Over Time, Comparatively Speaking

                         With the inclusion of inarguably life-changing events, we determine what we remember, over time, of the rare but truly horrific and the rare but truly blissful events.

Recalling a specific moment once makes it easier to remember, more clearly, the next time.

Memory banks and memory files, images and sounds and feelings, still shots and little videos; something that happens in the present snaps the synapses and, whoa, yeah… that one time…

I quite surprisingly and suddenly realized that the official start of Autumn is only days away, one of two moments, and I may be wrong about this, when the earth is in true balance and there are equal amounts of day and night. From that point, the next defining point is the dropping of Daylight Savings Time, somewhere around Halloween, the semi-unofficial end, for the most part, of the exterior painting season in the Great Northwest.

Yet, somewhere in here is the start of the surf season, such as it is, with the hope of North Pacific storms and waves over knee high. Hope is different than expectation. Around the Strait, even hope is tempered by experience; skunkings when forecasts call for waves, defiant winds when the forecasts call for calm.   

In the Summer of 1968, the summer season defined as the interval between school sessions, Ray Hicks and Bill Buel and Phillip Harper and I were cruising in one of their cars, returning inland from a day of cruising Surf Route 101, anywhere from San Onofre to, most likely, Cardiff, in search of a beach with some possibility of girls hanging out, and with rideable waves, and with the hope that the lineup was not too crowded. We did, no doubt, surf, most likely at Grandview or Swamis beachbreak.

Whichever vehicle we were in (again, not mine) featured the latest in in-car entertainment, an 8 trac tape player. Because we were middle class suburban teens, we related to the non-bubblegum-pop tunes of Cream, the Beatles (less and less), and the Doors. Most shared, most sung along to. Yes, if we were a year younger, Led Zeppelin’s orgasmic rock might have taken over. We weren’t. We listened to the Doors. We could relate.

It wasn’t just the AM-radio/garage-band-at-the-VFW-hall stuff. Deep cuts. “Wait until the war is over, and we’re both a little older; the unknown soldier.” The war wasn’t over. It would still be there when we were older… old enough.

It was almost dark, we were parked somewhere, facing west, perhaps, more likely facing some thicket of sage like brush off Mission, the route from one or our homes to another- extending the length of the surf trip/adventure. Smoking. Click. Another tune. “Summer’s almost gone, summer’s almost gone; Where will we be… when the summer’s gone.” There was an instrumental fill at this point, the perfect four beat place in which, from my spot in the back seat, I added, “We’ll be in school.”

It wasn’t well received. ‘Fuck you’ and ‘oh, man,’ and ‘get out’ didn’t make for a unified chorus.

Yet, summer had gone on long enough that the days of not surfing, of hanging out or playing some pickup game at the high school, of listening to other groups, other songs, had gone on long enough. School was… we’d be seniors, there were girls, guaranteed. There was a certain level of anticipation.

Time seems to move faster as we get older. I have noticed. I have decided it is because, the longer we are alive, rotating and spinning, the shorter the comparative time is of any particular season. So, summer is, relatively, short. That’s my theory.

Incidentally, the reason I know it wasn’t my car is this: My vehicles never seemed to have a functioning radio. Fifty-four years later, my current surf rig’s radio started shorting out a few years ago; irritating; and then it quit completely. I do have my harmonica, and, since I usually go surfing alone, I don’t mind my singing and playing. Other than my own tunes, I will do a few of Dylan’s. I have a killer version of “All Along the Watchtower.” The Doors? No, not really.

The subject next time, perhaps, could be: “Froth.”

I’m getting some stick-on lettering made saying, “realsurfers FROTH!” So far, Keith is signed on to get one. Steve and Adam, the only others I’ve offered them to, didn’t seem enthusiastic enough; I will not beg them. So… as with everything, forever, we’ll see.

HAPPY EQUINOX!  

