Adam Wipeout and the Lost Skeg

I’m crawling around, sanding and painting baseboards on a project in Silverdale when the cell phone rings. Adam starts in with the story without a ‘hello.’ “So, I just had this feeling…” He had been in bed, he said, and possibly because he was still suffering the effects of what he had referred to as ‘the crud,’ he felt the same way he did when he got the most memorable ride of his last session, the session he had to get in despite his cold. Importantly, he chose surfing as an alternative to going to ELK CAMP. Elk Camp is, it must be said, quite important to someone born and raised in one of the wilder parts of the Olympic Peninsula. And, no, they don’t hunt the elk that show up frequently in his brother’s yard.

Adam had jumped out of bed, into his car, and driven quite a distance (about 52 miles) to the spot where he had lost one of his two Mark Richards’ designed fins. Adam James knows the tides. It’s part of his job as a key member of the Hama Hama Seafood operation, down Surf Route 101 on the Hood Canal. It was dead low tide, the middle of the night, with a gale blowing down the Strait; sideways rain. No biggie. “What?” That was my response. “And this was, like, three in the morning?”

“Yeah; about.” Adam told me he figured, in his haste to get in the water, he hadn’t fully secured the fin, and it was either in the sand, where it would be difficult to find; in the rocks near shore, where kelp and such would might hide it; or out where he had been sitting and waiting, and probably just fell off from being loose.

On this same day Adam lost one of his fins, the end of the single fin on Keith Darrock’s  board snapped off from contact with one of the rudely-placed and overly-large (this is the home of two foot waves and three foot rocks) rocks that populate the point. At this point, I must add that Keith, in, I’m guessing, a discussion on the beach concerning lost and broken fins, told Adam that he had also, once, lost a (complete) fin at this break; but found it at low tide, wedged between some of those wave-forming, board-dinging, wetsuit-slicing, gloveless finger-cutting rocks. Yeah, I’m listing a few of my discoveries, including, from the day before the fin-breaking/losing event, that, if you wipe out, roll under your board, smash your lower back/ass against one of those rocks, be grateful you didn’t hit your head. Add in a few too many surfers in a tight takeoff zone and… yeah, big time fun!

adamsfin

Back to Adam’s story. “And where was it?” I asked, leaning into a window to lessen the echo in the empty room.

“Where I was sitting and waiting.” Yeah.

What I had to ask Adam is whether his wife has just given up on worrying about his sanity. I mean, if I told Trish I just ‘had a feeling’ and took off to look for a lost… anything. BUT, when I read her an email from Adam, she said it was so cool that he had that sort of psychic connection, and… geez, I don’t know. Maybe she’s right; Adam does seem to get the sessions with ‘chest high’ waves while I get the none-to-one (but glassy). I am working on finishing the story of my lost paddle. Oddly, my wife, when my paddle was stuck in the pilings, said I’d get it back. She just ‘had a feeling.”

UPDATE: I’ll write about my fin-breaking, fin-losing-not-finding stuff another time. We all have stories about treasures lost or found in the ocean. I’m not sure about Adam’s psychic powers, but, what he does work on, constantly, is his network. “I heard,” he’ll say, “that it was flat on the Strait on _____” (some day I had not gone, but had been considered it). Unlike me, Adam is genuinely nice, just laughs when I make rude remarks (example: Adam- “We have to come to grips with the fact that we’ll never be really really good.” Me- “Oh, I have come to grips with the fact that you’ll never be really really good.”), remembers the names and stories of those he meets (I’m more apt to remember the stories), and doesn’t seem to offend other surfers in the water. If I’m coming back into cell phone range after a session, I’m very apt to give him a report. “None to one, but glassy.” Always. If it isn’t flat.

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