like a motor bike, however it is all in reverse. (I always thought those IRB guys were a little backwards LOL 😉 This means to turn left you push right and vice versa and to speed up you twist forward and to slow down you twist backwards the opposite of a motorcycle. So we were in the surf, a wave comes in, Ron says “Go Go Go” and points right towards the shore. I turn left (towards the wave) and shut off the throttle instead of accelerating, had a panic attack and the next thing you know we are surfing an IRB backwards down a 4 foot wave. We then spin around. I’m driving but end up at the front so we almost nose dive, Ron yells “QUICK GET OUT” so I bail, calm as ever he takes over, does a spin and picks me up. I take over again and drive back like nothing happened !!!! I think I need a little more training and practice before taking on the surf.
Harley and I both had a go on my Naish 9’6″ SUP
Big Al took out Steve’s SUP sans paddle to catch a few waves. He said “It was thooper thanks for athking”
With a further drop in swell we had breakfast and hung around the camp site for a while then we all went for a swim.
High tide was around 1pm so after having lunch we let the tide go out a bit and headed to the point for some fun waves.
Jenny sat in front of the club house on the picnic tables with her camera and big lens. She had forgotten the tripod and used the table to steady the 500mm Sigma lens required to get a better photo from that distance.
I brought down 2 boards, my Stand Up Paddle board, an 11 foot Bennett and also my 9’8″ nose rider log just in case there were some decent waves.
Angus took out my 6’8″ 7S Superfish XL as his little board would not like the conditions. It is a bit big for him, hence the weird body position. I will need to teach him to ride it like a long board rather than adopt the “poo-dance” stance.
Emma commandeered my Myerhoffer 9’2″ hybrid mal / short board and attached her GoPro. Her 6’2″ short board would also not cut it on such a small and weak swell. This is a board designed by Thomas Myerhoffer a renowned Swedish innovator and designer who created such things as helmet compatible ski-goggles, Flow rear-entry snowboard bindings and funky chairs.
Harley also had his GoPro and was getting a lot of waves but also struggled with the swell size and power.
Steve had been practising his pop-ups, the action of jumping up on the surfboard in one fluid motion rather than the 3 step process of one knee then the other then standing. He wanted to come out to the point and get a wave there as most of the waves on offer at the beach break were white-wash and went straight. He was keen to get a ride on a “green-water” wave.
Connor and I helped Steve get in position and he picked up a few waves He got a few himself on both his 9′ BIC mal and my SUP.
Charlotte took out Emma’s Race mal and Big Al had Steve’s 10 foot BIC and got one or two.
Monday Arvo Update
Ron and Allan put the IRB in at the boat ramp and brought along a ski-tube and a ski-biscuit to tow the kids along behind the boat.
Everyone was keen to have a go and “The Twins” Alex and Daniel, Will, Charlotte were waiting in anticipation. At the same time Connor, Emma, Harley Angus and myself had returned from a surf.
Jenny was there as usual behind the camera.
Before hooking up the biscuit for the kids, Ron and Connor took a few people for ride in the boat.
Will and Charlotte went out with Ron
Then Alan and Connor had a go. Al was having a ball and kept calling it “Bay Watch”
Ron was keen to take me down the beach and do some unofficial IRB training.
Being the Club’s IRB Captain he has a lot of experience and interest in the operation of IRBs or Rubber Duckies (for those who dont know IRB is an acronym for Inshore Rescue Boat).
This IRB is his own personal boat retired from service by the club which he uses to take the boys out on the lake etc. Connor has his boat licence and also has a great interest in boating having secured a job in a marina.
They are designed for rescuing people within the surf zone and have sharp turn handling and the ability to outrun the waves.
I started my IRB Crew Course at Dee Why, the surf club we all belong to however due to other commitments I was unable to complete it. Working on Patrols and running Water Safety at Nippers meant that I was familiar with IRB operations. I had helped launch and retrieve them many times and also had helped change motors. As Water Safety Co-ordinator one aspect of my position is to control the IRB via radio but due to Surf Life Saving rules I could not crew or drive the club’s IRBs until I had the correct qualifications.
I received a run through on the correct body position and foot placement in order not to be thrown out of the boat and we set off.
We went out through the channel and were met by a small wave which we jumped over. Woo Hoo – not a jet-ski but I could see where this was going!
As mentioned the surf was fairly small at the point, however due to the direction it was coming in to the bay further down the beach the waves were considerably larger so Ron set a course across the bay to the middle of the beach which was more open to the ocean swell.