“Whoa, dudes; it’s like… Fall, man; it’s the best. This one time… Hey, thanks for loaning me your spare suit; you should know, three more steps, I’m peeing. Traditional. So, like, glad it’s less crowded. Those Summer-only kooks, huh? I totally plan on dominating. Say, you even wax up this board?”

FUCKCANCER UPDATE:

Dru is probably going to have radiation treatments, but, hopefully, not Chemo. Trish is doing most of the hanging out with our daughter over in Port Gamble, making sure Dru doesn’t lift heavy stuff. I’ve done like one night a week, but I, um… well, I do plan on going over tomorrow for the Seahawks game, partially so Trish can get her hands back on this computer, probably do some lifting.

Stephen R. Davis is staying in Bellevue and going for procedures in Seattle. He is getting a full ‘workup’ (not fun in itself) ahead of two doses of Super Chemo. I will get a proper copy of Steve’s painting of a fantasy surf spot this week and will post it here with info on how you can purchase a limited-edition copy. Evidently Steve has already promised the original to some lucky person.   

The Nod-Back and the Hey, Man

                                “Hey, Man…”

As I was completing my day, loading up my work rig, I did some chatting with the owner of the house across the street, a guy whose house I painted a couple of years ago. I can’t remember his first name, but his last name is White. Somewhere in the usual tangle of conversational starts and non-finishes and peripheral stories, electric bikes and Teslas and Sprinter vans, the general theme being coolness and those of us who seek it, Mr. White said, “Well, you always have the ‘hey, man’ thing going for you.”

Yeah, I was a bit confused by the statement as well.

What Mr. White and I decided, jointly, is that even pissed-off people can only go so far in calling out those who they (the possibly rightly pissed-off person) consider, rightly or wrongly, somewhat cool.

It isn’t that I am or have ever been that… cool. Trish told me, years ago, when we were first dating (specifically, we were in my thrashed Morris Minor and approaching a guy from my high school class who was hanging out downtown with some other guys and leaning on the really cool car he had actually done some work on, and I gave him the nod), that I’m always trying to be that. Cool. “Give it up. You might never be cool.”

Whether he or any of the other guys returned the nod should be irrelevant. It isn’t. It’s totally relevant. It is relevant because I have not given up trying. If he (just remembered his name- Gary Press) did do the nod-back, great; if not; well, I probably had some excuse.

I have, in my own mind, pulled myself up a few notches on the coolness scale. I’m still surfing, getting out there, a little over a week away from my seventy-first birthday. It’s more like coolness by attrition.

I am taking the information from this googled image at face value. It’s on the internet, must be true.

A couple of things about the nod, the nod-back, and the ‘hey, man:’

ONE- When our older son, James, was in high school, a classmate, Troy, would come over to our house. This wasn’t all that easy. We live out of town. Troy would show up by looking through a window or just plain walking in. Troy had some situational, some physical, and some mental… disadvantages. Troy would explain his surprise visit with, “Hey, mon, got the game?” James probably did. He and Dru and Sean were, it seemed to me, pretty nice to Troy. Several times his stepfather would bring him over. If I was around, I got to hang out with that guy. Once the stepfather spent most of our conversation time staring at the profile of the hill across the way, talking about aliens and big foot.

“Uh huh.”

TWO- Surfers are, and have always been, reluctant to embrace new surfers on their (not arguing this part) territory. “Who’s that?” This may be particularly true with spots as fickle as those on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. I only recently, when a dude paddled out at a spot I claim as a ‘regular’ if not, strictly speaking, a ‘local’ (not that there are many true locals that far out), and said he’d never been to that spot before. “Well,” I said, “You don’t have to come back.” Even though the waves had dropped off to the usual none-to-one foot, he probably will. Persistence. Make a note of it.

So, a friend of mine was walking back from checking a spot and ran into two or three other seekers, seeking. “They gave me the nod,” my friend told me. “What did you do?” “I refused to give them the nod.” Add your own level of irony to another story from the same friend, different spot, more difficult access. “There was only one guy out. He wasn’t friendly. I said (paraphrasing here), like, ‘hey, man…’”

Persistence. Next time, I would guess, full nod exchange.

