Either You Froth…

 …or you don’t.  This may be a distinguishing feature of all real surfers.  Anyone can enjoy the basic beauty of a perfectly formed, peeling wave.  Basic. Beauty. Energy made visible, even violent; distant wind, steady or sudden; moving, pushing, transferring its power to the water; disorganized bundles hitting other forces, tides, waves from other winds; traveling, deepening, overcoming smaller swells…

 …and when they approach land, fingers and hands, points and beaches, land that has been formed by other forces, shaped by constant batterings; these lines that are the pulse, the heartbeat of the oceans, one-every-five-seconds become one-every-fifteen, four per minute…

 …and then…

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 You can probably clearly remember picking waves out of a stormy and blown-out ocean, telling your friends, or just yourself, what you’d do on that wave (presuming you could even get out).  “That one!  That one! See?”

There have been moments where seeing waves hit some indicator, outside or up the beach; paddling over the shoulder, twenty yards out from the peak, where the witnessing of the beauty of the lighting and the varied-if-not-perfect symmetry of a breaking wave is enough…

 …almost.

 

There are moments where watching a friend drop from the other side of a peak, drop-and-drive, disappear for a tick, or three, under the break, and emerge… or even not, and you’re crashing through a lip, looking toward the next wave, hoping you can paddle fast enough to line up on a hoped-for second or third wave in the set; some times that view, sharing the joy, is enough… almost.

You might just be screaming as loud as the person in the tube. 

That’s part of the joy.  You know that joy.  I’ve never met a real surfer, no matter how cool, who won’t break into a near giggle-fit at the sight of a wave… this wave, that wave, ‘that one! That one! See!”

 Hey, it’s INTERNATIONAL SURFING DAY! Feel free to FROTH OUT!

 

 

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Jaime Lannister Comments on “The Code”

PERHAPS it was because I had just watched the finale of “Game of Thrones” that I got so excited when I got a comment from a James Lannister on my last posting. I wrote about how I can’t write about sessions and spots and forecasting techniques, or about decent waves or awesome sessions. Though I didn’t mention that there is a sort of code about revealing too much about surf on the Strait of Juan de Fuca; I have, over time, become more and more aware that there is one.  Maybe.

WAIT; just like the fictional character, Jaime Lannister; only, um, whoa/wow, real?

SO, rather than leave the comment in the commentary, which, evidently WordPress makes it difficult to actually submit, I decided to include it here; my comments on Mr. Lannister’s comments in parentheses. HERE:

Blogs and Instagrams which withhold a classic surf shot in hopes of not breaking the code and maintaining status amongst (note how it’s the more British-ee ‘amongst’ rather than the more mundane ‘among’) certain media darlings (maybe this is because I’ve started referring to Adam Wipeout James as a media darling- which he is) and the local(s) that live in the woods but post content clearly implying epic surf and epic surf of daring adventures (I think he meant ‘and’ daring adventures) out of state or country is an interesting scenario. One could argue there is more allure in tales lacking photographic evidence than posting the damn photo itself, thus attracting more casual wave seekers. (then there’s a smiley face- I do wonder if there’s a ‘tongue in cheek’ emoji).

jaimeLannisterTwins“So, you’re telling me, that, maybe, when the tide comes in; there might or might not be, waves?  Tidal push, you say? Very well; it’s not as if I can call someone.  I don’t even seem to have a ‘roaming’ option, and all the locals and the pretenders, not that I can tell one from the other; keep saying stuff like, “If you see waves; you had best surf said rollers,” or, “Winter’s coming;” shite like that.  Oh, yes; board bags and Westphalians. Noted.

“When I inquire as to the availability of other, possibly better wave locations, and access to these rumored breaks; I keep hearing about ‘the code.’  The code?

“And, again, to be clear; you also seem to be quite critical of my custom wetsuit armor, designed for close quarters combat.  It served me well at Rincon and Trestles… Sir Dude of the Clan of the tree-dwellers.  But, no; I will not bend a knee to your house or your banner; ‘Lib-tech or die,’ indeed.  Um, so; when is high tide, again?”

OH, I hope this doesn’t add to the allure of the wild Strait of Juan de Fuca area for more casual wave seekers.  That might be a code violation.  Thanks, James Lannister, for reading realsurfers.

Four Days Strait

OKAY, If I choose to write about surfing, surf culture, real surfers along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, I can, because it’s America (one day from Memorial Day, and the official start to outdoor grilling season), I can say pretty much whatever I want.  Freedom.  YEAH, well; then there’s popular sentiment and, I must admit, some self-centered reasons for not writing EVERYTHING.

