Ocean Rhythms, July 2019

Winter kicked in, almost right on cue, with the first weekend in June featuring fairly solid pulses from the South, the result of an extended series of cold fronts pushing into the lower Tasman sea. Swell was strong, wind was favourable from the western quadrant but the missing ingredient was sand on the Points. As a result, what could have been great waves were only mediocre; aconstant theme throughout Autumn and now into winter. 

A much stronger follow up swell generated by an East Coast Low suffered the same indignities – a lack of good inshore bathymetry to make it stand up and offer the classic Point break shape the area is famous for. One local shaper described the biggest day at Lennox Point as dog caca, or words to  that effect. Maybe a bit harsh but it sure was a whole lot of paddling for little reward. Despite co-inciding with big night time high tides that swell too failed to get sand moving from south to north and laying down along the Points. Luckily, some of the Ballina breaks have done the heavy lifting as far as providing quality waves goes. 

An ultra clean lined up day with an all day westerly wind on Mon 3 June was as good as it gets on the Speeds Reef part of Ballina. Tubes for days. 

What happens now is anyones guess but it seems likely that normal sand flow will not re-establish and replenish the typical Point break sand bars which are a feature of a typical winter. Six weeks of S swells and S winds has barely shifted a grain and at time of writing a major E swell is lining up as a broad area of tropical low pressure tightens pressure gradients along the northern flank of a strong high pressure system in the Tasman. A broad, long fetch of E’ly strong winds to gales will be aimed straight at us. It’s reminiscent of the pattern which generated the ‘as big as it gets, as good as it gets’ easterly swell of July 2001. The difference is that swell was met by all-time sandbanks which handled that swell easily and turned it into perfect Point surf. This swell will be met by pure rock. Driving and duckdiving may be in order. 

The westerly winds of early June got mullet moving and staged up at various points along the Lennox beaches. Big tailor were also moving with them with some winter snowy bream and tarwhine in beach gutters. Lack of rough weather made jewfishing hard going. It’s likely the rain and heavy swell upcoming might get the big silver ghosts into a more active feeding pattern. Till next month, tight lines and tubular visions. 

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