Surf In Oregon

Saturday, November 23, 2019

November to Remember

N wind 10 to 15 kt.
Becoming NE 5 to 10 kt with gusts to 15 kt.
W swell 11 ft at 16 seconds.
Wind waves NE 2 ft at 4 seconds. 
Not the above picture forecast!

Couple weeks back, during a stretch of unreal mild weather, the forecast called for 1-2 foot surf, light winds and temps in the high 50's on Oregon's North coast. I talked my wife into her first ever ocean outrigger paddle.

Arrived in Manzanita at about 1pm to give it time to warm up a bit and still beat any potential late afternoon winds. Rigged the Huki OC2, suited up and carried the boat down to the water.

We've been paddling for a few years now, but only flatwater water for her to date. Put her in the front seat (as she prefers the view, as opposed to staring at my back!) and started out through the small waves.

It was an uneventful launch (thankfully) and we quickly made it outside and headed north along the hulking Neahkahnie Cliffs towards Oswald West's Short Sands Beach.
Battling a slight headwind and plenty of chop we finally came into the wind shadow of the Cape Falcon and paddled within the glassy waters of the horseshoe cove. There were a handful of surfers riding the tiny waves and we caught a fun little wave to shore to spend a moment on the sand.
A quick snack and some curious looks and we headed back out. As we paddled out, I noticed the approaching waves and called to my wife "Paddle". We crested the first small wave and I saw the next one approaching...

"Paddle Harder!" I told her. Punching through the next wave elicited a small yelp of excitement and I said "Paddle Harder!" as I saw the next wave in the train bearing down on us. The final wave was at best a waist high one but it was enough to launch us and the boat into the air and partially unseat her but my now familiar bark "Paddle!" she refocused her effort, was quickly back in rhythm and we were clear of the surf.

The run back to Manzanita was uneventful...paddling around sea stacks, through surging keyholes and what appeared to be a shark ripping apart another sea critter (as we paddled quietly past) were the only things to note.

Arriving back at Manzanita Beach, we surfed a wave in, carried the boat up to the car and quickly loaded up as the sun dropped behind the offshore fog bank and the temp quickly dropped several degrees.
I told her as we had carried the boat up the beach..."You know you're one of the only people ever to paddle along these cliffs, right?" Her smile said it all.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Break, Break, Break

Break, break, break,
On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me.

O well for the fisherman’s boy,
That he shouts with his sister at play!
O well for the sailor lad,
That he sings in his boat on the bay!

And the stately ships go on
To their haven under the hill;
But O for the touch of a vanish’d hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!

Break, break, break,
At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
Will never come back to me.

-Alfred Tennyson

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

SW WIND 10 TO 15 KT.
A petition has been filed with the Marine Board of the State of Oregon by an individual proposing to establish a "Navigation Safety Zone" on the south side of Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City, Oregon.
The said safety zone would essentially prohibit surfing whenever boat traffic was occurring at the Cape. The proposal stems from the accident in 2008 when a young Bend surfer, Cole Ortega, had his arm severed by a dory prop coming in through heavy surf.
The State and Ortega were found to be negligent in varying degrees and the boat operator cleared of any responsibility.
Now, 7 years later, Oregon surfers are faced with restrictions and the potential loss of a popular and protected surf spot. Surfrider has a petition to prevent the passage of this new and restrictive can sign it here. Please do!

