Swell of the Summer on the Last Coast

PART ONE- On Friday, seeing something, or sensing something, or just hoping for something, I found some fun waves and no one out; no one to fight for position against, no one to compare rides with, no one to, um, hang out with;  not that I mind; I was there to surf, surf rather than continuing to try, harder and harder, to catch up on high-season, mid-summer painting projects.

I had missed the best of the low tide rights, rights so rare on the Last Coast, the swell angle necessary to penetrate sliding sideways against the hooks and points and rivermouths and crannies of the Strait creating lefts where a straight-on swell wouldn’t; still, there were some sets hitting the indicators on the rights side, and rideable waves following the outline of the green-slimed rocks creating some punchy little rides. And no one out, maybe only one rig pulling through the turnout, briefly. It can’t be good, there’s only one old guy out. Move on.

Oh, there was Kyle, reading a book, on the beach slightly around the corner, shaded by the trees that mark a certain lineup.  I parked, putting off going back to work just a bit longer so I could find out where this guy was going. The coast? Neah Bay? La Push?  I had seen him from the water. He was sitting ashore of the lefts, an hour and a half after I arrived, ten minutes or so after the rights were high-tided-out, and the energy just not making the transfer to the next river rock point. “Kyle” he said, when I asked him. “You’re Erwin; right?” “Um? Uh; how do  you know that?”

IMG_0140 Another high-season job keeping me out of the water. You?

No, I’m not that notorious. I probably mean ‘infamous.’ But, Kyle explained, he’d been coming out from P.A. all week, went out once (too small, too much wind); but he had seen me here before, and had been there when my now-friend (friend being a broad term including pretty much any real surfer out of the water) Raja had, to general acclaim, taken my lost paddle, inserted it… yeah, maybe you know the story. It seems like everyone I run into was there for the paddle incident. “Well, Kyle; it’s supposed to get bigger; I’m surprised there aren’t more surfers cruising through.”

“Oh; they’ll be coming,” Kyle said. Now, I did, specifically, ask him if he knows Adam Wipeout; as everyone seems to. He said he didn’t. “Good luck, Kyle.”

Back in cell phone range, I spoke to Keith and Adam on the phone, just to gloat, a bit (they would, and have done the same) on my way back, passing the oncoming surfers Kyle had predicted. “Hey,” Keith said while I was getting a ‘topup’ on my oil at the Jiffy Lube, “it’s coming up. Maybe you should go back.”

“Tomorrow,” I said as an SUV with three boards and a luggage carrier passed by. To be continued (the tomorrow part)

 

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photos from fairly recent encounter

My sister, Melissa, took a few photos when we were both down at Chinook, visiting our Dad. I wrote and posted about the session earlier, and Melissa and I went over the photos she took of the session (one did include the guy who, when I moved just a little too far up the point, told me I needed to get myself over to the beach breaks). Hey, I was ready to get out anyway.

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Since then our 92 year old father has had, after many delays and a couple of stints in the hospital, an angioplasty procedure, successful, with a stent put in. He’s recovering; I’m going to go down to see him, and, if I see something breaking I can’t resist…

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…if you have a problem with me showing up, maybe you’ll have to talk to my father about it.  No, you can talk to me. I’d post more photos, but I asked Melissa to only send me ones where the waves were bigger and/or I was thinner. Big rocks, huh; at this semi-private, semi-secret spot?

Meanwhile, I’m way too busy right now to even get the additional pages for my coloring book set up… but I’m working on it.

 

TOP DOGS; Called-Out Twice in Eight Days

I’m not even saying I don’t deserve to take some grief for paddling out at a spot with a tight and critical takeoff zone on my big-ass SUP. I am saying I won’t be taking it out at this one particular spot again; already made that promise to one of the other surfers, one who didn’t say that, if he got injured because of an encounter with me and/or my big-ass board, “We’re going to have a problem.”

It’s not even like this was the only collision or near-collision yesterday. If there’s a takeoff zone of about fifteen feet, max, and five surfers angling and jostling and jockeying; well; there’s going to be some… issues.