HERE’S what I can’t write about: CAN’T name spots, even those pretty much everyone who has ever surfed the Strait knows; CAN’T publish photos of any waves over one foot (should these photos even exist); CAN’T divulge tide/wind/swell direction formulas (mine or any one else’s) for determining best chances to avoid getting skunked (even if not getting skunked means, merely, getting some of those previously-mentioned one footers); CAN’T besmirch or demean any local surfers by name or, even, by giving away clues as to the identity of said locals (and I’m not defining or arguing your definition of locals here).

In the non-writing category, the main no-no is calling up your buddy from some spot with one footers sloppily lapping on rocky shores (and, hopefully, you’re being charged Canadian roaming fees, with tariffs), with a ‘Hey, Hipster-Bud, High-Bank is just f’ing firing. Calf-high sets. No, really. How long it might take you to get here from Gold Bar? No, I don’t know about the ferry backup or if the Hood Canal Bridge is closed, or if 101 is closed due to an accident, or if downed trees are blocking 112. Sheet, man; I’m just trying to get you some waves.”

It is kind of okay to tell surf stories and reveal surf secrets to people who have no real interest in ever challenging you for a set wave; and it’s kind of okay to brag about your latest surf exploits to a few friends, AFTER THE FACT.

Most of these ‘can’ts’ are, admittedly, self-serving.  Surfing is just sooooo cool.  I don’t mind (or fear) saying that.  I don’t want MORE SURFERS in the water; some of them, undoubtedly, ready to get pissed-off because someone might be getting more tiny tubes than they are.  Or many more.

ANOTHER ARGUMENT for not sharing is that it takes away from the joy one will feel when discovering these things for him or herself.  YEP, there’s nothing like the thrill of hiking through the woods, down a slippery trail, only to find… nothing.  NEXT TIME.

ANYWAY, I will reveal two of my secrets: If Keith goes camping or Adam makes a stealth run; there will be something.  A problem there is, they might not (probably won’t) let me know until it’s over, or, at best, when that small window is closing.

SO, one (non-specific) day last week, checking the buoy readings and tea leaves frequently; I decided to go (mostly because my painting project get shut down due to the client not happy with the color she chose).  I talked my friend, Stephen Davis, into going with me, promising waves based on the hope that the angle would improve, and that Keith was out there somewhere, no doubt, scoring  AND, SURE ENOUGH, it was big enough to ride if one didn’t worry about losing another fin.

SIDEBAR: Tyler Meeks had a bunch of fins for sale at the DISCO BAY OUTDOOR EXCHANGE, sold them all.  ADVICE: If you go, bring extras.

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Okay, if you recognize the spot, one, don’t tell anyone; and, if you do, be sure to say this is a big day.

BUT, since I’m not the only one willing to be fooled by buoy reading that should mean waves, there’s always the enjoyment of hanging out.

20190522_182419I keep forgetting to take photos of real surfers, but here’s Tugboat Bill, ready to rip.

This is Gavin, originally from South Africa (once sat next to Jordy Smith at a restaurant at Jeffry’s Bay), an electrician and Whistler ski instructor; cooking lamb (smells good, not willing to taste it- did once) after his wife, Char, invited Steve and I to tour his Sprinter van. Though Steve is planning on going to Baja soon, Gavin is “through with Baja.”20190522_182550

So, yeah; one learns a lot while hanging around and waiting. NOT PICTURED is this other guy who was sitting on a five gallon bucket when we got there, quite willing to talk about how, possibly because he disrespected some Hawaiians, he suffered… (I don’t want to get into it, and, because he kept talking about it, I decided to risk my last unbroken fin).

AND, I MUST ADD, others pulled into the parking area, drawn by the hope and the anticipation.  DARREN was lured into the water, possibly, noting that SEAN, teacher from P.A., and I were rock-skimming.

STEPHEN took a nap.

SO, THREE DAYS LATER, Adam having made at least one stealth strike, Keith extending his camping trip, Steve and I risked skunking again.  And, now, finally something I can’t write about.  I have at least one photo, though I should have taken more that I can’t publish; more of real surfers.

 

Here’s my daughter, Drucilla’s, new van and the woman she bought it from. Le (pronounced Lee, but, she told me, ‘with just one e’), originally from Vietnam, but of Chinese ancestry, and… things you learn in parking lots. This one is outside the Quilcene Post Office, down on Surf Route 101.  The second photo is of the Deli section in the Poulsbo WalMart, taken because, there, partially because Dru only has a learner’s permit, and I was the duty instructor; but, mostly, because, Trish (at home on the phone) didn’t believe that there was no longer a place where one could get non-pre-packaged macaroni salad.

