If You Wait, On the Strait…

…AND you know the proper trail to take; well, maybe you might not get skunked.

I would like to take some ownership of the phrase, “Lucky or Local.”  I’ve been both in the, wait, doing the math, um, carry the three, uh, 54 years since I started board surfing; and, while being a local isn’t as wonderful as it seems to someone stuck inland- I’m lying; it’s great- catching those little pockets of time and space and place non-locals miss- great.

It’s not like being a local isn’t without it’s  own frustrations; working at a house on the bluff above Stone Steps on a slippery-glass afternoon, knowing school is about to let out and the crowd will then include hyper-charged teens, seeing a car empty out four surfers who wouldn’t have gone to this particular peak if you weren’t on it.

It’s the Dawn Patrol syndrome. If you get somewhere first, say, and it’s good; it somehow seems more frustrating every time some new surfer or surfers paddle out. In the Last Light version, surfers are leaving, others hanging in until every little chop seems like a fin, another entity sharking the lineup.

The bigger frustration is, if you are a local, and you just can’t surf (the list of reasons is long- sickness, injury, work, work, work), you know exactly what you’re missing.


And, I should mention that, when I was a local in Pacific Beach, I wasn’t a local in Mission Beach, or Ocean Beach, or Sunset Cliffs, or Windansea; the status is pretty much non-transferable.

I started writing this to, I must confess, complain about my latest skunking, in which the buoy readings at 5:30 were good enough to make a trip not seem utterly foolish, but deteriorated as I got closer. Result; I’m waiting in an empty pullout, with the weakest version of waves sort of wandering toward shore, shapelessly, aimlessly. “Maybe… after the tide bottoms out.” “Maybe the angle will improve.”

Or maybe not.

Anecdotally, I could have, using what I know of the fickle nature of the Strait and of the times I have found rideable waves on similar tide/angle/period/wind situations; scored.  That would have been great. Score.  I didn’t. I did do some waiting, then went to the time-honored surf routine of checking other spots.

Nope. I did see a group of women preparing to launch a large kayak, I did see pretty much every cop in Clallam County at a scene (pretty close to a sometimes-surf spot) where they arrested a suspect in a triple homicide, did check out another spot with Chimacum Tim (the only other surfer I saw on the Strait, other than a couple who left ten seconds after reaching a place on the trail where they could see there were no waves at a spot Tim and I were checking from the actual beach), who, trying to get some waves in on his soon-to-end vacation, insisted he was almost-sore from surfing the previous day.

“Yeah; should have been here…” Yesterday.

So, in one of the few zones where cell reception is possible, I rechecked the buoys. It was a definite ‘probably not,’ but the next buoy south… the angle… the tide would be better.

Double Skunk.

Rationalize. “It’s better than working.” “Next time… for sure.”

For sure. Next time.

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