The waves at this fickle spot break very close to big rocks, with a minimal amount of time between waves. So, imagine three guys in position, one takes off, the next guy misses the next wave, takes the next. That leaves two guys paddling out, and the takeoff is between them, or, maybe, right toward or over them paddling back out. If you wait for a turn, politely, as if there’s some sort of line in a lineup, you, might not get a wave. If you miss a wave, you’re in the impact zone. If you’re on a big-ass board and someone makes a last second decision to go, late drops… whoa! Bail and hope for the best.

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I should say five highly competitive and skilled surfers (and, yeah, I’m including myself), each of whom is capable of performing on the right wave, are just too many for the spot. Add in that the rideable waves only show up occasionally, and disappear quickly; and the competitive nature that only gets, let’s say, ‘enhanced’ by the competition, and someone’s going to get burned. And someone did. One surfer got frustrated and left; I persisted, and after the call-out by the surfer I’d have to say is the top dog in this neighborhood; and after he left, and another competitor got out; I remained until the tide shift shut it all down. It was two of us for a while; mellower vibe. Another guy, who had never surfed there before, came out; still not hostile/dangerous/hyper. Oh, maybe he thought it was an acceptable level of competitiveness.

Well; again, sorry for getting in the way. And, again, I did say I wouldn’t bring the big board out there again. [DISCLAIMER: Maybe if it’s just me.] I’ll finish glassing my stripped-down and thick 9’4,” now a thick-as-possible 8’6″ wavecatcher. That should work. Or, following the advice of another surfer out that day, “lose 50 or sixty pounds and go back to riding short boards.” Yeah, it was a hurtful comment, but I may have given him a pass when I said “I can’t do anything about getting older; I could get thinner.”

I suppose another option would be to quit.

No. Oh, I’ll be riding the SUP at the proper (determined on a case-by-case basis) spots, gliding between… Again, sorry, SBA; you do rip!

If the Session Report is, “It was really pretty…”

…it, most likely, means the waves weren’t happening. It was very pretty yesterday.

I’ve long decided to include the trip there and back into any session report; and, in the Pacific Northwest, with the snow level moving up and down with the same systems that bring swell to some spots and not to others; well, the view of the Olympics, even from the Safeway gas station in Port Angeles, is ultra pretty.

We all try to be scientific, using all the information available, plus past experience (ie; at this angle, this tide, this size, this spot was working); but we always have to factor in the skunk factor (on a similar tide and swell angle, the same spot was not working), and the “Random Theory,” that being that sometimes, even when the factors all seem slightly off, random acts of surf magic can happen.

EDIT- And sometimes everyone gets skunked.

Throw in wishing and hoping and praying, and that it’s a weekend between a constant barrage of wet frontal systems, and you get way too many desperate surfers combing the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

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My original plan was to either hit West Riverdale at dawn, before the tide got too high, with the Wrench as a backup. Or, I could go to The Outfall a bit later, when the tide got high enough.  I had things to do in Sequim, and, really, I planned on going to work on a painting project later. The problem, pre-dawn, was, the angle just wasn’t there. Oh, the swell, which had been stubbornly southwesterly, was supposed to go more northerly during the day, coinciding with a drop in swell size.

So, I made what I thought was the best decision. Nope. Lots of people at West Riverdale, all on the beach, cars piled high with boards; one guy, Tim Nolan, in the water, and the tide already too high. BUT PRETTY. Vehicles were coming, heading out farther; the coast always an option for those with enough time. Some surfers were, evidently, deciding to wait out the tide. I went out anyway. Tim paddled past me, pointed to the horizon, said something about where the swell was actually going, and got out of the water. I snagged a few shorewashers and surrendered to reality, wetsuit-driving away.

Over at the Wrench, the parking lot was packed with multi-board vehicles and warriors suiting up or suiting down. I squeezed into the back row, asked the guy in the rig next to mine if he could get out. “Hi, Erwin,” he said. It turns out it was Darrin, who provided me a ride on his board when mine was caught in the rip on a big day in December. I was also caught in the rip, my daughter on the beach, on the phone to her mother.

“Thanks, Darrin,” I said, shaking his hand a second time. I had been unable to really thank him properly when I got back out (after Keith Darrock rescued my board, and because one must go back out after a thrashing); and all this gratitude didn’t stop me from (accidentally, I swear) taking off in front of him on my first ride at the Wrench.

