No, Big Dave Rips

Jeffrey Vaughn seemed to be enjoying the waves (part of this is that there were waves). It was stormy, west wind blowing (this is sideshore on the Strait of Juan de Fuca), and, maybe it was the tide, maybe the angle, but waves that, typically, hug the reef and peel, were, mostly, closing out, rolling through.

Waves were breaking on outside, Indicator reefs. Rain squalls, clouding the view to the west, would approach, roll through, further chopping-up the lines. Then pass by. Sun would, randomly, break through, adding blinding reflections on ribbed wave faces.

Some waves, that should have been lefts, almost looked like rights. I know better, usually, than to drop into these chunky, deeper water waves. You can drop into a long wall, speed for fifty yards or so and pull out, as you would on most beach breaks, or drop down under the first closeout section, pull back into some non-critical, not-steep wall, and bounce around well past the fence (this is the measure for a long ride at this spot).

Still, even on more lined-up waves, there was a tricky inside section that, if you made it, it was great. If you didn’t you’d get punched, pitched, or, again, be forced to drop down, try to work past it. Oh, I guess you could straighten out.

Jeff was taking off on the outsiders, big smile on his face, dropping-in while I’m going up the face, looking to see if the next one is going to break farther out; and he was picking off  some of the up-the-reef peelers, dropping in with his patented and classic South Bay longboard style, hands on the wall as he wailed toward the inside section.

When he got out he climbed up on top of his Mad Max-meets-heavy-duty-off-roader-adventurer van, snapped some shots of Big Dave and, yeah, me. Thanks, Jeff.

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Top-Discussion mid-session (I was out for about three hours, then a break, then an hour or so more, Dave was out when I arrived, still out when I left- at least 6 hours straight) with Dave, mostly about how access to a favorite spot has, again, been cut off. Or, maybe, about how he’s sometimes mistaken for me, and vice-versa. He’s five years younger, and was a Crystal Pier rat (his words) when I moved to Pacific Beach, San Diego, at 20, in 1971.

Second shot-Me setting up for the tricky inside section. Yes, there were bigger waves.

Third shot- Dave setting up for the tricky inside section. And, yes, the camera takes two feet off the height of a wave and adds twenty pounds (minimum) to the size of a surfer.

Bottom- Dave vertical. There were bigger waves. Really.

NOTE- While I was taking a break, drinking two cups of coffee, one of three guys loading up in a black jeep parked next to me, after taking a couple of cell phone shots of Dave, said it’s nice that someone like me is still ‘out there.’ “Thank you, young gentleman,” I should have said, instead of asking, “You mean old?” Of course he did. Maybe this, and the unspoken challenge of Ironman Big Dave, made me go back out for ‘five more waves,’ that, when it glassed-off, turned into fifteen or so. It was either that or that I’d peed in my wetsuit. Either way, thanks for the photos, Jeff; thanks for the waves Juan.

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Sum-mer-time… Skunked on the Strait, 66 degrees at Swamis, 1967…

The surf report and forecast for the Northwest portion of the contiguous U-nited States of A-merica (dashes added to more closely reflect prideful way we pro-nounce stuff) is pretty bleak. You’d have to believe the Pacific Ocean could churn up something more than a two foot swell.

Hey, it’s summertime. Painting season. Hydrosexual Stephen Davis and I, both of us drinking coffee, were each sitting in doorways of our vans, paint gear spread around. I asked him about water temperatures in Baja (last fall) and Hawaii (this last winter). “Oh,” he said, “Baja was right between trunking-it and wetsuit temperature; probably 66 degrees or so.”

“Oh,” I said. Pause, both of us nodding our heads. “You know, back when I was a teenager…” Now Steve was trying to avoid rolling his eyes. “…when the water temperature got up to 58 degrees, somewhere around Easter; if you were still wearing a wetsuit… and bear in mind we only had shortjohn wetsuits… you were a pussy.”

