Tubamancha: what/where the hell is that? This seldom-sailed spot is neither secret nor stealthy; obscure is a better description. "Tuba" is actually a surf-sailing break at the mouth of the Drakes Estero in the Point Reyes National Seashore, located between Limantour and Drakes Beach. Non-specific forecasting, blustery offshore winds, a two mile hike, a reputation for great white sharks, and lots of uncertainty make this spot fall far off the radar for most Bay Area windsurfers. With the advent of wind forecasting, webcams, and real-time wind reports, most windsurfers opt for the sure thing, hedging their bets and going to where you know you won't get skunked.
Some days you just feel a little more adventurous, craving that uncertainty and the prospect of new experiences. Throw in a few eager friends, a willingness to work for your turns, and a few extra dollars for a bridge toll and the long drive north, and see what you end up with.
This was my third trip to Tuba. My first trip wasn't so successful; I was totally OP'd on a 3.7 and 62l wave board... I never made it more than a few hundred yards upwind from the Limantour Beach launch, a mere fraction of the two-mile upwind trek to the breaking waves. "Spooked" best describes my experience on that day. There is so much wildlife in the water. You can see tons of seals and birds galavanting around, but it's the sea life you can't see that's most intimidating and recalls imagery of National Geographic Blue Planet commercials... you know, the one where the shark breaches and snatches a bird out of the sky.
My second trip to Tuba was similar. BHO (barely hanging on) conditions on a 4.2, grinding upwind for half an hour just trying not to get catapulted and get converted into a link in the food chain. At least that time I made it all the way to the break, got some waves, and survived to tell the tale. An experience for sure, but not epic wave riding... more like survival sailing.
The wind was a little lighter this trip, and there were great waves and tons of familiar faces. I was still overpowered and spooked at times, but there was enough positive energy internally and in the air that I had a great time.
Pics below are courtesy of Joyce Luu via The Human Catapult. Check out his account of the journey here. Also, I posted an old clip of Tuba below the pics. This is an excerpt from one of my favorite windsurfing videos, Quake on the Gold Coast, which is also posted below.
I was trying to think of something to write that would illustrate what a trip like this means to me, but I really have no clue where to start. Suffice it to say that this was my sixth trip to PSC, and this one was just as special to me as the other five. It had been two years since my last visit, so I had been longing to go back. I even bought a brand new Fanatic Quad 79 for the trip, and I was giggling like a little boy when we finally arrived. Great waves, great wind, and a few amigos makes a week go by very quickly.
One thing that makes the San Francisco Bay area such a great windsurfing spot is its consistency. Given a flexible work schedule and a predilection for driving, I can pretty much count on windsurfing almost every day during the season which spans roughly April through September... and that's for "normal sized"gear (I typically run my sail quiver from 3.7 to 5.6). Outside of our normal season things get a little more dicey. Fickle fall thermals in October transition into offshore flow and Indian Summer conditions in November which are better suited to surfing than windsurfing. Then winter comes and who knows what will happen. Some years we get frequent storm winds that range from steady and mellow 5.6 outings to epic 3.7 overpowered survival sessions.
Wind this winter has been particularly sparse. I can't remember a year with so few windsurfable storms, so it was a nice treat finally to get some storm wind and sail spots like Half Moon Bay, which doesn't work on our normal in season weather pattern.
A few of us on Monday actually checked out Linda Mar, a surf spot that rarely gets windsurfable wind, but it seemed so gusty/holey, that we opted for surfing instead. There was one guy out on a 4.7, planing intermittently and trying to pick up a few turns. The waves were better than the wind, so I think we made the best choice, but it still would have been fun to rig up and try it out anyway.
The next day, the wind cranked up a notch and went straight offshore at Linda Mar, so we drove south another 20 minutes to Half Moon Bay where 25mph SE winds were already happening. Not a rain drop in sight and nice steady wind was perfect for my Maui Sails Legend 4.2 and New Wave 81. Days like this are really fun and help get me through my windsurfing withdrawal.
The following day showed some clearing and a more regular SW slant to the wind. I made the drive over to Berkeley where my buddies were out on 4.8/4.9's. Of course the wind died by the time I actually rigged up and got on the water. Should've left earlier, but at least I snapped a few pictures. I always like seeing the cranes of the Port of Oakland in the background.