Dennis’ Tidbits


June gloom gone

Dennis 5It was a beautiful Sunday morning here in Lagunaville as the sun finally made a rare morning appearance. It’s been a while – but dry offshore winds are now pushing that stubborn unwelcome marine layer far out to sea. In all of the decades I’ve been keeping track of our daily weather and surf conditions, I’ve never seen the June Gloom stick around for so long. 

Finally, we’re being treated to lots of sunshine and temps that might make it into the low 80s today which is music to my ears. It’s all thanks to strong high pressure over Southern Utah and extreme northern Arizona, and it looks like this high might hang around for a few days. This is what it’s supposed to be doing this time of year.

Normally by this time, we’ve already seen several healthy west and northwest swells in our area. We’re still waiting on those – since high pressure offshore is keeping swell energy from reaching us. Incoming Pacific storms are taking a sharp turn to the left once they get within a thousand miles or so off our coast, leaving us out of the winter swell window. 

The “enemy” La Niña is running the show, so the storm track is aiming to the northeast.  When she’s around, swells from almost every direction – from SSE Baja swells to winter swells – don’t make it here. Today it’s all about ankle snappers and knee knockers. The only swells that show up are those long period Southern Hemisphere swells, and even that season is phasing out for the upcoming summer south of the equator, so we’re left high and dry. The north Pacific lows are out there on a regular basis but they’re moving in the wrong direction. As you probably know by now, La Niña is the culprit in our severe shortage of rain and snow down here as well. She needs to go now!

I stood up on a wave for the very first time in July of 1958 as a 10-year-old grom, but it was on a hard canvas surf mat down at Main Beach. I weighed only about 75 or 80 pounds at the time, so you could actually knee paddle and stand up on these hard canvas mats. They were about four and a half feet long, over two feet wide and about five inches thick, so there was plenty of solid surface to knee paddle. 

On the corner of PCH and Broadway every summer, there was a guy named George Moore who set up a stand right there on the Boardwalk. It rented out these little wave machines along with beach chairs and beach umbrellas for a dollar an hour and a buck fifty all day. Several of us local groms would get the mats for free because we all pitched in to help George set up in the morning and round everything up late that afternoon. One of us groms was Billy Hamilton, Laird’s Dad. He taught me how to knee paddle and eventually stand up on these mats. Finally in late July that summer, I stood up for the very first time, and I was hooked right then and there! 

George kept an eye on us – and several local lifeguards knew all of us – so we were in good hands. We’d be at the beach every day, all day, so we were out of our parents’ hair because they loved and trusted George and the guards. We even had them over for dinner when they got off duty, so it was a great arrangement. 

The summer of ’58 was one of the best times of my life as the water was really warm all summer with lots of sun and waves thanks to a strong El Niño that year. I would stand up on a surfboard for the first time about two years later at Doheny on July 20, 1960. I was immediately hooked for life! More on that in Friday’s edition of Stu News Laguna.