Summer’s Swell

Towards the end of September the swell gods smiled upon me, the forecast was 3ft, no wind and sunny on my day off; a perfect excuse to chuck my board in the car and head through to Cayton Bay.

Despite the sun shining the traffic was relatively free flowing on the run through, and once at Cayton the carpark still had plenty of spaces.

After a couple of coffees I suited up and headed down to the sea. Usually I would do a scout of the town beaches too, but a friend I knew off the East Coast Bodyboard Club Facebook group was already in at Cayton so I trusted that he’d done a check and headed down to meet him.

Now as it was a weekend the beach was fairly busy, with lots of newbies in the water on foam boards, not the biggest of hassles, but a touch annoying when a lot of them were unaware of surf etiquette and were dropping in on most waves.

I paddled out and snagged a couple of small ones before noticing Lee and swimming over to say hi. It was good to have someone to talk to in the water again, and I tried to get some decent shots of him with my board mounted Go Pro:

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Unfortunately I was just shooting video so the quality of the stills isn’t as high as I would’ve liked, but it gave me some good practice for positioning to get the kind of shots that I like.

We had a fair few waves between us, and while it wasn’t big or perfect it was still good fun. There’s a lot worse things to do on a day off!

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Steph was also on hand to get some shots from the beach. Her photography skills improve everytime, I’m sure she’ll get a shot the mags before I do!

After the surf I spent a couple of hours wondering round Scarborough with Steph, eating fish and chips and doing generally touristy things that I never really do on a solo mission which made a really nice change.

All in all it was a swell day at the coast!

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Moroccan Adventures, Part 2: Taghazout

Following on from a few days exploring the hectic maze of Marrakech we hopped on a bus and headed towards the coast, destination Taghazout.

After a pretty uneventful coach journey and taxi transfer we arrived in the small fishing village of Taghazout, a place not on most tourists radar but somewhere that surfers will almost certainly be aware of.

We found our hostel fairly easily, The Ocean Surf House, and checked in. The view from our bedroom window was incredible, perfect for an early morning swell check as Hash Point was less than 100metres away. However that was pretty much the only plus point to the hostel. The rooms were grubby, but I have stayed in worse, the shower though was something else. It was a small cubicle that also housed a toilet, with poor drainage and no seal under the door you had to make your shower quick or you’d flood the stairs. I’ll not even get started on the smell. Suffice to say I would not stay there again or recommend it to anyone.

The main point of the beach portion of the trip though was to spend as much time in the sun and surf as possible, not stay in the room so it wasn’t the end of the world.

Taghazout has a couple of beaches, the main village one, and another about half a mile away called Panorama’s. We spent the majority of our time at Taghazout beach, only venturing to Panorama’s for a walk when the surf was flat as it didn’t pick up as much swell.

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Hash Point.

The days we spent there were all very similar, wake up, simple breakfast, head to the beach, surf, grab a spot of lunch, back to the beach, more surf, then a quick shower and out for dinner at a lovely local restaurant for a couple of hours before heading to bed and doing it all again the day after. This might sound boring to some, but after the madness of Marrakech, and of course work back home, it was just what both Steph and I needed.

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Surfing In Africa!

The wave at Taghazout/Hash Point wasn’t world class, but with no massive swell coming through places such as Anchor Point and Killers weren’t working, so I spent all my time pulling into fun ones and dodging the odd tourist who got in the way.

The first day was definitely bigger than the rest of the week, and whilst waiting for a set I got talking to one of the local guys who was super friendly and a great sponger too. I wasn’t expecting any hostility, but much like Hawaii, I wasn’t expecting the local guys to be friendly but they seemed pretty stoked to be sharing waves.

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One Of The Bigger Waves Of The Week.

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I Took This One On The Head.

There was never a day with no waves, and I even managed to persuade Steph to have a go, pushing her into waves that were quite a lot bigger than they first looked! We both enjoyed our time in this often overlooked beach town but we had to head on out to Tafraoute to explore the mountains and see another side to Morocco.

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There’s Also The Odd Fishing Boat To Avoid. 

Summer Surf

So the surf on the East side of the country has been absolutely pumping for most of summer, something that doesn’t happen all that often, even in deepest winter. Social media has been full of forecasts, predictions, status’s and most of all photographic evidence of all the sessions that have gone down, so here’s mine:

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Longboarder At South Bay.

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Shortboarder At North Bay.

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No-one Out. Not Scarborough.

