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Summer 2008
  The Galician trip that ended in Cantabria in stead ..

Monday  18 August   

I am packing. Not that easy. Can not remember when I went on a tent trip last time. Got to be more that 40 years ago. Have a look where I am off to. http://www.panoramio.com/photo/2399665 Does that look good??

Well, I am going to hide in a nice protected area, with a gentle 2-3 feet swell. So, back to packing. By the way, found this blog from a Galician surfer. http://surfinglifebydani.blogs
 

  Wednesday 20 August  

The Mistral is blowing again. I just had to go and check it out. Packing almost finished. I still do not know how to handle the new surf board, so I was just playing around in the white water zone. With the new board it is so easy to catch waves. Problem is I "pearl" a lot.

It is amazing to see how the younger ones can handle the waves with their short boards. They were very good at it. On photo above  surfers facing the shore break, to get to the outside. I was with some other learners down the beach. Below some more photos from same day. Click on thumbnail to zoom.

 

Thursday 21 August

Today it was a 1 to 2 feet swell in the morning. I felt the big difference having a bigger ( 9feet 8 inch ) board. And Mind you, I am 93 Kilos. I was impressed. With the old board ( 8 feet 4 inch ) this would not have been possible.

I could catch many waves and then glide, maybe just 50 metres. However I got a lot of training in jumping to the surf stand and balancing the board. Later the wind picked up and destroyed the good condition.
 

  Saturday 23 August

Another good day. And I learned a lesson. From a experienced with 20+ years of surfing. He said " Always position yourself at the same position on the board. When you are catching a wave and there is a sign of beginning pearling, then arch your back to get weight more towards the back of the board. Balance the board by arching your back."

With this in mind I could position myself almost 6 inch more forward. Did that help catching the waves, you bet. Also he mentioned not to grap the rails,but push with your hand from he top of the board.
 

 Sunday 24 August

I thought it would be a flat day. I was proved wrong. One of the best days ever. Chest high swell. No wind, and later offshore. I was using my new trim, and catching more waves than ever before. On the photo you can see me arching the back. I am just stopping paddling. The trim of the board is pretty god.
 

Wednesday 27 August

I am on my way now to Galicien. First night stop south of Barcelona where I popped in to visit Martin, who has been here all summer.

The left part of the tent is the office, kitchen, sitting room. I am writing this from there. To the right side the bedroom.  Sorry about the dress code.

 

Friday 29 August

I am arriving at de Haro camping in Haro at 16.00 Hours after 450 Km. It is somewhat difficult to find this camping. If you arrive from Zaragoza, then follow the  ring road until almost out of town. Here take a right turn and cross over ring road to the left using bridge. Follow small road until roundabout. Here turn right. After a 500 metre you will se a sign to the right.

If arriving from Bilbao, then you can not turn left. Follow the ring road until you see a bridge. Here you can use the bridge to turn direction. Then back to before mentioned turn of.

I can see on the map that it is still more than 500 Km to A Coruna. Maybe I will turn to the North Coast at Santander, and just follow the coast.
 

Saturday 30 August 2008  weather/Santander

Oyambre beach.

Oyambre Beach. 50 km. West from Santander.  I am sitting inside the tent by at the table taking above photo. Can you ask for more perfect conditions. One hour after arrival I was in the water. Surf just right for a beginner like me. It should stay like this and pick up a bit over the next 4 days.

 

Sunday.

I am still here. Today nice weather. Swell 2 to 3 feet. I was in the water 3 times.  Not quite enough swell, but as I can see the sea from the camping and it is only 3 minutes to get to the beach, then I can be there when the waves are at their best.

Tonight we will get some rain. It will be interesting to see if the tent is water tight.
 

Monday

3 times surfing today. Nice sunny weather. Temperature about right. Water and air that is. Talked to a German couple. They have been surfing France, Spain and Portugal since May.
 

Tuesday 02 Sept.

A day with more lessons learnt. No 1. Do not get caught on the inside. That means, the wave is breaking on top of you and you get the washing machine tour. Round and round inside the wave. My problem is I do not know how to dive under the wave with the board. Now I let go of the board and dive under the wave. Nice and quiet down there. Then up for air. This will have to work for now.
 

Wednsday 03

What does the beach  look like ? Have a look http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psj7XkM1LKg

Look at my camping site and visit the tent http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQ3qf4X6WuA

Evening surf session http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-_Mah_AnWM

Forcast 6 metres waves in 3 days from now.

