Reggie Hustles, Stephen Travels, Wipeout Schmoozes, and…

…I keep on painting.

I just told Adam “Wipeout” James, on the phone, he recounting how I ‘should have been there’ for a session Reggie Smart, who could have been painting with me, did attend. Great; all-time; yeah, yeah, yeah. I had to work. It happens. AND I hadn’t really recovered from my last outing; right ear still plugged-up.

Labor Day is coming up, real surfers have plans. Adam is headed to… oh, can’t really say where; it’s kind of an invitation-only deal somewhere on the coast. “Were you invited,” Trish asked me when I mentioned it. “No, but if I asked Adam…” “Oh, sorry, Dude, but, um, last time, friends of friends showed up and…” “Okay, I’m busy anyway. Kind of a tradition. Last time I didn’t work on Labor Day was… 1971. I had just quit Buddy’s Sign Service, in Oceanside; and was starting work with the government on Tuesday, so…” “Hey, got to go. 1971. Wow.”

Okay, so Reggie Smart, artist, tattoo artist, van restorer, frequent Hobucker, sometimes house painter (who ditched-out early to attend above-mentioned session- “Killer!” he said), is now, in coordination with Sequim/Port Angeles surfboard shaper/glasser Chris Bauer, designing and manufacturing Local Stoke wave machines.


Meanwhile, Stephen R. Davis, having survived Hurricane Lane (outside the usual hurricane lane) on the Big Island; and having helped Cap patch up the catamaran the good Captain (I’ve still never gotten a name) is trying to sell; is headed, and, with Steve, this could change; on a red eye to Seattle, ride (not with me- too late at night) to Port Townsend, work on the brakes on his van; drive to Portland to meet with Lisa, up from San Diego, and head somewhere on the Oregon/Washington coast. Again, I wasn’t invited. But, he claims he’s available to work on Tuesday. Great.

Here are a couple of shots Stephen sent from Hawaii:

MEANWHILE, I’ve got to get going; trying to finish this house before it rains.  HOPEFULLY, you have some plans for the Labor Day weekend.

Or, maybe I’m just saying I’m working so I can sneak off to some unnamed spot; not that you wouldn’t be invited; if you asked. Good luck; gotta go.

Surviving the 50th Anniversary of My 17th Birthday… and More

Swimming in to retrieve my board, so close to banging, again, against the sealife-encrusted rocks, I couldn’t help but think my fears of surfing this spot were being realized.

Not only did I lose my board on my first wave; but it was on my birthday.

Okay, really can’t say too much about the particular spot. It’s kind of a secret spot, accessible by winding roads, trails, a steep cliff, rocks; and then there’s the water; cold, bull kelp heads floating with the rising and falling of the inshore.

I did take a couple of photos of the spot. A friend, who was way out on the Olympic Peninsula, camping; and had agreed to meet me there, but, and this is not atypical; by the time I got close enough to take the photos, he was already dropping into wave after wave.

Okay, so, if I had fastened my leash before I paddled out (didn’t, because of the kelp), or had fastened it securely once I got out (they’re made to easily remove, rather awkward to put on underwater), or if I’d made the drop (the face dropped under me, I freefell) I wouldn’t have been swimming.

I’ll probably sneak the photo onto the site some time in the future.

Yeah, I did make some waves, and did wipe out a couple more times; but, with crazy indicator waves even farther out, with lines coming out of deep water; suddenly steep, scary steep; getting pitched, getting hit by the lip, getting a few quick barrels; hooting way too loud on my rides, or when watching my friend freefalling, blasting through sections… the session was, as memorable, magic ones often are, intense.

It was all pretty much over in an hour and a half or so. I had managed to save some energy for the paddle and climb and walk… and it was great. Thanks for sharing; it was my favorite birthday present.  Here’s my return present: I won’t say more about the spot. As surfer Tim Nolan, who will always be older than me, says, “If you tell people too much about surf spots, you take away their joy in discovering them.”

