Fall Surf: Half-Day Off Friday!

I had a half-day off this past Friday and it was a great day to take it… a beautiful gray, fall morning with only one other person out! The sun popped out at around noon, just before I got out. I couldn’t find a barrel that stayed open, but there were a few fun ones out there, anyway!

More of This, Please

A GoPro shot from last summer… We made it through the June gloom and are now slogging through the typical July summer doldrums here in Florida. Thankfully, the heart of storm season, the best time to surf in Florida – late summer and early fall, are almost here! It’s been flat for way too long and I am just dying to catch some good waves. Pray for surf!

Nobody Listens to Turtle

Spotted this guy by the walkover on the way back from a beach run. Big ‘un! This dude is living the good life in the GTM Reserve, just cruising the dunes and stuffing his face full of flowers! Like a gated community for Gopher Tortoises and other wildlife over there! 

Hurricane Earl Surfing, Ponte Vedra Beach

I was super stoked to finally get a proper hurricane swell about three weeks ago. It had been so long! Too long! I was able to catch parts of 5 of the 8 days of that Hurricanes Earl and Danielle were gifting us and enjoyed a couple of really fun sessions with my buddies Aaron and Ryan inside Guana State Park in Ponte Vedra Beach. I took the GoPro out or “Super Tuesday” during Earl. Here’s a few pics from the morning and the afternoon that day.

Florida Alligator in the Ocean? Yep.

Sharks, jellyfish, and now one more thing to look out for in Florida’s oceans…

Only in Florida … Yes, gators like to go to the beach, too!

My daughter, Kaelyn, and I had considered paddling out to catch a few waves on this day (6/30/21), but the tide was dead low and swell fading after work, so we bailed and I decided to go for a run on the beach, instead. It was probably a good thing we skipped our session because when I got to the beach, someone else was paddling out at our local spot inside the Guana Tolomato Matanzas (GTM) Research Reserve in South Ponte Vedra Beach, between Ponte Vedra Beach and Vilano / St. Augustine – a real-life ripper / shredder!

This was about a half-mile south of the northernmost entrance to the park. I felt conflicted. I wasn’t sure who the real “local” was in this case. I’m a 3rd Gen native of Northeast Florida, but this guy still wins! In all my years here, I have actually seen gators on the beach a couple of times and even a little one in the water. But I’ve never seen one this size (a medium-sized junior) just go waltzing into the ocean like this. If Florida wildlife makes you nervous or you’re planning a beach vacation here, soon, you don’t want to watch this video… but I’m guessing you will anyway, so enjoy!

Quick Update: So, it appears my gator video went viral. Shortly after posting it on IG, I started getting DMs asking about reposting it or in some cases, just tagging me. Coastal Republic was first, followed by a slew of others. Within the first week, I could easily see nearly half-a-million views on just the major channels, themselves, and not any of the thousands that mentioned friends to share it with them. Tim Bonython, the acclaimed Australian cinematographer who produces Swell Chasers, made Biggest Wednesday and is currently producing The Big Wave Project, who has captured some of the most amazing big wave footage ever at places like Shipsterns, Chopes and the Right, among others, message me to use it in his IG story. Discover Sharks (over 245,000 views!) posted it, Beach Grit, Reel Life Fishing, Everglades Holiday Park (production home of the tv show, “Gator Boys“), NSB Inlet, Reel Life Fishing, Sustainable St. Augustine, Memol Wildlife, among others. Big shout out to NSB/NCFL ripper and Creative Director/Digital Marketer, Matt Dayton for letting me know what was happening with the video, which was quickly getting reposted without attribution in some places, and speaking up to make sure I was properly credited when he saw it. Appreciate it, Matt!

Hurricane Florence

A few GoPro shots from the recent swells generated by Hurrican Florence. After a long, hot, flat summer, it was great to get back into the water and catch some good waves. Prayers to all of those who were negatively impacted by the effects of this storm, including my own relatives in South Carolina.

Hurricane Florence Surf

Hurricane Florence Surfing

Surfing lip blast in Hurricane Florence

Surfing down the line in Hurricane Florence

Dropping into a wave

setting up and stalling on a wave

Dropping into a wave backside

Surfing backside on a wave

surfing off the top in the whitewater

Hurricane Maria, Guana River State Park

A few interesting GoPro shots from the Hurricane Maria swell earlier this year. I’m not sure if you would call this “stuffing in” or “getting stuffed”. At the very least, you can’t call it barrel-dodging!

The capability of the GoPros (in this case, a 4 Black), never cease to amaze me. In the first shot, you can clearly see seaweed flying past my face inside the wave.

