I’ve always wanted to design stuff for t shirts. I’ve had a couple done (by others, I just supplied the art) for local musical events. Being basically cheap, and having some experience at silkscreening (mostly on flat paper and such, my attempts at t shirt printing did not go well), I figured one color stuff would save a few bucks. So…
The usual thing to expect when the unusual thing (an actual swell) happens (so rare, so very rare) is that any waves you luck into on the Strait of Juan de Fuca won’t last long; hence the expression, “If you see waves, surf them.” However, sometimes you’re there just a little early, a bit ahead of the briefly-opening window. Maybe you’ll notice I’m being all non-inviting here; just don’t want you to waste your valuable time when Westport is always breaking.
So, a few months ago, on a day I wrote about in “The First Book of Nick,” the waves actually got better. I stayed where I was, but a lot of surfers headed farther west or went back towards Port Angeles. So, while I was headed for some painting job, Stephen Davis and Jeffrey Vaughan (not together) hit up a secret (that is, I’m not revealing it) fast and gravelly right, while Tom Burns hit a classic, just off the rocks left that, it will soon be obvious, hasn’t changed too much in forty years.
Tom sent me a couple of long emails of early surfing experiences all over Washington’s coast and the Strait, with these photos:
And, from forty years earlier, to the day, same guy, two more at the same spot.
Maybe you’ll notice, even recognize, the rocks in the foreground. Hard to imagine any kind of long ride this close to the beach.
Uh huh; keep imagining. I’ll have more from Tom, but, after he sent me all kinds of info on exploring and sometimes finding great waves, with retro photos and names of early northwest path(and wave)finders, he ended with some comment/threat on how he just knows I won’t get all too revealing.
In a side note on the “Don’t get all excited and think the Strait is often great” category- while I was hanging out as a volunteer with all the judges, huddled under a tarp against the south wind, at the Surfrider Foundation’s Westport Cleanwater Surfing Contest a couple of years ago, Tom, one of the judges I was spotting for, revealed he’s kept a log of all his surf ventures, and discovered he’s been skunked on the Strait more often (way more often) than he’s scored.
So, continue to be tantalized. I still am. Thanks, Tom.
BLOG-LIKE UPDATE- Stephen Davis and I made an afternoon speed run (not, like, speeding, Officer, but like curtailing other daytime activities and heading wnw, hoping/gambling the swell that hadn’t shown up yet would). We found some rideable lefts, surfed there alone for almost two hours, with the swell actually building, before two other rigs materialized in the partially-visible parking area. Interesting how the dynamic shifts, and competitive personalities clash. No, no, I think I won the exchange with the guy wearing the blue prescription glasses/goggles, who said the thing that led him to believe there might be waves was, “The buoys.” Sure, but if had a little faith… we could’ve hassled for set waves earlier.
Ten days after my SUP paddle ended up stuck in the wire rope that holds the three pilings together (making it, technically, a dolphin), I was surprised to find it still there, still looking like an antenna.
Unlike the session where I lost the paddle, this time Stephen and I were the only ones out. Jeffrey Vaughn, a longshoreman (who also identified the pilings as a dolphin, probably used back when the area was a source for extracting and shipping clay), parked in front of the rights, took a lot of photos, but was changing into his suit when Stephen borrowed my SUP (he was riding a classic Phil Edwards model Hobie), and paddled over to the dolphin.
Having tried unsuccessfully myself to scale the ancient poles on the day of what I’m now calling ‘a prank of opportunity,’ I didn’t have much hope that Stephen (to refresh, I call him hydrosexual because he loves all water sports; ice hockey, skiing, kite surfing, classic paddleboard racing, sailing, etc.) could actually free the monument to my (yeah, we’re talking about the husky old guy with the gorilla hands) unappreciated lineup dominance.
Having already shed my booties, seeing Steve ‘chimney-climb’ between the pilings and then climb onto the dolphin, I ran down the rocky beach. Jeffrey would miss the shot. Two Natives, a father and son I’d seen here before, were pulling their crabpots, loading their boat onto the trailer. “Yeah, I saw the paddle. I think it had a flag on it for a while. It’s been there since that one day when there were lots of surfers here.” “Yeah, it’s my paddle.” The son thought this was quite amusing. “But you got it back.” “Yeah.”
I asked Jeffrey to try to make me look skinnier. Maybe he did and this is the result. I’m going to hang onto the paddle Nick so kindly gave me (loaned, I’m saying), ready to return it the next time I see him.