Although, I have serious doubts even about the Marine Board's jurisdiction in this matter, here's the letter I sent to them in May:
In Summary, the Proposed Petition to Establish a Navigation Safety Zone on the Pacific Ocean at Cape Kiwanda proposes to:
·         Establish a navigation safety zone on the Pacific Ocean at Cape Kiwanda in Tillamook County
·         Prescribe the marking of the safety zone with lighted markers
·         Make operation of a surfboard within the safety zone whenever dory rigs and trailers are parked on the beach a violation of ORS 830.365(1) (operation of a water ski, surfboard, or similar device in a reckless or negligent manner).
The actual end result of the passage of the Petition would be an effective “ban” on a specific user group (surfers using surfboards “or similar device”) within 1100 feet south of the Cape Kiwanda; currently, a popular surfing location due to several factors including, but not limited to, wind protection, favorable currents and access. Additionally, due to the wording in the petition of “or similar device”, such a ban could potentially be expanded to include other user groups; kayaks, stand up paddleboards, or even swimmers.
While to a non-surfer, a ban on surfing in an 1100 foot section seems reasonable as there are many miles of beach beyond the proposed “Safety Zone”, most quality surf locations in Oregon are tied to protective headlands or jetties; such as, Seaside, Indian Beach, Oswald West, Neakahnie Cliffs, Tillamook Jetties, Cape Lookout, Cape Kiwanda, Otter Crest, Yaquina Head, Newport Jetties and so on south. Cape Kiwanda is no exception, the best surfing typically occurs between the Cape and south to the car ramp. While the open beach break further south can be utilized for surfing, it does not provide the protection (from wind and currents) or the consistency of surf (due to refraction, bottom contour and currents) that the surfing of the lee side of a headland, cape or jetty provides. Elimination of Cape Kiwanda as a surfing option could mean that the next closest “protected” option would be Cape Lookout to the north (with inherent access complications) or Otter Crest to the south; both likely over an hour away and with far fewer options than the surf at Cape Kiwanda.
The “ban” or “prohibition” on “operation of a surfboard” in the area would be in effect “whenever dory rigs and trailers are parked on the beach”. If followed literally, surfing would be permitted if only one dory rig and trailer were present but a violation if two were present. If a surfer (or surfers) were in the water before any dory rigs and trailers were present would the surfer(s) be required to vacate once two dory rigs and trailers were parked on the beach? How long before they were in violation? Often, sea conditions will determine when a dory can safely launch and land; the same conditions often determine when certain surfers can safely enter the water. Large surf which may prevent dories from launching may free the area south of the Cape for surfers, but might also encourage beginning surfers to enter the water in conditions beyond their ability. Calm, small surf summer days are obviously days when dory rigs and trailers fill the beach and when surfers of all levels of ability also crowd the waters…and non-surfers crowd the shoreline. By all accounts there have been numerous close calls with beachcombing tourists unaware of a dory sliding onto the beach; in the event of an accident here, will beach walkers be banned or will dories be limited in their access to launch on the beach below the Cape?
Following the tragic injury of Cole Ortega, in which the 14 year old’s arm was severed, there were concerted efforts to communicate the dangers surrounding the launch and landing practices of Pacific City Dories below Cape Kiwanda. Local surfers and dory operators worked together to address safety, educate the public and preserve beach access for all users. The State and Ortega were both found to be negligent at varying levels. Posted warnings of the potential dangers to raise awareness for beach and surf users seem a better alternative than instituting a “violation” atmosphere targeting a specific user group; i.e. A “No lifeguard present. Swim at your own risk” or some equivalent signage, as seen on other of Oregon’s beaches but tailored, obviously, to the more specific risks and dangers at Cape Kiwanda. Additionally, the very notion of “enforcement” seems problematic in its own right both logistically and financially for Tillamook County; not to mention the cost of installation and maintenance of any “safety zone with lighted markers” near a Cape with violent winter surf regularly in excess of 20 feet.
Ultimately, any ban or restriction will be bitterly contested and will bring in outside interest groups. Further proposals and recommendations on limits to specific users (Dories, Jet Skis, Dog Walkers, Horses, Etc.) will be bandied about and contested, fought and argued. The end result will be an increasingly thick book of rules and regulations until the list of restrictions resembles those of California beaches. Even if the proposal “wins”, everyone will lose in the end.
The real issue at hand is the massive popularity and increase of use at Cape Kiwanda, especially in the summer. The natural beauty of the area is strong draw and offers many recreation options, surfing among them. While the proposed petition may have good intentions; every added rule creates precedence for other rules, and every exclusion creates yet other exclusions.
In ORS Chapter 830 (390.010 Policy of state toward outdoor recreation resources), in section 5 states:
(5) It shall be the policy of the State of Oregon to supply those outdoor recreation areas, facilities and opportunities which are clearly the responsibility of the state in meeting growing needs; and to encourage all agencies of government, voluntary and commercial organizations, citizen recreation groups and others to work cooperatively and in a coordinated manner to assist in meeting total recreation needs through exercise of their appropriate responsibilities.
Thus, any proposal or restriction that adversely affects a specific user group seems clearly at odds with Oregon State policy itself. Clearly, surfers, who would be excluded from use of the area immediately south of Cape Kiwanda do not support this proposal; nor does the Pacific City Dorymen's Association as I understand. The following was released to local media 5/12/15:
The PCDA board has released the following statement:
The Pacific City Dorymen’s Association has never proposed nor supported restricting access to any user group at Cape Kiwanda.
In over 100 years of dory launchings and landings at Cape Kiwanda less than four dorymen fatalities have occurred, making it one of the safest ports in Oregon.
In over 50 years of sharing the area with surfers there has been only one serious accident.
Instead, we have chosen to work in collaboration with the surfing community, the Oregon State Marine Board, Oregon State Parks, Oregon State Police, United States Coast Guard, Nestucca Rural Fire Protection District, and the Tillamook County Sheriff’s Department to educate all user groups to provide for a safer Cape Kiwanda.
The Board of Directors will again review current safety measures and may propose additional concepts.
This statement was approved by the majority of the board and is based on motions made and approved in previous meetings.
Ryan Cruse, Field Coordinator for Surfrider Foundation’s Oregon Chapter:
“[Surfrider is] very much opposed to this proposed ‘safety zone.’ We believe that the most productive way to handle safety in this zone is for EDUCATED surfers and dorymen to work together to manage this area.”
Under the basic precepts of 1967’s Oregon Beach Bill “the public has free and uninterrupted use of the beaches along Oregon´s 362 mile-long coastline. The Beach Bill also directs that the ocean shore be administered as a state recreation area. The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is charged with the protection and preservation of the recreation, scenic, and natural resource values found on Oregon´s ocean shore”. [from “Oregon Parks and Recreation Department: Rules and Regulations”]. I would argue that the waves that break upon Oregon’s beaches are a natural resource of the highest value in a recreational sense for surfers and other users.
I believe that if this restrictive petition passes it will only create counter petitions in an endless and contentious fight over access to the waters below Cape Kiwanda. Surely, there is a solution that does not infringe upon, limit or exclude the user rights of one group to the benefit of another…regardless of whether it is the 100 year tradition of dory launching or the 50 year plus tradition of surfing at Cape Kiwanda. Coexistence, not exclusion is the sensible path to take for Oregonians.
Thank you for your consideration.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Pete