Thinking I was doing allright among those surfing, many of them beginners, kneeboarding weak little waves into the creek; one of several guys on standup paddleboards, evidently trying to be civil, asked me if I was new to riding an SUP. “First time, today,” I answered; not like he was so good. “Oh, you’re doing great, then,” he said, “you really seem to have the physics down.” “Thanks.” This was kind of depressing, and the waves were dying anyway.

Deciding I’d switch to only riding erect, I took off on a solid eighteen incher when another SUP hero took off in front of me. When he saw me, he bailed. “No problem,” he said, as if it was my fault, after my board went under his. “I didn’t know you were going to go straight,” I said. Next weak wave, I paddled, standing up, all the way to the parking lot. High tide. Two sessions. I was done.

More surfers, some quite excited, some not even checking the waves, going by the ‘if surfers are out, it must be good,’ were headed for the wild surf as I got dressed and headed toward Costco, then home.

I got a call from Keith while waiting for my order at the Jack in the Box. It’s perfectly acceptable to talk about great waves ‘after’ you get out of the water. I’d made the wrong decision. “You would have loved them.” Yeah. If I hadn’t had stuff that needed refrigeration, if I hadn’t just ordered a milkshake for Trish, if I didn’t know for a fact (or pretty sure near-fact) that the waves Keith and a few others (others in on this super fickle secret spot) had gorged on would be gone before I could get there…

I left my board on the car, just in case. I’ve checked the buoys since 5:30. Nope; might as well go work on the project I didn’t get to yesterday (I did do the drawing, above). Still, hoping and wishing, I’ll leave it on the car, just in case. Okay, it’s 7:13; I’ll post this and check the buoys.

Oh, and Tim Nolan did get in on the waves that had missed West (and East) Riverdale.

A Teaser on The Continuing Saga, Formerly a Mystery, and soon to be a majorly independent motion picture event, of the Paddle in the Dolphin

NOW that I’ve written it, gotten it out, I’m over it. I hold no ill will toward Raja, and hope we can hang out in the future. He does seem to have the same appreciation for the thrills, absurdities, posturing, and generally high-schoolish behavior involved in surfing anywhere. I’m calling us even. Hopefully Raja will also. PEACE, and I don’t mean that sarcastically.

This is Raja, his given name. I asked. He was born and raised and still lives in Edmonds, a city on the Seattle side of Puget Sound. I’ve seen Raja numerous times over the past several years while surfing on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. His beard keeps growing; hipsterrific.  A few months ago, in an act Raja still claims was not malicious, he found my paddle, which had been ripped from my hands while negotiating the last sixty yards of an inside tube. Now, as I have previously written, I would have bailed on the wave had it not been for the just-mentioned tube. And, hey, the paddle floats, right?

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Raja in left profile. The other two angles are on file.

Oh, those are my fingers. Just can’t seem to get them out of the shots.  Now, you can make your own decisions on whether Raja is a hero for causing an (allegedly) intimidating and (by definition) notorious wave hog to have a few moments of, well, humiliation; or a punk-ass bitch who has never actually said he was in any way sorry for the non-malicious act.  The ‘punk-ass bitch’ is not malicious, Raja (and friends of Raja), and was recommended as the appropriate description by someone who had heard [my version] of the story, and preferred punk-ass bitch over [my choice] hipster dick. Yes, I know you, Raja, and all hipsters, deny your hipster-ness, and, if ‘hipster’ is in any way a pejorative term, this is also not malicious in intent.

There’s intent and there’s actual consequences. Um, yeah; sure.

I’ll get back to this. I’m working on the complete story. I am over it. I think Raja is counting on the wave of prestige for showing up, kind of, a 64 (no, I was only 63 at the time) guy without having to do it on actual waves.

Check back another time.

