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Posts Tagged ‘North County’

Empty perfection can still be found in one of the most crowded corners of the earth.  The question is are you willing to pay the price of admission?

Empty perfection can still be found in one of the most crowded corners of the earth. The question is are you willing to pay the price of admission?

Let me start by explaining the fact that I have a few screws loose when it comes to conventional thinking.  I also have the drive, determination and retard reasoning to allow for my stupid whims to be seen through to fruition. As a result a  day as I am about to describe to you is a normal occurrence in the life of  Chris Lisanti.  If you happen to be friends with me and have a sense of adventure you may find yourself biting off more then you can chew as my boy Mike found out the hard way.

My morning started out  as any other day of waves does except a little earlier.  I had noticed with the current Santa Anna Winds and solid combo swell that it may be a perfect Jalama day.  My friend Mike was fresh off a Bali surf excursion and was pumped to keep the surf ball rolling.  On board for a sick day of surfing the plan was to meet at my place at 7 am a cruise from there.  I was even awoken from my slumber by a Jalama dream.

In the dream I was checking out where I wanted to surf from the usual cliff above the camp ground where I can see for miles in either direction with my binoculars.  The scene was just perfect.  Lefts marching down the beach in graceful harmony as glassy as could be.  The sun was rising thus lighting up everything in beautiful reds, yellows, purples and orange.  It was surreal.  Then all of a sudden I slipped and fell off the cliff.  I caught myself with my feet at the edge and was dangling upside down. Luckily my dad was there to rescue me (my dad lives in Jersey).  That’s when I woke up conveniently at 6:30 am.  Crazy huh?

I’m not one to analyze dreams or anything, but I am sure there is all kinds of hidden meanings in that one.   I would also like to note that it is rare that I have a dream I remember.  It’s a good thing for it though cause I forgot to set an alarm on my phone and would have totally over slept.  I fed my cats among other morning pre-surf chores just as Mike showed up.  We loaded up the Civic and were off.

Jalama11514

When Jalama is on it can be a pure surfing bliss!

Whenever I head up to Jalama I always stop at the Market Bagel Cafe for some bagels up on the Mesa.  It may be the best bagel in Santa Barbara.  Just don’t get scrambled eggs there.  The cook always lets them oxidize in the holding pan and are almost always green.  I have been cooking and holding large quantities of scrabbled eggs for years and have never ending up with them turning green. To each their own.  Maybe they are just really big Dr. Seuss fans.

Whenever I go with a bud whoever is not driving buys the bagels.  Mike ponied up to the counter and paid.  As we were leaving another customer stopped him and handed him a dollar off the floor that he claimed Mike had dropped.  Mike took it and said “This is our lucky dollar today”.  I am not really a superstitious person by any means though the dollar did change the routine and may have been ultimately the jinx.

We had an easy and uneventful drive up to the  Jalama turn off at the PCH 1 while Mike told me of all his Bali stories from the past month.  Not even a mile into the Jalama road taped over the camping  status sign was “Jalama Beach CLOSED”!  CLOSED!!! WTF!!!.  I slammed on the breaks and threw it into reverse to have a better look.  Sure enough there was an orange construction sign explaining that the park was closed till May 3rd for renovation.  Normally with most parks this is not an issue.  The majority of the time I park outside the park area and walk in to avoid paying the parking fees.  At Jalama that is not an option since all the possible spots to park are tow away zones and you do not want to even deal with that situation in such a remote area.

This is what pretty much the entire coast line north of Point Conception looks like for 100 miles at least. One word: Remote...

This is what pretty much the entire coast line north of Point Conception looks like for 100 miles at least. One word: Remote…

Pissed the gears in my head start turning on what our next move should be.  Truthfully around Point Conception there are not many options.  Either access is near to impossible due to private property or worse military, or its a gnarly closed out sharky beach break or both.  The winds were off shore and I really did not want to drive all the way back to Ventura and surf the same old crowded spots I always surf.  Then I thought, what about the Guadaloupe Dunes, between the dunes themselves and the river mouth there is always alright banks up and down the beach.  There was plenty of swell, too much even.

The large sandy area in the distance is the southern most end of the Guadalupe Dunes.

The large sandy area in the distance is the southern most end of the Guadalupe Dunes.

We agreed to give it a go and make lemonade out of lemons. On the way up, not having been there since 2012 with Pat I made a wrong turn and got a bit lost (check out the blog I wrote about the session in 2012 “Lemonade out of Lemons” Here.).  Mike pulled up our GPS on Google Maps and it appeared I was a few miles off on my judgement of where the westerly road to the Dunes was.  As we were looking at the map on his phone I noticed that there was a Point Sal State Park.  I have been staring at Point Sal on the map for years wondering about its surf-ability and access.  I always thought it was part of Vandenberg and there for inaccessible from land.  If a state park did exist then there must be access to it some where or what would be the point of having a park there.

The Google Earth Map of Point Sal that had my interest peaked.

The Google Earth Map of Point Sal that had my interest peaked. Notice the lack of roads leading to it…Also take note of the rugged terrain.

Keen on finding a new spot and some surf adventure we set out in search of this magical place.  All the roads we hit that should take us to the park were closed.  Mostly because they ran through Vandenberg.  Others because they had sustained too much damage to be worth repair for lack of use.  Despite our efforts we constantly found ourselves back at a golf course.  Mike wanted to ask around the pro shop if anyone knew how to get there.  It has been my experienced when looking for a surf spot asking directions is near to impossible.  If you happen to come across a surfer the odds of him telling you how to get to a secret spot are slim and if the person is a non-surfer unless they fish odds are they have no idea what or where it is you are looking for.  Sure enough just as I thought we lost about 15 minutes learning nothing new.

