We woke up hours before daylight. This isn’t hard during the Alaskan winter, especially when you are so excited you can’t sit still, there was a rumbling in the air when I walked out on deck in the middle of the night. The swell must have picked up.
It had been a while since we scored any waves. The last couple days were spent motoring the M/V Milo North from Yakutat. We had been spanked pretty good for a full day then anchored on Montague Island hoping for a morning session and got blown out by a gusty East wind. We let the wind blow us and this morning we were anchored up on the West edge of Prince William Sound. The nautical charts showed us some hope for discovery today if that rumbling wasn’t a hoax. Three of us jumped in the 14ft Humbug (our beloved skiff) and led the search for waves. After tracing the shoreline in search of waves for two hours in the snow, sleet, hail, rain and a solid 8-12ft swell we came around the corner into Puget Bay. So far we hadn’t found anything surfable, just a few big offshore crashing rocks and the occasional dumping shore pound.
As the Southeast swell wrapped into Puget Bay things began looking up. Radio back to the Milo with hands shaking, lips working slowly from the cold, “I tink weve might hafve founded someting here.” It looked pretty tough, head high and breaking right against a boulder strewn beach, but it was definitely the best we’d seen yet that morning and we weren’t sure how much more searching we could handle.
While we waited for the Milo to motor around the corner we ran up into the head of Puget Bay and found a perfectly gorgeous setup with ultra clean but small waves peeling at a river mouth. The crew on the Milo wasn’t much interested in our reports of perfect knee high waves and by the time we got back to the entrance to Puget Bay with our core temps another degree or two lower Mike and Fred were already suiting up aboard the Milo happily anchored just outside the break.
It was going to be awhile before the Humbug crew could warm up enough to get in our suits and join them so I shot some photos as my body slowly returned to life.
There was a bigger wave breaking on the outer point visible in the background of many of these photos. We went and watched it from the Humbug for a while. It was probably surfable if anyone felt like risking it going through the big gnarly boulders it was breaking on. With a bigger swell or slightly different direction it could be a great ride. That’s just the story of surf exploration in Alaska though, tide, wind, swell direction, so many factors have to come together for each beach.
After photographing for about half and hour I suited up and joined the boys in the water for some thrilling head high lefts till the darkness settled in again. Another great day in the life of surf exploration in Alaska. We’d heard a hot tip from a Surf Alaska reader (Thanks Ken C.) about the wave at the head of Puget Bay and it certainly is a killer spot with incredible scenery and a great setup on the beach. We surfed that wave at the head of the bay the next morning and had some great waist high peeling rides before we continued on the search to the West.
From what we saw I think there is potential for a few other breaks in Puget Bay as well with different swell heights and directions. Maybe someone else has surfed the area and cares to share?
The air temps were around freezing with water probably at about 45ºF. We all wore our 6/5mm hooded full suits and 5-7mm gloves/mittens. The surfing was hot, the skiff ride was cold. Mike was loving his Boardworks Bill Stewert S-Rail 6’10” on this wave. I rode the 6’4″ Boardworks Von Sol Shadow.
That’s all I have time for today, the word just came in that the knee high swell has picked up a little bit on the Homer Spit and I need to get some surf medication. It’s hard to adjust back to a normal life after having a sole surf focus for 5 weeks!