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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Welsh WaveGarden

If you surf you’ve probably seen the pics and videos that have been doing the rounds over the last couple of months of the WaveGarden in Snowdonia. Teaser shots of the wave had been released whilst it was still under construction and upon it’s opening day the internet was saturated with images from the place showing a pretty decent looking wave.

Speaking to my friend Harry we decided we had to have a crack at it, sorted a day when were both free and pre-booked an hours session down there one evening.

We decided to do the advanced wave and it was a good job we did. Whilst the intermediate was more of a knee high peeling wave, the advanced was genuinely shoulder high, not exactly the world’s most technical wave, but it looked fun.

It took us a couple of hours to drive down from Sheffield and we got there early so that we could check the place out and shot off some pictures:

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Was A Bit Of A Walk To Get This Shot, But It Gives A Great View Of The WaveGarden.

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Close Up Of The Same Sponger.

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Different Angle, The Wave Holds A Nice Shape.

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Never Seen A Surfer With A Background Like This.

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Plenty Of Time On The Wave  For Maneuvers.

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Incredible Place To Surf.

We were due on the wave at 6 so we checked in at around 5. It’s a bit weird getting ready in changing rooms as opposed to a carpark but once we were ready we walked over to the briefing room. The staff were super friendly and explained the rules to us, took a couple of minutes, it’s not overly complicated. 3 people are in the advanced group and you take it in turns catching the wave. If you miss it or wipe out you go to the back of the queue!

Briefing over, we headed out into the pool…. waiting for my first wave was a very weird experience. The pool is flat and still, then you hear a small groan and the plow that generates the wave starts moving towards you and the wave just rises up out of nowhere! Very disconcerting at first but easy enough to get used to.

It’s probably more powerful than most of the beaches in the North East on anything but the most intense of swells, meaning each wave is nice and fast, as well as quite easy to catch. During my hour I caught all 12 waves that came my way and each one lasted between 15-20secs, better than I’ve had in Scarborough for a longtime!

I had my go-pro mounted on the board for the first few waves, but after a lifeguard told me the founder of go-pro had lost 2 cameras himself I left it on the shore as I fancied taking off later and pushing it a bit, highly likely to lead me to wipeout and lose my go-pro!

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One Of The Stills From The Go-Pro.

A little longer than an hour would’ve been nice, but we got out of the pool pretty satisfied. 12 waves in an hour is good going, especially when they all peel smoothly I will definitely be heading back, just not for awhile as at £45 an hour, plus a full tank of petrol for a trip, it ain’t cheap!

East Coast Getaway

Both myself and Steph had a few days off towards the end of March but weren’t too sure what we wanted to do with them. Various ideas were floated, Norway looked like an option for awhile, as did various other European destinations. However, in a bid to save a bit of cash (big adventure in the pipeline for the end of the year) we decided to stay fairly local and rent a cottage.

A couple of hours looking online and ringing round later and I had one booked in the small village of Ebberston, close to Pickering, Whitby and Scarborough, a really great location for some walking and, if the weather was in my favour, some surfing.

The cottage I had found was lovely, in a really quiet area but had access to a swimming pool and jacuzzi, as well as having a great wood burning fire. It ticked all the boxes for me, I enjoy swimming and any chance to play with fire. Steph was equally happy, mostly about the swimming, she’s not as big of a firebug as me.

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Nice To Have A Fire On An Evening.

Our first full day started out quite overcast as we headed over to Pickering. It’s somewhere I have been a lot, but not since I was about 14/15 so it was good to have a wander round again. There are a couple of old second hand bookshops and it’s quite easy to lose a bit of time in those. With a few books bought we decided to move onto Goathland, famous as the setting for TV’s Heartbeat.

The weather wasn’t great on the way there, we stopped to eat some sandwiches overlooking the Hole Of Horcum but the rain meant we couldn’t really see all that much of it. As we parked up in Goathland the sun started to peek out, and it stayed relatively bright and warm for a couple of hours as we walked some of the trails along the old railway line.

The paths were really nice, taking you into the woods and dropping you down by small rivers, the highlight though was seeing some wild deer run by. They were super close, pretty much heading straight at us when they realised we were people and changed direction rapidly. About 15seconds after the near-deer crashing experience a dog bounded past after them, obviously the reason they were running.

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Taken Before The Stampede.

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Just Off The Beaten Track.

After spending most the afternoon walking we headed back to the cottage for a pre-dinner swim. It was a nice quiet evening spent watching films in front of the crackling fire, can’t complain at that.

An early start on Friday morning led us to Scarborough. Upon arrival the surf looked good but I decided to leave it a couple of hours before getting in to give the wind a chance to die down. We spent some time on the beach at South Bay before walking up into the town and doing a little shopping. I picked up some new fin socks to try and stop my feet freezing like they did the last time I paddled out.