PointSal5

Mike and I about to make the “7 hour” loop…

Once again we resolved to go back for the dunes and again I made another wrong turn.  This time the road led us to a dead end with a marked trail head sign reading “Point Sal Trail…10 mile round trip”.  Now the debate ensued on what to do.  Keep in mind the majority of the surf spots I frequent are at least a half mile or more to get to.  Some of my favorites in the 2-3 mile hike range.  I figured what was two more miles give or take?  Mike looking for adventure and feeling in the mood for a walk in the bush concurred.  We still had our doubts about the whole thing as we were gearing up for the hike when a jogger came out of the entrance of the trail.  We asked him about the trail and he said it was not too bad and should only take about 2 hrs or so to the beach maybe an 1 hour or so if we took a short cut across private property he described to us.

Just like that it was on Mike and I had signed on to a retard mission into the complete unknown.  If there was ever a moment to reconsider it was with in the first 500 feet of trail or “short cut” as it climbed a brisk 15% grade on very uneven ground.  Let me mention the fact that it was in the 80’s, a hot day by Santa Barbara standards and Mike was wearing nothing but a pair of board shorts and sandals.  Determined we made the climb.  At the top maybe around 200 feet up or so we could see in the very faint distance the ocean.  This gave us the hope we needed to press on.  It also helped that it was currently offshore.

The initial ascent

The initial ascent.  That green pasture at the bottom is where we began…

After crawling under a barbed wire fence that clearly stated “No Trespassing” on it we continued now on a steady trek down hill towards the ocean.  Of course we knew it was not going to be that easy considering we saw more hills to climb between us and the ocean.  It looked a distance away, but when your in a situation where everything is so vast it is very hard to figure scale.  I always find the best way to proceed is to just follow your course and see how fast the target destination begins to come up.  If one finds he has walked an hour and his destination still looks as far as it did when he began then its a bit further then anticipated.  With this in mind onward we trekked.

The long road ahead.

The long road ahead.

Our spirits were high being that it was still early in the voyage and we had a good trail to follow.  Before long we were led into a wide open vale where the trail tapered off.  It was open ground and we continued our heading towards the beach.  We soon realized we were on course to the dunes and not the point.  A vigorous redirect took place through sharp thickets, poison oak, which I am at the moment beginning to see the effects of on my extremities, and a bit of a climb.  As it turns out we were were following a cow pack trail and no longer one made by humans.  At this point we were pretty much out in the wilderness.  There were deer running around to the south of us, cows to the north and most likely both mountain lions and coyotes stalking us in the bushes.

Not knowing what direction to take I left my stuff and scurried up a hill like a mother fucking jackal to get my barrings. At the top I was about 100 feet above all of the surrounding area in front of me.  I could see that there was a dirt road of some sort in the distance and what looked to be a rather decent cow path to it.  The plan was to head for the road as it appeared to head in the direction of the point.  I figured we had maybe a mile and a half to go.  Mike and I talked it over and decided at this point we had already come so far and it was shorter to keep going then to turn around.  Of course this decision was made not considering the hike back after surfing with wet gear.

We kept walking and walking.  I began to notice a few vultures circling above our heads to my dismay.  One thing was for sure I was not going furnish a repast for one of them. Maybe a shark, but certainly not a vulture.  How many fucking human predators are in this area?  I should have just stuck to Rincon.  As we drew nearer to the road I noticed a strange red thing in the distance and two big steers.  I took my binoculars out of my pack and had a look.  The red thing was some type of ATV.  Weary of being chased down by an angry rancher I took a scan of the vicinity, but saw no signs of people.  Thinking the rancher may have left it there we continued on making sure to by pass the cows from a distance as to avoid a charging.

Finally we got to the road and were heading down it at a good pace when I stopped dead in my tracks.  There was someone working in the tress near the small stream through the vale. I began having horrid thoughts of “Deliverance” and was a bit nervous since I do have a “real pretty mouth”.   Mike looked back at me and I was like dude “Deliverance”!  “If they we can see him then he can see us.  When you are trespassing on private property the best case scenario is that the cops are called.  In such a remote area you never know what some crazy redneck rancher is going to do.  I was calculating an alternate route around.  Mike was pretty dead set on continuing on.  We could always just play dumb that we lost the trail and with the surf boards it was believable.  Its not like it was far from a lie since we were fucking lost and had deviated from the trail.

Our best don't fuck with us faces

Our best don’t fuck with us faces

We approach the work area and there is not just one dude but three.  On their truck it said “The Land Conservatory of San Luis Obispo County”.  My first thought was what was this the fucking twilight zone? Did we walk through a fold in the universe and end up in SLO?  I damn well know we did not walk the 30 miles or so it was to the county line.  My next thought was these dudes should probably be chill if they are tree huggers.   Mike approached them on one side of the truck while I hung back ready to strike if need be. At first they were hesitant to let us pass saying we were on private property.  Then they saw we had boards, two of the guys being surfers themselves became steadily stoked and thus sympathetic to our plight.

Turns out they were hired by the Land Conservatory to fence off a portion of property that had recently been donated to them before transferring it to Santa Barbara County.  Mike later asked them what their first thought when we came upon of them was and they said “I can’t believe that guy (Mike) isn’t wearing shoes”.   By the time we came across the group we had already walked about three miles and had been on it for over 2 hours.  They let us pass and told us the best way to go if we wanted to get to the beach.  Apparently they had brought boards when they first started working on the site, but were always too tired to make the 300 ft decent and subsequent climb back up after to surf.

After such commitment we had to get to the beach if not for any other reason then the accomplishment of seeing it.  We walked another 100 yards or so when we came upon a shaded clearing where the Conservation guys had made camp. Taking a sit down on a downed fence post we split a grape fruit and some water.  We had three bottles to us and strict rationing had commenced.  Behind us we heard someone yell out “You guys want some peanuts?”.  We looked back and the workers had decided to break for lunch.  We headed over to the their camp where one of them was nice enough to offer us a ride to the beach in the ATV.  Jumping at the chance we loaded up and were off.

The view from the top of the bluffs of the beach just south of Point Sal.

The view from the top of the bluffs of the beach just south of Point Sal.

