Winter returned to the west coast recently with near gale-force north-westerly and westerly winds and solid swell. A procession of squall lines brought heavy rain and hail for several days and nights. For one of my ocean swims during this cold spell, while the water temp was an agreeable 14°C, the air temp was 9°C and the wind chill effect of the 25-30 knot wind made it feel like 4°C out of the water. Later that day the air temp was 6°C and the wind chill +1°C. The east-facing bay at Apollo Bay was in the lee of the land with these winds, which meant the water was relatively glassy inshore. There was solid swell at all beaches and reefs in the district and beyond. Seas were very rough offshore, and the horizon at sea was a ragged line for days.
September 2020, Little Henty Reef in a gale. The westerly was blowing at 40kts+. This photo was taken from 2.1kms away on Point Bunbury. The swell was not large but the white water blowing off waves breaking on the reef was carried downwind like smoke from a bushfire. A previous post on this blog contains further photos of these gale force winds at Apollo Bay: https://southernoceanblog.com/2020/09/09/classic-spring-weather-in-apollo-bay/
Surfers at a west coast point break in strong winds and solid swell
Who needs a drone to get a photo looking straight down on a surfer paddling out? This photo was taken from the shore, but the breaking wave conveniently provided the apparent vertical shot. I find that a photo such as the one on the right, looking directly ‘down’ on surfer and surfboard, takes some of the guesswork out of estimating the height of the wave face.
Entering a barrel (sequence of three images)
Surfers take off near the breaking part of the wave where the wave face is steepest. If the wave is offering a barrel of some sort, the surfer will adjust his speed and line to allow the wave to throw the lip out over him as it breaks, putting him inside the barrel. Speeding towards the moving circle of daylight ahead in hope of exiting before the barrel is consumed by the breaking wave is the aim. Sometimes the barrel closes out with the surfer inside.