Monday, November 30, 2009

North Shore's swell swell

Last Wednesday, the Housemate and I played hooky and spent the day on the North Shore watching the waves. The only class I was missing was physical oceanography, so I figure it was actually important for me as a PO student to take this field trip and witness the awesome power of physical oceanography at work. Plus, it was the day before Thanksgiving, right?

The reason we had to go on Wednesday was that the swell was huge. 30+ feet. The Housemate had to explain this to me, but with swell that big it was likely that Sunset and Pipeline, two famous and popular breaks on the North Shore (if you've ever heard of the movie Blue Crush with Kate Bosworth, they were surfing Pipeline), would be too unruly to have good waves (it would "close out" or something). BUT Waimea Bay, known for waves so big it makes Pipeline look amateur, only breaks with swell that big. And that doesn't happen very often (several days a year). Since the Housemate is a surfer (though "out of practice" enough that he wasn't going to try surfing the super-huge waves) and I'm a wave lover (PO PhD student, after all), we jumped in the car with our cameras and drove up to the North Shore at 5:30 am to get there by sunrise.

Of course my camera screen, after a brief period where it worked properly, whited out, and I couldn't just use the Housemate's camera because his battery died (it hadn't been fully charged). Kind of bad planning, but remember that we left at 5:30. But I still got a few nice shots to share.

While in the car driving around the North Shore, I played a game of "Encore", trying to think of songs that use the word "wave". The rules of Encore are as follows: you must have 8 words in a row including the word in question, and you must sing with the correct tune or at least some good approximation. In my "wave" game, I deemed any sense of the words "wave" or "waves" acceptable, but words like "waving" or "waved" were not, since the originally desired sense of the word was the noun form. I came up with seven songs that fit the bill. What songs can you think of? It's a fun car game. To get you in the mood for the wave photos, I'll share a snippet from one of the songs (a favorite of mine... I danced to it once):

Fragile as ships as we pass through Gibraltar
The Sirens have long given way
Dark as the murky graveyard of sailors
Whispering secrets told in the crashing waves

-Edwin McCain, "The Rhythm of Life"

And now the photos.

Waimea Bay minutes before sunrise. Pink clouds are nice. The break at the mouth of the bay is where the surfers are in the last photo of this post.

The notoriously dangerous shore break at Waimea. I like how the light caught the higher clouds in this one.


A wave by Pipeline, early in the morning (7:30ish by now)

There was a surfing competition scheduled for that day at Sunsets, but the water was too wild, so it was postponed. (I watched some of the finals for the contest over the weekend--but online in Honolulu. Still pretty cool.)

A tow-in surfer catches a wave at Pipeline later in the morning (9:30ish). You can see the jet ski that towed him in, but you may need to zoom in to make out the surfer to the left.

People watching waves at Pipeline. You can almost make out leaping horses in the wave break. The little orange flag with the sign is a warning about the high surf.

Late morning surfers at Waimea Bay (the break visible in the first photo of the morning). They all go for the wave, but there's a system of priority (based on position and whose turn it is), so the others will pull out once the person with the highest priority shows they're not about to fall down. Looks like quite the ride.

More photos tomorrow!


Hezabelle said...

Even I, a horrible morning person, would get up early for that.

Eleni said...

Yeah, it was definitely worth it. And we stopped at Starbucks, so that helped with the early morning part.

Sebastian said...

Did the Boy surf any waves in the end?

Gotta love sunrise/sunset, where the angle of the sun catches the higher clouds (as you noticed). Most of my sunset photos rely on that effect to make them interesting.

Lovely photos :)

Eleni said...

The Housemate did not bring his surfboard that day. As he had guessed would be the case, the only place that was actually good for surfing was Waimea Bay (there were a few people attempting Pipeline/Sunsets, but they weren't finding too much), and Waimea seemed a bit too serious for him at this point.

The clouds were a little more spread out and interesting in the second photo, but I was disappointed that the pink had disappeared by then. I think we may get even bigger swell early next week, and they're planning on holding the competition that takes place at Waimea then. Not sure I can skip a day again, though, it being right before finals and all. Darn.

And thanks :)

Davis Miller said...

I like this place! I love the idea and wish there was a place like this in Astoria, Queens. I am a surfer and found a "real surfer bar" in Point Break NYC. I am kinda jealous ;0PIts filled with surfers, people who like surfers, people who like the beach and people who don't want to live close to town. I really like this place. You know what they have these real Proctor and Channel One surfboards on the wall. It's nice for coming any day of the week and eating a late brunch. The food was outstanding. The brunch and sides were prefect and tasty. It is a perfect "escape" from city living. It is probably one of the only places where you can get a nice frozen pina colada or margarita. The service was on hit. They came up and checked on us so many times and made sure everything was up to par. It gets very active and the bartenders keep everybody having a good time. The bartender was very accommodating. He was nice enough to make a drink, that wasn't on the menu, for me :0) Did I mention the bartenders are nice eye candy. It was amazing to see their “das boot” which is shaped like a boot filled with beer. Don’t get me wrong, I am not drunk…it’s an actual boot shaped beer container ready to be emptied. Try it ..You will love it!! Oh. How can I forget, they even have a wheel o' shots where you just have to spin it and have to drink whatever shot it lands on!! Now call that bar creativity at its best!!! And when I spill a tray full of shots on myself, the bartender so kindly remakes them for me? Good music, too, and the decor helped us weather an otherwise overcast and rainy day. You know that old song "Brandy"? It goes, "Brandy, you're a fine girl, what a good wife you would be. But my life, my lover, my lady is the sea." I believe Brandy works here. No reason, I just do. And that song happens to be a guilty pleasure of mine, so that's a plus in my book. You can simply waltz over to this colorful and warm establishment, enjoy some drinks with friends, and walk home. The bar is right at the center, so you can walk to either side for drinks, and the bartenders are friendly and at your service. There is a variety of seating, good music, and friendly neighborhood people to make your time more enjoyable. Not pretentious, very cozy, I think Point Break is a fabulous place to spend some time with friends.