A few samples:
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:
I was trying to find an address in the North Beach area of Port Townsend, thought I’d recheck a shingle-sided house I had bleached and pressure-washed a few months back to get a better idea on what to propose for painting the trim.
There was a truck with a boat on a trailer and an SUV parked in front of the fence. WAIT, there’s a surfboard on the SUV; a flashy board (looking at it from the side- radically upswept nose, canted bonzer fins, two on each side, longer fin in the middle). Has to belong to a ripper. Radical. This was a couldn’t-pearl (even on a heavy pitcher), late-drop, free-fall, catch-and-climb, drive-and-swoop, pro-level unit.
NOW I had to find out who owned this board.
AND I DID. Ripper? Pro? Actually, no. In the question-and-answer, first-meeting-scenarios between (supposed, alleged, self-identified) surfers, where no one truly believes the other person is really a surfer (even if he or she fits perfectly into one’s image of one) unless he or she has personally witnessed him or her actually riding waves; I can tend to be a bit, um, aggressive.
And then throw in the sarcasm, sometimes-biting repartee I’ve learned and developed over many years; a trait (or skill) I’ve been trying to cut back on…and. when the owner of the board, the 40ish son of the owners of the house, said he wasn’t kidding (backed-up by his Mom) that he’d just started surfing, like, two weeks ago…
…and just when I was trying so hard to quit the sarcasm, to occasionally hold back on making the snarky observation, the possibly-rude assessment. “Two weeks, huh? Well…”
OKAY, so here’s my latest drawing: Picture it on a t shirt.
What? What do you mean by that?
I have two more silkscreens from the latest batch of works I had scanned and reduced at The Printery in Port Townsend. Yeah, more from the stash of 1980s works stored in my attic; but my home scanner refuses to fully cooperate. Oh, it’ll do the first one, but then… failure after failure; lots of red Xes. Start over.
So, here’s a drawing of Dylan I never turned into a silkscreen, and a reduced version of a silkscreen that, you might notice, could have been more tightly presented if the above-mentioned scanner would have just… yes, I am aware it’s not squared. The drawing is. Really.
CONFESSION: Part of the reason I never moved this drawing on to the silkscreen process, cutting background run images out of rubylith, is I was never quite totally pleased with it. So, this morning, on one of the 8 1/2 by 11 versions Liz provided me, I took out part of the top dark line. Bob needed to be freed-up to go beyond the borders.
I don’t seem to have the original of the second illustration. I did have a full-sized photo positive, but, unlike some of the others I had, a slight stain on part of it did not allow the image to be saved. But, I do have several of the original serigraphs, so… uncropped… it is:
More to come, plus, maybe a surf story, maybe about how surfing in a crowd (I just had to go to Tacoma and Seattle- haven’t recovered, George Takamoto, who I picked up at the airport, might never recover- “You drive like a maniac!” “Yes, but you knew that.”) is most similar to driving in city/freeway conditions; one false move and the merciless road/wave hogs will cut you off, pass you by, fade you back into the pit. Yeah, overwrought; like this; like George got when I texted on Hwy 16, spilled his just-purchased groceries in the back of the van on Hwy 3. Sorry, George.
Okay, I was once introduced to someone riding to the beach with Tugboat Bill with the line, “Erwin is merciless in the water.” No, not really; but, put me in traffic where I’m not sure of the lineup and the exits, and… see what I mean?
DURN, checking out the camera at La Push, got a shot of, I swear, Big Dave, cranking a Big Dave bottom turn; but, when I tried to copy it, durn, too late. It’s probably him paddling back out here. Go, Dave!
Because my old illustrations and silk screened pieces were on paper, albeit to big for the regular copiers at Port Townsend’s Printery (shout out), the alternative method of having to photograph and scan them (at around $50 a pop) was, um, circumvented by using the scanner/printer usually used for blueprints.
When Liz revealed she could scan color, send the image to a computer, then, yes, print… Yea!
These are two from my most recent attack. I have more. Yes, they’re from the 1980s, and, yes, as was pointed out to me, the bathing suit bottom gives this away.
Sorry, too late to update. Maybe board shirts and a t-shirt? I’ll work on that.
Okay, the lines outside the illustration are from my scanner. No time to re-scan.
