Archie Endo, Strait Surfer and Retro Maniac, needs some prayers and…

…whatever wishes those who don’t pray can offer. The Strait of Juan de Fuca longboarder, known for long rides on long walls, the Japanese-American guy with the classic American cars, ten foot boards, the parallel stance, knee paddling into waves from tiny to slightly-bigger, who can milk a wave at Archie’s Reef from the boil to the river; yeah, that guy, is in a hospital in Bangkok, in need of an operation on his brain.

Information is sketchy, but the situation seems dire. Archie, who learned to surf in his native Japan, and, in a show of independence, never had an interest in shortboarding, was raised a Buddhist, no doubt, but is willing to embrace all religious experiences. As part of our ritual in heading for surf together, particularly when going down those winding curves on 112, I’d cross myself, traditional Catholic symbol, with an extra throwout of my right hand;  just for a little extra; and Archie would repeat the gesture.

First, waves; then, size; then, lack of side or onshore wind; then, lack of crowd; then, maybe, a little more size. “It looks… surfable.”

Archie, a salmon roe expert, has been around the world working in the industry; and, for the last two years, has been working in Thailand, with a recent and prolonged sidetrip to Mozambique; coming back to Discovery Bay once or twice a year. This was a big break for him, part of a larger plan. Hopefully this is just a setback. I love going surfing with him; his mellow attitude (oh, he’ll go for a wave) seems to balance my own non-mellowness.

2013 photos 407

Yeah, that guy; Atsushi “Archie” Endo. Offer what good thoughts, and prayers you can to whatever gods you believe in. “I think this day, maybe it wasn’t quite ‘surfable.’ Or maybe this is a lull.

UPDATE 9/27: Archie may have suffered a stroke, fallen, hit his head. He was able to move, good sign, semi-conscious, but unable to speak as of the last report.

UPDATE 9/28: According to Facebook, with a lot of his friends from around the world commenting and ‘liking,’ word coming from Archie’s daughter, Lillian, is that he won’t need an operation; he still can’t speak, but has been able to smile; so, maybe the trauma is relaxed a bit, but the drama continues.  I was working with our mutual friend Stephen Davis yesterday; couldn’t help but recall a few Archie adventures. Steve, who has actually known Archie longer, Lillian being the same age as Stephen’s son, Emmett, spoke of a trip he and Archie made to a difficult-to-access rivermouth break on the Strait that helped solidify their friendship. I can’t help remember the first time I saw Archie, one of those mid-winter crystal days, the only one out, knee-paddling into a peak, standing up, dropping-in, turning into the face, riding it all the way to the shorebreak. Not having surfed the place for twenty years or so, I ran over to meet him. Having worked in Alaska for months, this was Archie’s season. “I take a break,” he said, “then I go back out. And you?” “Can’t wait.”   And I can’t wait for our next session.

Fully-Packed Realsurfers Coloring Book Ready for… you

THE LATEST version has 56 drawings, ready to color. AGAIN, I didn’t draw with a coloring book in mind until recently, and, perhaps, I’m now simplifying the lines a bit, allowing a bit more blank space. MOSTLY it’s a way to get my work to an audience that probably has walls filled with surf photos, posters, paintings; coffee tables stacked with coffee table surf books, shelves, maybe boxes filled with old surfing magazines.

HERE are a few examples:

This is a slightly-altered version of a drawing already posted. Trish asked me if it was a woman or a man. "She needs a little more... definition." Okay.

Image (24)Image (31)Image (41)Image (46)Image (63)realsurfersrealsurfers

Image (86)Image (89)Image (88)Image (90)Image (83)Image (84)Image (79)Image (78)Image (71)Image (81)Image (80)Image (70)Image (77)Image (72)Image (76)Image (67)Image (73)Image (61)Image (60)Image (59)Image (55)Image (54)Image (53)Image (51)Image (50)Image (47)Image (45)Image (43)Image (37)Image (36)Image (32)Image (30)Image (27)Image (26)insidebreakSliderImage (15)realsurfersSteveAlone 001realsurferstriptychoptional 001realsurfers 009realsurfers 006realsurfers 002realsurferssurf_imagerealsurfersrealsurfers 002realsurfersColorTwo 001cropped-realsurfers-001.jpgrealsurferstitleTrish 001surfcultureeventsecond 001realsurferscrystalballcolor 001