YEAH, not a surf story.  Not that I don’t have some.  SO, to all folks in the many many vehicles with multiple surfboards on them, with hopes and anticipation of overhead bombs; GOOD LUCK; hope you have some great stories you can’t tell.

Except, maybe, in some distant, out of cell range parking area.

Biscuit and Victor and Adam Wipeout

It seems to some of us (okay, mostly me) that Media Darling Adam Wipeout James gets more opportunities to surf than many of us married surfers (again, mostly me) can get away with without some pushback from our significant others.

I have stated, and do again state, that surfing has always been (the equivalent of) the other woman in my relationship (since 1968) with Trish.

And Adam, who has younger children, Emmett and Calvin (one or the other of them nicknamed Boomer), younger, given that my baby boy, Sean, is 37 (just turned, the other two, Dru and James, are 39 and 42- Ow- shocking, even to Trish and me), still seems to slip away to various spots from south to north, northwest, while others of us scheme and study and try to schedule waves to coincide with some window of opportunity to chase them.

The last time I ran into Mrs. James, Andrea, at the HamaHama Oysterama, I did try to ask her how she allows her husband to be so, so, so… surfer-like.  She was just rushing past, possibly chasing Boomer or non-Boomer, and didn’t actually answer. Joel, another surfer with children, who also happened to be there, was equally inquisitive.

“I’m glad you didn’t actually ask her,” Adam said, when he was passing by, schmoozing his way around the festivities.

But I did. She just didn’t answer.

NOW, in truth, Adam works an incredible number of hours, many of these hours on cold tide flats in the middle of the night; and travels to oyster-related events far and wide (and not always near waves). I honestly don’t know when he sleeps.

SO, here’s an incident that counters the narrative that Adam’s relationship with surfing if just too, too, um, desirable:

The story involves Adam pre-dawn patrolling it on Mothers Day, then, when he got back into cell phone range, discovering that the new lamb, Biscuit, was out; their dog, Victor, was involved (and possibly Adam had left some gate accessible if not open), and Andrea was, according to Adam, “not particularly happy.”

Wait. What?

So, no second (or third) session; and back down Surf Route 101 to search for the baby lamb, one that needed a bottle every, um, so often, lost in the rough terrain that features coyotes and cougars and Sasquatches.  So, kind of dire.

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Victor, trying to make up for leading Biscuit astray.

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Wait. Is that something Adam rode to look for the lost lamb, or something else lost in the deep woods?

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BISCUIT!

All photos by Adam Wipeout.  What I asked for was a photo of Adam walking down the hill with the lamb over his shoulders, hero-like (with some unavoidable comparison possible with THE good shepherd- nothing too deep). Wouldn’t have the same effect if Adam was packing the lamb out on the motorbike.

So, Adam; how were the waves again?

Uncovering Archie’s Classic Surf Rigs

ARCHIE ENDO was in Thailand when a snow load took down his ten year old homemade, canvas, vinyl, and (thin) plywood-covered, metal-tubing-framed carport.  This was in February, and his area, above Discovery Bay, and everywhere north and west of there got the brunt of the snowstorm.

ARCHIE, still recovering from a stroke, asked me, possibly because I am a contractor, to help extricate two of his classic surf rigs.  “Painting contractor, Archie; don’t really do this kind of thing.”

But we’re friends, so, of course, I said I would get some of our mutual surf friends, guys with carpentry skills, on it.

Eventually.  Then Stephen Davis went to Hawaii, shit happened, and…

A couple of weeks back Archie came back.  Cars still buried.

Last week I got some eight foot two-by-fours, some ten foot two-by-sixes, five pounds of sixteen penny nails (who would need shorter ones?), and had a plan on how to prop the thing back up. Then I got Steve and his friend from Hawaii, Damon (here for the memorial for Stephen’s son, Emmett) to give raising the roof a shot.

Heavy.  Too heavy.  We agreed that a couple of jacks (better than the bottle jacks we had) might do the trick.  Luckily, since I’ve saved jacks from two recent prematurely-killed (by me); we agreed to return.  Meanwhile, we got the roof high enough that Archie was able to start up his Lincoln Towncar.

BUT THEN…

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Two jacks, an extension cord, a Skil saw, a lot of swearing (by me only), and… (some amount of) success! We’ll fine tune it later.

Photo by Archie’s daughter, Lillian, of Archie propping me up. Or about to straighten out my moustache.

CAN’T WAIT to see Archie’s rides out on Surf Route 101.

Slow Down, No ThrowDown at the BroDown

“I always try to compete to be the best,” I said.

Now, I can, and do, edit what I write.  What I say in real time, however, is out there, it’s gone, in the time zone of ‘past,’ mostly ‘past imperfect’ tense.