When I have the time to write, I probably write too much. Since I didn’t work on Sunday, aided by my typing skills, I went on and on; probably should have broken it into two (or three) pieces. Now, I know you don’t have a lot of time to read, BUT, if you do get a bit, check out my previous posting. Again; thanks.
I’m trying to ‘square up’ some of the copies I made from contact prints of drawings from the 1980s. Having a scanner that refuses to help doesn’t, um, help. I added the lettering on the drawings of the two women, only added a border on the “Over the Rainbow” illustration.
In no particular order, I thought I’d give some highlights from some recent surf sessions. Bear in mind I have a certain obligation, not merely imagined, to never ever mention anything that comes close to confirming there are ever good waves on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
This isn’t difficult. The predominant swell condition is flat. This is undeniable. When waves do show up, the winds that blow into or out of the rather narrow passageway can, east or west, seriously scallop the faces. Rapid tidal shifts and the very angle of wave-to-coast can add to rip/drag conditions; and, since we all check out the same forecasts, and because semi-optimal conditions are sort of rare (rare-ish), and each of us has our own formula of size/angle/tide/period/wind, even the slight chance of waves over a foot high brings, yes, crowds; frustrated, desperate surfers of all ages and abilities ready to head out into…
…waves surfers on most coasts would pass on, or wait out, hoping for something a bit cleaner, bigger, better. There have been major skunkings; lines of Westfalias, camper-laden trucks, SUVs with tiny boards stuffed inside, RVs, work rigs, Mad Max vehicles with stacks of various-sized equipment; families, church groups, surfers on dates, power couples, buddy-groups of four or five; beginners and rippers, lone wolf dudes in guaranteed cool surf wear; all cooking up breakfast on little burners, or chatting with someone they know from the Udub, or looking for a (better) place to park; all asking about other spots, all looking out at the water; too many people bobbing around and too few waves. Or none. Or sub-epic.
There is no guaranteed formula. Really. If there was… shit, it’d be worse.
STILL, stories persist of persistent surfers waiting, waiting, and scoring; OR, better, getting somewhere just before it goes off. WHAT? Where? When?
HEART ATTACK: If I suffer one, it’ll be when I do see what passes for great surf in these parts. I have, in the fairly recent past, in my haste to partake, left my shirts (we layer ’round here) on the hood of my car (and/or a window or door open) in a downpour (forcing me to shop on the way home wearing a pervy barn coat), yelled out exclamations that would make an Australian blush (sorry kids, sorry Mrs. Nolan, sorry church groups) and, partially because I am notoriously slow getting into my wetsuit (doubles as stretching/warmup), urinated way before I reached the water.
And, even when I tell myself (and others in the water) that I’m going to “be casual,” I rarely am.
BAD ASSES AND SURF ASSESSMENT: We all have stories of past glories. I quit telling some of mine because, yeah, if I surfed (un or less crowded) Swamis in the 60s, Trestles (parking at Lowers) in the 70s, big days at Windansea and Sunset Cliffs, shouldn’t I surf, um, uh, better?
Doesn’t seem to matter. It might just be, in each of our minds, with one or more asterisks next to our mental wikipedia page, we rip. This is fine. That is, I won’t call you out if you don’t call me out.
Recently, trying to time my arrival after the overnight-and-hanging west wind died down, I got to a not-secret spot with the tide way too low, waves at the indicators, the wind still howling, and twelve surfers in the lineup. Picture a line of black marker buoys, like those for crab pots, left to right. Because I know some of the folks hanging out or waiting around, I took my time, chatted it up. By the time I paddled out there were nine surfers, then seven. When I moved over from the rights, I was the only one out. I found a few good ones in the mix, did a lot of paddling, got out of the water. So, no one was surfing.
There was a group of about five surfers hanging out kind of close to my car as I limped up the beach. “Everyone’s a badass on the beach,” I said. “How come you badasses aren’t out there?” “Good on you,” one of them said, “you got some waves.” “Uh huh.” “We were waiting for one more badass.”
NOTE: This didn’t actually translate into them wanting to hang with me, artifact from a century these dudes barely remember.
I took a break, talked to some other surfers I know, met Jeff’s son. And, though there were many coolly-decked-out surfers on the beach, no one was out. Because, partially, I had to pee and didn’t want to take off my wetsuit (okay, mostly because I couldn’t get my wetsuit off without peeing) and I wanted a few more waves, I went back out. I surfed alone for about twenty minutes. The wind had calmed down. It was better.