 

Thursday 04

Another day with light rain
. I am having some breakfast and then down to the beach. A storm is still lurking further north. It will not hit before a couple of days from now.

I made 2 surf sessions. In the afternoon I went to nearby town to do some shopping. It turned out to be a very nice place. Have a look. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsOwn84pCCo

Wave forecast  http://www.todosurf.com/prevision/  http://www.windguru.com/es/index.php?sc=3645
   

Friday 05

Today I went shopping in another small town nearby. Very nice place and large beach, camping and surf school. Look here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0kPKxSay1w

I had one surf session of several hours. After that I was so tired that I hardly could make it up the hill to the camping site.
 

Saturday 06

I had to go and buy an other sleeping bag. Already now it feels cold at night, but it is only around 15 Deg. C.
Also I bought some insulating mat to place on top or the air madras, but under the sheet. You will hear if it works.

The waves never made it to 6 metres. However windguru is saying 4metres. The wind is strong from North West.  I was having a surf try around noon. Managed to get through the beach break. Several other surfers around.  I freaked out when  monster waves were bearing down on me, and went back near the shore to some white water practise.

There was a strong current as well. First long shore, but further down the beach a rip current had formed. When that started to drag me out to sea, I had had enough. With a strong white water wave pushing the board, I went back to the beach.

Later in the evening I had another session. The wind was less, but the waves still monster size. I just stayed between the beach and the shore break. Catch the white water, jump to the surfers stand, glide 30 metres. Then go soft in the knees and make a calculated fall. Watch out, the water is very shallow now. Repeat 20 times.

If you are a beginner, beginner, then avoid to surf onto very shallow water. You must learn to make a calculated soft fall first.
 

Sunday 07


Oyambre beach. Looking along the coast

I slept like a baby. Especially the insulation I placed on top of the air madras made a big different.

At sun up I was getting ready. I realized that is no a good idea. It is the coldest time during the day. I had my morning coffee fully dressed. Extra jacket and extra trousers. The I got into the still wet neoprene dive suit and down to the beach. Many surfers out already.

Waves were less. During a lull I got through the beach break, just to face another set of vertical 2 metre nasty looking waves.

Now it was time for emergency manoeuvres. Close watertight, flaps 60 degree, we are diving under. Up for a bit of air and then came a second wave.

Shortly after I was back on the safe  inside of the shore break again, surfing white water. ( white water is what is left of the wave after it has "broken" and released most of its energy. This is where the beginners learn to surf. And where chickens like me seem to stay a lot longer. )

I had another session in the afternoon. It is fun when you get the experience now and again like : Can I really do that!! For the first time ever I was swinging first to one side, then to the other side. It took a year and a half to get that far.

Video from the early cold morning :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pbfc7tU-kCE

 

Monday 08

A perfect day. Sun and around 25 deg C. No wind and up to 1 metre lazy swell. You had to wait some for the 1 metre. However plenty 0.5 metre around. It is now 20.00 hours. I am sitting with just shorts. Not even a T/shirt.
 

Tuesday 09 Sep.

Oyambre beach. Today

No waves today. Plain relaxing. Sunshine wit a few clouds. 16.00 hours 22 Deg C. Quite a few people on the beach.

I made an experiment with some silver paper. The type you find in emergency kits. Sheets 2 x 1.5 metres. With 4 strings, one in each corner, I placed it above the tent. Silverside up. The comfort inside the tent was up 100%. Normally you can not sit inside during a sunny day. Even with all flaps open. Now it is like sitting under a tree in the shadow.

In the afternoon I went shopping in Cambrils. Later rain and thunder

 

Wednsday 10 Sep.

A great day. Sunshine and a good swell, as you can see on the photo. I start to feel some results of daily surfing during 10 days. I am quicker to get to my standing position. During the afternoon session I had some 10 tke off-s. Not even one fall. That felt pretty good.
 
Thursday 11 Sep.

The morning was fine. I was really enjoying my self, even if it was raining al the time. The afternoon was windy and at the time I went in the soup, it was low water, waves breaking onto very shallow water. Not for a new bee.

On the photo you can see one of the surf waves. Not the best in the world. This is 18 x zoom. A bit to complicated for me still.

Friday 12 Sep.