A short albeit bumpy ride we pulled up to the edge of this giant sand bluff over looking a pristine crescent beach about a mile long.  There was surf! Clean surf no less.  We were about 300 ft above it according to the dude who gave us a ride and since he built a fence up it I trusted his insight.  From our vantage I could tell it was big, definitely bigger then what I had in my bag.  Even my step up would have been a stretch on the sets.  At this point we had to go for it.  Dude gave us a ride and was pumped for us to get a surf.  Plus we had worked so hard for so long to get there.  A surf was eminent.  It looked pretty ride-able from my vantage.

The Conservation guy said if we wanted he would come pick us up at 3 pm when they were getting ready to quit and they would give us ride out to the car.  “Go have yourselves a session and just make sure your back by three” he said.  I looked at Mike, we were both a little unsure on how to proceed and then I gave our driver a shakka and began the decent down.  The sand was so loose it was like skiing and kind of fun.  I was not thinking about what a bitch climbing back up would be.

The long way down and even longer up!

The long way down and even longer up!

The decent went rather fast and could not have taken more then about ten minutes.  On the way down I took in the surfing situation.  It seemed the largest peaks were breaking along serious rips in the center of the beach.  To the north end near a rocky head land it seemed the most user friendly and surf-able on my 5’10.  The sets were solid double over head with some even larger clean ups.  The waves were breaking hard. It looked like an unruly Hawaiian beach break as the trades begin to pick up. Powerful was the word.

We also so a group of humpback whales playing in one of the rips.  They were breaching and sticking their heads up out of  the water, flapping their tails.  It was like fucking Animal Planet out there.  To think lazy people pay money to go out on a whale watching excursion. All they had to do was embark on a strenuous hike through the bush for three hours and they could have seen it for free.  The whales and beauty of the beach were enough to make all the suffering worth it for me.

This wave is way bigger, way heavier and way faster then it looks...

This wave is way bigger, way heavier and way faster then it looks…

With no human scale and the vastness of everything around it was hard to judge size, but I knew it was  going to be no picnic out there.  I was considering bailing on the session when I turned around and saw that Mike had already suited up.  I guess it was on!  We shot for the north corner of the beach cause like I said it seemed the most manageable. Of course everything on the central coast is deceiving and I soon found myself in a whirlpool of rips, meanwhile getting pounded by nonstop sets.  The water was freezing and what was coming in was very fast or closed out and riddled with a strange back wash.  That being said there were a few gems to be had.  If you had a ski and were doing step offs I think there would have been some amazing barrels to be had.

In our case it was nothing but a beating.  Mike took tons on the head in the impact zone before heading in.  I picked off a few small corners from insiders before deeming it not worth the risk of injury or board breakage.  Although if I did break my board then I would not have to carry it back up with me.  Damn right I was leaving it there.  After our defeat, though like I said it was far from do-able with our current equipment and means we chilled out on the beach and ate the last of our food.  I could have made a session out of the conditions, but if I were to get hurt the resulting rescue would have been a real hassle.  One thing I have gotten a handle on in my older age is the risk to reward ratio.

Resting up before the long climb up that sand hill you see behind me.

Resting up before the long climb up that sand hill you see behind me.

Later thanks to some internet research we would find out that the spot was called Magics and is rarely surfed. The few first hand accounts we could find about the place seemed similar to ours, a long hike for very difficult waves and hardly worth the effort.  I would agree and it is rather unlikely I will ever find myself back at Magic’s anytime soon.  I guess the point itself is Vandenburg property making access illegal except from the water.  After a short break I checked my phone and it was 2pm.  If we were going to catch our ride back we needed to get a move on.  The last thing I wanted was to be left stranded and have to walk about five miles back.

We started to climb back up the dunes and soon found that between the steep incline, heat coming off the fiery sand and the sand avalanche the climb was causing that it was going to be a very challenging 300 foot ascent. I was on point with Mike close behind.  He soon found it to be even more difficult being in sandals and having all that burning hot sand falling over his feet.  The end result was severe lag on his part.  I looked at my phone and it was nearly 2:20.  Worried for a loss of our ride I began picking up my pace into high gear leaving Mike behind.  I went back into jackal mode and all spastic like climbed to the top.

About 3/4’s of the way up it became heart break hill.  Each time I thought I was at the top there was another top to get above.  This went on for about three tops till I made it to where the ATV tracks from our drop off and current RV point for pick up.  I put my gear down and relaxed waiting for Mike.  About twenty minutes passed and I didn’t see him.  Unfortunately due to the three extra tops and the steepness of the bluff I was unable to see him for some time.  When he finally did get with in eye shot he was in bad shape.  Falling down every few steps and making really tough progress.  He had put on his booties for the majority of the climb to prevent the burning.  Still he was pretty torn up.

I helped him with the final leg grabbing his board for him.  We sat and waited for our pick up and consumed the last of our water just hoping the boys didn’t decide to leave us for dead.  As we were about to lose hope we heard the distant sound of a motor and then saw “Big Red” (the ATV) and let out a sigh of relief.  We were spared the grueling walk back to the car.  How much easier it was to just ride the distance out.  What took hour of arduous hiking now was wrapped up in a matter of twenty minutes.  Back at the car we looked at each other and could not help but feel a bit accomplishes though exhausted.   There you have it, an hour and half of driving, three hours of walking and fifteen minutes of surfing and not one good wave to show for it.  That is why the whole day can be summed up as a retard mission.  Whooooot!

 

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Jalama122213

12-22

Crowds everywhere!  What the FUCK!  These days California has been no bargain if your an avid surfer.  I have to say 2013 will likely go down as one of the worst years for surfing on record for the entire state.  Besides a moderate spring season, which would have not even been worth mentioning if winter was not so bad, its been one let down after another.  Summer started with some fun, yet far from epic south swells, followed by an unprecedented six week  flat spell.  Then the lot of us thought that maybe fall would be our redemption.  Fall came and went with no combo action and nothing more then a few weak NW swells.  The last hope, our saving grace up here in the Santa Barbara/Ventura area was winter.