OKAY, I added a couple of colored-in drawings two that aren’t in the book, kind of as an example. I’m still figuring out how to market the book. Sales is not anywhere near my comfort zone. I’m checking out Paypal, getting some copies ready to, hopefully, sell at the Surfrider Cleanwater Surf Contest in Westport in a couple of weeks.  The plan is to contribute a couple of bucks from each one to the Olympic Peninsula Chapter. We’ll see. MEANWHILE, I’d be happy to mail an autographed copy to anyone willing to send $20.00 to Erwin Dence, P.O. Box 148, Quilcene, Wa. 98376.  OR, maybe you can contact me at

Thrashed, Trashed, Clipped, Rocked and Rolled at (naming names) Seaside

If you roll up to the parking area at Seaside Cove and notice the wind isn’t howling, the sun is out, full force, the waves are… well, it’s a little hard to judge because no one is out, and you… stop. No one is out; take that as a hint. It isn’t a secret spot, and, a couple of days after Labor Day, there still should be some long weekenders hitting it; and it was just about time for after-workers, locals, soft top renters, someone.

Rather than heading out from the sand-bottom of the Cove, I was going to save myself the paddle out through a hundred yards or so of waves, wavelets, chop from previous winds, a northwest swell mixed and comboed with the chop, sidechop bouncing off the rocks… yeah, the rocks; I would pass the confusion, slip down the dry rocks to the slippery ones and ease in, past the confusion, straight out to the lineup.

Such as there is a lineup. I would pick off a few lefts, maybe, close to the rocks, some of those rights that peak, offer a drop, and an exit; staying away from the lefts that drop you off in the impact zone. Yeah, and maybe I’d head up toward the Point; I mean, like, this time there weren’t any Locals out to be irritated, and, from the still-dry rocks, it did look like there might be a few zingers out there.

NOW, let me explain the rocks. Boulders, really, each one seemingly planted erect, like an obelisk, few lying sideways, as one would think they should; rather like a field of boulders, not dropping off quickly into deeper water, but more rocks farther out; and, with one foot wedged between this monument and another, my leash wrapped around another, somewhere behind me, I discover I’m nowhere near a place where the waves aren’t hitting.


Fifteen minutes, or so, later, I had moved my van over across from the bathrooms/shower, changed to my shorter-but-stronger leash, one that probably wouldn’t rip loose from my ankle like the other one did, and was back out, through the wavelets and waves and cross-chop. Somewhere in the time I was regrouping, deciding whether to go back out or go back to my Dad’s house in Chinook, two other surfers had come out.

I caught a wave, nice peak, dropped in, didn’t make my decision on which way to go in time. Bloop. Regroup; paddle back out, just in time to be just inside of one of the two surfers to drop into a head high wall just in front of me. BLOOP! “Sorry, man.”

“No problem,” he said.  A few moments later he said, “I have to give you credit. I was watching, through the binocs; you took a thrashing; didn’t give up.” Self-identified as a 25 year local, Jason (this is after I explained I only surf Seaside when I’m visiting my Dad, and usually surf the way-more-in-control waves in the Strait) gave me a few tips on clearing the rocks, like, maybe, wait for a lull. “Lull, yeah. Thanks.” “You know,” he said, “all my friends have surfed in the Strait; I’ve never been.” “Well; maybe when you get, you know, older.”

Mostly I was grateful to get some kind of props for trying to recover from the worst thing on a real surfer’s worry list, looking awkward/gooney/kookish/out of control; way worse than wiping out, blowing a takeoff on the wave of the day (no, that’s worse, if only slightly). Adding witness to either of the above-mentioned terrors compounds the event.