Then Jeff came out, and his son. Then, suddenly, it seemed, there were, again, twelve (different) surfers in the lineup. Then the wind came back up. One more ride to the fence. And another last ride. Limp up the beach. I had a little discussion with Darrin and Melissa on how good it got the last time I saw him at this spot, AFTER I left; about the time Adam Wipeout and Chimacum Cam (as opposed to Timacum Chimacum) showed up. I hit the road for Costco and home. I passed at least four surf rigs on the way; more surfers hoping to be there when it got good. The wind, as far as I know, kept blowing as the swell dropped.
STILL, I don’t know what happened the next day. Might’ve been epic. Someone will have a story. UPDATE- Yeah, better, allegedly.
TUGBOAT BILL: I’ve run into him often through the years. He introduces me to others as someone who is “Absolutely ruthless in the water.” “No, no,” I insist, checking out the stranger. Most recently he had Mr. Smythe (sp?) with him, and asked if I knew what surfer would be pulling onto 104 from Center Road in a gray pickup. I didn’t know. It turns out the very pickup was in the parking area. “Let’s go see who the hell he is,” I said. It turns out he’s a fisherman, formerly from Maine (as I remember) wondered how he could keep from getting skunked coming to the Strait. “Can’t help you, kid,” Bill said. “Do you check the buoys?” “Buoys?” “Hmm. Can’t help you, kid.” All I said is, “Buoys.”
CONCRETE PETE: Another old guy, though not as old as me. On the day from the previous story, after the three surfers who dawn-patrolled got out of the water in, pretty-much, defeat (including Bruce, the ‘Mayor of Hobuck’, according to Adam Wipeout, some guy White Reggie identified as the owner of several pot shops in P.A., and some guy Reggie said was known to be confrontational in the water) I ended up (because I hate getting skunked) surfing alone on some one footers.
Thinking this was it, and because it didn’t seem to be raining, I got out, got dressed, was ready to go to work. Then the waves got a bit bigger. I put on my other wetsuit (Yes, I do own two- so worth it), went back out. Again, people who were waiting (including Tugboat Bill and Mr. Smythe and the fisherman) also went into the water. Double session.
When I was getting out, I saw a truck backed up to the berm, some guy, struggling to get into his wetsuit, yelling at me. By name. Unable to determine who it was in the glare, I decided I should approach. It was Concrete Pete, and, perhaps thinking it was 1964 and he was Miki Dora, he shot me a B.A. All in good fun. “And that’s my best side,” he said as I turned away. NOTE: Bare ass; variously described as mooning. Full mooning.
“Did you see anything you didn’t want to see?” Trish asked when I told her the story. “I didn’t want to see any of it.”
TOM BURNS: Tom is very close to my age, a lifelong surfer, and he’s on my short list of people to call to discuss the latest session and/or skunking. The last time I called he was on I-5, en route to Dana Point, hoping to score some pre-dawn sessions down that way. If you think I’m a name dropper, you should talk to Tom. if you think I have stories… again, Tom. If you do, he’ll probably remember your name.
THIS is way too long. I want to write about how someone accused me of being a ‘surf whore.’ No, I’m not sure what it means, either. I do admit to being a ‘paint-whore,’ and, if this means I’ve somehow sold out, no, sorry; haven’t had any real offers. If it means I’m selling out local spots; no; not really. Oh, except Westport. Go there. Go there now.
I ALSO want to write about surf thieves. Someone broke into Stephen Davis’s storage unit, stole his tools, his kite surfing equipment. AND, evidently, someone had a board stolen while (from what I’ve heard) parked on one of those side roads leading to a remote surf spot. LATER on that subject, but, if there is any Surfer’s Code, it definitely doesn’t include stealing. The occasional mooning? Up for debate.
I’m adding to some of the drawings from the 1980s I recently found in my attic. More coming. Yeah, kind of like waves.
I had to crawl around in the attic, trying to find some obvious sign of a short circuit. Didn’t find it (which means it’s somewhere in a wall, or, I’m suspecting, the light fixture I installed- had to quit looking to go surfing), but did find some old artwork.
During my tenure at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (a transfer there got me here from San Diego), I got into the sign shop (I had, after all, started out as a sign painter apprentice, 1969, Oceanside). While there, I took advantage of having a drawing board to, well, draw.