Unfortunately as we watched Hawaii get amazing swell after amazing swell (usually a very good indicator that we are about to score), that same swell got to the California coast and sucked.  Glad the boys at Pipe are scoring. Now already in peak season everyone is super hungry for whatever little bump mother nature decides to grace us with.  What does all this mean to me?  Exuberant crowds at all of the well known surf spots, my beloved Rincon being one of them.  If you follow the surf log you may remember a session I had at Rincon not to long ago where the party was steadily ruined by a crowd of about 250 people.  If your not following the surf log  you should because that is where the meat of this blog is these days.

All of the overflow spots where I will usually trade quality for crowd compliance have also been stupid packed.  Even the bad days where few would even think about paddling have become out of hand.  By this past swell I had it up to my head with people.  Luckily I was off from work till the 4th of January and had the ability to do some searching.  Sunday the 22nd of December saw the beginnings of a new long period WNW swell.  Since it was a weekend and a holiday weekend to-boot I was not at all eager to go surf anywhere.  My boy Pat had called me the night before and put the idea in my head to go up to Jalama.
Jalama122313_3I checked the buoys, and the conditions.  Sure enough it had all the makings of a good Jalama day.  My only concern was that if the swell moved in too fast it would be too big to surf.  My boy Mike ended up crashing at my house after a night at the Wild Cat in Fancytown and was keen for a surf.  As soon as I told him my idea he was up for it.  I called Pat to see if he wanted in considering it was his idea.  He bailed, leaving Mike and I on a mission.  That was fine cause three has always seemed like a crowd to me.

We struck out later then I normally would have liked for a Jalama mission. These days I’m always later then I would like when it comes to surfing anyway. The winds looked good all day and the only alternative was to sit in an obnoxious crowd for very average waves down south. Worse case scenario we had a nice drive, surfed a few waves and hung out. Jalama is always a good idea in my book.
Jalama122313_4

We got there and it was solid. Tarantella’s was way overhead and crowded. I could tell from the bluff it may have been a bit more then I had a board for. I figured I could try my luck with Cracks or maybe even venture further south into the ranch and try some of the reefs I had scoped out a few years ago with Kooky Kyle while he was living at the Palace. I knew of one reef in particular I was interested to surf.

When we got in front of Tarantella’s it was packed, at least thirty heads. The waves were solid double overhead and bigger on sets. I could have pushed the envelope on my meager 5’10 but it would have been a slaughter. When I looked south toward the reef I had in mind,  I noticed there was a wave coming in. Mike was keen and we set off.  Keep in mind this reef is around 500 yards or so from T’s so I was going on speculation at best.  There is nothing better then to walk that far down the beach only to realize it was a flash in the pan and have to walk back. That is the risk one must take to score.

Tarantella's doing its thing.  Believe me it is a much bigger then it looks.

Tarantella’s doing its thing. Believe me it is a much bigger then it looks.

As we approached the reef I noticed a few guys out. I guess we were not the only ones hoping to score a few waves off the beaten path. The left itself was a nice little slab. It came out of deep water and slammed into this little finger reef about fifty yards or so in front of a rock outcrop. The wave had a barrel off the drop on the double ups opening up to a turn section or two on the inside before closing out on the beach break shore dump.

That inside was heavy.  I thought I was going to break my board or neck more then once. It appeared that the crew that was out there were together and at the end of they’re session. We chilled on the beach and assessed the situation. The last thing I wanted to do was crowd four guys who had also went out of their way to avoid such. Plus I wanted get the lay of the land so to speak.
Jalama

To tell you truth I was glad there were guys out. It gave me a chance to learn the wave. With in fifteen minutes of getting there one by one the line up cleared. Mike and I suited up and paddled.  It was solid overhead on sets. I had no idea where to line up or how deep it was. I have this thing when I go to a new spot where I have to pop the cherry. I caught the first wave which jacked up way harder the I had expected. Luckily the reef was rather conform and about four feet deep the entire way.

Mike and I made the most of this fun wave just enjoying the beautiful surroundings and laughing how lucky we were to experience such a thing on one of the most crowded days of the year. We decided to call the wave (although I am sure it already has a name) Pats Remorse since he blew it and stayed home.  It wasn’t the best wave I have ever surfed and certainly far from the perfection of Tarantella’s, but considering the fact we had it all to ourselves it was just what the doctor ordered.

12-23
Jalama122613-014

I woke up feeling rather sore from the previous day’s mission.  The new swell had filled in according to the buoys.  All reports came back that it was too walled for the beaches and too small and inconsistent at most of the points to make it worth a paddle.  I took my time and waited as all my contacts kept me informed on their hunt.  Finally Pat called and said he was coming up my way, the plan being to go try and get some waves in Isla Vista.  All the college kids were home for the Holiday making the place and line ups a ghost town.  There was plenty of west in the swell that at the very least Devereux and Sands would have something.

Devereux was tiny and kooked out with long boards and SUP’s.  Sands had waves, but it was about chest to head and pretty walled with the occasional corner.  Not too frothy we decided to take a minute and watch two goats head butt the shit out of each other.  At the moment we decided that may have been the highlight of our day.  I must say it was rather entertaining.  One goat was twice the size of the other and they just kept smashing skulls.  Every time we thought the little one was throwing in the towel it would back off just enough to get a solid lunge at the other.

At that point we did not know what to do.  It was a good thing we didn’t just suit and boot the Sands.  As we got back to the lot a fucking UCSB campus police officer was ticketing cars.  The dude was chill and let us bail with out a fine.  There were a dozen or so other surfers’ cars that were not so lucky.  Between that and the goat fight I figured we were already ahead of the game.

While driving off the deliberation began.  Then Pat said what we were both thinking, “What do you think about making another trek to Jalama.  At that point I figured we had nothing left to loose and off we went on a very late day excursion retard mission. We got there and Tarantella’s was fucking huge.  I am talking easily triple over head to twenty feet.  Guys were getting tubes you could drive a car through.  With a pair of 5’10’s between us Pat and I wanted nothing to do with that.