"May God bless you, and may your bones bleach in the sands."

The Wreck of the Peter Iredale.

There is not much I can add to this, perhaps, the most iconic shipwreck of the Oregon Coast.
The ship was a 4 mast steel bark built in England in 1890.
On September 26, 1906, it sailed from Salina Cruz, Mexico, bound for Portland.
Encountering heavy fog, they made for the mouth of the Columbia the morning of October 25.
Captain H. Lawrence recalled,
“A heavy southeast wind blew and a strong current prevailed...
Before the vessel could be veered around...
She was in the breakers and all efforts to keep her off were unavailing.”
The ship ran aground Clatsop Spit, three masts snapping from the impact.
Captain Lawrence ordered to abandon ship and rockets were launched to signal for help.
The Point Adams Lifesaving Station sent a team of men to rescue the crew.
The lifesavers brought all 27 crewmen, including two stowaways, safely to shore.
William K. Inman, helped Captain Lawrence ashore.
He remembered that the red-bearded captain stood stiffly at attention, saluted his ship, and said: “May God bless you and may your bones bleach in these sands.”
The Captain then turned and addressed his men with a bottle of whisky in his hand:
“Boys, have a drink.”
The British Naval Court ruled that the captain and his officers were “in no wise to blame.”
But that the sudden wind shift and the strong current were responsible for the stranding of the ship.

The Shipwreck for me is a mirroring metaphor for the sorry state of my neck.
Formerly sturdy and shipshape, my spine it is now a deteriorating hulk.
But unlike the Peter Iredale; I do have hopes of being dragged from the beach.
And to again float among the waves of the mighty Sea.

Monday, October 14, 2013

There Are No Old Waves


Summer came to an abrupt end in Oregon this year.
Sunny days and small waves were replaced with sideways rain and massive storm surf.
Within a week I was bitter, dreading the darkness that creeped in earlier and earlier.
I watched my green tomatoes rot on the vine along with my soul.
I don't mind Winter, and I actually look forward to Fall.
But this year the transition was anything but.
The Indian Summer I'd hoped for seemed to be lost.
Then clouds parted, rain stopped blowing sideways.
The ocean laid down enough to accommodate a sunny day of leashless surf ala Summertime.
I sat outside on a 10 foot plus slab single fin contemplating my good fortune.
I felt some of the daily nagging aches and pains and worries wash away.
The sore neck, wonky shoulder, ruined knee.
All the shit that time and use brings us in varying degrees.
They were all there, of course, lurking.
But bursting through sunlit peaks and tasting the Sea on my lips.
Was far, far in the forefront of what was happening.
And I had a thought.
On the day after my 52nd birthday.
Here I am, a little bit older, hopefully a little bit wiser.
But in the Ocean...
There Are No Old Waves.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013



Definition of quintessence (n)

Bing Dictionary
 [ kwin téss'nss ]   
  1. embodiment: the purest or most perfect example of something
  2. extract: the purest extract or essence of a substance, containing the substance's properties in their most concentrated form
  3. fifth element: in ancient and medieval philosophy, the fifth element after earth, air, fire, and water

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Surf Trippin'


Headed out on a 4 day trip last week. Nowhere exotic...100 miles west...the Oregon Coast. Thursday yielded the only really surfable waves of the trip with waist to chest high peaks at a drive up location. Fellow surf trippers trickled in through the day. The forecast was not promising, wave or weather-wise and did not disappoint with rain, sloppy waves and later some 50 mph winds.

