Monday, February 18, 2008

Life in the 'Patch: Ain't just for the Dogs

After two days of checking it only to find smelly water and three mile long closeouts, Kiwi and I fired up and got out of town. Destination: Dog Patch.

Left: A surf kayaker going right and an empty wave peeling left, looking fun at the 'Patch.

If you haven't surfed the Dog Patch you've got to get yourself up there. It's such a perfect set up for stand up paddle surfing. The spot is actually the only designated spot that you can surf with a paddle in your hand at San Onofre State Beach. So have no fear of stinkeye, the paddle is king at the Dog Patch.

Bottom Photo: Chris, Magic and the ULI, tidepool cruising.

One question: I'm still a little unclear about the legality of SUPing the Trails. I've done it a few times- am I breaking the law? Patch locals feel free to respond- I'd love to know.

A tip: On the weekend, especially if there's surf, get there early. San-O is one of those "Main Event" spots, if you get there after 8am you may be waiting in an hour long line to get in.

The Set Up: If you're going to be stand up paddle surfing, you'll want to drive as far south as you can and park when you see an open spot. You should be right in front of the 'Patch. There's a nice bit of sandy beach to hang out on or stick an umbrella. Bring everything you need for the day because if you leave, you won't be getting back in without a long wait. You'll need to surf to the south of the "OK" sign, which is actually two signs (one is an "O" and the other is a "K") that spell "OK" if you're surfing in the correct area. If you see "KO", you're too far over to the North. Don't stray over to the tempting peak to the North or the Man will come and bullhorn you out. How embarrassing.

You'll be sharing the break with some true paddle surfers, the surf kayak guys. These guys were super cool and they really surf those things well. I was blown away by the clean, open face 360s they were pulling out there. A guy kayak surfing behind me (no, that's not another way of saying I snaked him) was repeatedly smacking the lip a couple of feet from the tail of my board- I know he was hitting the lip square because I could hear him schwacking it! One thing to remember at San-O is that people pretty much just take off on each other. Everybody seems pretty cool with sharing, so lighten up and give that guy on the shoulder a wave in, it'll be reciprocated.

Kiwi and I had a great day. We got to surf some fun waves and we also met some nice people. Chris Koerner- a stand up race paddler/surfer who recognized my board came over and introduced himself. It was fun listening to Chris' stories about open water SUP racing- there were some classics, I'll let Chris tell 'em to you sometime he'd do a better job. Talking to Chris made me realize how much of a newbie I still am to this sport- guys out there have years of experience stand up paddling while I've just been doing this for a year (well, maybe I'm a couple of months shy of a year). Chris was gracious enough to clue us in on how it's done down there at Dog Patch and introduce us to Magic his surf dog. Thanks for the hospitality Chris- if you're ever down south, ring up the surfline- you know the number.


Anonymous said...

Actually John, the legality south of The "OK" sign shouldn't be a problem, as they never designated a southern boundary for the paddle surf craft easement.

They can still get you with the "no boats with-in 100yards of swimmers" rule, but as its winter time, I just ignore the bull horns until they leave. Or I paddle to Oceanside. They never follow... pussies

Allan Cheateaux
Nui Moana Paddlesurf

linter said...

john: i waveski'd dog patch five or six years ago and you're right the guys there are great, a mellow, let's-all-ride-the-same-wave-at-once bunch. it's where i first met steve boehne, owner/shaper of Infinity surfboards and SUPS, who let me borrow one of his waveskis. Mike Johnson, former Olympic paddler and the brains behind the Infinity ottertrail paddle, also hangs out at dog patch, and is another great guy.
anyway, thanks again for helping send me in tim stamps' direction. his boards are a little out of my current price range ... but they sure are purty. said...

I tried Stand Up Paddle Surfing for the 2nd time last week, and loved it! I think I'm addicted. I headed out from the little beach in Dana Point Harbor (great for learning) and am dying to make my next paddle surf down a wave. San Onofre is one of my favorite spots, and thanks to you, I have some great tips where to go for SUP. Cheers!

John Ashley said...

Hey Allen-
Thanks for the info. I feel much better already, plus I like cruising the Trails.

Don't know if you've seen it already but TomTom posted a cool clip with a Nui Moana (Mike's) in it:

John Ashley said...

Hey Linter-

We'll catch you next time you're out this way- and you're right, 'Patch Rules!

John Ashley said...

Senor Cal,
Glad to be of service, welcome to p'.net!

John Ashley said...

Gabe- you'd dig it, saddle that Toyota up and drive your ass up there sometime!

K3rM1t said...

So are we, as SUP'ers, considered boats?

At what point is a board considered a boat? Is it length?