Bombing Jalama beach break

Bombing Jalama beach break

Up on the bluff just before the entrance to the park there is a little pull off where you can check the surf to see if it is worth the $10 parking fee.  From there I looked north onto Vandenberg AFB.  Through my binoculars I saw a few reef breaks that showed possible potential and looked like a not so far walk.  A little further, a distance I really could not gauge from that vantage, could  have been fifty yards or a half mile I noticed a really good right or at least what appeared to be.

Necessity it the mother of invention or in this case exploration.  Pat and I loaded up our gear and started the long march to the unknown.   Seriously we had no idea how far we needed to walk or if what we saw was even ride-able.  We went on blind faith in the hope that our commitment would pay off.  About a half mile in we got to the reefs we had seen from the bluff.  They were do-able, but more closed out on the sets and unpredictable then one would have liked.  From there we could see the mysto right hander better.  It still looked pretty good.  Unfortunately its distance still near impossible to tell.

Our right reef in the distance.

Our right reef in the distance.

I had learned from countless missions abroad that the best way to gauge how far a spot is that you are walking to is to consider how much more visible it gets as you keep walking toward it.  If that spot never seems any closer odds are it’s way too far to walk.  When I walked to the Kumara Patch in Taranaki, NZ for example I could barely make out the wave from the parking lot, which was around 2 miles away.  The spot did not look any closer till I got with in 3/4 of a mile from it.  This wave was definitely looking closer every step.

In the distance just before access to the wave was a cliff head land.  From our position we had no idea if there was going to be a trail around it or not.  We did not even know if there was a beach beyond.  As far as I could tell we were either going to have to climb down a cliff into the surf traversing boulders when we hit the water or paddle from the foot of the cliff.  Either option  seemed to suck to me.  We had already come so far.  Also the closer we got we noticed a column of white water that seemed to make the second section possibly impassable.

We kept on with high spirits.  When we got to the cliff area there was a small goat trail around.  Although an awkward grade to walk with a surfboard and gear it was far better then other trails I have had to traverse in my day.  Sure enough the path emptied onto a big open deserted beach.  The whole scene was surreal. Just Pat and I in the middle of nowhere staring into a right we had not known existed until that day.  The only discouragement was that it appeared to look much smaller then we thought from the beach.

See any signs of human life?

See any signs of human life?

We cautiously waded out into the water.  Remember we had no way of telling how deep the reef was, or how sharp or what creatures may dwell beneath.  It was all a mystery.  Upon paddling closer to the wave we could tell right away it was much bigger then it looked from the beach.  Almost to the take off zone, which was about forty yards in front of this rock out crop I decided to swing around on one of the insiders.  Like I said I love to be the first to test the waters.  What I thought was a smaller one ended up sucking up to head high and reeled down the reef.  It had a nice bowly wall the entire way in.

The reef was rather conform, about five to three feet deep all the way to the inside shallows where it eventually went dry.  On the way back out a set came and cleaned us both up.  It was solid ten foot and bigger.  The sets were make-able if you were in the right spot.  I seemed to always get into them a little too late and got owned by the next section.  The real gems were the in between ones that just hugged the reef all the way to the inside.  There was a little wind on it, but we could tell that if it were glassy or offshore the place would barrel if not just at the first slab section, but the inside slab too.  The place had real potential.
Jalama122313_1

For over two hours Pat and I traded off right for right, pushing the limits of the spot each time.  As the tide got lower a few rocks began to pop up in the take off zone that were a bit problematic.  The wind picked up a bit out of the NW as well adding a debilitating chop to the face.  Considering these new extraneous factors both of us decided to call it a day before any inopportune instances occurred.  Over a mile from the parking lot and over 20 miles from decent medical help and no cell phone reception, an injury would be very inconvenient.

Pat said if he got attacked by a shark to just drag him into the beach, hand him his pack of cigarettes and let him smoke away till he bled out.  There was this big sand drift at the head of the beach so I figured once he died I would just drag him over to the foot of that and push the sand down over him and call it a day.  I could think of a lot worse ways to go and places to be left to rest. Considering the distance for help that seemed to be the most logical plan for any serious injury. I decided to tentatively call this right hand reef, Pat’s Redemption.  T’was another good yet very unexpected day of surfing!

12-26-13
Jalama122613-318
The day after Christmas Heather and I got a late start.  It was nice to spend the morning together with out any obligations or a care in the world.  Word was things down south were far from good and rather crowded.  Heather had never been up to Jalama and conditions looked right.  Figuring I could find a wave some where up there we set off.  Like I said Jalama is never a bad idea.

We got up there around 2 pm way later then I ever make such a trip.  As soon as I got out of the car I could tell it was bombing just by sound of the waves breaking.  When I came over the dunes it was macking.  I guess the new swell had already begun to fill in.  Thinking things were a bit too big for Cracks and Tarantella’s considering all I had was my 5’10 again (you think by now I would start bringing my bigger board), the call was to go north.  It was still smaller then when Pat and I came a few days prior.  I knew of at least one left hand reef slab I wanted to check out.

We made the walk and sure enough the spot I was thinking of looked really fun.  It was a short little left that offered a quick tube off the drop followed by a hit section, ending with a boostable close out.  Basically it was a goofy foot playground.  There was even a crazy right too, although its pace and steepness made it pretty tough to make.  I did manage one sick one on the right.
Jalama122613-003Heather tried her luck with my DSLR and managed to score some pretty decent photos.  Its been a long time since I got a few shots of me surfing.  She was pumped on the whole experience.  Most people are when they make it up there.  Here we were basically with an entire beach to ourselves.  I must say the only down side was I felt a bit like fish food out there all by myself.  There is some solace to be found in the buddy system.
Jalama122613-198Besides the solitary factor that at times I actually do find most refreshing I have to say it was one of the best surfs I have had in weeks.  As far as the day went I could not ask for a better one.  The weather was great.  I was at one of my favorite places in the whole world and I got to share it with the woman I love.   Who could ask for anything more.  Its the simple things in life that matter the most.