“Uh huh. Pussy.” “Really. And you couldn’t put one on until it got back down to 58, somewhere around December; before Christmas, anyway.” “Uh huh.”

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What I didn’t bother to tell him, but probably drifted off into remembering, was an early summer morning when Phillip Harper, Ray Hicks, possibly Mark Metzger and Billy McLain, and I; no doubt in two cars from Fallbrook, all hit Swamis at about the same time.  I was first down the stairs.

I surfed Swamis enough from 1965 to see the basic reef, sort of fanned, overlapping shelves, hold up while the shoreline would change more dramatically; erosion, refill. Seasonal. The wave conditions went from one high tide peak too close to the bigger rocks; to mid-tide and two distinct peaks; to ultra low tide, one running crazy and almost hollow wave; from the December ’69 swell; through dawn patrol, after school, between classes-at- Palomar and work-in-Oceanside sessions (pre-1971); to the times I lived in Encinitas (’74-’76) and could sneak in a few; to New Years day ventures while working in San Diego because I didn’t have work in the Northwest (1991,’92); everything from Santa Ana mornings to south wind chop, onshore, glassy; overhead to flat; overcrowded to almost empty; with so many memories… they’re all memories now; haven’t surfed there in twenty-five years.

On the particular morning I was remembering while talking with Steve, shadows of the bluff extending into the water, there was a chalk board on the still-empty lifeguard station. “Surf 2-3, water temp- 66.” Whoa! Warming up! We would probably end up surfing what we referred to as Swamis Beachbreak, the quarter mile or so between Swamis proper, and Pipes, pretending there was a better lineup off this rock than off that. “Hey, I WAS on the nose!” “Hey, did you see that rollercoaster?” “Hey!”

I hit the water straight out in front of the stairs, caught a left just as my friends hit the sand. “Hey!”

Not that Stephen would be all that impressed. “Uh huh. Do you have any more coffee?”

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“Uh. Um. Yeah.” I’m certain many of us will look back on the times we went searching for waves on the Strait. Sometimes it can be… “Waves?” “Waves? No, I got skunked.” “Then why are you smiling?”

 

 

With Apologies For Burning the *(Now) Unnamed Longboard Local,

…the LONGBOARDING LOCAL, who, after a tough week (evidently), paddled out at a spot, a fickle point break, where he considers himself a local, with a fairly obvious and focused attitude that he was there to surf.  I saw him paddle past me, mustache waxed, ready to rip, crowd be damned (okay, this is a judgement call by me, a guy whose motto is, ‘I’m here to surf.’)

DEFINITION- A Sociopath is someone who knows something he or she does is wrong, yet continues to do it. I’ve often thought all good surfers are sociopaths. This probably isn’t totally true, but what it takes to be good at anything is a certain competitive drive. To be good at surfing, an, admittedly, self-centered sport, increasingly, with more crowded conditions, takes a certain amount of aggressiveness. If I can stop just sort of confessing to being a sociopath, I will admit to being, at least in the water, aggressive.

John Peck, a legendary surfer, somewhat older than Erwin Dence, doing (and obviously enjoying) a bit of kneeboarding. Photo by Nathan Oldfields. Find it, if nowhere else, at mollusksurfshopscom

DISCLAIMER (Or maybe it’s a ‘claimer’) ONE- a) If you can’t walk to a spot in less than, say, forty-five minutes from your home, you’re not a local. b) If you pay to park, you’re not a local.  c) Mitt Romney is a local at Windansea, Bob Dylan at Malibu. Or would be if they surfed.  d) The guy who lives in his van is probably More Local than you.                 SO, we go to ever-expanding circles of Local-ness; the above-mentioned Longboarder Local being Local-er than I am, with me being Local-er than, well, lots of people.  AND I have been a TRUE LOCAL several times; Pacific Beach, Encinitas; AND, some credit must be given for working in close proximity to surf. ADD Oceanside Pier to my local history; I worked two blocks and some railroad tracks away for over two years. OHHH, and add Lower Trestles; I worked up the hill, with a view of the place, and drove out on the beach every working day for ten months (an hour and a half lunchbreak, a third of it legal)  in 1975.

