This was our second trip with the m/v Milo out to the Gulf of Alaska from Homer. Swell was forecasted to be something between seven and fifteen feet. The first day was windy, the swell was strong but it took us a few hours to discover a break that was sheltered from the wind coming in off the Gulf. No photos of that spot, too much excitement to get on some waves for me and try out the 10ft boardworks SUP on some real waves.
The first wave was a punchy head high left that did its best to lure us into the jagged rocks. Some of us fall for that pretty easy and spent our share of time floundering around in the rocks hoping we would get out with a one piece surfboard. The wave, yet to be named, provided some fun rides for about an hour before the incoming tide took away its juice. We paddled around the area for a while chasing the occasional beauty without much success. Plenty of waves breaking, but the wind was just not working with us. We found a nice spot to drop the Milo’s Anchor for the night and waited patiently for daylight to return. The stars came out and the wind settled down through the night.
At the first sign of light we were back on the hunt, prowling the coastline, binoculars scanning the horizon trying to decide what our best option was. The swell was varying between five and eight feet outside most of the breaks we checked. The decision was made to start out conservatively at a place we had surfed twice before and named Bullwinkles. It’s a pretty mellow break that offers both lefts and rights with an easy paddle out and the occasional barrel. I paddled around on the SUP scouting some nearby breaks and shooting a few quick photos.
A couple hours here and the tide suggested we keep on searching.
A few miles up the coast we saw what we had been dreaming about the night before. Mike pulled the Milo up and I headed in for a close look on the SUP. Wow. Game on. A flat rock ledge was catching the full force of the south swell about 200 yards offshore. The swell easily doubled in height as it lurched over the rock. I paddled into one 12ft wave just to make sure it was everything it promised. . . knees shaking with adrenaline I paddled back to the Milo. We spent the next few hours learning how to surf this wave. The hard way. Mike led the experiments with wipeouts under the lip, getting sucked backwards through the falls, and underwater transportation under the froth. The results were favorable – while it might hold you down for a while, it’s no killer. I managed to get a few photos before ditching the camera. I mean, come on, the light really wasn’t any good.
The biggest waves that came through (after the camera was put away) were about twenty feet on the face. The speed of the SUP helped me score some incredible rides. It was possible to paddle in on the right side of the peak and shoot right through the section that jacked up on the shoal.
One mission for me on this trip was to discover what it felt like to ride a 10ft SUP on a nice big wave. Now I know, and I liked it.
For the last session of the trip we went back to Bullwinkles and I paddled a Boardworks 6’10” Stewart S-rail. It’s a trip going from the standup to a surfboard. No doubt the sup time really pays off, that ‘little board’ was much easier to ride than I remembered. My balance felt better, turns seemed easier than ever and my paddling muscles felt strong.
We have plans to head back out there again on Sunday (1/30/11) and as I type we still have a few spots open if you want to join us on the search.
Oh yeah, we named the new break ‘Pop-ups’.