After a year of frustrating surfs, obnoxious crowds and all the other day in and day out bull shit one has to deal with its amazing to know all it takes is an open mind and thirst for adventure to take back your soul.  Some people travel all over the world to find new spots.  I found three in less then a week in my own backyard.

***This blog was suppose to post on 12-23, I wrote it on my cell phone and messed up posting it and somehow lost the whole blog.  Thus it had to be rewritten.  With the holiday it has been sometime since that initial lost posting that was regrettably promoted.  I think this is a way better version any way.  Sorry for the confusion.***

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I did mention there would be an abnormal amount of monthly recaps in the coming weeks courtesy of my laziness.  So September in December?  Well its better then a Christmas blog, don’t worry there were no arrests and no stabbings in Lisanti Land this year.  (see Christmas Dread Part I, Part II and Part III for more on that) As a matter of fact I did not even make it to the bar Christmas night.  Instead I ended up just falling asleep on my couch watching Seinfeld.  Very exciting stuff I know.

September is usually one of the better months for surfing in California.  Especially up here in the Ventura/Santa Barbara area.   All bets have been off this year considering it is by far one of the worst and strangest years of surfing I have ever experienced.  September did not disappoint in disappointing everyone.  There was a total of one NW swell that was the biggest let down since cheese in a can. One South swell I missed thanks to a non-surfing trip I took to Portland, Oregon for a family wedding and subsequent Vacation.  On said trip I managed to get myself into a family squabble impart because of a blog I wrote critiquing the wedding (see Portland Blogs: Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV) and further proved to my parents what a fuck up I am.

There was one near epic day of crazy barrels at River Mouth that as far as I am concerned was the only worthy session of the whole month.  The city of Santa Barbara decided to close the Mesa Lane steps pretty much denying access to the only really consistently short board-able wave in town.  On top of all this I had to make a week long trip New Jersey for my sister’s wedding at the end of the month where I did manage among all the drinking to sneak in a couple of average surfs.  To continue with the theme of 2012 September was just another month of let downs and screw ups.  Here is how the numbers worked out:

Number of Surf Sessions: 19
Actual Days Surfed: 18

Total Time Spent in the Water: 31.5 hrs
Number of Waves Surfed: 531
Average Waves Caught Per Hour: 17

Spots Surfed:
New Jetty: 6
Emma Wood: 3
Santa Clara River Mouth: 2
The Pipe, Spring Lake, NJ: 2
Manasquan Inlet, Manasquan, NJ: 1
Riddle Way, Manasquan,  NJ: 1
Hollywood by the Sea: 1
Little Rincon: 1
Gold Coast: 1
Gudalupe Dunes: 1

Top 3 Surf Sessions (as per Surflog)

3) 9/12/12 AM Session: 2-3+ft, New Jetty
Time in Water: 1.5 hrs
Waves Surfed: 26
New Jetty is back baby.  I had heard rumors in my long hiatus from surfing that it was the case.   Then on Tuesday my friend Lindsay confirmed it.  I decided I would wake up and see for myself if it was true.  Expecting a lie and then a subsequent terrible Emma Wood session I climbed the dunes in low spirits.  Especially since the wind was whipping out of the west.  Sure enough I saw a set of chest high waves break off the jetty and just peel.  Stoked I called my boy Ryan and it was on.  The crowd was about eight strong but everyone was taking turns.  I was surfing really well although found that my lack of surfing had left me out of shape and struggling in the paddling department. Serves me right for nearly three weeks of drinking, partying and sloth.  After the session I went to the Ventura swap meet where I scored a boss ass lamp for my living room $15, an alarm clock $3, “Breakfast and Tiffany’s” and “The Young Frankenstein” $1 and Candide and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn $1.  What a score.  Then I had my dinner party which was ten strong including myself.  I served Chicken Parm over Linguine Rigati with garlic bread and stuffed apples for desert.  It was a fine evening.

2)  9/17/12 AM Session: 2-3+ft, Gold Coast
Time in Water: 1.5 hrs
Waves Surfed: 37
What a fun ass surf courtesy of more tropical action.  Its seems like all the best swells this summer were thanks to cyclones.  I started at Ventura harbor but it was all swampy with the tide at New Jetty and I could not judge River Mouth.  I had seen some good ones at Emma and went back there.  As I was checking Emma I noticed some decent looking lines coming in at Gold Coast, which loves these short period tropical swells.   I pulled up near the concrete retainer wall in the middle of the beach and picked a really fun peak.  For a change I was surfing incredible and the crowd was easy and fun as it usually is there.  Some how I pulled a front side submersible reverse.  I think I have only stuck maybe three of those in my entire life.  Nothing like a good day of surfing even if they are few an far between these days.

1) 9/26/12 AM Session: 5-7+ft, Santa Clara River Mouth
Time in Water: 3hrs
Waves Surfed: 40
Fucking barrel fest.  By far the biggest heaviest, most hallow day at the River Mouth of the season. I was a bit slow getting down this morning and very sore from all the surfing yesterday.  When I got up on the dunes I could not believe my eyes.  All I saw everywhere was spitting huge open tubes.  I almost fainted.  I ran back to the car, tore on my suit and joined the party.  I did not even do a turn till my 7th wave.  Everything was just a take off right into the pit.  Then the wind kind of got on it and made it a bit harder to get tubed but there were still plenty of heavy double ups that would let you in even if then did not let you out.  I had three where I was in a tube so big I could have drove a Mack truck through them.  Sooo fucking good.  It will make missing a week of solid swell while I am in shitty flat New Jersey tolerable at least.

The only really worthy session of September looked something like this only bigger!

The only really worthy session of September looked something like this only bigger!