So, this session goes in the mental file with the time I got perfect peelers at a rare (tide/swell direction/magic factors) sand bar at Noluck, the time Crescent actually had lined-up rights (45 minutes and gone- shared with my friend Archie), a list of other outings including three hours at a Sunset Cliffs peak with Steven Penn, 1972, and… hey, go through your own list.

In surfing, I’ve long believed, we sort of pay for the gifts we receive. The thrashings, the wipeouts, the relentless impact zones, the cold (let’s throw in the crowds), the skunkings; and then… again, think about the gifts surfing has given you.

Just to calm down, and since it was my birthday and I had no strict schedule, I stopped off at a well know break on the Strait. No one was out. It was small. It was so easy.

Meanwhile, here’s the latest logo design for the DISCO BAY OUTDOOR EXCHANGE:

Image (87).jpg

Now, If Layla had said “Squintz”…

…instead of Mike, I might have figured it out. As it was, in my usual state of not knowing how to behave in any given social moment, when Tyler, at DISCO BAY OUTDOOR EXCHANGE, busy with yet-another customer, asked LAYLA if she knew me, and she said, “Yeah; I think we met at the beach… with Mike… who used to work with you (I’m still not getting it)… curly-haired Mike.”

It was, obviously, not (yet) ringing a bell.  So, I stuck out my hand; “Erwin Dence. Where you headed?”

I might not remember whatever Mike she was talking about, but I did know that, although a phantom summer swell had sneaked into the Strait a few days earlier, it was gone; smoke was back, heavy fog on the coast.

“We’re just going to go until we find waves.” “Well, um; Layla, good luck.”

I was just in Tyler’s shop to give him a copy of the logo I’d been working on (with help from my daughter, Dru), discuss possible t shirts, and, surprise, pick up a check for illustrations he had recently sold; but, it seems, every time I do go to Disco Bay, I run into someone I’ve seen at one of a number of beaches.


Oh, that Mike (I stole this from his Facebook page); Mikel “Squintz” Cumiskey; ex-Big Island surfer, ex-Florida surfer, ex-Port Townsend surfer; currently back in FLA.

Yeah, Mike did work with me; quit me… twice.  So, wait a minute; now I remember Layla. I pulled onto the beach where Squintz  (one of the best nicknames ever, given to him by Brett, who may or may not have broken the glasses he’s wearing in this photo) was taking a break. Scanning the water, there were only two surfers out, and Layla was one of them. Always conscious that any wave activity draws a crowd, I said, “She doesn’t look like a threat.” “You’re an asshole,” Mikel said. “Uh huh.”

A while later, four of us out, Mikel paddled over to me, said Layla had one of those “Oh my God” audible gasps when I’d taken off deep on a wave, and, possibly aware of the variously-sized rocks at various depths; was, possibly, concerned.

“You should consider wearing a helmet, Dude.” This was from a guy who refused to wear booties so he could ‘feel the board.’


Mikel “Squintz” Cumiskey, back in the day, down in Florida, “Feeling the board.”

MEANWHILE, here’s the logo for the front of t shirts I’m working (again, with Dru- she to add some lettering) on for Discovery Bay Outdoor Exchange. And here’s the design for the back. See you there, or out in the water.

Image (86)Image (85)

THE Stephen R. Davis and…

…his new board; the one he claims to have been ‘perving-out’ on a while. I forgot the name of the board; like, “Baby Blue,” or “Barely Legal,” or… thinking…

Stephen has been on a bit of a surf trip to the Oregon coast with his son, Emmett, and friend, Porter Hammer.

“Yeah, yeah,” you’re saying, “waht’s the story?”


Yeah, there’s a story- or three; must check on my retell status; but, with Stephen, there’s always a story. Or three- the difference between Oregon and Washington surfers, scenes in the water and a particularly interesting story involving a stranger asking Steve to buy him a beer.

Meanwhile, I’m working; sweating, smoke from fires mixed with the usual summer humidity; waiting for some sign of a swell; my surf rig loaded, my wetsuit totally toasty dry.

Okay, not talking about that right now. Not secret, just a gift; but, surfers know, wetsuits are made to get wet. Jobs can wait.

