Saturday, December 28, 2013

Last session of 2013...?

We're at the end December here, and it's looking like today may have been my last session for 2013. Things have been pretty wind blown for the last few days, but it cleaned up nicely today. It was well under zero, especially with the wind chill, but the sun was out and it actually felt somewhat warm. Beautiful conditions actually with the blue sky and green waves.
It's been a great year, can't wait for the next!
Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Swell December

After a great November, the first half of December was slow. That's usually the case here with winter surf in Hokkaido as the north winds and low pressure systems that track over from Siberia tend to blow things out. The last week, however, has been really good, got in five straight days. Several days we had overhead surf and clean conditions. Below are some picks from this morning; it was small, the swell has dropped quite a bit, but was still clean and fun enough. Cold though...the temp was under zero; you can see that the tetrapods have frozen over with the fresh water flowing out of Horobetsu River. Hopefully we can get in a few more sessions before hitting the warm waves of Hawaii in January... Mele Kalikimaka... 

Tail end of a winter swell at Kako
Frozen terapods

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sweet November

Man, this November has been great. Just day after day of good surf. Today was really fun, the waves would stand up, but then back off a bit down the line...you could make most of them by taking a high line a just racing the lip. Here's a pic of me on a traditional board, my 6'10" McCrystal Discgo; when it reaches head high I tend to leave the wood boards in the car. Only four of us out today, more salmon fishermen than surfers...pretty sketchy avoiding the lines in the water, and even just walking back up the beach, but super good fun...best November ever!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Another nice morning

The first snow of the year fell yesterday morning, but it quickly melted and warmed up to a balmy 4 degrees. I had this point (Pachiura) all to myself before work. Beautiful offshore plumes, and tons of fun. The best season of the year continues...

Thursday, October 31, 2013

ahh, Hokkaido fall surf

The waves have been great. This year things were pretty quiet through September, but it really picked up in October. We just finished up typhoon #27, and may get one or two more before winter and the north winds arrive. I got in a week straight up until Monday, which is a really good run for this season, especially with the short days and work. All these pics are from Kako, my home break. Really fun waves and nice steady offshores...

The rail rebuild on the fish is going pretty well. I sanded all the varnish off the top and bottom, and am now shaping the new rails. I had to drill out the old FCS plugs because the extra width put the rails too far from the fins. Got quite a bit of kickback/movement drilling with the 30mm bit not liking the hard plastic of the plugs...ended up with some ugly tearing around the holes. I filled the holes with 30mm dowling, and quite a bit of wood filler, looks pretty ugly but should function OK... I probably should have just left the old plugs in. It'll be set up with a pair of big twins and a small trailer (MR TFX), the same set I bought for the previous incarnation of the board. Actually, with the wider template the board is looking more like a MR superfish (minus the wings), so hopefully it will go OK...More posts later... 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Repair, rebuild and fall surf

The diamond tail is back in the water. I replaced the cracked piece and nose area, and although it doesn't look as good as before, it is ridable. While I was at, I redid the somewhat bumpy gloss finish with a fine sand and clear acrylic coat. It's something I wanted to do anyway, so the repair was a good excuse. Nice to be back riding my favorite board again.    

Another project I have underway is a rail rebuild on the fish I made last year. It was my first framed board, and I did a really really lame job on the rails. So, I finally went ahead and planed off the rails and built them back up again with paulownia strips I picked up at the 100 yen (dollar) store. It is looking more like a normal board now...luckily, I finished it only with varnish before, so I can sand the whole thing down and glass it.

Ahh the fall, fun waves and hardly anyone out. Hopefully this will hold until the end of November.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

back home again, sup report, and repair

Back home after two weeks and a couple of conferences in Europe. Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Antwerp and Mont St Michel were definite high points...as was the Dutch and Belgian beer and those tasty frites. Unfortunately, was not close to any surf, but the time off was probably good for my body after surfing pretty well every day for the last few months. Good to get out and see new stuff too, here's me at Mont St Michel:

Returned home to some solid swell. It got up to about head high and a half, the perfect size before the waves start closing out. Tuesday was probably the best day of the year, only two people out and really clean.  Here's a pic after the swell had dropped and the wind came up, still fun though...and the Hokkaido fall weather is incredible.   

Unfortunately, got some damage on my favorite board (the 6'6" diamond tail) this week. I went up high, came down in the shore break, and the nose plowed into the sand cracking the upper deck from the vent to the nose. I removed the cracked piece, dried it out, and am starting a pretty major repair. Looks pretty bad, but it is interesting to see how the inside of board looks after a season. Will post more as the repair gets underway.

And last but not least, a quick bit about the SUP. I've taken it out a couple times. It works OK, but it's pretty heavy and somewhat squirrely due to its short size. Also, I've only got wax on the deck, and find it comes off  pretty quick and gets slippery after about 30 minutes. I need a deck pad, and then should be good to go. The paddle works awesome.