 

All TIme (So Far) Strait Skunking

“Everyone gets the same forecasts,” I am quite fond of saying, and, indeed, probably just did say to one or more of the accumulated surfers, one of whom said he didn’t self-identify as a hipster. “You could shave the beard,” I offered, if he didn’t want to look like a surf hipster. Or he could have gotten in the water if he wanted to look like a, you know, surfer. This was all taken after I got out of the water after two and a half hours of cruising on little waves, mostly alone. This sort of de facto crew was mostly there at dawn, with an incredible number of other rigs pulling in, checking it out, discussing the fact that there should have been bigger waves, better waves. “The buoys, the forecast, the…”

Yeah, well. It’s the Strait. I actually sort of set up this shot, calling for one of the VWs to tighten up so I another could fit in. And there was another one back by the main road, evidently broken down. And there’s one up on the road; maybe you can see it over the top of the others. I did, at one point, say, “Why don’t you all do a VolkswagenTrain to Hobuck.”

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Maybe it’s because it’s an El Nino (gee, where’s the key for that curly thing that should go over the n?) year, maybe it’s because the Seahawks have a bye week; maybe the fact that the road closer to Neah Bay was washed out during the previous day’s rain; maybe, maybe there’s a great explanation for why a record number of surf enthusiasts, surf yuppies, some hipsters, and pretty much everyone who ever surfs in the northwest, was out. As for why the surf chose to not come down, who knows. It’s the Strait.

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Different angle, same group of woulda-been surfers had there just been waves. The two folks in the nearly-but-not-quite (because they’re not like couples with matching windbreakers) matching sweaters and the city-sized dog, were probably also planning on surfing. Behind me, and I now wish I’d taken a few more photos, was a nice setup of beach-made coffee, some boutique snacks, a bottle of sparkling Pellegrino water, which, later in the afternoon, could be replaced, perhaps, with an appropriate wine. The vehicle was there at dawn when I arrived; and, when the guy sleeping inside got up, and I said the waves were big enough for an old guy like me, and wondered why all the younger folks didn’t go to the coast and take on overhead, long period swells, he… well he rolled out his yoga mat and started doing, I guess, yoga.

“Getting into my wetsuit is enough of a warm up for me,” I said. As what turned out to be a set rolled in from the darkness, I added, “It’s big enough for me.” What I didn’t say is I should have listened to Keith. He figured, and now I just knew, correctly, that the swell wouldn’t hit where I was. Yeah, I should have waited for Monday.

Oh, I should mention that behind my birdshit-splattered rig were groups of surf power couples, chatting, with new personnel being added, others giving up and trying to beat the rush for the ferries. It’s not like one can really tell a real surfer just by looking at a crowd. A Patagonia cap might not mean the person wearing it rips. However, I might offer that guys who pile out of a rig with four boards in bags on the rack, each one looking all impressed by the number of people hanging out (three surfers bobbing in the actual water at this time), and then each give a nod to the only guy, and an oldie at that, in a wetsuit… those guys might be wannabes.

Let me reiterate that I did catch a lot of waves. The couple who live down by Crescent came out on SUPs, rode quite a few; Big Dave, now again employed (which explains why he was there then on Sunday), paddled out. When the tide was about to do in what waves there were, one other guy on a long longboard came out, caught a wave. “That’s one,” I said, being friendly. What I did notice from the water was the sort of slow motion movement of surf rigs into and out of the area.  I asked Mr. Yoga before I left, “Since you never did surf, maybe you kept count of how many vehicles came and went.” “About 80, I’d guess,” he said. “So crowded,” I offered. “You’re looking at the future,” he said, “word’s out. Maybe you heard of a place called Malibu.”

I did look at the future. Gathered at the water’s edge, chatting in groups like it was a Ballard block party. I’m not hating, here; maybe it’s just my image of surfers hasn’t been properly shifted from the illusion of blue collar rebels to, to… Anyway, Keith did get surf, and Adam Wipeout and his friend Nate got surf. They drove past the scene I was involved in, made it past the now-partially opened road, checked out the coast, managed to score somewhere in between. I passed at least ten vehicles still headed out when I was cruising back down Surf Route 101. When Adam and Nate drove back past this spot, it was dead, dead flat.

“Epic Skunking,” Adam said. “Well,” I said, “I got more waves than anyone on the beach.”

Today it may be firing. NOTE: Again, I’m not hating; we all just want to have fun. Next time I’ll bring some Pellegrino water, though I’m not fond of the sparkling kind. “Maybe Wednesday” (a holiday for many) I heard a woman in the parking lot say. “What does the forecast say?” “Iffy.” Iffy for sure. Always iffy.

