Sharp Park – Don’t get cut. 

Sitting at the break with no wind, sun in full force and consistent swell with wave heights of 6-8′ and no one around. I caught some great ones I’ll never forget. I was lucky.

As summer approaches, winter swell is slowly fading. During the peak season, Bay Area swell can reach as high as 60′ waves, Mavericks. But even the average wave heights are 20-30′ which can be deadly in most conditions.

Sharp Park is one of Pacifica’s dangerous beach breaks and isn’t surfed by most locals, Sharp Park Killer Waves and Man drowns trying to save wife. However, I caught a lucky break and experienced one of the best surf sessions this Spring. But was cognizant of the rip tide.


Conditions were ideal with light onshore winds and WNW swell waves reaching 6-8′. As you approach the beach, Sharp Park has a very steep sand break and a very strong rip current. It’s rare to see people in the water, approach with caution and read the warning signs. The strongest rip currents are located closest to the pier as there is a 3′ drop where the water breaks.

Sharp Park is known for its amazing view of the Bay along Mori Point, adjacent to Sharp Park Gulf Club and is home to Pacifica’s Pier. Many local fisherman and those across the Bay come to the pier because it’s the only public pier that  doesn’t require a license to fish or crab.

As deadly as Sharp Park is, it’s also stunningly beautiful.

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If you’re interested in surfing here, make sure you observe the conditions. There are no cams on Surfline and not much forecasts to go by. Sharp Park consists of sneaker waves that will pull unsuspecting beachgoers out to sea, including dogs. The riptide is very powerful and there is also a heavy undertow. The conditions, in my opinion are similar to Ocean Beach and maybe a bit more dangerous.

If you surf here, go during low wind and low tide. Specifically, low tide because it will be a lot easier to get in and out of the water. Due to the steepness of the beach the riptide is powerful when it crashes and can knock you over and pull you out. The break is biggest closer to the pier and smaller as you go towards the south end of the beach. The best time to surf here is during Spring and Summer where most of the Bay Area waves are small. You will still see 6-8′ waves during small days in the Bay Area at Sharp Park.

It’s a bit of an illusion when you observe from onshore, but when you’re face to face with the wave at Sharp Park you will see a much thicker and powerful swell.

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I’ve always had my eye on Sharp Park and the waves here. They look so perfect when they break compared to popular surf locations in the Bay Area. The experience was amazing, rare and I knew I was lucky. Sitting at the break with no wind, sun in full force and consistent swell with waves heights of 6-8′ with no one around. I caught some great ones I’ll never forget. I was lucky, and I knew it.

Sometimes you just got to ride it out. #mysurfblog #tbt

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Ocean Beach, OB, The Beach

OB or The Beach, as locals call Ocean Beach is one of the most dangerous surf breaks in San Francisco Bay Area. This weekend offered some pretty amazing weather since we’ve been having record levels of rainfall. I finally get a chance to blog about surfing OB.


I’ve surfed OB in the past and had a few good sessions and other times, I just got my ass kicked. It definitely made me realize of how human I really am. But for some reason, I keep coming back for more.

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OB is for advanced surfers brave enough to undertake a strong undertow, powerful rip currents and big waves. OB is a difficult beach break and not to be underestimated. Be careful. Watch and observe other surfers and definitely keep your eye on the incoming swell.

Here’s why.

  1. Very strong current that can pull you out to sea. OB is a non-swimming beach. (There have been 4 reported deaths in 2016).
  2. Constant paddling which means you’re going to be exhausted. The vastness of the beach and strong currents move you when you’re in the line up.
  3. The undertow is stronger than most beach breaks and will pull you down for an extra 2-5 seconds. Do not panic and make sure you remain calm while tumbling in the water.
  4. 3.5 mile long beach – when you’re in the water its hard to locate yourself and there won’t be many people around. Remember your land markers to identify where the current pulled you. Hopefully, not out to sea.img_4340-1
  5. Paddling out is difficult and sometimes impossible.
  6. Waves are big, the biggest in Northern California with average waves heights of 10-15′.
  7. Hard to discern where the wave breaks since there’s a long stretch of beach and different sets of swell coming in at different times. Be aware and always pay attention. img_4337
  8. Sneaker waves will appear before you. If you’re not observant, you will get drilled.
  9. No one is out there and NO lifeguards. You’re on your own.
  10. Great Whites live here and have been spotted hunting close to the lineup (see video below).

If you can muster the courage and the strength to surf OB, it’s quite the experience. OB reminds you of how human you really are.

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For more information on Ocean Beach, check out Magic Seaweed’s forecast here.

If you’re interested in surfing OB, make sure you’re ready to put in work. If it’s your first time and you don’t know the conditions, visit the surf shops and ask. Also, watch from the beach and observe conditions. Safety first.

DO NOT ATTEMPT TO SURF OB IF YOU’RE A BEGINNER.

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If you’re ready, then go with someone that’s brave enough to surf with you.

If you’re enjoying My Surf Blog, make sure you subscribe, like and follow on Instagram for a daily dose of adventure. Can’t wait to see you in the line up.

The Most Dangerous Surf in San Francisco Part 2

surfer at Fort Cronhkite Rodeo Beach

The San Francisco Bay Area is one of the most resourceful cities in the nation with many remnants of WWII. There was a reason why San Francisco was so heavily protected. Remnants of forts that had been used by the US Army in the 1940s still stand and when visiting you get a flash back from the past. A vulnerable strategic attack in San Francisco would be costly. The Golden Gate Bridge stretches 1 mile over the bay from Marin County to San Francisco. Thousands of ships cross into the bay every year. Last week, I visited Fort Point and surfed underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. This time we’re heading north to the other side.

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The Golden Gate Bridge from Marin Headlands
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Driving to Fort Cronkite from San Francisco
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Getting closer to Rodeo Beach
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Marin Headlands view of the Pacific during the drive to Cronkhite

Driving from San Francisco and entering Marin Headlands I cross the Golden Gate Bridge and am speechless of the picuturisque view of San Francisco from the other side. Nothing new to me, but I fall in love every time.

The next surf location is considered to be dangerous for its big waves, strong rip currents, sharks and rocks, Fort Cronkite, named after WWII General Adelbert Cronkhite.

Fort Cronkite was used as a military installation to protect San Francisco from Japanese attacks during WWII. One of the most of advanced military technology during  the 1940s had been installed at Fort Cronkite, at Battery Townsley, 16 inch gun batteries.  – NPS.gov

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Entering Fort Cronkite, I pass old barracks like I was entering the past. Signs and remnants of WWII brought a mysterious feeling of what to expect while surfing at Rodeo Beach at Fort Cronkite. Fort Cronkite isn’t a sought after beach break by many in the Bay Area, but only to a handful of local surfers. Being a denizen of Marin County, I’ve heard that the waves can be big and the rip currents dangerous. In the past year, a local surf legend had died, Dan Defoe. It’s known to all that surfing at Fort Cronkite is serious business. img_0967

Before getting dressed, I assess the terrain to see if it’s even worthwhile to surf. I notice waves as high as 10-12ft and medium sized waves that came in thick. The rain was pouring down earlier in the morning, but the sky was clear with an overcast approaching. I arrived right on time, the beach was beautiful.

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Big waves and heavy sets pound Rodeo Beach

While walking down to the beach with surfboard in tow, I past a man sitting on a bench at the stairs leading down, he quietly said,

“be safe out there, man”. I didn’t know how to react and said, “thank you”.

Hearing about the stories of a local surf legend dying at this break and warnings from colleagues I knew I had to be careful, especially on a rainy day. As I assessed the break, the waves were much larger and had more force compared to Fort Point. The sets came in quickly with a 2-4 second gap in between. I was cautious about paddling out and took my time to learn the sets.

 

img_0968-1Riding a big one

I spoke with some of the regular guys that were surfing there and they gave me a tip to paddle out at a 60-70 degree angle from the cove. The direction of the swell was WNW and the cove offered protection to get more than 2/3 of the way closer to the break.

While paddling out, I was prepared to put in a lot of work. The waves were big (click here to see surf report) and I entered the water where there was a rip current. However, the sets kept pounding me. For 60 minutes I was caught in a washing machine. I took breaks in between once riding one in and resting for 15 minutes before paddling out. After another 20 minutes I was exhausted. The swell was too powerful and I decided that I had enough. I took it in.

The line upPaddling for one

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Chris and Mari (follow @browngirlsurf)


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Cronkite is a serious break, especially during high surf advisory warnings during winter. Cronkite is considered one of the most powerful and dangerous breaks in Northern California.

I’m happy I got to experience such a beautiful and tough break. I met some cool surfers and spoke to the locals that call this break home. The guys that surf here are veteran surfers like Dan Defoe. I do not personally know Dan nor have I ever spoken to him, but from the stories I’ve heard and through this experience, one thing is for sure, Dan was the real deal. Cronkite is a tough place to call home. Surfers here get a lot of respect. RIP Dan.

Please be safe out there. If there’s any doubt, do not attempt to surf conditions out of your comfort zone. As I continue with this series with more dangerous locations, I will not be attempting to surf them. I will however, interview local surfers and document insights from the locals to help other surfers avoid dangerous situations. That is the essence of this blog series. Please feel free to comment, suggest or leave feedback. I’d love to hear from you.