Tense. Yeah. Five more minutes, I figured, and the guy who had been all “Aloha” was going to, possibly, want to throw down.  He had, he said, a history.  He had, he said, given a well-known Westport enforcer a beatdown years ago.  Cops were called.  Westside Oahu. Makaha. He knows Sunny, calls Buffalo ‘Uncle;’ said he did some enforcing.  Despite my being seventeen years older than him, he didn’t call me Uncle.

Now, after I went over the story with a couple of friends via cellular device, I began to believe I had, perhaps, over-reacted.  Maybe it was because the thought of someone actually throwing punches over some imagined (or even real) affront in the waves just seems like over-reacting.

Then I called Trish. “You have to think about what you say.” “Uh huh.” “What exactly did you say?”

Oh. So, again, let me rethink:

 

 

Discussions on who has priority.

It’s all about the windows.  The tide was going to drop off, the swell was supposed to drop, the wind was forecast to increase, and not at a good angle, not offshore.  There’s always the chance that you’ll get skunked; especially when the buoy readings, at the last place where my phone works, had already dropped to a size where, in my memory of collected skunking/scoring, the numbers favored flatness.

So, when I rolled up and saw waves… um, maybe I kind of over-amped. Pretty much a record time for me to get a suit on, booties, earplugs… and only two guys out. Guys I didn’t know.  Three surfers, three wave sets; shouldn’t be a problem.

The one surfer had just finished a ride and was lying on his very large standup paddle board. “You guys are probably exhausted from catching so many waves,” I said, paddling past him toward my lineup spot.

WAIT: Etiquette check. Perhaps I should have followed him, making sure to sit ‘outside’ of whatever position he decided to take.

THEN, scrapping around to catch waves that showed up on an outside reef, them, mostly, backed-off, regrouping on the main reef, I did, and I admit it, take off on the same wave as the other SUPer.

WAIT: Even if the guy closer to the peak, farther outside, missed a couple of waves, I probably should just let the wave go unridden rather than go for it.  Probably.

THEN, because I lost one of my earplugs, and didn’t want another three days of one-ear hearing, I went in, hung out with a couple of guys who were waiting for the incoming tide; giving the two other guys free rein.  So, nice.

THEN, MORE SURFING, more jockeying for position, but no more take-off-in-front-ofs by me.  Three wave sets, shouldn’t be a problem.  When it looked like the big surfer was going in, I did comment, “Hey, I know boating season started yesterday, but, um, do you have a license for that boat?”  Joke, yes; but the board, I swear, almost filled the bed of his small-sized truck, side to side. Very wide.

THEN, with the wind coming up and the tide bottoming-out, with more folks starting to fill the parking area, Darren deciding to paddle out before it got worse, I was changing-out on the beach, next to the big guy with the big board.

WAIT: There were, in retrospect, a few things I said that I probably shouldn’t have.

AFTER the big guy, who was pretty (and rightly) proud that he’d dropped many pounds, but had gained some of the weight back, then downed another beer, I could have avoided saying he should switch to coffee.

AFTER he said he’s sticking with the custom board, and said maybe he’s kind of a pussy, I didn’t need to say I think anyone who rides an SUP under 60 years old MIGHT BE (here’s a can’t-backspace words example- I said IS) a pussy.  Probably a mistake.

AFTER he said that if he see’s someone paddling past other surfers, taking off in front of other surfers, he has to say something (Pretty sure he meant me), I did say, “Hey, I only took off in front of him once.”  He disagreed.  Okay.

WAIT: Maybe I really shouldn’t have said that I don’t really get the whole paddling past other surfers thing. I paddle to my spot, everyone else is entitled to move. If my lineup is the one they want to use, come sit next to me, even inside me.  Paddle.  Move.  Jockey.  “Back when I started surfing, the best surfer got the most waves.”

“OH,” he said, possibly moving a bit closer to me, “Do you think you were the best surfer out there?”  Out of three. This is where I said, “I always try to compete to be,” and he came back with, “You aren’t.  See that guy over there?” Now dressed, talking to Clint. “He rips!”

OKAY. This is when, exactly, I thought about the last time I ever was involved in serious fisticuffs.  I was about 13. Butch Standefor. I only cried because I was frustrated because, though I wasn’t hurt, he wasn’t either.  SO, I lost. CLEARLY.

THEN I thought about my father.  He would throw down up until he died.  At 92.

SOOOOO, I walked away from the BIG GUY, he re-suiting to go for another session, his last word to me, “Aloha,” walked over to the other guy, shook his hand, introduced myself, apologized for the ONE time I took off in front of him.  He was nice.

LESSON LEARNED.

No, you don’t have to believe me. But, if we’re out together, sit by me. We can discuss which wave is who’s. Aloha.

 

WATCH OUT! Going Paddle-less

In a CONVERSATION with my friend, media darling (I will continue to call him this- it’s true) ADAM WIPEOUT JAMES, me painting trim in a low-bank waterfront mansion (part of the greater Puget Sound, but many thousands of feet (because waterfront seems to be sold my the foot) from even the fickle, often-trickling (note the internal rhyme) waves of the Strait of Juan de Fuca; Adam just about to miss a ferry from Bainbridge Island to Seattle, where he would attend and cook oysters at an event held by ‘WARM CURRENTS,’ a group dedicated to getting kids who might not otherwise get the chance to enjoy the cold bliss of surfing, Adam, in response to my telling him that I was switching to surfing a TRADITIONAL LONGBOARD, and that he should definitely tell ‘Warm Currents’ official, ABIGAIL, who, if you read ‘Realsurfers’ religiously (as you should), you will recall that Abigail, who I, allegedly (accused, not convicted) once burned on a wave (in response to, again, allegedly, she pulled my leash), but who (still Abby/Abigail) did, nevertheless, purchase an ORIGINAL ERWIN t-shirt; and that this switch from the STANDUP PADDLEBOARD would, obviously and unavoidably make me far less DOMINATE in the lineup; in response to all that, Adam said, “WAIT! WAIT! you’re going to crawl on your belly, MAYBE jump up to your knees; maybe even (gulp) STAND UP?”

There was something in Adam’s TONE that just hit me wrong.  NO, not the tone, it was the WORDS.

“NO, man; I’m planning on RIPPING IT UP; dropping-in, back to the wall; swooping, climbing and dropping, tearing into a vicious cutback… all that.”

“YEAH?”

“YEAH.”

“WELL.”  It was a ‘well, we’ll see’ kind of ‘well.’

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Archie Endo, styling at LongLost Point. Photo by Stephen R. Davis

I would like to say the catalyst for my switch back to a longboard was that ‘Allboard’ (formerly ‘Shortboard’ to distinguish him from ‘Hippy’) Aaron’ said he has the perfect board for me, a ten-four Ricky Young; or that legendary longboard stylist Atsushi ‘Archie’ Endo offered me a ten-two Southcoast on a long-term loan basis- I would like to say that- but the truth is, if I want to surf some of the Strait’s less-accessible spots, or even, like, make the trek back from, say the beach at Westport to the parking lot, without, embarrassingly, dragging my board across the sand/gravel, and, sweating and red-faced, stopping every once in a while to readjust my grip on my SUP, I might just have to switch back to crawling onto my board, paddling for and into waves, hoping some dormant muscle memory might kick in and… we’ll see.

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Archie Endo shot this one. It’s, like, waist-high, right?

ALSO, I switched the header back from the one drawn by my late sister, MELISSA, to one of me standing up on a surfboard.  Yes, I did make that wave.

YES, I am aware that I’ve been saying I have (already) given up my WAVE-HOGGING ways for a while.  Well.

That’s a ‘we’ll see’ kind of ‘well.’

Memorial for Emerson ‘Emmett’ Davis

While I do fancy myself a writer, and I have done some work (paid) as a newspaper reporter, it will soon become obvious that I am neither a photographer nor a photo/journalist.

The memorial for Emerson ‘Emmett; Davis, tragically killed in a fire in his apartment in Seattle, had been planned for a while.  His father, Stephen Davis, often mentioned in ‘realsurfers’, is a friend of mine, and, while this was an opportunity to mourn the loss and celebrate the life of someone taken away from those who loved him way too soon, it also afforded the many people whose paths in some way were touched by Emmett’s.  Including mine.

My connection was, originally, through surfing.  Emmett was, and Stephen is a part of the loosely-connected collection of surfers with a homebase in the unlikely corner of the country, the Olympic Peninsula.  Because Steve travelled, ‘posted-up’ (his term) in Baja and California and Hawaii and Costa Rica, and often included Emmett for parts of these adventures, because Steve put off work (occasionally) to go snowboarding with his son, met up with him in Oregon; the community of surfers with a connection to Emmett has grown.

Add in the fact that Emmett was raised in Port Townsend, went to college and worked in Seattle, it shouldn’t have been surprising that so many people met up at Fort Worden.

Though I knew many of the locals through working in Port Townsend for many years, I was probably more at ease among the surfers. Not saying I’m totally accepted; I’m tolerated.  I gave a ride to the memorial to a surfing buddy of Stephen’s and mine, Archie Endo. A stylish longboarder, whose daughter, Lillian, went to school with Emmett.

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Archie was in town from Thailand. He had a stroke a couple of years ago, and, though he recently surfed some small waves there, he fears his days of hitting the waves in the cold Strait of Juan de Fuca may be over.

Friends of Stephen actually came into the area early, and, because it’s what surfers do, they went looking for waves.  And they found some; glassy, long walls; one of those rare, brief, and magic windows on the fickle Strait.  Cap, here from the Big Island, credited Emmett for sending the waves.

I met Cap, who introduced himself as Brian, at a beach north of PT where Stephen was preparing to kitesurf. Not being a photo/journalist, I did not take any photos.  Supposedly, Stig, who, like Cap, I had heard stories about but had never met, a friend of Steve’s from Oahu, was in town but not there at this time.

cap with cap

Okay, let’s look at photos I did take.

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Local ripper/librarian Keith Darrock, left, media darling and local wherever he goes, Adam ‘Wipeout’ James.

 

People I don’t know, or didn’t know, and Stephanie Moran, who Steve and I have both done work for, and who Trish is great Facebook friends with, though they have never actually met (yet).

Top, then clockwise- Archie and Cody Caputo (who I haven’t taken off in front of in quite a few years); the same shot twice of Cody, Archie, and Keith (I’ve never, to my knowledge, burned Archie, though I did totally ding one of his boards once, I think Keith and I are about even on wave usurping); and a photo of kitesurfer/SUPer/long-or-shortboarder Derrick Vandersurfer (I swear, no one can really get through his real last name, Wipeout, All-board (formerly shortboard) Aaron Lennox, and Archie.

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Stephen R. Davis.  I heard one of Emmett’s friends say “He’s dressed up, looks like one of my professors.”  If it doesn’t show up, there’s a matching blue tie in this sartorial mashup.  If one gets strength from hugs, Steve should be powered-up for a long while.

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Bob. Not a surfer. Everyone seemed to know Bob except me. When I was introduced, he said, “Oh, you’re Erwin. Some people thought I was you.  Some woman in Town, every time she’d see me, she’d say, ‘Erwin… love your column. Erwin.’ (I had a column in the Port Townsend Leader for about ten years) Finally, I said, ‘Thanks. Where’s that forty dollars you owe me.’  She never called me Erwin again.”

I don’t really have a right to be offended, but I don’t really see the resemblance, and,  should add no one has ever said to me, “Hey, Bob; how’s it going?”

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Steve with Cosmo. Cosmo is a landscaper from Chicago and made leis for the paddleout.

People headed toward the lighthouse for the paddleout.  That’s Michael Morrow top right. Raised in Panama, he’s surfed all over, lived for a while in Hawaii.  Has some great stories.

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Emmett’s sister, Katrina. She took some of Emmett’s ashes out to the circle.  I had never met her, and her expression might be explained by saying I had just introduced myself.  “Oh, you’re Erwin.” I’m not sure what she heard about me, but I held back from saying, “Yeah, often confused with Bob.”  I actually considered asking, feeling somewhat guilty for not participating in the paddle out, if I could hop into the canoe.

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This isn’t the end of this. While working on this, and I apologize for not having a closer shot of the circle, Adam called me.  A tanker’s passing pushed some waves into the bay, described as ‘perfect little peelers’ by Mr. James.  He sent photos.

Later.  It was, for someone who avoids these things, so worthwhile.  Archie met a guy who married into a Japanese family, Adam, who claims not to be a fisherman, regaled Aaron with a well-told fishing story as well as asking Aaron if he had, indeed, been hiking in the hills down around HamaHama (he had), and gave him some pointers on climbing spots in that area.

At one point I asked a young man across the picnic table what his connection to Emmett is: It was more his wife, but he was from Seattle; he’d seen the local news coverage.  He started talking about another incident where a young person tragically lost his life in an accident.  That was the closest I came to breaking out the tissues Trish made me bring.

I still never met Stig.

Emmett, rest in peace.

 

Rumors of a Perfect Wave Poster…

…and more!

Here’s a shot of Little Reggie Smart (he adds the ‘little’, I wouldn’t- it would be rude) when he was actually little. before he became a tattoo (and otherwise) artist, a surfer, a painter (house and otherwise), well before I met Reginald Little, a person I sometimes refer to as, “kind of a pretty boy with neck tattoos.”

littleReggieSmart

YEAH, he was a towhead, couldn’t help that.  I actually thought posting this might be a bit of revenge for his posting a video of me on his Instagram.

OF COURSE you will have to check this out, as Trish did.  Her first reaction as I broke into song was, “What a dick!”  Not that she didn’t know this already, but, when I explained that it wasn’t staged (not by me, anyway), and was secretly taped by Reggie, and that several folks in the Peninsula surfing community commented on it; she was almost all right with the whole thing.

I think he’s under “Reggie Smart” on Instagram; not too hard to find.

MEANWHILE, here’s my latest effort in the Positive-to-negative genre:

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OH, AND ONE MORE THING:  My latest t-shirt design is at the screen shop, DL Logos in Port Townsend, and will soon be available.  I am selling these shirts as limited editions (because they are), and tried to add a bit of information to the actual image.

For these shirts it would be something like: Original Erwin- Series 4- Edition 1- “Lightfoot’n it” (title refined by comment on the illustration by Drew Kampion, the need for a title for the various projects of mine at the screen shop, and the way they wrote ‘lightfoot’n it’)- Copywrite Erwin Dence, 2019-  Run of 30.  Printed at DL Logos, Port Townsend, Washington, U.S.A.

Maybe it was a good idea, but the image was already on screen when I got to the shop.  SO, new idea. I’m making tags to go with each t-shirt, with the image of the shirt, the above information (not the stuff in parenthesis), a number (ie; 2/30) and a signature.

SURE, that’ll make your shirt more valuable.

Scan_20190302

I AM LEARNING a lot from this process; who like what, what works, what sells; and, other than the sales part, I totally enjoy the drawing, hanging out at print shops desperate to see what the negative image of what I’ve drawn looks like, going over shirt and ink colors and stuff with the guys at the screen shop.

Our daughter, DRUCILLA DENCE, has moved back to our area from an extended time in Chicago, where she most recently worked for, and is freelancing for, “The Onion.”  Since my stuff is massively disorganized, Dru can, hopefully help in the sales and distribution (and, of course, organization) of my, um, stuff; years of stuff.

SOME OF THE SHIRTS are already spoken for, but the rest, white on a dark blue, will be available soon at Tyler Meek’s DISCO BAY OUTDOOR EXCHANGE.

MEANWHILE, as always, I’m checking the buoys and working on other stuff.  “Swamis” the novel, is up to somewhere over 48,000 words (and I still haven’t figured out whodunnit), I’m trying to get some stuff ready for the HamaHamaOysterRama down Surf Route 101 on April 20th (“Four-twenty, man,” Adam ‘Wipeout’ James told me, with the same insider-ness as when I tell someone my age that I graduated in 1969, as in, “class of ’69, man!”)

And, as always, I have to go to work.  Rumors of a perfect wave. Memories of a perfect wave. Anticipation for more of each. Here are the first three t-shirt designs.

 

Mid-Winter Strait Session Report

You might notice the snow, the hat, the lack of any waves actually showing; you might wonder what that is in the background. A chunk of land? No, it’s a board.

tim nolan

I got to this spot at 8am, trying to beat the wave-killing high tide, surprised (and a bit worried) at the treacherous conditions (the parking area, not the waves); this, in my front wheel drive car (rather than the all wheel drive work van), and after driving good (not icy, not compact snow) conditions on surf route 101.

I was too late. Or too early. High tide was at eleven. Tim had been out since seven (first light), picking off set waves, sliding across the outside sections, easing out when each wave mushed-out.  It wasn’t exactly barreling, but Mr. Nolan was getting the most out of each ride. Gliding. Cruising.

So, I was hanging out.  On my way west, I had followed a woman (I think her name is Hannah) from Joyce (one of only a small group of true locals) in her full-sized SUV, at about 60 mph; slower, much slower when negotiating highway 112s downhill slalom course.  Once I turned into and over the remnants of the snow-plowed curb and onto the pullout road, I was committed, wheels in the deep ruts, plowing  through the iced-over snow between the ruts. Ahhhhh!

Hannah (possible Hannah) pulled perpendicular to the beach, and soon joined Tim in the water. Meanwhile, I tried to find a less-snow-choked area to park, way too worried to pull out of the ruts. I finally backed into a position under a tree and behind one of those Sprinter vans, the ruts deep and muddy.

NOW, I have to give Hannah a lot of credit for her commitment.  A mother of two kids, she was surfing when (apparently- one doesn’t ask) seven or so months pregnant, and then (evidently) only several weeks after delivering her third child.  When she did get out of the water, I went over to tell her I thought she might have been speeding (again, I was keeping up), she told me she got the short straw, and her husband (Dave, I’m pretty sure) would get to surf when it (hopefully) got better.

Meanwhile, the tide still rising, me still waiting, a guy who delivers mail to Neah Bay wheeled his (classic, short wheel base) big-tired Jeep into the parking area, straight into a divet, jumped out, lit up a smoke, walked over toward me.  “I have to admire your confidence,” I said. “Oh, I can get out,” he said.  “I’m not a surfer,” he said, using his cigarette to draw a line across the horizon, “this any good?”

“If the swell doesn’t fall off or the angle doesn’t change, or…” He wasn’t really interested. He wasn’t a surfer. He probably did burn out half of his clutch trying to rock back and forth (forward and back, I guess), before ‘locking-in’ his lugs (I hope that’s the term for putting it in four wheel drive), and getting out; no doubt lighting up another smoke.

About this time a small-sized pickup with (only) two boards in the back makes the turn and slides through the ruts, pulls up and cranks a left, straight toward the water. “Four wheel drive?”  “No, it’s rear wheel drive.” “Oh.”

I recommended another (not secret) spot he might try with the high tide. Somewhere in here he (John, from Auburn) bought an Original Erwin t-shirt from those I still have (all now large or extra-large) in the Toyota.  When John couldn’t get out, he tried to put chains on the back tires. Not so easy.

A guy who had, evidently, walked in from the highway, helped me push John’s rig back into the ruts. When the pickup made it to the blacktop the guy said we’d met before (“Oh, okay,”) and introduced himself with, “Luke (I hope that’s right). No one knows who I am, but everyone knows my girlfriend.” “Who’s your girlfriend?” “Kim, Kim with the VW bug.” “Yeah. Kim. I think I was out the first time she surfed at ________ ______.” As Luke walked away, evidently going to look elsewhere for waves, I said, “Luke. Yeah. I’ll remember you the next time.” “Sure. That’s what you said the last time.”

Meanwhile, the guy from the Sprinter suits up, goes out on a Lib-tech (small, short) board, and a guy with two longboards on his all-wheel-drive pickup, who watched but didn’t help push John’s truck, suits up, says he thinks the east wind will blow it out by the time the tide drops, and besides, “It’s not crowded.”

Longboard Guy (didn’t get or don’t remember his name) grabs a really long board, makes a negative comment on SUPs. “You know, at San Onofre, they have to go to one end of the beach.” “Fine. I do say anyone under 60 who rides one is a _______.”  Now, I only decided to blank out the word I always use here is it might be considered sexist. So, maybe I should replace pussy with whimp. Not sexist.

About this time, a regular-sized SUV pulls in.  It’s Cole, a guy I’ve seen quite a few times out on the Strait, and a friend.

Somewhere in here, knowing I couldn’t concentrate on surfing if I didn’t think I could get out of the parking lot, I side-slipped and rut-rode my way out to the highway, considered parking on the side of the road, but, with the snow piled on the fogline, decided the odds of someone (like a log truck or an RV) side-swiping my vehicle were pretty high, and counting on my ability to get out twice, I pulled back in; still parallel to the beach.

Somewhere around 10am, Tim Nolan gets out of the water. Since I’d spent quite a bit of time leaning against his all wheel drive (says it right on the car) Suburu, I give him a hand with his board.

“Are you catching up to me yet?”  He meant in age. “Yeah, I think so. You were working it, man.” “Thanks.”

Incidentally, Tim is 71, I’m 67, and his continued commitment to surfing continues to be an inspiration to me.  When I first met him, probably 16 years ago, he told me some of my best surfing days were still to come. And he was right.

If you surf on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, you probably recognize Mr. Nolan. A boat designer in Port Townsend, Tim participates in flat water SUP races, has paddled every bit of the Strait (on purpose), and helps out in some community support activities that I only heard about from others.  That says something about his character.

So, Cole and his buddy came over to Tim’s car. He showed us the results from his Apple watch. He had travelled 3.9 miles during his session, with red lines (a lot of them) showing each ride. “About half of that (somewhere around two miles) is surfing.”

Very impressive.  I kind of thought I was getting a contact high from my proximity to the two younger surfers. Legal, of course. Just to make sure, I touched Cole. “Yep; now it’s a contact high.”

I went out at mean high tide. The wind changed to west rather than east; more people came out, including, surprise, Adam Wipeout (who showed up when I had told myself I was going to catch five more waves and was down to one); so I kept surfing.

On the way back, after I had to back up, gun it, probably damage my transmission to power through the pile at the highway, I figured out the whole experience- three hours of driving (there and back), three hours of waiting, and three hours of surfing.

No Apple watch, lost track of number of waves. And, if I factor in the wetsuit donning and un-donning, and the stops at Costco, Walmart, the DISCO BAY OUTDOOR EXCHANGE; yeah, 12 hours or so. SO, GOOD.