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May 2011 Surfing in Review

Considering we are 7 days, 14 hours away from the start of the “Summer of Alf”, which may be a benchmark in the history of Lisanti Land and will be described in detail on or around May 16th, the official start date.  I thought it would be right to finally close out 2011 and get the first ever year in a life of Chris Lisanti surfing stats.  In order to do that I first had to compile the stats from May of 2011.  Actually May was a very integral month in my life last year in a very negative way.

The “Summer of Alf” is going to be all about the positive.  Its almost necessary for this recap to happen nearly a year later.  May was it for Adrienne and I, the final cabash.  I spent the greater part of April trying to win her back and by May my efforts had become futile.  It was not long into the month that I found myself packing my bags and moving out of MY APARTMENT  as a result of the situation.  You can read “Bowing Out” and “One Last Perfect Day” if your new here and lost or just want to rehash my pain.  I know I link these regularly but that is because they were some of the hardest yet better pieces I have written here at SurfingRuinedMyLife.net.

The funny thing is when I read them looking back now it amazes me how messed up and confused I was.  As a result my surfing took a toll.  I missed some days, I was frustrated others and a few surfboards got destroyed as a result of drunken tantrums.  I still managed to stay wet as Nick the Kook would say.  I have said it before the only constant in my life in last 21 years has been surfing and I am thankful for every moment that has been bestowed on me in the water.  Here are the numbers of May 2011.

Number of Sessions Surfed: 16
Number of Days Surfed: 15
Time in Water: 27 hours
Number of Waves Surfed: 409
Average Waves Surfed Per Hour: 15

Spots Surfed:
Mesa Lane: 4
Rincon: 3
New Jetty: 3
Santa Clara River Mouth: 2
Emma Wood: 1
La Conchita: 1
Ocean Beach, San Francisco: 1
Waddel Creek, Santa Cruz: 1

Top 3 Sessions:

3. 5/30/11 PM Session: 2-3ft, Mesa Lane
Time in Water: 1hr 20mins
Waves Surfed: 25
After a morning of failed car surfing John and I decided to give Mesa Lane a look.  The wind was right and the tide was not too low making it a definite possibility.   Upon checking it there were tons of glassy little nugget bowls rolling in with a very light crowd.  It was bit on the low tide side but I was kind of frothy for a surf.  The surf was far from epic but I was in crazy surf mode and began pulling and sticking a variety of airs out of which I brought down three ally oops and one really fast backside air reverse.  It was a fun little session to say the least.

2: 5/29/11 PM Session: 2-3ft, Rincon
Time in Water: 2.5hrs
Waves Surfed: 28
Talk about late season crazy wind swell.  I checked the buoys this morning and they were spiking at 12ft.  I knew Rincon would have to have a wave of some sort.  Low tide was around one.  John and I cruised south and on the way down Santa Claus did not look very promising.  The parking lot at Rincon had a fair number of cars in it and some people were walking around with short boards leading me to believe that there might be some waves to surf.  Turned out there was some waist to chest high scrubby wind swell coming into the cove that was semi clean.  At first I as not too enthusiastic but then saw a solid set of three waves roll in that sparked my interest and had us all over it.  I ended up call boxing one wave and snagged at least three good ones and I saw John get a few good ones also.

1: 5/25/11 PM Session: 2-3+ft, North County, Santa Cruz
Time in the Water: 2.5hrs
Waves Surfed: 40
See Blog  Clearing My Head for more details. In short just a buddy of mine and I sharing waves in the middle of nowhere on a well shaped left reef pass.

There you have it the final recap that was needed to complete 2011.  Stay tuned for the entire stats from 2011, an entire year in surfing.  I’m excited.   Check out the “Urban Surfing” blog I wrote back in May of 2011 it some cool surfing and other adventures from this time period.   As always read the surf log for daily updates on my surfing and day to day.

Empty perfection. If you don’t surf then you probably don’t understand how precious this scene is. All you see is a pretty picture of a wave.

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Empty Waves of north county

When I initially decided to travel to San Francisco I had a few must visit items.  Alcatraz was one of them and the giant redwoods was another.  Alcatraz was out because upon research the cheapest tour was $26 and just a tad to pricey for John’s and my budget.  Yesterday the plan was to meet up with my old roommate Brennan and go up to the redwood forest.

Being from Santa Barbara I never even thought to check the weather report before plotting out how I was to spend each day of my trip.  In Santa Barbara 300 days of the year you can count on sunny days where the temperature always gets above 70 degrees F.  In San Francisco however things are well a little bit more fickle.  While on the phone organizing the day’s festivities with Brennan he mentioned I should check how the weather was going to be.  Sure enough rain was forecasted and upon waking up it was raining and miserable out.

“When one is given lemons why not make lemonade”?  It may have been cold and rainy out but the wind was light for north county Santa Cruz and according to the surf report there were waves.  I love surfing north county and driving the PCH south from SF to Santa Cruz is one of the most awe inspiring rides a person can embark on along the California coast line.  The road traverses along steep cliff side banks with the vast expanse of the blue Pacific Ocean to the west and green rolling hills with scattered eucalyptus tree forests about them.

Along the road one also dips down into all these quaint little coves and valleys where a collection of beaches span out offering solidarity and a variety of river mouth, reef and beach breaks usually empty for the taking.  One must be an intrepid soul for although there may not be another human in sight there other creatures who lurk beneath that my not be so kind.  The men in gray suits ask no question and are non-discriminate in who they decide on taking.  I’m talking about sharks folks.  That whole zone is part of the red triangle and a seal rookery.

We started our way south from Ocean Beach down the Great Ocean Hwy and passed a number of almost adequate looking waves.  With 60 miles of road and over 100 surfing possibilities not to mention a guaranteed pay off at Steamer Lane John and I were not about to settle for anything less then great.  In my head I still had a vendetta to settle with a certain river mouth fed beach break called Gazo Creek back when I visited Santa Cruz in the fall of 2009.  Check back to the Myspace.com blogs for that one.  I may post it as a Blast from the Past at some point.