The Lost Paddle- The Full and (not quite) Final Story

You may have to study this photo carefully. There are some clues.

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Clint, boat shop owner from Port Townsend (with cracker), is sitting in front of Tim Nolan’s car. Beyond Clint is the man I only know as Nick. Behind Nick is his son, Adam. Beyond Nick and Adam is my SUP and my car, thermos and cup on the top, the back open. Beyond that is an older model Suburban, owned by a guy named Raj. Beyond that is some surfer who got her too late, wondering where the hell the waves went; or if there had been waves at all. All will be explained.

If you look a bit closer, you may discern a paddle on top of the heavily-damaged, never-repaired (partly because I still insist I’m not a dam SUPer) SUP. That would be the paddle Nick just, and this was shockingly gracious, gave me. I carry it with me when I go surfing, ready to return it to him when we next meet up. Tim Nolan may not be in this photo because he was taking a picture with his telephoto of my paddle, stuck in the wire rope holding two of the three pilings that instantly identify this spot. The surfer who performed the act/prank of grabbing a paddle I would have bailed to recover had the wave not been so good was, at this time, unknown. I should say, at that time.

So, I’m actually going to write this epic mystery/saga on my zip drive (rather than here, live), so… so stay tuned.

CHAPTER ONE- SURFING WITH gOD (the upper/lower case is relevant)

I asked the other stand up paddleboarder what it was he liked about surfing. “When I’m on a wave,” he said, “I feel like God.” Okay. A few rides later I had to ask, “You mean like ‘a’ god; or, like ‘the’ God?” “If I’d said ‘a god’ it’d have a completely different meaning; now, wouldn’t it?”

It would (to be continued). Wait, here’s a photo of Clint taken on a different day at another (secret, or, I should say ‘secret’) spot. It was taken by Adam “Wipeout” James, sent to me to gloat, originally, and, more recently, as part of the ongoing discussion of what constitutes ‘head high.’ Adam will also be a character in the upcoming mystery. So, yeah; okay, it does seem to be head high.  [UH-OH, couldn’t use the shot- too much extra information]. You’ll have to take my word for it; It’s headhigh, Adam Wipeout Scale; I’d say five feet, three feet Hawaiian.

 

“So, like, it’s, um; where did, you know, these waves come from? You know?

The guy on the left,  Sheep-collar Beardman, says, “Hey, Robin Hoodie, look at Mr. ‘I-just-rolled-in-from-Houston’ Tourist with the camera-slash-smartphone; like he’s never been to a wave park before.” The  to-remain-unnamed guy in the van with his own camera-slash-smartphone says, to himself, “Whoa; Derisive Derrick just turned into Drop-in Derrick! He burned Shortboard Aaron sooooo bad! Badly. Third degree burning! And I have proof.”

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Robin Hoodie, without looking away from The Tourist, cleverly disguised in a “Surf Galveston” t-shirt (under the unbuttoned Costco shirt), asks Beardman, “Yeah, um, I know all about these here waves. It’s all because they don’t have a sewer system in Victoria.” “You’re wrong, man; the waves come from… but, uh, no; I mean, uh, what do you mean?” “It’s scientific, Doofburger; they have, like, collection tanks, and…” “So, it’s like a big ass toilet?” “Yeah…” laughing… “Really big ass. Like your mother’s.” “Hey, not fair, Dingledork.”

Meanwhile, out in the wavepark, Shortboard Aaron, riding, today only, a really big ass homemade board someone found in a barn over on Marrowstone Island, gets a flush-roller to himself as Drop-in, peering into the water, stands up on his standup paddleboard, the glasses he was so casually sporting, now somewhere among the rocks.

“Let me review my photos,” the still-unnamed-guy in the van says, temporarily distracted by the image in his sideview mirror.

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“Okay, there’s the shot,” VanMan says. “Oh, and here’s one with, I think it’s Longboard Aaron and… those must be the folks from the Mercedes. Tourists, wondering where the heck these waves came from.”

The guy at the computer (me, obviously) says, “I better blow that one up. I wonder what those people are saying.”