So, I caught another left, with Jason inside to witness something less kook-like; dropped while driving, got into a great position on the wall, then got clipped, just barely, by the lip, and… BLOOP! Roll. Regroup. Blow more water out of my sinuses. A few more waves, a couple of closeouts, a right that hit deep water and vanished; and a long wave, made the drop, drove through a tube, hit the open face, slid into a turn, went for another… BLOOP!

Now I was caught inside, well into the miles of beachbreak between the Cove and the Columbia. It was enough. When I got back to my van, there were two people fooling around in the near-shore reforms, and, squinting toward the horizon, fields of rocks and Jason was nowhere to be seen.

ADDENDUM- When you have a tough session, all one wants to do is make up for it the next time. I was planning on going the next day, maybe somewhere else, but was actually in the area to paint my Dad’s addition; and I had to get back home. My friend, Hydrosexual Stephen Davis, and his son Emmett, came down during the night, checked out Seaside the next morning. Overhead, waves breaking on the horizon, northwest wind. “You aren’t missing anything,” Steve said on the phone. Later he and Emmett hiked down to one of the secluded coves, paddled out to some low tide closeouts. “Worth it, Steve?” “Yeah.” That’s when, in retrospect, one decides a couple of nearly-made tubes might be counted as a success. But, next time…

Woman (actually) Surfing Illustration

I was showing someone the first run of the RealSurfers Coloring Book, and couldn’t help but notice; probably because he pointed it out, that I have quite a few illustrations of women, but only one of a woman surfing. I almost said a girl surfing, and, in fact, did title this “Girl (actually) Surfing Illustration.” Whoops.

It’s part of the myth/fantasy/history/tradition, I guess; and, having just hit 65 years of age, I probably should also stop thinking I’m not 46 years or so removed from being anything like a surfer boy. Surfer Girl, Surfer Boy; nope, doesn’t even sound proper.

This is a slightly-altered version of a drawing already posted. Trish asked me if it was a woman or a man. "She needs a little more... definition." Okay.

This is a slightly-altered version of a drawing already posted. Trish asked me if it was a woman or a man. “She needs a little more… definition.” Okay.

Still, I do prefer a woman who surfs with flow and grace; Margo Godfrey Oberg, Jericho Poppler, Stephanie Gilmore; and, sure, throw in a few carves and power moves… no matter how manly a ‘man hack’ sounds, it’s all done on water. Water. Woman.

This week, men and women, boys and girls; I’m promising myself that I’ll get to the Printery. Not Monday; it’s a holiday, and I do have to go down to my Dad’s, and I do have a lot of work… this week.

“I heard the generators humming…

…the ones that, you know, make the waves.” Having just made it out through the shorebreak and the impact zone, the only-somewhat-younger man was directing the comment to the oldest surfer in the lineup.

No answer. The oldest surfer was scanning the horizon, blinking in the glare as he checked the indicators, a bump to the south, a change in color in the kelp beds. “I mean,” the younger surfer said, loud enough for the others to hear; the alpha, closest to the point, those too far up to make a wave when the next set comes; those sitting on the shoulder, some afraid to challenge (the bigger waves or the three or four most-competitive surfers), others eagerly awaiting that wave where someone falls on the takeoff, gets taken out by the first section. “I mean, you, you must’ve heard them… you know, when you could hear and shit. I mean… I think, I think I hear them… now. You?”

There were no sets approaching.  Even the dominant surfer of the moment, the alpha, looked over for an answer. After a moment, his back to the horizon, the answer came:


I’ve heard the click and clack of an albatross, the subtle swoop of pelicans skimming updrafts, heard seagulls argue,  whales sing and seals bark;    I’ve heard thunder roll and crack, heard the music of rain on moving water, I’ve heard rocks grind and sand squeal; I have heard the squall and the growl and the stadium roar of waves, the boos, the ‘no, no, no;’ and the hiss, and the whistle; and sometimes, I’ve heard the low whisper, ‘okay, okay, okay;’ and sometimes,  even rarer, the laughter. And… more. But, the generators…”

The oldest surfer out looked to the north horizon. A cargo ship, outbound. He closed his eyes and listened. They all listened, though for just a moment, the moment the oldest surfer, quietly, stroked ten yards over, turned, just the other side of the peak, and took off.