SETTING THE SCENE- I was actually, after getting skunked (or unwilling to wait for a possible properly-aligned swell/tide/wind/crowd combination), the first one in the water on this particular afternoon. And it was working. So, yeah, hurry, gorge it up.  BUT, too soon, others showed up. First it was two guys, friendly nods followed by the guy on the bigger board totally taking off in front of me. I didn’t freak out. I did, somewhat later, return the favor. SO, Even. THEN, more surfers showed up. ONE goofy-footer was totally ripping; down the line, under the lip, a few controlled freefalls. Everyone else was surfing. I, 65 year old guy with pretty screwed-up knees, was (and maybe this seems counter-intuitive) kneeboarding, taking off farther up the line, driving across. I was totally enjoying it. A longtime local, and the best kneeboarder on the Strait of Juan de Fuca who wears fins, someone who I first surfed this spot with (with as in, he was also out) in 1979, was catching some waves, always in the barrel. Hey, he was kneeboarding.

DISCLAIMER TWO- RELATIVE AGE OR LONGEVITY in the sport aren’t valid arguments for any kind of preferential treatment. They never have been.  Having said that…                                                                                                                       DISCLAIMER THREE- THE DISPARITY in surfing equipment is an issue that contributes to tension in the surf zone. I have felt the frustration when I’m on a longboard and three A-holes on SUPs show up, their training in lakes and at Yoga Camp obvious.      ADDENDUM to the disclaimer- I started on longboards in 1965, made the switch to shortboards; never rode another longboard until 1989, never rode an SUP until I was 60.

SO, on the first wave I saw ridden by Longboarding Local, he was driving, hit a section, lost his board. Leashless, Longboard Local’s loose board came perilously close to hitting (she would later say ‘decapitating’) a woman who would, a little later, catch one of the waves of the day. Longboarding Local seemed angry that he had to rock dance his way in.  OKAY, so it’s sort of badass to not wear a leash, but, in crowded conditions, PERHAPS sort of irresponsible.

NOW, I had actually gotten out of the water after two and a half hours or so, AND the surf had dropped, the crowd increased. BUT, my friend, who I’ve advised to deny any friendship, after surfing elsewhere, had moved to this spot, and claimed more sets were coming.  I went back out.  HE WAS RIGHT; after what was probably a 45 minute lull, a set approached, and I, inside, was paddling out. As were others. As was Longboarding Local.  The woman Longboarding Local’s loose board had nearly decapitated took the first one. Someone else, possibly her boyfriend, was on the second. I turned for the third. Longboarding Local was, I swear (judge or judges), still paddling out when I turned and committed. BUT, deeper than I was, he turned and took off.  I COULD HEAR YELLING (despite wearing earplugs and my right ear pretty much plugged, again, from the narrowing of the ear canals, that caused by bone growth, that exacerbated by surfing in cold water, that condition first diagnosed when I was 20) behind me, I could feel Longboarding Local’s presence. I pulled out as quickly as I could. These weren’t two person (or PARTY) waves. MAYBE Mr. Local would have made the wave. I’m certain he thought so. I caught the next one (yeah, guess there was another), cruised out of the possible-confrontation zone.

PADDLING back up the point, I couldn’t hear anything, but could see big arm gestures; L.L. making his case to my (although he doesn’t, as I’ve said, have to claim it) friend. WHEN I got even with my friend ______, he wasn’t entirely sympathetic to my explanation.