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“Sure,” the woman (on the left in photo) is obviously saying, “Romantic walk on the beach my ass. He’s  trying to look cool and all Port Townsend-y. I don’t care about surfboarding and how waves from Russian come down the Strait of Juan de Fuca.” Aaron, back in the soup, is saying, “Nice fade, Derrick. Next wave I’m burning you. Don’t care if it IS your birthday.” Drop-in is saying, “I’d be cooler if I hadn’t lost my cool shades.” The man with the hip beanie is saying, “Find!! And I think they’re the 100 percent UV-blocking kind.” “Uh huh,” his wife says, wondering if he’ll help her up to the parking lot. “Sorry we didn’t see any great whites,” he says, actually having meant to say Orcas or Killer Whales, but distracted by his new self image; “they have a great DVD back at the B & B.” The woman says something under her breath, as her husband, an unbagged and sand-covered piece of dog poop squishing from the heel of his sandals, ponders how wonderful it would be to live a beach comber’s life, then says, actually quite loudly, knowing Poopy Sandals isn’t listening, “and when you said great whites; silly me; I had a different thing in mind. Moby Dick my ass.”

Meanwhile, over in Victoria, someone pulls the handle and, Woosh.

Wait, wait; the forever-unnamed photographer and observer told me that, a bit later, the Tourist met up with Beard and Hoody, inquiring about legal weed. “Weed?” “Yeah, ya’ll; like, dope, mary jane; mari-jeuh-wanna. I hear it’s legal, and, well; figured you’d..” When he realized both were (this is a quote) “a bit drunk and a lot stupid; though that’s kinda like being stoned,” the Tourist, who, without being asked, admitted he wasn’t a Galveston local but (another quote) “I am perty much accepted as one,”  and noting the waves had disappeared, asked, “So, what time does the next tanker go by.” “Tanker?” Beard said, laughing. “Tanker,” Hood said, rubbing the start of his own beard.

The guy in the van, window rolled down, scanned the horizon, over toward Victoria.

Hydrosexual Stephen Davis Spiderman’s Pilings

Ten days after my SUP paddle ended up stuck in the wire rope that holds the three pilings together  (making it, technically, a dolphin), I was surprised to find it still there, still looking like an antenna.

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Unlike the session where I lost the paddle, this time Stephen and I were the only ones out. Jeffrey Vaughn, a longshoreman (who also identified the pilings as a dolphin, probably used back when the area was a source for extracting and shipping clay), parked in front of the rights, took a lot of photos, but was changing into his suit when Stephen borrowed my SUP (he was riding a classic Phil Edwards model Hobie), and paddled over to the dolphin.

Having tried unsuccessfully myself to scale the ancient poles on the day of what I’m now calling ‘a prank of opportunity,’ I didn’t have much hope that Stephen (to refresh, I call him hydrosexual because he loves all water sports; ice hockey, skiing, kite surfing, classic paddleboard racing, sailing, etc.) could actually free the monument to my (yeah, we’re talking about the husky old guy with the gorilla hands) unappreciated lineup dominance.

Having already shed my booties, seeing Steve ‘chimney-climb’ between the pilings and then climb onto the dolphin, I ran down the rocky beach. Jeffrey would miss the shot. Two Natives, a father and son I’d seen here before, were pulling their crabpots, loading their boat onto the trailer. “Yeah, I saw the paddle. I think it had a flag on it for a while. It’s been there since that one day when there were lots of surfers here.” “Yeah, it’s my paddle.” The son thought this was quite amusing. “But you got it back.” “Yeah.”

I asked Jeffrey to try to make me look skinnier. Maybe he did and this is the result. I’m going to hang onto the paddle Nick so kindly gave me (loaned, I’m saying), ready to return it the next time I see him.

The First Book Of Nick

It was one of those days when the waves didn’t match the buoy readings. The direction and size recorded have produced decent waves in the past, but not this morning. At least not yet. Stephen Davis had called my cell phone (not allowed to bring it into bedroom after this) at 3:30 or so in the morning, said he was already at Fat Smitty’s, didn’t think he could wait for me.

