Summer has just begun for us locals. There has been more surf this
month than the last four summers total! Can you spell El Nino?
Hurricane Hernan’s waves struck promptly at noon last Tuesday. At
11:30 a.m. it was flat, your Tidbitter dropped his latest column at
the Coastline Pilot, hung out with the staff at our paper till noon
or so, then sauntered down Ocean Avenue, crossed the street at Coast
Highway only to be greeted by head-high corduroy marching in from a
ridiculous angle, almost perpendicular to the beach.
Started running at Olympic speed south on the beach toward Sleepy
Hollow where a 6-foot stand up barrel was chasing Nick Hernandez all
the way past the public access stairs! The wind never blew that
daywhile the sets just got bigger and bigger!
Sunset saw second and third reef connecting on every set.
Aaron (Gollygooch) Gaul caught a third reef foamball, went right
into the second reef foamer toward Cress Street, banked a long
radical turn on the now jacking inside reef and went so fast for so
long, it took him halfway to Anita Street, way past the Oak Street
lifeguard tower. We timed the ride at 57 seconds. Now we know why
they call it “Big Wednesday.”
At dawn, it was 6-to 10-feet at Doheny! By 7 a.m. there were 37
players out at Brooks, 13 outside at second (out the back, boys!) and
24 inside. Some sets were so south they appeared to sweep in from
Cress Street, kinda half way out to second reef.
Sleepy Hollow was doing its impersonation of Uluwatu. Newport
Point became “Surfer Magazine” cover shot material. The Wedge had
18-foot rogue sets every half hour. Big Corona was 15 feet with guys
taking off at the harbor entrance at low tide with four foot swells
moving all the way into the harbor past China Cove! Huntington Pier
had a 9 mph side current. You could try to paddle out by the power
plant and you’d be at the pier in 20 minutes or less!
The “Bu” of course was beyond perfect at 6-to 8-feet plus, from
Ol’ Joe’s almost to the pier. When it’s like that, Ekse, it’s as
laquer as J-Bay when it’s on. You just mak a zani and vie mull for
four hours without letting up.
Hernan’s waves were some of the most consistent I’ve ever seen.
From dawn till dusk, it never stopped! Just bang, bang, bang one
after another. A flurry of 8-foot sets, then a flurry of 10-foot
sets, then a flurry of 8-foot sets, then a round of 12-foot sets, at Uppers anyway.
Two major red flag swells in 10 days!
Then on Sun., Sept. 8, a fat Southern Hemi bangs down the door.
Same size or even a bit bigger than Hernan’s bombs, but way thicker
and more powerful.
Powerful enough for Occy to say it felt just like J-Bay at Uppers,
Monday afternoon while hanging with Laguna’s Kai.
You know Rockpile is serious when you see Rod Greenup already
smoking right in front of third reef, going so fast his arms are
outstretched above his head.
The weather has been almost phenomenal and the average high
temperature in Laguna so far in September has been seven degrees
above the normal 84.
Remember back in May? I recall mentioning something about wait
till late August or September. It’s gonna fire!
* DENNIS McTIGHE is a Laguna Beach resident. He earned a
bachelor’s degree in earth sciences from UCSD and was a US Air Force
weatherman at Hickman AFB, Hawaii.