THREE- “You ever go to Doc’s restaurant,” I asked the guy whose house I had painted. “Not often,” he said, “But I was there when Richard Sherman did the tip… in the endzone.” Okay. “So, a couple of years ago, I was painting the place. Remodel. Reggie got the gig. So, this electrician starts talking. Mentions Hawaii. So, naturally, I ask him if he is a surfer. ‘Of course,’ he answered. ‘It’s Hawaii.’ So, according to Reggie, I stew about this for a while, then I go up to the guy and say, ‘Hey, man; just because you lived in Hawaii, that doesn’t automatically make you a surfer.’”

“How did he react?”

“He was kind of all right with it. So, what do you say when someone does get… angry?

“I don’t know. What?”

“You do know.”

“Yeah. Hey, man…”

Honoring A (Another) Classic Waterman

As surfers, we have what should be a requirement, definitely an obligation, to honor those who went before us.  The real surfers of the generation slightly before mine were surfing when that meant no or inadequate wetsuits, heavy and ungainly boards; and one could not even qualify to be counted as anything close to a real surfer if not skilled in body surfing, long distance paddling, and diving.  Fishing skills were also appreciated.  Many surfers increased their time in the lineup (imagine Windansea with three friends out) by fishing and diving for abalone and ‘bugs’ (lobster).

Yes, these things were legal in California until some time in the 60s, and aren’t now.  I have run into other surfers from that era; one who became a builder; another who opened a car dealership.  They had stories.  Stories.  We all have stories, stories with surfing as a recurring theme, hopefully; or, for those who no longer get in the water, a collection of wistful, romantic (in its way) memories.  Some of our best moments are spent in and around the water.

Here, with some minor editing, is what my friend Keith wrote about his father’s passing:

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Douglas Darrock, 1938-2019, passed away on the Winter Solstice near Port Townsend, Washington.  He was 81.  Doug grew up in La Jolla in the 40s and 50s, graduating from La Jolla High in 1956.

He was a waterman in the truest sense.

As a young man, he built his own paddleboards and spearguns to dive the kelp beds and reefs off La Jolla.  He surfed and bodysurfed often.  He later worked as a commercial abalone diver around La Jolla and as a research diver in the Sea of Cortez.

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After serving in the military, he moved north, to Oregon, in the 1960s.  He owned a bar and fished commercially for salmon out of Astoria.  It was there that he met his partner of 45 years, Lorraine Limardi.  They lived for a time in Cannon Beach and Manzanita, and, later, south in Yachats and Tenmile Creek.  It was along this coast that Doug and Lorraine raised their family and made many friends.

Doug loved the adventure of travel.  He took his family on long road trips; south to Baja California, Mainland Mexico, and Central America, escaping the long, wet Oregon winters; camping on the beach, exploring while living in a VW bus.

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The family spent a year sailing to Baja and into the Sea of Cortez aboard ‘Cecilia’, a thirty-four foot Benford Cutter until the money ran out and they were forced to sell the boat and limp back to the Oregon Coast in an old Volvo.

Doug and his family spent many years around Port Townsend, Marrowstone Island and the San Juan Islands.  He loved to sail these waters.  Never a career man, Doug, instead, made money as a farmer and renovating old houses, taking odd jobs when necessary.  His first and last jobs were as a lifeguard in La Jolla as a young man, and as a lifeguard in Port Townsend at the public pool in his 70s.

Life was never dull with Doug.  He is survived by his wife, Lorraine, son Keith Darrock (local librarian and extremely avid surfer), daughters Laura DuPont and Jessica Syska; along with many grandchildren.