Between Irma and Maria, our beaches were packed with all kinds of debris, making surfing sketchy at times. Even after larger debris like pylons, branches, 2×4’s, etc. had cleared, there was still quite a bit of vegetation in the line-ups for weeks following each storm.

These shots were two days after the peak swell size for Maria, but were the peak for overall size + quality.

DCIM101GOPROG0950678.DCIM101GOPROG1091249.DCIM101GOPROG1111363.DCIM104GOPROG1483711.DCIM104GOPROG1483709.DCIM101GOPROG0980774.DCIM101GOPROG1091250.DCIM104GOPROG1503922.DCIM101GOPROG0870455.DCIM103GOPROG1272463.

Hurricane Joaquin Swell

A few GoPro shots from the recent Hurricane Joaquin swell. These were all taken in the Ponte Vedra Beach area and inside Guana River State Park on October 3rd and 4th, 2015. Good times after an unusually long, flat summer due the global El Nino weather pattern that brought waves to most of the rest of the world, but which inhibited tropical storm development this year in the Eastern Atlantic. It seems all of that stored up energy was released in a single storm which provided some pretty epic Florida conditions.

Hurricane Joaquin, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL October, 2015

Hurricane Joaquin, Jacksonville, FL October, 2015

Hurricane Joaquin, Northeast Florida, October, 2015

Hurricane Joaquin, Guana River State Park, October 2015

surfing in Hurricane Joaquin in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL October, 2015

Surfing in Guana River State Park in Hurricane Joaquin, October 2015

Backwater Backyard

Mother and daughter kayaking in Guana River State Park
Gretchen and Kaelyn in the kayak with Kendall on point on the SUP, exploring Guana River State Park

 

Stand-up Paddelboading in Guana State Park
Kendall taking in the beautiful, natural, peaceful setting of Guana River State Park

 

Yesterday was Labor Day and we had some time, so decided to go explore our “backwater backyard” in Guana River State Park. We went up to North Guana Outpost (check ’em out!), rented a kayak and a couple of SUPs and were on our way (you can launch straight out from the back of the store)! The Guana, as always, was spectacular! It is so beautiful. We saw a lot of fish and birds and could hear gators, but never actually saw any. We went out at high noon, and it was pretty darn hot. An early morning excursion might be even better. But it was awesome and I highly recommend it. Great exercise, too! $25/hr. for board/kayak rentals or $50 for a 1/2 day. We may have to invest in a couple of SUPs for Christmas!

 

 

June “Gloom”, Florida Style

Guana State Park, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Well, “gloomy” only in the respect that June traditionally tends to be pretty flat- not a lot of waves for surfing around here at this time of year, although we just enjoyed a nice multi-day run of swell to kick off the month. A pleasant surprise! But, Northeast Florida is beautiful year-round!

Great White Appetite

On April 6th, I saved a screen grab from the Ocearch shark tracker mobile app showing a Great White shark, just off a local beach (see images, below). Ocearch is a research group that is catching, tagging and tracking the habits of sharks all over the world. The crew were the first ones to catch, tag and release an Atlantic Great White shark, including one that they caught right off the jetty at the Mayport Poles, perhaps northeast Florida’s most popular surfing spot. They almost caught a second, larger one in the same area. The shark they caught, which they nicknamed, “Lydia”, was 14′ 6″ long and weighed 2,000 lbs. Here’s a video of them catching it:

On April 6th of this year, another Great White that Ocearch had previously caught and tagged in Cape Cod, Massachusetts (which they named, “Katharine” (14′ 2″, 2,300 lbs.) pinged in near shore right at Mickler’s Beach, in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, my own favorite spot and home break (I live just one block away). Exactly one week later, a huge Right Whale washed ashore at Mickler’s and it looked like it had been savaged by sharks, which likely explains one of the reasons why Katharine was in the area. I posted a couple of photos of the whale remains (seen here) on Instagram, and they caused quite a stir when they were picked up and reshared by #Igersjax, the local Instagrammers Club in Jax.

It is a shame to lose such a big, beautiful creature as a Right Whale (which are endangered), but the Great Whites are also pretty magnificent animals. It’s the circle of life. Hopefully, Katharine was full, before pushing on…

Katharine, a 14' 2" 2,300 lb. Great White shark pinged in  near Mickler's Beach on April 6th, 2014
Katharine, a 14′ 2″ 2,300 lb. Great White shark pinged in near Mickler’s Beach on April 6th, 2014

Right Whale remains, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
These remains of large right whale washed ashore in Ponte Vedra Beach on April 13th, 2014

ight whale remains, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
This remains of a Right Whale that washed ashore in Ponte Vedra on APril 13, 2014

Katharine, the Great White Shark
Katharine, the Great White Shark that was near shore at Mickler’s in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL