Re: Hawaii to San Fran - cold water questions..
There is tons o’ surf in NorCAL. No reason not to take job there. In contrast, I was contacted in 2008 by two managers of an engineering firm in Germany. They asked, “Are you ready to return to Germany and work with us?” Without hesitation I blurted, “You’ve got no surf!”
Onto your questions…
1. It seems "booties" are going to be a must in the bay area but how far south would I have to travel to not wear booties? What area of Ca would one consider scaling back the rubber, especially on the feet?
A: This depends on you. Many surf without booties in Santa Cruz in Summer. That is 75 miles south of SF. Majority of surfers in Santa Barbara and Ventura do not where booties; except in the coldest part of Winter. That is 325 miles south of SF.
2. How long to get used to surfing with booties?
A: Many of us in NorCAL and through British Columbia actually learn to surf with booties. But, it’ll take you 2 to 5 days to get used to it. Important element: bootie neoprene and sole thickness vary widely. So do designs. My wife wears something like a small boot. I wear something like a Ninja slipper (2 to 3mm neoprene, split toe, very thin rubber sole, no velcro closures or straps). My booties are more like slippers and I can feel the wax bumps through the sole). Whatever you do, do NOT get scuba diver’s boots. They are heavy and have a thick, non-flexible sole. In addition, diver’s bootie soles are often sloped (higher heel causing toes to point downward).
3. All this rubber and board size - do you think I should sell all my boards I use here in Hawaii due to the fact I will need more foam for the extra weight in CA? I heard the waves were not as powerful in CA as HI so maybe I would need more volume in my boards?
A: No. Do not sell your boards unless you simply don’t want to transport them to mainland. Wetsuits are not that heavy. As for wave power, it depends on where you surf. There are breaks up and down the entire coast capable of snapping your board in half or breaking your bones. There are also mild places that are good for us Old Guys and our children. Your boards that are 3 inches thick will be fine. Most of us have boards between 2 and 3 inches thick. Many longboards (boards >9ft length) here have thicknesses between 2 ¾ and 2 7/8 inches. You saw the boards at Wise’s shop, but you did not see any boards thicker than 3 inches. Did you? I’m confident about this because I used to frequent Wise. The last thing I bought there was a painting by a local artist.
4. Travel.... I guess a surfer that lives in CA has to do some traveling to surf on a consistent basis - How much do you guys travel to surf?
A: Depends. If you live near Ocean Beach, you don’t need to travel much. I used to know 3 guys that lived there. However, there are so many good breaks from Santa Cruz to Sonoma County that you’ll want to travel. SF Bay Area people are big commuters, so driving to surf is not a big deal. In fact, most Californians are accustomed to lots of driving. When I lived in NorCAL, all my favourite breaks were a 1 to 2 hour drive. I could only surf on weekends, but I’d surf all day Saturday or Sunday. And I really mean 8 hours in the water. In contrast, I had a buddy that lived in Pacifica. He surfed 3 to 4 times a week. By the way, while Lindamar is the most widely known break in Pacifica, there are many others and at least 3 of them are superior to Lindamar. If you live in Pacifica, you can take the BART (train) to work like my buddy did. (He now lives and works in Australia.)
5. I watch Discovery Channel and see those big a$$ Great Whites all the time, especially in northern CA - Do you guys wear those electronic shark repellent leashes that the battery last like a year or so?.
A: NorCAL is within the Red Triangle. There are sharks there, but Florida has the most attacks of any US state. North Carolina has more attacks than California. California is tied with South Carolina and Hawaii. No one I have known or have seen uses shark repellent leashes. In fact, have never heard of such a thing.
6. What do you bring to the beach on a average day?
A: Clothes to put on after wetsuit comes off. Includes hat and sweater / coat and long pants. You’ll find you need to warm up with clothing after you’ve been surfing in cold water. Usually bring a bottle of water and something to eat. In Winter, will bring thermos filled with hot coffee or tea. Yes, to wax and towel. Most surfers leave all this stuff in car / truck. When you come and go from the beach, you’ll arrive in street clothes, put on wetsuit if surf is good, surf, remove wetsuit, put on street clothes. It is uncool to wear your wetsuit coming and going. It is extremely rare to see someone wearing a wetsuit at the local taco stand.