Into the Mouth of the Beast
Straight of Georgia Point Roberts - Lighthouse State Park
Woke up pre-dawn and checked the forecasts and decided to abort the SE dawn patrol at Point Roberts / Centennial and wait it out as I made the following post.
“Forecasts (BWD, GFS, METAR TAF) all appear to have shifted (softer morning and WNW arriving mid-day and building to a peak around 2 pm).
Actuals are strange. Sisters (north) NW 29 @ 5 am and Whidby Island (south) was SE 21 gusting 35 at 5 am) and has since increased to SE 31 (gusting 39) - not often you see opposing directions so strong, so close together. My guess is Chris' virtual choice was Whidby. The system is small, concentrated and moving quickly. This could result in wind being very isolated and short lived. GFS spotter would also appear to favour Acadia over White Rock for later in the day. The good news is the NOAA surface pressure analysis is showing the classic 'daisy chain' of low-high-low that can produce a solid clearing wind.
Bottom line: keep your options open and pay attention and be prepared for a day of chasing shadows and disappointment as this could end up being more fizzle than sizzle. My two cents.”
Then went to watch my son’s morning soccer game in East Van. Checked the weather radar as I left the van and decided to put my rain gear on as there was a big cell of intense rain headed our way. The wind switched to west at Acadia, but I was sceptical as the wind was superlight where I was near Main/Terminal and it was NOT pushing inland – strange that (second time in about a month too). Funny part was an hour later Acadia still had wind so after a quick call to Michael at Point Roberts (who said it was on fire, but who wisely didn’t want to sail alone) and we both decided to head for Acadia. But when I checked the graph a few minutes later, Acadia had tanked. Quick stop to confirm and I told Michael I was headed his way.
30 minutes to the boarder, quick crossing given the line-up and WOW!!! Full on rage happening!!! The wind was rocking the parked van, BIG shore break, spray exploding off the beach! This looked serious!
Michael and I walked the beach, set a plan and decided to rig in the 3’s. Michael asked me if I thought the 3.6 was going to be enough, so I lifted it up to see it rattle and get ripped from my hands! Yup! It will be enough!
As we rigged and walked the wind kept decreasing. Launched from the point according to plan and left the beach feeling slightly under-gunned – able to get going, but just. Choose a big smooth swell to jibe off on the outside, planned out and took a look back at the point. Lost some ground, but not too bad. Then on the way back in you could feel all the water was moving east (similar feeling to sailing Stevenson on an east wind). Came in toward the point and caught a backside ride on one of the waves wrapping the point. Nice! Jibed and planned out for another shot.
Repeated and lost a little more ground and on the third ride decided to exit well above the houses, or at least I thought so. Started out about half way down, but coasted to a stop before I hit the beach (wind was really light right next to the beach). Flew the sail from the water but could see I was headed down the beach faster than I was moving in. Finally made land fall well down toward the houses and had a tough climb over the driftwood to reach the dike trail. Quick ‘walk-of-shame’ back to the launch at the point and decided to get a larger fin.
When I got to the van rigged 4.0 and grabbed the quad 84 too - some more power, float and drive should help! And it did, at first. First ride out I was well above the point, jibed and was pointing well up the beach to the van, then I hit the header (felt as much in the water as the wind) which pointed you down the beach again, but the good news was I picked up an incoming wrapping wave and rode it in as deep as I dared and jibed right in the pit (waiting to hear my fins grind the beach, but it never happened). WooHooooo! That was fun! Back out to repeat. The point beak was fun and too tempting not to ride, but the rip was noticeable. Within a few more runs being under-gunned again, found each ride lost ground to the launch and finally exited about half way to the houses.
Shot some pictures and then it backed to the point that I was convinced 4.0/Quad 84 was a ‘no-go’. I said to Chuck, “This looks like 5.2/110 to me.” and just then Ryan shows up and I can see him rigging his 5.4/110. Brave soul that he is, he launched directly into the “Mouth of the Beast”, as Chuck put it. Ryan got rides and enjoyed the point break, but the wind and waves kept diminishing.
A huge sea lion was spotted a couple of times fishing near shore. One more sign that it was likely time to pack it in for the day as the wind chill was also starting to have an effect.
Funny to end the day close to where I thought we were going to start the day!
Wind: 3 stars (out of 5 stars)
Wind was crazy ‘shake the car’ strong when I arrived and then gradually diminished. Direction was on-shore with a small side-on component to it from the right (NW) that favoured starboard departure from the beach. Although no one sailed along the west facing shore up to or past the parking lot. Everyone sailed to the south of the point (better waves and less risk of getting caught in the on-shore shore break). Wind was solid at first, but as it diminished it got unstable off the point (both direction and speed) while it ‘looked’ solid off-shore and upwind toward the ferry terminal. Visibility was limited by the driving rain (the Ferry Terminal was hidden most of the time). Air temp was about 7 degrees.
Water/Waves: 4 stars (out of 5 stars)
There were HUGE swell trains rolling through (it looked the Hatchery on big day) when the wind was at its peak around 1 pm just after I arrived. Shore break was step and dumping along the west facing beach. The shoulder of the beach near the lighthouse offered the best launch entry point (with side on waves). The storm serge, point break and flooding tide all combined to create a strong rip along the south face of the point. A really nice peeling point break was the icing on the cake, but the section was pretty narrow! The steep smooth faces were limited to the section directly off the beach, but the round shoulder of the wave did extend further out and was enough to ‘catch’ for backside rides. Tide was slack around 3 meters and then gentle flood adding about a meter.
Jumps: 1 star (out of 5 stars)
Riding was favoured over jumping. Jumps were favoured to starboard (although I wasn’t powered enough to be jumping and from what I saw Ryan was the only one in the air).
Stoke: 3 stars (out of 5 stars)
This was an adventure, but only a snack, not a meal. Too much wind while rigging and then I felt under-gunned with both rigs, so it took the edge off the fun. If the wind had stabilised it would have been spectacular!