The top pic was a waist high peeler that looked doable but was reeling in the face of a strong ebb in a large river mouth which...if you missed the wave...meant your first stop was chaotic large surf on a nearby spit then Japan.

The second shot pretty much surmised the items purchased for sustenance.

Third shot was the camp setup at an undisclosed guerilla-style location.

Fourth shot was a talisman for did not work.

Fifth shot was the result of beers drunk prompting a trunk session in said river on the flood.

Sixth & final pic shows what happens when you don't take down the surf contest tent before the 50 mph winds get it.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Increments of Fear


Some Buzzy Trent Tales via Malcolm Gault-Williams' Legendary Surfers

On September 19, 1947 Bob Simmons and Buzzy Trent rode "up the coast in [Simmons'] old Model A flatbed...Trent needs to relieve himself in a major way, but Simmons as usual is in a hurry.  The ever-innovative Buzzy climbs out on the wooden flatbed, squats over a convenient hole in the platform and begins to answer nature's call.  Other motorists are taken aback at this graphic spectacle.  Bob is outraged... 'Trent, you stupid bastard, quit shitting through that hole.'  Trent's well-measured reply was one that could only come from a person in that state of satisfied quietude and relief, 'OK Simmons, what do you want me to do, shit in your front seat?'  End of discussion."

- Craig Stecyk

"The surf was 'bitchin' and I watched Buzzy ride a fast Malibu wave right into the rusted wire fence that separated the Adamson Estate from the public beach.  Buzzy walked up the dirt path... He spotted my new board, showed interest.  I asked Buzzy if he'd like to surf the balsa.  He nodded in the affirmative, yanked the balsa from the back of the Zephyr and ran for the water.  Buzzy didn't waste words. Buzzy was fantastic.  The board that I had lovingly shaped seemed to come alive under his agile maneuvering.  After a twenty minute display of his muscular, wave riding talent, Buzzy paddled in and returned the board.  This time he spoke.  'Worst board I ever surfed.  Thanks, kid.'"

- Ricky Grigg

Wednesday, September 04, 2013



AKA The "Single Fin Back Side Goofy Foot Bottom Turn"

Love those!
Don't know the surfer...if you do, let us know.
Credit where credit due

Thursday, April 25, 2013



After a deep, deep Central Willamette Valley mode morning meeting on Tuesday I scrambled for the Central Oregon Coast in hopes of finding some sunshine to go along with the forecast 3 foot swell. I wasn't overly optimistic due to the 25 knot gusts, the 5 foot wind swell and the 3 foot swell that had dropped to 1 foot.

Then my low hopes were dashed upon arrival at Newport as I sighted the whitecaps frothing on the horizon. Cursory checks of north wind protected headlands up the coast yielded sub-miniature dribblers that offered little chance of propulsion despite proper preparation of bringing a 10' 6" single fin log.

Spot after spot checked with windswept bays and beach breaks continued to crush spirits as darkened coastal taverns beckoned and looked increasingly tempting. At Tillamook, I bagged and headed east on Highway 6 resigned to my valley fate. As the dairy farm stench wisped about me I rebelled...hung an illegal u-turn and resumed my northward trek up Highway 1.

At the last ditch spot I pondered just hiking in with survival supplies [beer] and hydrating in the sun. But, being sensible, I lugged the heavy longboard down the trail knowing failure to do so meant surrender on my part and I could not stomach it.

Upon arrival on the sand, I was greeted by an empty lineup...empty of surfers and empty of waves. After a few moments, as I battled the steady wind to trudge forward, I saw a mysto peak break about 20 feet from shore in about 10 inches of water...solid shin to knee high and perfect.

Making it to 3rd creek I deposited my Kings of Beer in the frigid waters and watched the north end. Sure enough, a peak showed and a right reeled off in deeper water that looked small but surfable. I suited up and paddled out. The waves were tiny but perfect little offshore peelers with a fun little noseride section.

After about an hour and a half of fun in the sun and surf by my lonesome, the switch was thrown and the little peaks turned off. I paddled south in hopes that a new wave would materialize but no such luck. Once I entered the wind tunnel unprotected 2nd creek area, I opted to head in and consume my beers on the beach.

All in all, coulda been better but it was almost much, much worse.