Forks Coffee Shop. Looks like something right out of "Twin Peaks".
Rain and winds up to 35 knots were forecast for the central Washington Coast for our second day of surf class. George Gronseth decided that instead of staying at Pacific Beach we should drive to Crescent Bay on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It was a bit of a gamble because it meant that after leaving at 6:30 AM and driving two and a half hours to get there we might not find any waves at all. It wasn’t a mere guess though. George has a rule of thumb for determining whether there is going to be surf there: the swell in the coastal waters around Cape Flattery should be between 9 and 18 feet in a west to northwest direction, and the water level at Crescent Bay should be at least 5 ft, the higher the better.
Halfway to Crescent Bay we stopped for breakfast at the Forks Coffee Shop. Forks is a little logging town out in the far corner of the state recently made famous by the Twilight Saga, which was subsequently made into a hit movie. I heard that this diner (more likely a studio reproduction) was featured in the movie. Well, they don’t make them like this anymore!
I don’t want to make it sound like the only places to eat on the Washington Coast are podunk taverns and cafes that look like they came right out of the David Lynch universe. The night before we had a fabulous dinner together at the Ocean Crest Resort in Moclips. This was a more upscale ocean−side restaurant that lighted the ocean from cliff at night to enhance the view of the waves from your table, and where the servers pronounced potatoes “po−TAH−toes”. Seriously! They had an extensive wine list.
Waiting for surf at Crescent Bay.
Nice, regular lines of surf here.
I started to get a little discouraged driving along the shore to Crescent Bay. The water looked completely flat and I didn’t see any surf. But once we got within sight of the Bay you could see the waves come in −− long, clean lines. There were a few kayakers in surf−specific boats and board surfers already on the water. We didn’t waste any time getting on the water because we expected the waves to die down over the next few hours as the tide went out. Don’t be fooled: the pictures really don’t do justice to the size of the waves and the conditions there (I was too busy to take my hands off the paddle and use my camera when the waves rolled in).
My Greenland kayak is not the best surf boat but it sure looks cool!
Taken just before I got surfed backwards and pitchpoled.
Finally I got to try my skin−on−frame Greenland kayak in surf! I didn’t have great expectations for it, but I felt very comfortable sitting low in the water in its snug cockpit. The first thing I noticed is that the pointy bow really pierced through the green belly of the oncoming waves. This meant I took a lot of the wave in my chest.
The kayak did surprisingly well in the surf. It took a little more effort to catch a wave (because of drag from the skin?) and like any sea kayak tended to broach and turn up the wave face again, but there were a few times when I caught some long rides. While practicing surfing backwards I got pitchpoled. It’s strange to suddenly feel like you’re airborne, and then underwater upside down −− totally disorienting!