The Story from Under the Waves

A lucky shot captured with my cell phone in 2012 at Pipeline

A lucky shot captured with my cell phone in 2012 at Pipeline


Sitting up on the cliff above Peahi (Jaws), bracing against wind as Ho’okipa fires off, joining the crowds on the beach at Pipeline or watching storm surf off the Oregon Coast, waves fascinate us. It’s not so much about surfing as the power and mysteries of the ocean at its most extreme.

lowtide1Low tide and everything exposed as the ocean retreats twice a day allows exciting exploration of tide pools – and more. This week we had so many opportunities to explore the geologic formations that form the waves we love to ride.

One of the most compelling accounts of the rocks and bottom formation that create the power and personality of a particular wave.

rockyhikewaves2In her book (The Wave) by Susan Casey does an exceptional job of explaining the natural forces (winds, currents, ocean-bottom shape) that create these daunting surfing spots, and in particular her exploration under Jaws with Laird Hamilton.  Casey’s account of the impromptu adventure is terrific, you’ll want to give it a read.


The beach at the end of the Cape Sebastian hike, rocky vantage point is to the right of this area

capesebpatternThere’s a beautiful 2-mile hike from the viewpoint at Cape Sebastian, just north of the Pistol River and south of Gold Beach.

capesebwave2 Take the hike (and then be very careful) to the right to an incredible viewpoint. We were fortunate to arrive just after low tide, with the rocks that shape the waves – and are shaped BY the waves, exposed. Detail and variation from dense to sandstone invited a careful, closer look.rockyhike

Shoreline climb near Harris Beach State Park

Shoreline climb near Harris Beach State Park

Many of the haystack type formations were available to climb. From high vantage points we saw the effect of  this week’s low pressure and storms.The size of a swell is determined by the strength of the wind and the length of its fetch and duration. Because of this, surf was huge this week.

rockyhikegreenAccording to Wikipedia, “The most important influence on wave shape is the topography of the seabed directly behind and immediately beneath the breaking wave. The contours of the reef or bar front becomes stretched by diffraction. Each break is different, since each location’s underwater topography is unique. At beach breaks, sandbanks change shape from week to week.”

rockyhike3So we explored up, on, over, around and under the exposed rock and sand formations. It was a fascinating exploration of waves – from the beach.

capeseb3 capesebwave6Great Winter SUP Trip Great Winter Trip Day 2SUP Travel: Expect Wonder Rainy Days and Sunday: Cozy FoodHere Comes the SunWinter Glassy Surf: Brookings OregonStories from Under the Waves –SUP Adventures:  Nature Dictates – 

1 thought on “The Story from Under the Waves

  1. Pingback: Rainy Winter Coast Trip: Yippee! | Elder SUP

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