Most of the drawings started out on 17 by 22 inch paper, too big for most printers, but, because I was also doing posters (and I grabbed any artsy projects that came in- keggers, picnics, that kind of civil service boondoggle), I took advantage of the shipyard photo lab to get illustrations photographed.
I do have some surviving silk screened posters (if they are artsy, I’d prefer to say serigraphs) as well as some (and, sadly, not very many) originals. These are SOME of the contact prints I had in a padded envelope inside a now-moldy box. They are all pre-1990 (when I left the shipyard), and, if there is a difference in my style, and I would say there’s been some (maybe) development, if not (necessarily) improvement. The bigger difference is that I took a lot of time on each illustration, lunchtimes, breaks, and, I think I mentioned, I had a Civil Service job.
Many of the contact prints are too small, the detail too dark. I’m going to get them blown, hoping to open up some light between the lines. We’ll see.
When I took some of the prints to show my friends, Trish became very possessive of some of the drawings of Victorian houses in Port Townsend I did, claiming I’d ruin them somehow. I didn’t, but, in the excitement of seeing waves, I did leave my shirt on the hood of my car. And then it rained. You know how soft racks leak onto car seats in heavy rain? No, the drawings came through it, but I got to go to Safeway with no shirt and a heavy, pervert-esq coat. Yes, fully zipped.
So, here are a couple of examples. I want to say “Portraits from the Artist as a Young(er) Man.” So, each one, and there will be more, is over 28 years old.
I have been doing some Olympic Peninsula-specific landscape drawings lately, and I’m trying to get a few more done before (and, hopefully available at) the HamaHama Oysterama coming up the weekend around the 21st, down (or up, maybe even over) Surf Route 101.
Here’s something I did for the Disco Bay Outdoor Exchange. And, incidentally, Discovery Bay seems to be the happening spot, so near the confluence of highway 20, 104, and Surf Route 101. Tyler Meeks offers all kinds of gear for skiing, hiking, surfing; all the outdoor activities one can participate in on the ‘still wild’ Peninsula. AND clothing; so much easier than perusing the Goodwill or paying full boat.
Since, and probably because Trish hates the Captain Sketchee character, I went a little whole hog (and I may not be done with the good Captain).
and ready for more.
More what? More whatever; as long as it doesn’t require running or excessive sweating. No, and he’s done with nude beach volleyball (something about the leaping). He is educated (and he can list his credentials), opinionated, and ready to discuss several non-urgent, not-really-controversial topics in any one of several casual settings, including surf beaches and/or surf-adjacent parking areas.
“They’re called car parks in much of the world,” is just one of many pieces of info he’s willing to share. Plus, Captain Sketchee has an encyclopedic knowledge of pretty much every wave he rode from 1963 to 1968, the year he used his Uncle’s influence to get into the Coast Guard Auxiliary, just the start of his auxiliary naval career (the ‘Captain’ is strictly honorary).
“Yes, I hot-dogged the outside section, did a spinner, dropped a BA, cheater-fived right past one of those kooks on a 7’6″ garage soul ‘experimental’ board, did a soul arch and a standing Hawaiian in the shorebreak; Tamarack, September 17, 1967. Ebbing tide, afternoon session, fourteen completed rides, one swim, three ‘call offs,’ one verbal exchange, one deferred confrontation on the beach. Early cloud cover.”
The Captain is also known to distribute sage insight such as: “I probably should have made a few friends along the way, but… friends, inevitably, want to share a wave. One (I’ve found that, if he says ‘one,’ he probably means himself) evidently, has to be willing to go alone. All alone.” This might be followed by, “No one drops in on someone he or she (rather than using the more common, less elegant ‘they’) respects, so, blast it all, why’d you totally flamin’ burn me?”
“I don’t think I ‘totally flamin’ burned’ you, Captain; you blew the takeoff on the previous wave, missed two before that; I just… maybe I just lost faith. Sorry, I said ‘previous.’ Maybe ‘preceding’ might have been a better choice. What say you?”
CAPTAIN’S LOG- Surf Date, 03/11/18. Secret spot of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Muddy parking area/pullout. Very small reef break. Sunny but East wind side chop. Four completed rides. One semi-barrel. Two drop-ins. One verbal situation. One shared ride. One confrontation diffused. Going to Westport tomorrow. Ample parking.
Yeah, okay; I was just going to post the photo. Got to go.