Well; sort of. There’s a certain amount of guilt.

A job that’s waiting for Steve to get back is for a husband and wife who are both Psychologists, Doctors; and, through clever questioning, we discovered that, though Stephen and I, and other surf friends, have thought we, and other surfers, might be sociopaths; the Doctor said we’re probably actually narcissists, surf addicts out for our own pleasure. What?


We want a second opinion, but we’ll have to wait until Doctor and Doctor are back from a motorcycle trip, and we’re around to ask Mrs. Doctor.

“If you wanted other surfers to have a worse time, rather than you having a better time,” Mr. Doctor said (paraphrased), “You might be sociopaths.”

Well. Relief.

Anyway, I’m thinking about how some of us are like addicts, always saying we’re going to knuckle down and be regular kinds of people (who don’t check buoy readings every hour or so, don’t keep our surf gear ready to go, don’t just sometimes go on a hunch), but, really, realsurfers don’t want to be cured.

Hey, I’m working on the theory.

As far as Stephen R. Davis; the result is- somewhere between Short Sands, and Pacific City, and Cannon Beach, and Seaside, Steve traded a board, added $200, and, yeah; brand new, forward-trim, egg.

So, back to normal; working, sweating, checking those forecasts and buoy readings. Surf addicts. Not nearly anonymous.

Logo for Disco Bay

Discovery Bay is on your way.

Oh, maybe accidentally clever. I’ve been working for a while on a logo for the DISCO BAY OUTDOOR EXCHANGE, but, yeah, if you’re going to go hiking, camping, surfing, kayaking, whatever other outdoor activity you’re addicted to, and you’re coming from just about anywhere other than the “STILL WILD” Olympic Peninsula, you probably pass through Discovery Bay.

And, another little slogan I’m claiming, once in Disco Bay, you’re “ALMOST THERE.”  If you’re passing through on a Thursday through Monday, might as well check out the new and pre-trained gear and clothing Tyler Meeks has to offer.

So, my daughter, DRUCILLA, Dru, helped immensely with this project. I wanted ‘machine’ lettering, the circle, rectangle… anyway, we went back and forth only a couple of times before…

Image (85)

…HERE’S where we’re at; and I haven’t sent this to Tyler yet, AND there might be some minor changes, but… hey, I have to go; see you around.



How I Managed to Invest *$3OO on a $35 surf rack

EMERGENCY UPDATE- I have to add this because sometimes what’s in my head isn’t on the page. SO, if my car had gutters, like the old days, I could use Aloha racks, again, like the old days. AND, if the car had those front-to-back rails on the roof, the racks I purchased from Amazon (I’m a first time buyer- Trish isn’t) would have worked.

Well, I vowed to make them work.

*The $300 is just an estimate based on the money I didn’t make working, so… asterisk.  I just wanted something to replace the soft racks I’ve been using for long enough to be on the second set. The springs on the buckle/tighteners wear out, you can back up and catch the loose straps under a tire and… rip. Yeah, both at once.

And there’s the bonus feature of rain running down from the board, down the straps, and drip, drip, drip, directly on the seat.

Or the person seated in the seat.

Actually I got the second set from my friend, Archie Endo. Thanks, Archie. And, then, because I’m cruising down the road in a 1985 Toyota Camry wagon with the straps about, max, four feet apart. Fine if you’re packing a six foot board, but, with a ten-sixer, it’s wise (and this seems even wiser when you’re facing log trucks and semis on two lane roads) to add a third tie-down.


OH, if you just can’t help but notice the bent antenna; um, yeah; bent that with the big-ass board. Radio didn’t work anyway. It did, then it didn’t want to change channels, then; and this is most likely related to when mice got into the dash board… eerkkk.

SURE, once in a while there’s an odd whine from the back speakers, once in a while some Christian channel comes out of nowhere.

Not really, kind of a variation on my belief that, if nothing else comes in on radios that otherwise work, on the way, say, in the seemingly endless boonies, heading down toward Seaside; you can always get preaching or country western.