These pics show the great diversity the North East has in surf, and they were all taken on the same day. Unfortunately, as much as I would’ve liked to stay in Scarborough most of the summer I’ve had to work, and my days off have usually coincided with the rare flat days. So when a chart was showing promise I was up at 5.30am and made the most of it. The end result; totally worth getting up for.

Two Swell Days

January has been a pretty great month for surf almost worldwide, hardly a day goes by without news of some form of big swell appearing on the usual social media outlets, with videos and pictures appearing hours after the swell has vanished.

Places such as Jaws, Mavericks, Belharra, Nazare and Mullaghmore have been featured in the mainstream media, Instagram and Twitter have gone mad with uploads, and the live webcast of the comp at Mavericks was the talk of all the mags websites. Basically there’s been a lot of quality surf to be had.

Personally it’s always a bit of a mission, combined with blind luck to get good surf. I work 5 days a week so for either of my days of to coincide with good swell is rare, however, so far this January the East Coast has been pumping pretty much every week with most days offering up some sort of wave, so I’ve been able to get in twice, scoring great waves both times!

The first session I scored was the 11th Jan, the forecast had been looking good all week and I intended to get there early to miss any crowds, but after a few beers the night before I overslept and didn’t get to Scarborough till about 1. A quick drive round showed that the tide was too high for North and South Bay, leaving Cayton as the only option.

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Not A Bad Option.

With it been the only place surfable the crowd was pretty big, around 40 people, meaning it was pretty much impossible to get a peak to yourself, still the waves were consistent and by sitting a bit shallower than the stand-ups I managed to pick off a few of the ones that had slipped them by. My thoughts on my new board were also confirmed, it’s fast! I could get a lot more speed down the line, letting me make sections that I’d not been able to before.

Unfortunately I’ve not got any shots of this session as I travelled solo, and I was keen to get in so didn’t really shoot any other surfers either, just this parting shot after a great session:

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Post Surf.

My next day off also coincided with some swell, and this time I had a photographer on board, Steph had the day off work too so we made the trip upto Scarborough.

When I’d been in December with Mike, we had seen some people surfing a break we didn’t know about, so after a bit of Google Maps detective work I think I’ve found it, so myself and Steph parked as close as we could and went for a walk to explore it. It’s a nice looking peak, breaking on a rock bottom, the waves looked good but there was no way I was surfing a new spot completely on my own, so we took some pics and headed off to North Bay.

I’m really lucky to have a girlfriend who doesn’t mind standing on the seafront in questionable weather conditions, camera in hand, whilst I go surf for an hour. She managed to get some great shots of me:

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Walking Down To The Beach.

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Shoulder High And Fun.

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Nice and Clean.

I had a great session, I caught a few really good waves and the water wasn’t too cold, it did sting a bit doing duckdives though.  There was probably only 10 or so people out, with 3 defined peaks meaning there were plenty of waves to go around, always a bonus.

Steph also managed to grab a few decent shots of the local surfers:

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Good Waves Were Had By All. 

Hopefully this run of good swell will continue and some of the more less known spots will come to life. Fingers crossed!

Surfing In Sagres

I’ve been lucky enough to surf lots of different breaks in several countries over the last few years and recently got to add another to the list, Praia Tonel in Sagres, Portugal.

During the week I spent in Portugal with Steph I surfed almost every day at this beach, the waves were fun and pretty consistent, it never went flat!

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Heading out for a sunset surf.

 

The waves weren’t big, but they broke cleanly offering a fun take-off and a nice section at the end. It’d been awhile since I’d surfed such clean and consistent  waves, the regular end section gave me a chance to try and learn a trick, and after several waves I’d managed to land a couple of El-Rollo’s. Nothing great, but, it’s the first proper trick I’ve landed so I was absolutely stoked with the result!

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Dropping onto a nice, clean face.

 

Depending on the tide the wave at Tonel could be vastly different. One afternoon I surfed for 6 hours, starting at low tide with nice peelers right upto high tide when the wave morphs into a wedge type close out, offering a chance of getting tubed but a definite pounding onto the sand.

By the time it had hit full high there was pretty much just me left in the water. Steph had been in and caught a few good ones but got a bit fed up of trying to avoid the beating as the tide got higher so got out and left me to it.  The waves were wedging up nicely for a decent take-off but it was pretty much pull in and hope you don’t land on your head. If you didn’t make the drop you’d get deposited onto the sand and if you did you’d get caught in the close out. I got tumbled dried onto the beach several times, much to the amusement of some tourists.

