How Does Sunset Beach Work? - Page 8

Anecdotes and Personal Experiences - 1

There's so much more to things than what's been said so far, but I really do not know how to organize it, so I'm not going to even try.

Instead, I'm just going to tell some stories. A few days, a few things, a few waves, a few people, a few rides. That kind of stuff.

And so here it is, in no particular order at all.

Paddling through the crease

It's a long paddle to get to the outside peak at Sunset Beach.

You start by dealing with the shorebreak, which, although it's nothing at all like what comes over in the shorebreak at Waimea, is very much a non-trivial thing.

So you stand there, over on the Haleiwa side of the reef at Val's Reef, holding your board, waiting for things to lay down some, dealing with the surge whooshing up and then back down the steep-sloping, soft, large-grained calcareous detritus of unknown zillions of ground-up mollusks, until it finally looks ok, and you run like hell just as the surge crests highest until it's too deep to work your legs, jump with your board, land atop it on the fly, and stroke like hell using the now-outgoing surge as a speed boost, to get you safely to the other side of the next incoming wall of water before it smashes the fuck out of you, hurls you ignominiously back on to the dry sand while beating you with your own surfboard, and forces you to embarrassedly start the whole process all over again from scratch.

Whereupon, things have only just begun.

You now have just about a sixth of a mile to go, across a swiftly-flowing rip current that's dragging you smartly sideways towards Kammieland, with a surface that is a chaotic jumble of waves and wavelets going every whichaway, that you have to slog across with the nose of your board constantly getting stuck into all those damnable wavelets, pushed first this way, and then that, but never ever the way you want, and the water keeps slapping you in the face and getting in your eyes, and there's no smooth place to take a few good strokes, get a nice glide going, and then maybe relax for a second or two before putting your head down and digging back into it, and in general, it's just one big fucking pain in the ass, just to get to where the inside section is backing off, work yourself around the safe edge of the impact zone, and then set your sights on the far distance, where the real action is underway, possibly more than a quarter mile distant from where you've already worked so hard to get to. And while all this is going on, since the goddamned rip is dragging you much faster than you'd like, toward your left as you face the horizon, you find yourself having to point the nose of the board far to the right of your intended destination, trying to counteract the relentless conveyor belt of the rip, and in so doing, more or less doubling your paddling distance through all that stupid chop, jumble, wavelets, current swirls, loose boards heading to oblivion, or Kauai, whichever comes first, people swimming doggedly along with a nasty look on their face, other people swimming hesitantly with lost and terrified looks in their eyes, and all the rest of it, and who the fuck needs any of this shit, anyway?

And if it just so happens that you find yourself trapped in a time warp, and you're doing this before anybody ever thought to put a leash on a surfboard in big waves, then you're going to be doing this every single time you lose your board, which, this being Sunset Beach after all, happens far more often than you'd prefer.

Do this enough times, and you rapidly become well and truly sick of the whole enterprise.

There's gotta be a better way.

And there is.

Well........sort of.

Can't forget we're at Sunset Beach, can we? There's gotta be a catch. A hidden flaw. Some way for the place to get you.

But you've had enough goddamnit, and it's time for a change.

So you try to work the crease, instead.

The Crease at Sunset Beach
Our friend, The Crease

As long as it's not really booming, sometimes there will be an area where the outside and inside don't quite connect cleanly. Kind of a dead spot in between them.

The peak will hit outside, roll, lay down, and then just kind of fizzle along while the inside section develops farther downline and goes from there.

You would never, ever, want to call this area any kind of a proper gap between the two, but there's plenty of times when a careful examination of things will reveal that some of the whitewaters rolling through from the peak get destructively interfered with by some of what's bending around from the west even as they hit a bit of slightly deeper water in this general vicinity, and if you're keen enough of eye, and fast enough of paddle, you can sort of weave your way through things in between the sets, and race across the soft spot quickly enough to take a pretty substantial shortcut to the outside.

You work the crease.

The crease not only cuts your total paddling distance down significantly, it also allows you to use the rip in your favor as a bit of a speed boost.

Walk well past the exposed nastiness of Val's Reef (Never EVER get caught going across that stuff when there's any kind of waves at all, ok?) farther over toward the end of the point where the waves have been completely sapped of energy by breaking farther outside, and take a go at things by paddling more or less directly at the oncoming whitewaters in the distance, and pay very very close attention to the sets and lulls.

The rip (which is not nearly as powerful or fast over in this area) will want to sweep you to the left and away from the point, over toward the main meat-grinder of the inside section, but you're not going to allow that to happen, because you're stroking smartly along and will reach the area where things back off, just inside of the inside section, in that funny little place where the outside and the inside don't quite want to properly connect together.

Hang there for a little while, paddling more or less in place, and wait for it to lay down a little, stroke like mad, work your way around things side-to-side if necessary, and the next thing you know, you've cut the corner, taken the short route, and are now in clear water, safely beyond the inside section, headed for the peak outside.

Nothing to it.

Well, except for the fact that this is Sunset Beach, right?

Which is another way of saying that it doesn't always work.

Go back and look at the image up above and give it a click to enlarge it. Now look at it again for me, a little closer this time, ok? I've set the dark green color band on this QGIS output image to match the eight to fifteen foot depth profile on the original lidar bathymetry imagery (Again, I cannot thank you enough, Kirk Waters, NOAA Office for Coastal Management, Applied Sciences Program, for teaching me how to do this stuff.), and when you give things a look, you can see that there's some green in there near the far end of the ellipse that very roughly defines the crease, and the far end of that ellipse is in an area where Sunset Fucking Beach is coming right on over, with a bit more than just your standard Cocoa Beach beachbreak size and power, and there's water out there that's only eight to fifteen feet deep. Plenty shallow enough to allow a wave at Sunset Beach to not only break, but break hard.

In fact, there's a place out there toward the end of the ellipse where the happy shades of light and dark blue which represent water that's anywhere from fifteen to thirty feet deep, are completely enclosed by ominous shades of green.

And this, of course, is the catch, the hidden flaw, the way for the place to get you.

You are, once again, committed (that word, that horrible horrible word, yet again), and are paddling like a madman across green water, with terrible things going on all around you, and you're maybe just about half way through the gauntlet, and then you see it. You come over a low mound of water and there it is, warping around at you from the side all sneaky-like, and you instantly realize that the jig's up, that's that, and you're going to be taking a direct hit from it.


No crease for you today, my friend.

Well.....except for maybe for your board, or perhaps the skin on your forehead, or something like that.

And so, after a few of these kinds of events, you find yourself grumbling and cursing across all that disorganized chop and jumble of the main body of the rip, taking the long way around, once again.

Until you once again get well and truly sick of the whole enterprise and take another go at The Crease.

Return to

Maybe try to email me?