Your choice. Now, all I have to do is cover up the bolt ends that are on the ceiling. Not a problem unless, say, a deer or cow is in the road and I hit it and/or the ditch, and then hit the overhead.  I only mention it because, well, this has happened. Different rig. Years ago, no actual bolts coming through the ceiling panels.

THEN AGAIN, that car had rain gutters.

Meanwhile, there continues to be flaaaaaaaat conditions on the Strait of Juan de Fuca; but, when a swell heads this way; I’ll be styling.

Straps. Now I’m thinking about straps.

AND, if you notice the paint cans in the driveway. Sorry; it’s painting season.

Swamis- A Novel- Introduction



Almost leaping from stair to stair, I was looking at the water, the fuzzy horizon, the lines; counting, recounting the surfers already in the water; trying to beat any other surfers who missed the true dawn patrol. It was breaking, tide dropping, swell, hopefully, increasing. It would get crowded.

Two surfers were walking toward me, toward the stairs. I wasn’t focused on them; shapes, so familiar; surfer and board, nose-up, nose-down, more-or-less crosses in the shadows of the bluff. One was walking faster, trying to catch up. “Jim,” I heard, then, more like a question, “Jim?” Then, closer to the guy in front; “Jumper.”

“Jumper,” I thought. Jumper. Now I almost focused.

Almost. It was a moment, still just a moment, between a surfer reaching for, and touching the other man’s shoulder- it was Sid, instantly recognizable, wiry and thin and bow-legged. Sid, a locally-known surfer; Surfboards Hawaii team rider; known to thrash his boards; known to take on crazy waves, to burn valley cowboys and out-of-town surfers, even Orange County magazine surf stars who cruised down 101 to trade crowd for a chance at Swamis magic- Sid, featured in a small, grainy, black and white ad in “Surfer” magazine- I must have blinked; Sid was flat-out, on his back, parallel to that line where the sand turned hard with the receding tide. His board was floating in the shallows, Jumper’s board pressed, nose-first, to his neck; Jumper’s foot on his chest.

Jumper. Fucking Jumper. He was back in town, back at Swamis, apparently out in the dark, out of the water just past dawn.

I wished I had seen him surfing, he and Sid. Now they were almost motionless, a pose, frozen. An image.

If we could just ‘backspace’ time ten seconds, not all the time, but for those moments we witnessed but couldn’t immediately process. Maybe ‘replay’ is more accurate.

Fifty years gone, I’m trying to replay moments, bits and fragments and images and strings; strings of time; so many strings; some tangled, some free.

Oh, I broke free of the North County scene years ago; lost my contacts, forgot names, confused and overlapped stories from Grandview and Pipes and Cardiff Reef. I remember specific rides among thousands; remember, almost precisely, the times I was injured; held down, hit the bottom, was hit by someone else’s board, remember specific waves; but, and I’ve tried, I can’t remember Sid’s last name.

But I remember Jumper.

In another moment, with me trying to be cool, to not look, both surfers were sitting on Jumper’s board. I think Jumper, his hair now long, longer, a beard; still recognizable, though; and probably my second surf hero from when I started surfing; was quite possibly crying, his hand now on Sid’s shoulder.

I looked away. I did what every surfer does, and always has; studied the ocean for a moment before committing; disciple before the alter.

When I looked back, from out in the water, from my lineup, the inside lineup, they were half way up the stairs. Sid was one step ahead, one above. When two guys came down, Sid, probably because he didn’t know them, or because he did, made them split up and go around.  Jumper moved behind Sid.

A set approached. Surfers who were straddling their boards proned-out, started paddling. At this tide, some of the waves from the outside peak were still connecting all the way through. The first one didn’t; the surfer lost behind a section. Two surfers went for the shoulder as I stroked past. The second wave swung wide, peaked-up on the inside. I had it to myself; another takeoff, turn, cutback, back and forth to the inside inside, fitting my board into and through that last little power pocket, peeling over the palm of the finger slabs that spread out to sea. Swamis.