Once there we ran along the backs of some waves which Ron explained was the safest position in the surf-zone as being almost on top of one wave meant your are the farthest possible distance away from the next incoming wave.
Part of the job as IRB crew is to assist the handling of the boat by leaning in and out of the boat, in as you turn left and out as you turn right. I felt a bit like a monkey in a side-car outfit on a motorcycle. Practising this involved some tight figure of eight turns.
We then proceeded into the surf proper. Being on the ball and having the ability to read the surf and the drivers mind helped me stay in the boat. I was really starting to get this IRB stuff.
When jumping waves or crashing through them the crew member has to get their weight over the front of the boat, almost in the foetal position, to prevent it flipping over backwards. It also helps you stay in position using the foot straps and rope handle otherwise the wave could was you onto the drivers lap!
After some fun outrunning waves and jumping white-wash it was my turn to drive. I elected not to put us and the boat in danger by entering the surf zone. I figured that we were too far away from anyone, had no radios, and would incur the wrath of the local Surf Life Savers ( who would have to rescue us) if anything went wrong.
I drove back across the bay to the creek mouth and asked if I could bring the boat in to shore this time. Ron advised to run up on the back of the wave in front of us and “easy as she goes” bring the boat up to the beach avoiding swimmers and board paddlers.
They then loaded up the inflatable ski biscuit and took the kids for some fun
At about half tide the beach break north of the flags starts to link up with another bank producing a nose ride section close to the beach.
So rather than fight for 1 footers with a million grommets on short boards and their dads on Stand Up Paddle boards, I thought this break would be perfect for honing my skills on the 9’8″ nose rider which is my largest board apart from the Stand Ups.
With its tucked in nose, wide hips and tail-rocker its an easy board to nose ride but also a bit harder to paddle, but the weight of the thing gives it some momentum, once moving it just glides onto waves.
As I started to paddle out I noticed Connor paddling in from the point who said it was crap (as I expected!) and had too many people to which I replied lets go down the beach a bit.
Being school holidays and very busy it is nice some times to just get away from the crowd and have a break to yourself.
We paddled north past the flags and saw Emma on her race mal and we all went to have some fun on the aforementioned break. Harley and Angus soon joined us as well.
The set waves seemed more frequent there as it was catching a bit more swell than the point. Connor and I were sharing the set waves and a few dads were pushing their kids onto the smaller ones. We had to do a bit of navigation around these punters who, along with all the grommets and grom-ettes, dont paddle out of the way when they clearly see you coming on a wave. The only people who did were two mums riding mals who obviously appreciated that when standing on the nose of the board its a bit hard to steer around people.
Anyway, I was able to break my record of number of waves per hour this holiday at about 12 per hour or one every five minutes.
When we had had enough we walked back to the creek mouth and Ron had brought down the IRB again.
I will do another update and post some IRB photos after a swim – its hot and i’m hungover
Jenny took a million photos and i will write up something about the IRB
There is no surf today and its windy so I may not have a day 4 blog except for this unfortunately
The surf was a bit smaller on the incoming tide today so I took the larger 9’8″ Barry Bennett “Isaac Fields Model” out to the Clubhouse break which I surfed until the higher tide kicked-in and forced me out of the reef, relegated to the beach break with holiday makers I caught a few waves with my mate Steve and then headed back to the van for a second breakfast.
After Breakfast we put the IRB in for a bit of fun. Ron took the kids for a spin and then Alan and I got in with him filled with trepidation. We jumped a few waves for a while and then he let me have a drive and since I have a boat licence and its a private vessel, it was all kosher. I may now be enticed to do my crew course and thenmy drivers certification so I can get in the boat whilst on patrol.
Saturday Arvo Update
After the surf I was invited to check out Crescent Head’s new Surf Life Saving Club.
The old club was one of those iconic sandy beige-coloured surf clubs with a smelly old brick and tile toilets / change shed from the 60’s behind it.
Last year they had demolished the old one and had commenced construction of the new one and I was intrigued to find out what it would look like upon completion.
The new one is an architecturally designed modern building with a smelly old brick and tile toilets / change shed from the 60’s behind it.
Excellent views, commercial kitchen upstairs, kiosk outside, however not much storage for the equipment.
On the first day of our annual autumn holiday at Crescent Head we were met with an early morning high and 2 foot surf so we waited for the tide to turn and then headed out to the Clubhouse Break. The board I chose was the 9’2″ the smaller of my 2 Barry Bennett “Isaac Fields” Models