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I don’t think I ever met Douglas Darrock.  He was part of the La Jolla crowd that included surfboard makers Gordon and Smith; some famous surfers, including Butch Van Artsdalen; and a non-famous surfer, Bill Irwin; who also lived a surfer/sailor life, and died about a year ago.

I never met the father, but I see him in the son.  Keith (that’s him on the back of his dad’s bike) makes adjustments to his life to include surfing.  I watched Keith recently, having arrived too late to get into my wetsuit and go out before the tight window would close.  He was (his word) gorging on the waves on offer.  When I talked to him on the beach I said the if he (rail thin and determined to stay that way) loved food as much as he loves waves, he’d be soooooooo fat.  Yes, I told him it’d show up here.

Stories.  Peace.

Came from Surf City, 1951…

…oh, yeah; I try to deny it, but that’s where I’m from.

To the tune of, of course, the Beach Boys song about, evidently, going to the southern coast of North Carolina.

NOW, I do not deny that I was born (in a car, during a hurricane) in Surf City, and that my father, in the Marines and stationed at Camp LeJuene, actually owned a house on the beach.  ALL this adds to my credentials (more in my mind than in reality).

BUT, raised in Southern California, I bought into and probably went along with the prevalent (“Surfer” magazine wasn’t really helpful- a few tidbits here and there), if, perhaps, imagined prejudice toward the east coast surf scene.  ADD in the fact that North Carolina is actually in the south and…

…yeah, prejudice.  Sorry.  I’ve changed.

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Not so much, perhaps. That’s me on the left of the photo, with my cousins John and Ronald, and my sister, Suellen.  “Same stomach,” Trish said, after finding the photo on Suellen’s Facebook page; add a mustache; it’s you. Yeah, same attitude, too; more hair.

I discussed the East Coast/West Coast thing with hydrosexual (loves all things water/snow connected) and non-kook Stephen Davis, born in Seattle, raised in Colorado (which I always, he says, pronounce with a valley-girl accent).  It seems we know quite a number of transplants from that side of the country.

We didn’t discuss the south-to-north transplants.  Refugees.  Yeah, those folks.  Please, try to keep an open mind.

Y’all.

Paipo, Sunset Landmark, Ukulele Poser

Here is Port Townsend’s newest landmark. Stephen Davis, back from a trip down to Baja, back up again, with stops (to visit friends, some surfing) along the way, is giving the celebratory high sign for the sunset I painted on “Shortboard” Aaron’s house.  It’s high enough and visible enough that I (humbly) suggest it is the newest landmark in Port Townsend.

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It wasn’t super easy. I started with the yellow and the dark red, painted one half of the entire thing; then Aaron came home, asked, “Are you happy with it?” “Well, um…” The intermediate/transition colors did look, I had to agree, a little like makeup foundation. SO, I got a quart of dead-ass orange, rearranged the ladders, and… Yeah, now I am quite (humbly) happy with it.

HERE’S a shot of Stephen’s friend (one of his friends), Stig, in Hawaii, showing off his modern version of the classic PAIPO BOARD, the precursor to the boogie board.

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NOW, according to Steve, Stig, who I have yet to meet, insists on surfing in speedos (aka bunhuggers), so, kind of okay with this shot.  No, he would wear a wetsuit in the northwest; pretty sure.

FINALLY, here’s a shot of some poser posing (as poser’s do) with Stephen’s ukulele. YEAH, it’s like Geppetto saying, “Look, Pinocchio, I can wail!”

ukelele poser

YES, it is sideways.  I’ll fix it.  MAYBE.

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SO, just to kind of even out the poser scale, here’s my son, James, actually wailing on guitar, with me (not posing, I’ve been playing for about fifty years and have many dead harmonicas to prove it) on harmonica.

JAMES DOES WAIL!  And, yeah, honest, there’s a harmonica behind that Geppetto hand.

MEANWHILE, even the coast is looking dismally flat.  Hope you’re getting some waves.

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.

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.’

archiepapt

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.

PA and PT 024

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.’

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.