The night was cold and windy. I was right down into the sleeping bag, closing it above my head, leaving just a small opening for air. Modern tents have so many vent openings to avoid condensation that you can just as well sleep outside. If it wasn't for the pouring rain.

The surf wave looks a bit steep this morning. I will go shopping and buy some high calorie food stuff. Seems I will be needing lots of muscle power today ( Just joking. As a learner you do not want to get anywhere near waves like that.)

The rolling white water you can see across the photo  is what you can use. However watch out, there seem to be a strong long shore rip current. At some point that will dig a channel in the bottom and turn straight out to sea.

The tent is damp and ice cold. Again I went shopping for a 500 Watt heater. Unfortunately they are very hard to find. Then it occurred to me. Rewire the elements from parallel to series. It was done easily, but must be done by a qualified person.  I even have a paper that makes me a qualified person. Luckily I had my special screw drivers with me. The manufacturers are very eager to prevent some body to open up their appliances and make "improvements"

To get this idea must be "pure intelligence" Unfortunately with some deduction, that it took almost a year to figure it out.

By the way. The road to Santiago de Compostella is passing by the the camping. Several times I have seen small groups of people with enormous bag packs fighting their way West again a very brisk and cold wind and rain showers.

I will stay here in my electric heated tent and watch it all on YouTube.

Well enough jokes for now "Get that ( still wet ) dive suit on and get down to the beach!!!"
 

Saturday 13 Sep

The waves topped 5 metres. That was off shore, not here in the bay. They were however to big for my liking.

Now it looks promising for the next 3 days. I was looking YouTube last night. There are many surf instruction video clips. I am very interested is viewing how to take off from bigger waves, and turning.

After several days of large waves, surfing of the white water  inside the beach break becomes boring, so when I saw a lull, which is a short period where the waves for some reason or another will quiet down to nothing, I paddled straight out, passing the shore break line.

Soon the waves were back to normal and I did not like what I saw. 3 meter almost vertical walls of green water coming at me. I had a problem. How to get back in. There was no way I could surf these waves. I dived under a few but realised that I could not do that for a long time. Each wave was pulling out my spare energy slovenly but surely. I realized I was "caught on the outside".

Not a place to be when you are 61 years of age. Silver stripes in the hair ( what is left ) and have been surfing 1 year only.

Compare with a skier that have learned to ski the green tracks, and all of a sudden find himself going down a black track.

The problem solved itself. A even bigger wave broke further out and I was caught up in a 1 metre very turbulent stream of white water. I managed to hang on to the the surfboard, so at least I didn't have to worry about being hit by it. It was the full washing machine tour. With pre wash  and 1400 rev/min spin. Then suddenly it was all over. I was back on the inside. This is what you call a "wipe out".

Next time I see a lull in the breaking waves, inviting me to go further out and have a play with the big stuff, then I will think twice.
 

Sunday 14 Sep 2008

Last night was a 2 sleeping bag night. Sounds romantic. What it means is that you are in one sleeping bag and then you enter the next, or put the second one above you. That is how cold it was.

Inside my double bag I was feeling comfortable. The temperature must have been around 5 deg C. I must get a thermometer so I can read the temperature.

Now at 9'Oclock in the morning it is nice and sunny. The tent heats up very quickly. I am having some breakfast and then down to the beach right away. Waves look good, but now getting less by the hour.

I had a nice hour. Then I went op to get something to eat. While eating a strong onshore wind started and destroyed the rest of the day.
 

Monday 15 Sep 2008

Today strong swell gain. i was back to surfing white water. On the photo above you can see the bay. The shore break line is the first white line to the left. After that and until the shore it is rushing white water. So you can get quite a ride on this, however it is bumpy. You can not practice any change of direction very well.

What should not be forgotten is the fact that white water is what the new surfer need to learn to get to the "surfers stance" on the board. My impatience is due to the fact that I can do that now, and like to go on and learn more.

What you do get, is a lot of practice paddling out through white water, which is building up arm muscle, I guarantee. I can get through the first couple of sections, but not the last. For that I need a lull.

But I am not going to the outside anyway in these conditions, am I ?? Yes, I was actually. Just to have a look. I even tried a take off from a good size wave. It was a half hearted attempt and I ended on top of a wave just about to collapse in white foam, looking down a few metres. Not a good place to be. Then came a set of smaller waves, and I could get back in.