“Surfing makes me a better, happier person. It’s my quiet time, my release. Life is about living. What better way to live it than be a surfer? – Dan Defoe, San Rafael Surf Legend, 1975-2016 (pictures from Surfline.com)

The Most Dangerous Surf in San Francisco

How much skin do you want to lose?

Some of you would be very surprised that surfing is actually a thing in San Francisco. If you’ve ever visited, surfing isn’t top of mind. You’d think, the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, Alcatraz, The Painted Ladies, fresh seafood, world famous restaurants and all the cool technology innovation happening in The Valley. However, only the brave and most driven surfers would plan to surf in the frigid cold and fog. For those that do, bravo! You’re definitely a soul surfer, bradah/sistah!

Surfing in San Francisco can be perfect and sketchy at the same time. Unlike Southern California, Northern California is cold with fog pouring in on a daily basis. There’s a stretch of coast along the westside of the city that offers plenty of beautiful views of sunsets from ashore. However, most of the coastline is too exposed to high winds and strong rip currents that the average surfer would assess as less than ideal.

If you’re an advanced surfer with lots of brovato to test yourself, here’s a surf spot that can take your breath away. But make sure you study the break before jumping in. Read on, if you’re already anxious to surf one of the most epic and dangerous breaks in The City.

The first location to start this series is,

Fort Point

This fort was completed just before the American Civil War by the United States Army, to defend San Francisco Bay against hostile warships. – Wikipedia

 

Amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge but dangerous terrain to navigate past the break.

 

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Surfing underneath the Golden Gate Bridge at Fort Point
Surfing at Fort Point
Point break underneath the Golden Gate Bridge
Surfing waves at Fort Point
The perfect wave at Fort Point

That’s ballsy!

Fort Point is very busy with fisherman, traffic and tourists enjoying the view. What makes Fort Point high risk? First, you’ll see there’s no beach to conveniently walk down to and paddle out.

You will notice the jagged rocks from the sea wall which is sketchy AF.

They (sea walls) are designed to protect structures by stopping the natural movement of sand by the waves. – Beachapedia.org

The waves can be 5-7ft thick and as high as 7-10ft depending on conditions. Check the local forecast here. You will notice that the break will come in around the corner and begin to build up right before it crashes into the sea wall. If you are caught in front of the sea wall as the wave begins to barrel, you need to duck dive into the wave and paddle as hard as you can away from the wall.

Once you make an assessment on how the wave breaks and it’s timing, assess where you will enter. Do not enter with your leash tied. If your leash is caught on a rock the wave will hit you against the sea wall. There are 3 entry points.

The first entry point is conveniently located at the break and will take less paddling to get to the line up, but will be high risk.

The 2nd entry point is at the end of the sea wall. If the white water is small this may be the ideal entry and exit point. I tested the depth and there was sand where you’re able stand up at low tide. This may be the best option to enter and exit.

The 3rd entry point is underneath the pier. It will be a 100 yard paddle to the break. This entry point will offer low risk, but more work. I highly recommend this option if it is your first time and you want to avoid dinging your surfboard and/or injury.

While in the line up

I decided to enter the line up via option 1. I had followed a regular down the sea wall and carefully observed him. He gave me a lot of tips on how to enter and exit, as well as position myself while in the line up. One of the nuances of this break is that there are a lot of rocks close to the break. If you cannot control the direction you’re going, you may hit a large rock where the surf breaks. You will notice the boulder in the pictures above when entering the water. Another observation, there are sets that come in at a wider angle that are very big 8-10ft. Be very alert and aware while you’re in the water. Never lose sight of what’s around you.

Swell is created by boats passing underneath the bridge. All types of boats and sometimes large shipping containers create massive swell that picks up form and barrels further away from the sea wall.

I stuck further away from the sea wall and was able to catch a few larger sets that came in at a wide angle. The ride was fast. The waves had a lot more force than normal beach breaks. They were also thicker and could keep you underwater for 1-2 seconds longer.

You don’t want to drop in on any of the guys here.

Overall, the experience was challenging and a lot of fun, especially watching all the boats, tourists and animals. Some of the tourists even stuck around and were amazed by the athleticism and scenery.

The view was beautiful and the setting was one of a kind.

Exiting 

To avoid injury or damage to your equipment I highly recommend exiting from entry points option 2 or 3. If you decide to attempt to exit via option 1 you will be pushed against the sea wall by the white water. The rocks are slippery and have mussels and plankton growing on them that will prevent you from a quick getaway. Do not exit at option 1.

If you’re able to go unscathed entering and exiting Fort Point, you will experience one of the best breaks San Francisco has to offer.

I hope you enjoyed reading the first blog post in this series. Let me know if you have any feedback, comments and/or suggestions on surfing at Fort Point or other locations. Be safe and have fun out there!