I'll post more on the repair, and a rail rebuild I have underway, when I get some time. In the meantime I'll be enjoying Hokkaido's finest season.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ready to go

The SUP is ready to go, I just need to finish up the paddle with one more coat of epoxy and I should be ready for a test run on Saturday. I don't have a deck pad at the moment, so I'll just use wax while trialing it and making sure it floats me. Pretty excited about giving this a go.
I'll update the blog this weekend to report back on how it goes.

Final dimensions: 8'5"X 32.5' X 4.75"

Monday, August 19, 2013

Getting there...and summer surf

I'm finally getting there with the SUP. I've finished the top coat, now I just need to sand that smooth, and apply a clear acrylic finish coat. Of course, then I need to put in the vent. The paddle needs a couple more coats of epoxy, then sanding and the final clear coat. Here are some pics as she sits at the moment. Can't wait to take her for a ride...hope she floats me.

Pretty well every morning of the year I park my car, walk down along this river to the Horobetsu River rivermouth (kako), and the closer I get to the end the more complete the picture is of that day's surf.  Here's a step-by-step look at this morning's set-up...nice little waist-high lefts you could take right across, with the occasional bigger set. It is, quite simply, summer bliss. Yesterday, it was much the same with only me and a buddy out. There's no place I'd rather be when it's like this...

Friday, August 16, 2013

Ready for glassing

Finished up sanding and have started to glass. Here's a pick of the board and paddle ready to go:

I'm using six ounce fiberglass mat this time and it really feels heavy compared to the four ounce I usually use. I thought a little more strength would be better for a SUP. The first coat on the deck wetted out nicely, I like the light color of the paulownia I used this time.
Changed up my logo up a bit this time, I'm pretty sure the angled letters will make the board go faster...check it out:
More updates to come as I finish up the glassing.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The SUP is taking shape

Got the deck done and ran the planer over the blank this evening. I seems huge compared to the other boards I ride, but it is pretty exciting mowing down on something this big. Much to the chagrin of the neighbours, and my wife, the planer ran loud and proud for about an hour; there might be something wrong with the thing as it is bloody loud -- it drowns out the backhoes working across the street.  Luckily for all involved I'm done with it and will be sanding only.from tomorrow. Good progress though, hopefully I'll be ready to glass by the weekend. Fun surf for the last couple days too, gotta love the summer...

Monday, August 5, 2013

SUP update

The SUP is coming along. I'm now laying up the deck pieces and fitting things together. I've put a few foam blocks under where the fins will be, and across the middle where I'll be standing. I hope they provide more contact and glue points for the deck and keep things firm in the middle.

The paddle has taken shape. It needs a bit more sanding and shaping of the handle, but it looks alright. I read that the blade should be at about a 15 degree angle, but I only managed 11 or 12...oh well, shouldn't make that big of difference for puttering around and catching small waves. I'm not sure what the glassing the schedule should be, I'll go heavy on the blade and see how that goes...if I could only get my hands on some carbon that would be the way to go.

I'll update again when the deck is done and I clean things up a bit...

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The long and the short of it

It's been a month and a half since I posted...as Ferris observed, "sometimes life moves pretty fast" (cue the Beat's Rotating Heads, or was that Shoot it Up by Sigue Sigue Sputnik? Hmmm, getting a bit old and am forgetting the important stuff). Anyways, we've had a lot of fun surf in July, and I've been riding by two new wood sticks pretty well exclusively. It's been intersesing, my "short board" is a 6'6", and my "long board" is a 6'7". One inch difference in length, but outline, rocker, and weight differences give me two completely different rides. The 6'7" mini long is really fun in the weaker mushier waves, it picks up momentum well, and lets me go longboarding without packing around a 9 footer. The 6'6" diamond tail has been a real pleasant surprise in all kinds of waves, it's a bit skatey in the bigger stuff with its wide tail, but works good in pretty well everything we get here. Finally, I made myself a ridable daily driver that performs well, yeehah.   
Since things are working out well with my two newest boards, I decided to make something completely different next: an SUP. I recycled the decks off of one of the boards I made last year, made the bottom, threw it on my rocker table,  and am now in process of framing it and builing up the rails. Oh yeah, and I'm making a paddle for it as well. I don't know how this is all going to work out, but I though it would be fun to give it a go. I wanted something I could fit in my kei van, so it's 8'4". It's about 33' wide and 4.75" thick. It came in at about 160 litres on Aku Shaper, so that should be enough to float my goat. I hope I can have it ready for glassing by the end of August.
I'll try to post more on my progress when I finish up the semester. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Finishing up

Finishing up on the 6'7" mini noserider. It has come together pretty well. I tried some new things in finishing it. I sanded off the glossy epoxy finish this time and used a clear acrylic spray as a finish coat. It looks OK, more of a satin finish...it feels better to the touch I think. This is an interesting size for this kind of board, I stepped the deck down, so there's good volume under the chest and the rails are thin enough to provide bite...can't wait to ride it, maybe this weekend.  


pre-vent and final sanding

My supervisors: Ping (tail only) and Pong (foreground)

Vented with the new bigger brass vents from WSS

From a distance