During the afternoon the swell was building. Some young, fearless of foolish, surfers managed to get to the outside and paddled even further out. Then we heard a loud "explosion". That was the life station firing a sound signal.  Like saying " You guys now what you are doing???

Eventually they stopped and tried to catch some wave. They went for it, and  all you saw was white foam and  surfboards flying up in the air. After a while we could count 2 surfboards and 2 heads, so they were all right.

It is not that easy.
 

Tuesday 16 Sep 2008

During the morning it was calm. Had problems though to find some good wave. Later on shore wind started. I found some pretty good white water to give me a push.

During the afternoon the wind strengthened further.  I spend the whole afternoon checking that the tent could withstand the blow. So far all is holding. Did some washing as well

If the wind is going to blow like that every afternoon, then I think it is time to try somewhere else.

 

Wednesday 17 Sep 2008

Today was quantum leap day. The swell was right. I managed to start from some pretty large ones and steep as well. I was on my feet quickly, which is making all the difference. I was gaining a lot of confidence. I even found the " sweet point" on the long board. This is where you place your feet when you want to turn.

This is how I think a "take off " is done on a long board: Stay well forward on the board. Then it is easier to catch the wave. First the wave is faster than the board. It you pick up and lift the back of the board. You have already been paddling hard for 5-10 seconds before the wave reaches you.

At a point the board starts accelerating. Just then, maybe a split second before, jump to your feet. On smaller steep swell, place more weight on the back of the board.

I know most instructions advocate for extra paddle strokes before you jump to your feet.  On quickly steepening shore break I do not think this is a good idea. I need to be on my feet to control the speed. Once a 10 feet long board starts accelerating the speed can become dangerous high.

Above is my tip for a powerful swell with a punch
 

Thursday 18 Sep 2008
The swell is less today. Almost to the point where you can not use a surf board. However with a long board, you do not need a lot so it wall god for practising "take off"

Also I am eager to try my new theory about "take off", and you know what, It did not work at all.

As the swell was week I needed these extra paddle strokes to get going. As I then was gliding down the wave I was arching my back all I could to get weight towards the back of the board when the board was hitting the "bottom of the wave" to prevent the board to pearl. I found it very helpful to start paddling well in advance before the wave reached me.

My tip in weak swell is : Start paddling in good time before the wave is reaching you. Arch your back when gliding down. Paddle these extra strokes after you start gliding. Then jump to your fleets without rush.
 

Friday 19 Sep 2008

I was surfing twice today. First time in very little swell. During the evening it was picking up and there was some 1-1.5 metres coming. Now it is midnight and I can hear it is building even further. Possibly to much for me by tomorrow.
 

Saturday 20 Sep 2008

During the morning it started to blow half a gale, so the conditions here on Oyambre beach deteriorated. I had one session, but it was bumpy.

In the afternoon I went to the neighbour beach. The road leading there is hard to find. This time however I had luck.

Great sheltered little beach, so here I found all the surfers. The swell was huge according to my yard stick and also crowded because it is Saturday. It is a good place to remember for during the week, and only 5 Km. away.

It could be me on that photo, but I did not bring the board. I did bring the video here is the shot: YoyTube video from today
 

Sunday 21 Sep 2008
Time is flying when you are having fun, and so I didI this morning. Down steep waves. And not the proper way.

Catching unbroken waves calls for patience. The wave has to be steep enough to get you going, but once you are gliding and getting on your feet, it should still be ride able.

Often you will get it all wrong. This will result in some falling. Better get off the board if you can see you are not going to make it. Try to glide off to one side and dive back into the wave, away from the board. Always protest your head with your arms. Simulate falls and what you are going to do. If you feel that you are clinging to the board following it into the abyss, then practise fall technique again. You do not want to get head first down a vertical beach break. Also make sure you have enough water depth, say twice the wave height as a minimum. In the area where you are catching the wave.

During the afternoon the waves were smaller. I had to try again. After some disappointing take off attempt, I moved 3 inch back worth on the board. That helped. I now did the "bottom turn" lying down on the board. That is a lot safer. If you get it wrong, and the wave is to steep, there is not the same distance to fall down.  

Today it is 3 weeks since I came here to Oyambre beach. Every day I have been in the water. Do I feel any progress? Yes, progress is there. I wish it was more however.. Surfing  is a game that takes a lot of patience.