Long story short my boy Mark and I paddled out there just before dark and it was solid 8-12 ft and macking, but near perfect.  The paddle out was a nightmare and when we got out it was way bigger then we thought and both of us were on 5’9’s completely under gunned.  We freaked out, took one wave and came in.  A surf spot had not beaten me like that in years.  Ever since then like Captain Ahab and his whale I have sworn redemption from this wave.

Before getting to Gazo’s we stopped at this tiny road stop Greek pizzeria called Odyssey Café in Moss Beach just about 20 miles south of San Francisco.  I love little hole in the wall mom and pop type places that serve nothing but comfort food.  Some people are all about gourmet and fine dinning.  Sure that has its place in society but for me it’s all about places like this and I spend my time seeking them out where ever I am.

Odyssey did not disappoint and kept the good eating streak alive.  The place had four tables and offered pizza, Greek specialties and sandwiches all at a very affordable price.  I had a gyro and John got a chicken sandwich, both of which were delicious.  Did I mention they had an eight-foot rusted out metal sculpture of Tyrannosaurus Rex out front?  It was a most pleasant dinning experience.  From there we headed to Gazo Creek.

Gazo’s was small and although a few scattered lefts and rights hardly worth the shark risk.  I knew of spot a little farther south just on the other side of Ano Nuevo that I thought could be fun.  It has a name but for this blog’s purposes and the fact that I would love to surf there again with out being pummeled by angry locals I am going to call it The Saw Mill.   Basically the place has some scattered beach break peaks to the north and to the south about four reef breaks with on premiere right and left.  I had surfed the right back in the fall of 2009 and scored it.

On this particular day the left looked very appealing.  It was far from the best wave I had ever seen but no one was out, it was about chest to head high on set and peeling at least fifty yards down the reef.  I had a couple five to seven turn rides.  It was a bit soft, but every now and then there was the occasional double up and it was glassy.  As we got on our suits the sun came out.  The water was colder then yesterday except it was so much fun out there I did not even care.

John and I had a ball surfing for a solid two and half hours the entire time having the break to ourselves.  In all truth it was near perfect for about an hour and then the tide and wind slowly changed breaking up the lines.  It was still fun but not as easy to make all the connections.  It was by far the best surf session and most fun I have had in nearly a month.  My head has been so clouded lately with lamentations of my failed relationship with Ades.  I think she only popped into my head three times the entire session.

Oops I guess I am going to have to get a punch in the arm from John for that.  I have been obsessing over Adrienne for the past six weeks and now that we are done I need to get her out of my head and mouth.  I told John to punch me whenever I bring her up.  I know it’s a bit inappropriate but it has been helping.  Sometimes I mention her with out even knowing it.  Both my arms are getting pretty black and blue.

After the surf we headed back to town.  Brennan was to come up to the city and meet us for a night of more party shenanigans.   John and I had dinner at this random Chinese food restaurant in his neighborhood.  We ordered chicken chow mien, pork fried rice and General Tso’s chicken.  The General Tso’s was delicious the rest was edible.  I always make it a point to eat Chinese food when I’m in San Francisco.

We met up with Brennan and headed downtown.  I was really excited to go downtown since partying in downtown Santa Barbara is fun I could only imagine how crazy it would be in a major city.  I know it was Wednesday night but I’m sure in New York one can find some very happening parties going off.  John’s fifi being a San Francisco native knew the scene well and gave us two places to go.  The first was a club called Infusion.

At the door there was a small line and the bouncers were pulling that ratio bullshit the guys were pulling on Sunday night.  What is with this town?  Are there no females here?  In Santa Barbara the ratio is solid with out any bouncer interference.  The promoter lady tells us the ratio is 1:1 and unless you have a girl with you the chances of getting in are slim.  If I already had girls with me why the fuck would I need to go out anyway (I had a girl and blew it for just that reason, but that is why I am a fool and am suffering).  The three of us are on line when the promoter tells us to leave.  “Get off the line guys cause your not getting in”.  Meanwhile this pimped out escalade full of gangster looking Mexicans pulls up, all dudes and they walk right in.

I thought she was joking, but then she proceeded to get angry and told us to beat it or they were going to have to take adverse measures.  I have never in my life been kicked off the line at a club before.  We were three well dressed good looking guys that any club should have been happy to let into their establishment.  We went on to the next place, but they wanted $15 to get in on a Wednesday night, Brennan tried to talk the bouncer down to $15 for the three of us, but it was to no avail.

Beaten we went to some other place that had about 35 heads in it, 25 dudes and maybe 10 girls out of which maybe six were not taken and out of that there were really only two decent ones who every other guy there had already hit on.  Brennan always told me how much more fun partying in Santa Barbara was and now I believe it.  All I know is that I hate that I have to resort to going back out to meet people.  Being single sucks. I forgot how little fun the game is.

We bounced out of that place and stopped by an Irish pub that was filled with couples and people over 40 before making our way to a 24 hour diner.  Back in New Jersey I always ended my nights in a late night diner.  It was just the place to brighten up the night.  John was bummed out because he felt he let me down and I was bummed out like I am every night.  We were seated by this very attractive foreign waitress.  She was terrible at her job but good to look at.

It was a classic dingy dinner with terrible food and even worse staff.  Just what the doctor ordered for a smile.  Brennan starts running all these “what if” scenarios like he used to do when we lived together that got all three of us laughing and smiling again.  We ended up hanging out there shooting the shit for nearly two hours.  It was great to be out with two of my best friends and just laugh.  My life for the last two years had been adjoined with another’s and maybe somewhere along the way I lost sight of myself absconded in the collective us.

Now I am finding myself again and it should be a very interesting journey that I need to embrace and not cry about anymore.  John may have been bummed about not finding me a woman up here, but that is not why I came to San Francisco in the first place.  I came out here to celebrate his graduation and be among my genuine friends.  Mission accomplished.

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