And he didn’t. By the time I got to the pullout, most of the front row view spots were taken, and Stephen’s van was backed up to the bluff, he nowhere in sight. Other surfers, none suited-up, were drinking coffee, making breakfast on little camp stoves, or merely staring through foggy windshields. It was a lovely morning on the Strait of Juan de Fuca; clear, calm, the sun peaking over the little headland to the east; just typically weak semi-high tide waves, and (only) one guy out, he on a SUP.

Tom, up from Olympia, called me over to where he was standing with Jeffry, the longshoreman, with a, “Hey, you think it’s gonna work?” I hoped so, and had to comment on the number of surfers ready to get amped-up and hitting-it should even one decent set show up. “Evidently we all read the same forecasts, huh?”

About this time the SUPer caught a wave only a SUPer could catch, rode it to where it fizzled in the hole just offshore. Lacking any sense of proper restraint, I hooted and yelled, “Go! Go! Owwwww!” A bit surprisingly, several other surfers down the way joined in. The hooting, not the surfing. Tom and Jeff didn’t walk away; also surprising. They would go elsewhere, maybe back toward Port Angeles, while other surf rigs, doing the pull-off and drive-by check-out, and going by the surf truism of “It can’t be good; there’s only one guy out,” kept going west, to the coast if necessary (I assume).

I was the second surfer in the water. The first guy out said he hadn’t been surfing all that long, and possibly didn’t know all the rules. “Fine.” After he attempted to take off in front of me or did take off several times, I told him that I actually catch almost all of the waves I go for. “Oh, okay.”

A bit later, during a lull, I asked him what he likes about surfing. He had obviously starting as an adult (somewhere in his forties, I’d guess). “Well,” he said, when I’m on a wave, I feel like God.”

“Um; okay.”

Perhaps I should mention now that, though I didn’t recall meeting or seeing him before, he seemed to know who I am, and said something about my writing. Something positive. All right; so, here’s someone I can’t, like, hate (not that I’m into hating). And, we were the only two guys out, so, no problems.

Several wave exchanges later, I had to paddle over and ask, “So; when you say you feel like… did you mean ‘A’ god, or, like, um, uh, “The” God?”

“Well, Erwin (he may not have used my first name, but let’s say he did); if I’d said ‘A’ god, it would have an entirely different meaning; now, wouldn’t it?”

It would. “Okay then.”

A while later, as the tide dropped a bit and the waves came up a bit, an attractive blonde woman paddled out on a longboard. “Did you come out because you saw how I was ripping it up?” I asked. She said, with an Australian accent, “It (that being my ripping) was a bit impressive, actually.” She proceeded to catch a few waves, surfing well.

Then another guy came out. I’ll save some intrigue here; the guy was her boyfriend, and, I think, co-worker, and, while she had surfed most of her life, he was in his later forties and had been surfing for about a year (kind of the ‘power couple’ re-configured). “Are you out because it looks like we’re having so much fun?” I asked.

“I didn’t drive three hours to not have fun,” the guy said. Oh, her name is Emilie (or Emily), and his is… later heard, but didn’t retain his name; but, a few waves later, he asked, while eyeing, and then paddling for a wave I was also going for, “How do you feel about drop-ins?” “Not fond of them,” I said, riding behind him until, going too slow, the wave broke on him and I had to pull through.

Several waves later, with the waves continuing to improve, but only slightly, other surfers joined the party. Stephen woke up and paddled out.  I went for a (probably more like ‘another’) set wave, but The Boyfriend was paddling, head down and oblivious to me, for the same wave. It was either bail or run over Hugh (I was calling him Hugh; not sure why. I only learned his girlfriend was named Emily because I asked her if I could call her Sally. “No, not fond of Sally”).

Naturally, I bailed. But, there was a wave really close behind it. I took off, but, down the line, god (I refuse to use the capitalized version out of respect for and fear of, you know, the real God) took off. I rode behind him all the way to the shorebreak, then paddling back out, mentioned how, when I was learning to surf, as a thirteen year old, if I’d done that, I’d have heard about it.

I should say, when I did take off in front of people, I did hear about it.

“No, no,” he argued, “you went for the first wave and didn’t catch it. You lost priority.”

Maybe you can sort this out in your own mind or with others. There is more to this story, with a connection to “The Paddle Incident,” all coming up, with photos, in “The Second Book of Nick.” Soon. Coming soon. The Second. Coming.