By the time I got my wetsuit on the wind had died down a fair bit so it seems I made the right call. The waves were 2ft max, but still fun. Quite a few people were out but I still managed to get my fair share. It was my first time using the go pro too, so not having to do any duckdives or suffering any bad wipeouts was good for my confidence in it.

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I Had The Go Pro On Constant Video, This Is A Still Pulled From It.

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Steph Was On Hand With The DSLR To Get Some Shots From Another Angle.

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Really Like This Shot She Took.

After steady drive back and another pre-dinner swim we walked to the pub across the road from the cottage for dinner. It was a touch overpriced but really nice food so I can’t really complain there.

Saturday was our final day on the East Coast and we spent in Whitby with my parents and Steph’s mum (her Dad was working unfortunately). The sun was again out and we spent a few hours strolling up and down Whitby’s side streets before heading to a Fish & Chip restaurant by the pier for some food. The portion sizes were massive, my plaice was like 2 fish had been battered together. Safe to say I was full by the end of it.

All that was left to do was the steady drive home.

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Steam Train From Pickering.

It’s Not Always Grim Up North

I’ve been a bit unmotivated on the surf front recently, only getting in the water once or twice since my trip to Morocco. Partly down to work, partly down to not having a wingman to surf with anymore I decided that as soon as I got the chance in the new year I would be on it. Only a few days in to January and I was loading my car up to chase a decent looking swell heading to Scarborough.

The journey is pretty much autopilot to me these days and was very uneventful, but the sun kept poking out and the wind didn’t seem too bad so all in all it was looking favorable. I pulled upto Cayton Bay first and walked to the headland, it looked to be about 3ft from the top but a bit messy and inconsistent, but still there was surf! I watched a few sets but decided to check the town beaches before committing.

South Bay was almost flat, maybe 1ft, 1.5ft max so I carried on round to North Bay where some nice shoulder high waves were breaking. The crowd was probably close to 30 people, a lot for January, but the waves were breaking in a few separate places allowing the crowd to spread. I rattled off a fair few shots before biting the bullet and getting suited up myself (whilst downing a coffee for warmth).

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The pictures show just how good the waves were, what they can’t show is just how cold it was. Paddling out took a fair bit of effort and once I’d made it past the breakers I had a few minutes to recover and have a look for the best place to catch a wave. I was only out for around 45mins – 1hr and probably caught 2 waves, I’d seriously over-estimated how warm my fin socks were (turns out 3mm just doesn’t cut it in Jan). However the waves I got were good, with a bit of power behind them, and it was nice to be out in the water again, even if it wasn’t for long.

By the next swell I should have my new Go Pro mounted to my board to give you a spongers eye view of some chocolate brown Scarborough surf.

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. 

Cayton Point

A pretty decent groundswell hit the North East coast this week, it’d been hyped up on Facebook and Magic Seaweed for a few days prior so all those keen enough had a few days to get the excuses in to skive work or abandon spouses.

Myself and Mike headed up on Monday afternoon, but the journey took a little longer than expected and by the time we got there the Sun was starting to set. We headed over to one of the more low key spots just to have a nosey before dark and were surprised to see several vans parked up, a couple of surfers walking up and about 5 in the water surfing the seemingly playful point until the Sun disappeared.

With the point working and the swell looking good for the next day we had a quiet evening and an early night, although, sleeping in the back of a van is never exactly ideal the night before a surf!

We woke up and could see waves at Ravenscar beach, a rarity, so headed into Scarborough to check out the bays. With a tea in hand we watched nice waves at North Bay, but the tide was wrong so it would’ve been sketchy at the least with the backwash off the wall. South was mellower but still had nice sets running through, leaving a lot of hope pinned to Cayton Bay.

After parking up I grabbed my camera and we decided to head down to the beach to get a proper look at the waves, it wasn’t perfect but a quick glance at the point revealed a few surfers out and some fairly clean lines heading in. We headed over straight away for a better look but the tide prevented a straight path there, meaning an exhausting run upto the cliff tops, through the woods and back down a pretty treacherous path.

The waves looked about shoulder height and totally makeable, stark contrast to the usual waves of consequence associated with the point. However as we got there it started to die off, making a run back to the car (which would’ve taken around an hour to get changed and back down with boards) seem pointless, so we just watched and I snapped off a few pics.

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Cayton Point, From The Cliffs.

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An Empty One Rolls Through.

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Dropping Into A Mellow One.

 

After watching such nice waves at the Point we were frothing for a surf, unfortunately North Bay was like a zoo and South wasn’t much better, but I fancied my chances of grabbing a few clean set waves at South more so we suited up and went in.

The session wasn’t anything special, a few good waves came through, but next time I see a hint of swell on the Point I might just head there instead!

 

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!