 

Monday 22 Sep 2008
Forget all about all the details. Just copy your style from this video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08fozHxol0Q
 
Tuesday 23 Sep 2008
Onshore wind and large bumpy swell. I had 1 session. During afternoon I started to pack to try Somo near Santander tomorrow.

 
Wednsday 24 Sep 2008
I have moved to another camping Darby de Laredo in the Bay og Santander.   (http://www.campingderbyloredo.com/ I have checked the waves. They are good. This place is more protected. I do not have to fight the beach break. At least not at the moment.

I almost started the trip home. As I am disappointed with the progress. Also it started to rain.

I need to work more on the "take off" It is a bit scary to start down a wave with high speed. Today I saw I am not the only one with that problem. They stop paddling and miss the wave.

 

Thursday 25 Sep 2008 

It was raining all night. Tent is water  tight. It was a 2 sleeping bag night. Need to find a thermometer so I can check. It is strange I feel so cold. I have had first session.

I caught this wave just right. Angling correctly. The only bad thing was that I was lying on my belly on the board.

Anyway the waves are good. Less than yesterday. Now I will read a bit, take a nap, and then have another try.

This afternoon I found out how important it is to try to get all your legs out of the water when you start paddling for a wave. I used to drag my feet in the water. That is no good. Now I bend the legs so they point up in the air. After a bit of training it is good for balancing you on the board as well. Also do not grab the side of the board when you start gliding.  Keep your hands out of the water.

Now I noticed that the board was taking off much faster. The back of the board was lifted less. The chance of a pearl less as well. Once the board gets speed, the front of the board will stay on top of the water.

Video from camping and the beach http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODukiA0Yq80

 

Friday 26 Sep 2008 
The swell is getting less. I get 2 sessions . The sun is shining, but the nights are cold now. I am thinking of starting my return trip to my Mediterranean Island
 
Saturday 27 Sep 2008 
I sparkling sun shine I started the trip towards Barcelona. After 500 Km. I drove to Traga Camping in the town of the same name. It is situated in the Ebro valley.

I could not find the camping and pulled into a gas station to ask for direction. Five minutes later, a local  was in front of the car on his moped, showing me the road to the camping.

The camping is open all year, but I was the second unit only. It was getting late, so I stayed the night. The best was the view over the valley and the sunset.
 
 

Sunday 28 Sep 2008 
Around noon I arrive at The camping of the 2 Geese. south of Tarragona. Once more I camp right at the beach. The waves here are nothing to speak off, so I clean the surf equipment.

On the way I was visiting Camping Montblanc Park. That looked like a very nice place.

The trip to Galicia has ended. I never got there. However I had a good time in Cantabrica, which is on the North coast of Spain as Galicia, or part of it.

Now I know the way. Nest time I will bring my caravan for more comfort, especial if we talk about September October time.

A tent worked fine. Especially after I got my small electric heater going. However using a electric heater in a tent is somethi9g that calls for a lot of caution, and the right type of heater. One without hot surfaces.

An alternative would have been to use pensions. I looked at one, and with a rice tag of 27 Euros for a room for 2, I must say that is a very reasonable price

 

Monday & Tuesday  29 & 30 Sep 2008 

The camping is situated right on the beach 3 Km South from Hospitalet del Infant. It is spotletss clean. There is a small shop. The restaurant makes a menu del dia every day at lunch. Also there was Happy Hour, at the time I was there.

Unfortunately the wind started blowing on the second day and I moved on to Oliva South of Valencia, where I first visited Kiko, which was full. Then I went to Euro Camping where I found a space. Both are on the beach, but without a view, apart from some of the sites in Euro Camping. Off course they were all taken.

The winter sun seekers are taking their positions. From now on an the rest of the winter the camping sites from Valencia and South are going to be busy.
 

Wednsday 01 Oct 2008 
Today I took the ferry from Denia to Palma de Mallorca. I will be staying here for  while. Mallorca is not a place you go for a surf vacation. I am here for personal reasons.

However I will be studying the weather forecast, and being an island and winter coming, for sure there will be opportunities

I will be keeping you informed about my progress in the world of surfing.  I am not sure yet how much experience I got from my trip to the North Coast of Spain. I feel only a little little progress, but it is a bit difficult as my surfboard is new as well.

However look at the map below. A large area with 5 metres. Cala Mesquita will be getting 3 metres. A big storm is arriving in a few days. Surf training can go on.

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