#StormWatch. Riding the Storm, Oxwich, Gower 20th August 2016.

Surfing Oxwich Bay

This has been on our #StormWatch radar for over a week. A massive unseasonable storm heading for the UK. Winds over 40 mph, and a ground swell of 12 feet plus. Adding to that there was a high spring tide that threatened storm surge conditions. All of which meant that nearly every Gower break was death on a stick!

Is there surf in Oxwich Bay?

Warnings were in place, surfers were urging people to look out for each other on social media, and the seafront businesses were putting their sea defenses in place. Lessons have be learned from since 2014 when Caswell was decimated by a storm surge (high tide coinciding with a large storm). It is times like these when the only surfing choice is Oxwch Bay, Gower.

Oxwich Surf

You may ask does Oxwich Bay get surf? It is the most fickle beach. It is a sheltered bay that faces south east. That orientation is for rare for a Gower surf beach as most face west or south west. That south east orientation makes Wales’ prevailing south west wind an offshore wind, giving Oxwich tall, steep and hollow waves when it has surf.

Surfing Oxwich August 2016

The problem is that it virtually never ever gets waves. It is so sheltered there is sometimes not even a ripple, which makes it an ideal Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) destination.  There needs to be a 15 foot swell to get a 1 foot wave at Oxwich. This storm was hovering around 11 – 13 foot. The fantastic surf conditions website GowerLive was saying there was just a 0.5 foot wave at Oxwich. That was good enough for me to have a punt.

DimExcuses Surf Oxwich

The fierce offshore wind was pushing the wave faces up and it was more like a consistent 1 foot wave, fast, step and exciting to ride as it closed out hard and heavy. A very rewarding surf.  It was well worth going in. I snagged this hollow face below just as it closed out. My girlfriend Sharon taking this photo just at the right time.

Hollow wave at Oxwich

Now I am looking beyond this storm. The best surf is always after the storm. All the bays should be back to safe conditions with a good swell by Tuesday (23/08/16), so start planning your next session, DimExcuses.

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Where has the sand gone? Storm Surge Beach Erosion Pobbles, Gower Jan 2013.

Pobbles Storm ErosionWith storms still hitting the UK and flooding a constant risk, we on the Gower coast are still reeling from the perfect storm surge combination of massive swell, high tides, and extreme weather of a few weeks ago.  I have seen the damage at Caswell and Langland (you can read the blog here), but I have been getting reports of massive sand erosion at Pobbles Bay, Gower (Just around from Three Cliffs Bay).

Pobbles rocks showing

So yesterday (a wet Saturday) me and Molly the Fenchton (French Bulldog, Boston Terrier cross) decided to go and investigate.

2014-01-18 13.57.18

I am lucky enough to have grown up in Pennard, and as a child of the 70s and 80s I was outside all year in all weathers, often down Pobbles Bay which was walking distance.  So I recall huge changes in sand depth with weather and seasons. Some of these changes were so severe that it triggered debate one whether sand dredging should be stopped in the Bristol Channel.

Pobbles

But even with all that in my minds eye this current erosion is breath taking.

Bedrock exposed at Pobbles

It certainly gave molly a chance to get in the caves and examine the bedrock.

Molly Bedrock

She is turning into a proper geologist.

Geologist Molly

Here is one final picture of Three Cliffs cave, now virtually inaccessible because of the large pools of seawater where the sand should be.

Three Cliffs Cave

But if experience has taught me anything, the weaker weather and lower tides will soon replace the sand before summer. So get down and see it before the rocks are buried again, DimExcuses.

Gower Code Red. Storm Surge January 2014

Storm Rider

They are calling it a 50 year storm. Record high tides, combined with a massive swell and extremely bad weather pushed in by an overactive jet stream.  This almost perfect storm surge is the freaky side affect of our relatively mild winter temperatures. The weather men forecast it, the surf charts saw it coming and the relevant authorities issued weather warnings. So irresponsibly we took Molly the puppy out for a look at what this storm was going to do to Gower.

Molly & the Storm

Heading out last night, Langland was our first stop, and fair play it was awesome, but there is no lighting down there, which meant it was hazardous and we couldn’t get any photos.  Just one of Molly surveying the surf.

Caswell Surf Chaos

Limeslade was better lit and the waves were breaking over the road, but again the storm was making photography impossible.  Heading to Caswell Bay it was absolute chaos.  The sea was crossing the road and the storm foam was moving into the car park. After I got this very poor shot of the chaos it was time to head home and dry off.

Langland Surfer

Today (Saturday 04/01/14) the storm has passed for a while but more high tides are due. We headed down to Caswell to survey the impact of last nights storm. Just leaving the car park the damage and mess is clear.

Caswell after the storm

If it wasn’t driftwood across the road…

Driftwood across the road at Caswell

…it was boulders thrown up on the beach head.

Caswell Storm Damage

The poor old Surfside Cafe had been completely overwhelmed. Water had got in and churned the whole place up.

Surfside Cafe, Caswell

The damage to the shutters is clear and that then just let the waves in.  Let’s hope they get it fixed up soon without too much distress to the owners, Molly and I love their latte with a bacon bagel.

Surfside Cafe

The surf at Caswell was looking a complete mess, massive and dangerous.  Two surfers were in the water, but they were just getting a right royal pasting.

Surfboard Langland

We decided to head around to Langland Bay as it should be getting a better wave due to its more sheltered positioning on the Gower coast. The improvement in weather combined with the dropping tide produced some epic Langland surf and plenty of riders were in the water trying to make the most of the heavy conditions.  There was a good break between sets, but the set waves were massive.

Langland Storm

The reduction in wind was ensuring some clean faces…

Two riders Langland

…as long as you made the drop.

2014-01-04 11.29.21

Apparently these high tides are continuing until at least Monday, the swell doesn’t appear to be dropping much and more storms are on the way.  Anything could happen, watch this space and stay safe, DimExcuses.