I convinced Keith Darrock to do a Straits speed run a few days before Christmas. Because my daughter, Dru, was home and our small town offers no excitement to compete with the dangers of Chicago, and despite her having gone to a casino with her mom the night before, she asked to go. Early
The tide wouldn’t be perfect, the swell was forecast to drop, but, supposedly, slowly. Archie had already expressed no interest in going early, gambling on my favorite spot, hurrying back. And, he had surfed my (and his) backup spot the day before, reported the swell ‘weak.’ He had, nevertheless, surfed his usual three hours. Archie did have some plans to show up there (the backup spot) on the high tide rather than risk getting skunked farther out and waiting. And I could call him with real conditions on my way back.
Sharing my usual pre-surf anxiety with Keith and Dru, I revealed my en route wish (and often, prayer) list. First, I request some kind of waves (preferably the rights that only show up at lower tides); then bigger, better waves, then glassiness; then lack of crowds.
Keith admitted he really doesn’t like sharing waves. “What about with me?” “I’m not afraid to take off in front of you.” “Really? You know I ran over Archie’s board?”
Accidently. Still, Keith had taken some pleasure in spreading my name around the small but rabid (and yet polite) Port Townsend surfing community when I ‘circled’ the lineup on a glassy but increasingly crowded afternoon. Yeah; well I already explained (and wrote about) that it was a sort of accidental wave hogging.
So, on this morning, the swell was, indeed, weak. The rights were weaker than the lefts. I did have a fear that I would (again) push someone to go and we’d find conditions where I could cruise around on the SUP, catch a few fin-draggers, and be pretty happy, but my ride-sharer might not be so thrilled.
But Keith was game, suited up quickly and paddled out.
As he did a minivan drove up, a guy got out. As often happens on the Straits, It turns out I’d run into him before; twice, in Port Townsend, checking out the conditions from the parking lot. In fact, he and I had dared each other into going out in a gale. While he caught a few, I got thrashed, putting the first ding in the SUP by going sideways over the falls.
Adam is in the seafood business on the Hood Canal, near the Hamma Hamma River, farther down Surf Route 101. To my chagrin, though he spoke of surfing the backup spot, he suited up, paddled out to join Keith, who had already tucked himself into a couple of occasional and small semi-barrels.
“This’ll be fun,” I told my daughter, she checking the rocks for a few nice ones.
“It’s still bigger than Sunset Beach,” she said. Another story, but she did bring me back some coarse Sunset Beach sand.
I went out, caught as many waves as I could, tried to share. Keith dropped in on me once, I dropped in on him once (different sections, really), and I called out Adam for taking off on a wave Keith could have ridden, and choking. Sort of nicely.
Adam didn’t last too long. He got out, drove off, still in his wetsuit. Dru accused me of chasing him off. “No. Not really. And, it turns out Keith knows his wife. So, we’re all, like, friends now. Yay.”
There were now three other vehicles (rigs in the local lingo) in the parking area. Many others had pulled in, checked it out, and continued further toward the coast. Or given up. A random set showed up and two guys who had been parked a while, kind of creeping-out my daughter, started suiting up. Headed back, we passed many rigs with boards headed for the Straits. “Good luck,” I said, “Glad we went early,” Keith said. “You were kind of a wave hog, Dad,” Dru said. “I’m here to surf,” I said.
My head may actually be that large, proportionately. Or we can call it a cartoon.
The next afternoon Keith texted me to report there were waves at a rare mysto spot near Port Townsend. I couldn’t go. A couple of local shortboarders, good surfers, Aaron and Nolan, both of whom know, first hand or by reputation, of my wave hogging ways, were heading out to hit the critical takeoffs. I’m determined to ride the spot. Not this day.
Later, my new friend, Adam (he had my number from the thrashing session), texted me (under the name Adam Wipeout) to ask me about waves at the above not mentioned spot. Possessing a Bluetooth but needing my hands for working, I called him back, kept painting.
It turns out Adam has a friend who took some long distance photos of the mysto spot, going off. “Yeah, so I hear.” Adam said, after doing some parking lot surfing the day before, he ended up surfing “really fun waves with, once the tide filled in and the Seattle surfers left,” with some guy whose name he told me but I instantly forgot (if I saw him three or four times, I might bother). Adam’s new surf friend, he said, had checked out the spot we’d surfed earlier.
“He said he noticed ‘the beast’ was out,” Adam said.
“Wait. Me?” “Yeah, he meant you. I asked. ‘ You mean Erwin?’ He described you. It was you.”
“Wait. Why do I have to be the beast?”
“Maybe he meant your commitment level,” Adam said, unable to come up with a reasonable and/or flattering explanation.
“Okay. Hey, if you’re going some time; give me a call; maybe we could…”
“Oh. Okay. We’ll see.”
“Okay.” It might be my larger-than-the-average-(good) surfer size, my intensity in the water; doesn’t matter; I’ve decided to own it.
“They call me the Beast, and I’m here to surf.”
No, really; I’m nice… while parking lot surfing.