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Still peeling, so not quite low tide.

 

With the differences between high and low tide it never got boring surfing at Tonel, and managing to get Steph out on a bodyboard for a few waves was a real highlight. She looked stoked when she caught one, plus it’s always fun to have someone to share the banter with in the water, especially if there’s a few wipeouts going down.

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Steph about to get a good one.

 

Whilst Tonel wasn’t a peeling point like Pavones, it also wasn’t a death shorey like Waimea, it was a really chilled out place to surf allowing me a chance to improve and Steph a chance to learn, so all in all it was a great location and I wouldn’t hesitate to go back!

Chasing The Summer Sun

Towards the end of September myself and Steph headed over to Portugal for a week of sunbathing, surfing and good times. The weather forecast looked good, the temps set to be high, and swell on the way…. all of the ingredients for a great week away.

After a pretty tedious flight we grabbed our stuff and had possibly the smoothest airport transfer ever, our pre-arranged taxi to the hostel was waiting, taking away any bus/train hassle that I’d originally foreseen.

We checked in at Sagres Natura Surf Camp, and as we were being shown round it became obvious we’d picked some great accommodation. The staff were super friendly and helpful, and the whole vibe of the place seemed great, something you just don’t get at big chain hotels.

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We were staying in the small town of Sagres, which was quite quiet and relaxed. There was only really one main street which had a handful of shops, restaurants and bars, but what more do you need? The town had two main beaches, at either side of a headland, giving different options for where to surf and catch some sun.

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The Sun Setting At Tonel Beach. 

 

My favourite of the two beaches was Tonel, it was a longer walk from town but picked up a lot more swell, pretty much the main thing I want from a beach. We’d head down there most days and just chill out, with Steph topping up her tan and me mostly spending my time in the sea.

On a couple of occasions I even managed to persuade Steph to rent a wetsuit and board and come get a few waves with me. It was awesome fun pushing her into waves, and to her credit she didn’t back out on anything I told her to go for, the look of stoke on her face after was awesome!

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Heading Out For Some Waves.

 

After a long day at the beach the town offered up some great eating options, with all sorts of delicious food available. We ate in most of the restaurants that week, but my favourite was “Mum’s”, a cosy little place that did the freshest seafood I’ve ever had.

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Super Fresh Tuna Steak.

 

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Sampling The Local Beer, ‘Sagres’. 

 

Every place we ate in town did great food, if it wasn’t for all the surfing and swimming I’m pretty sure we would’ve both come back a little rounder than when we went.

Meal times in Portugal tend to last longer than back in England, so after a few hours of good food and beer it was usually off to bed to be ready for more of the same. Except on one night where the town bars were open so we headed out for drinks with some people from the hostel, a great experience you just don’t at hotels. We spent the night talking story with new faces, drinking beers and generally been amazed at the bartenders mixing skills.

It was a great week, that unfortunately came to an end all too soon. Our last day was spent chilling on the beach, catching as much sun as possible before heading to dreary England.

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Making The Most Of The Last Day.

Is It Winter?

After working pretty solidly since the start of November and every day off coinciding with a lack of swell it’s been a long time since I’ve paddled out for a few waves. However checking the charts for this week and seeing that there was a small swell with good period heading for Scarborough on my day off got me excited.

I kept checking it for days beforehand, it barely changed, things were looking good, so the call was made and I had a partner in crime for my first surf mission of 2013. The best tide was around lunchtime so that even meant a little lie-in (which is a bonus on a surf mission day) before going to pick Mike up.

It was an uneventful journey there, the shock came when I parked up at North Bay. Check out the line up:

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Bare in mind that it’s January, in England, on the North East which has very cold water temps.

 

I couldn’t believe how many people were out, I’d not seen it that busy in ages, and the swell wasn’t even good. So as it was so crowded at North Bay we headed up to Cayton Bay. To my surprise the water wasn’t actually that cold, I think I’d built it up in my head how freezing it was going to be (especially after spending last winter surfing in warm water) that when it came down to it, it actually wasn’t bad at all, even get tumble dried in a wipeout wasn’t anywhere near as hellish cold as I remember.

Cayton was pulling it’s favourite trick, 95% of the waves were closeouts, still much more fun pulling into those on a boog than a stand-up board. No barrels, but it was still a fun session and nice to be back in the water after so long, although next time the forecast is like that I think a stand-up board would be the better choice for a mellow North Bay session.