Darryl Wood- Can’t Hide the Stoke

 

                        DARRYL WOOD- CAN’T HIDE THE STOKE

I was heading for my first surf session in the Great Northwest, my truck following Darryl Wood’s truck on the winding backroads west of Port Angeles. It was February of 1979, air temperature about 38 degrees, and I had thought I’d left my surfing life, and what it had become, occasional and too-city-centric, back in San Diego.

But then, a month into my new life, a storm that destroyed the connection from the Olympic Peninsula to the rest of the state set up my connection to Darryl, early northwest surfing pioneer, trailblazer, a guy who actually learned to surf in the frigid waters, who had attacked the rude waves of Westport, Point Grenville, Seaside, and a dozen spots, some still secret, in a short john wetsuit. 

Darryl, de facto leader of the small tribe on the Straits of Juan de Fuca, was another commuter riding on the hastily-set-up passenger-only boat across the Hood Canal. What had, a week before, been a tour boat had a route within sight of the still-connected half of what had been the world’s longest, at over a mile, floating bridge. The Olympic Peninsula half of the concrete and steel structure was separated at the middle, pushed, the connecting structure acting like a twisting hinge before it gave way, the  bridge sunk in seven hundred feet of water by the combined pressure of sudden-and-focused waves driven up a forty mile fetch by hurricane strength winds, a radical outgoing tide.

Darryl and another Port Angeles guy (whose name, sorry, I’ve forgotten) were workers on a construction project at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton. Six or eight other Civil Servants, split between several carpools, and I were on the same boat.

Yeah, a literal usage of the old metaphor.

The State of Washington had set up a bus on the civilized side, and, and it was another half hour on a bus, each way, plus delays. People talk.

“No surf?” Darryl laughed. “No, you’re right; there’s no surf.”

But, this the next weekend, there we were, me with a borrowed wetsuit, my sister’s board (the only one I hadn’t sold) in the back, no gloves, no hood, following Darryl. And then, up a hill, with a slolom-like gravel road ahead down and around trees and stump farms, a flatter plain in the distance, then a line of trees, then water; the truck ahead of me stopped. I stopped. Darryl, a guy who seemed, to me, extremely calm, ran over, opened the passenger door on my vehicle.

“Isn’t this exciting? Are you excited?”

It was. I was.  

Then again, neither of us were even trying to hide the stoke.

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