PRIORITY RULES (historically)- There was no ‘taking turns’ back when I, still thirteen years old, was learning to surf. A wave belonged to the surfer farthest out, closest to the peak. That was it. This was enforced through  peer pressure and intimidation, real or imagined. IF YOU wanted to challenge the big dog, you moved closer to the peak, farther out. IF YOU waited for your turn, you got one, occasionally. IF YOU wanted all the waves to yourself, you pretty much weren’t out on a great day at a great spot.  A LOT of surfing at a good spot (picture Swamis, late 1960s) consisted mostly of moving around, sharking the  inside, waiting for a wave everyone missed of someone fell on. SCRAPPING. IT IS a classic situation where someone sits too far over, can’t make the first section. OR, someone goes for a wave, you don’t, and that person does not catch the wave. AGAIN, differences in equipment have made this more of an issue than in the past; THOUGH, not actually catching or blowing a wave that then goes unridden, particularly if done several times, will not make anyone popular.

PRIORITY RULES (current)- No matter how many times I’ve had this explained to me, I still don’t get it. If I get a set wave and you don’t; and you’re waiting on the shoulder; I shouldn’t paddle out past you, looking for the next set wave? I should allow you to opportunity to go for it, unchallenged? It’s your turn. MAYBE these new rules are the work of surfers who… okay, I’m not going on about ‘participation’ awards and such things… these rules are, at least partially, the result of increasingly crowded conditions. AND they’re really more a WISH LIST than something adhered to.

OKAY, I have tried going by the new priority etiquette. Really. I know how painful it is to not go for the one wave in a one wave set. I had a brief version of this discussion with _____, acknowledging I’d done L.L. wrong. “Well, you could apologize.” “I could.” I paddled up the point, got even with Local Longboarder, apologized. “I come here to get away from this shit,” he said, his arm gestures a bit refrained in comparison to earlier. “We all do,” I said. Not sure if L.L. heard me as I paddled away, but I did say I was leaving,  he could have all my waves. I heard he settled down after I left. Great. Sorry, Longboarder Local. I owe you one.

ONE.

*I’ve actually had a bit of discussion about this incident; the kind of thing that happens, one would guess, thousands of times a day around the world. But, I chose to write about it. If part of my point is that Longboarding Local overreacted, it’s easy to say I have also. “Okay.” AND, some have told me my apology doesn’t seem truly sincere; AND, in fact, almost seems like I’m burning the guy again. “What?” Anyway, I have decided to delete his name. If you just loved the pre-redacted version so much you printed up a copy, please burn that. Really. I’m sincere, here. Truly.

 

 

 

The Right Wave Will…

…wash the grownup out of you.

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I have seen a few grownups who surf. They probably shouldn’t. It just has to be too frustrating dealing with the snakings and the non-looks and the stink-eye, AND, all the while, trying to maintain some sort of ADULT-NESS.

If surfers try to, let’s say, exude a sense of COOLNESS, the sight waves, lined-up, peeling, even if nowhere close to perfect, can seriously damage the facade. Oh, you can maintain the posture, but the glint, the Mona Lisa expression… A great ride, that one section that you shouldn’t have made, but did; that one wave where your board suddenly leapt to light speed, that one cutback you made despite throwing in some extra oomph; Owwwwww! The coolness is gone.

KOOK OUT!

‘GIDDY’ is the word I’ve heard over and over by surfers who would otherwise pass as adults. “I was laughing the whole time.” “It was, it was… I can’t even tell you how…”

Yeah, we know.  Cool it.

All right. I’ve been thinking of the time between surf sessions. I’m doing a little research based on some vague remembrance of a movie about composer Nicholai Andreyevich Rimski-Korsakov. You’re not surfing right now. Are you getting mentally prepared? Does the down time… yeah, thinking about it.

The Line Between Respect and Pity

I’ve been trying to get an image of how thick that line is for a couple of days; or even if this is the line I’m really concerned with. Maybe, probably, I’m a bit too sensitive to my own position, as I, um, mature… okay, we’ll just say ‘age,’ in the overall surfer lineup. Maybe? Definitely.  Actually, I always have been.

When I first started board surfing, I’d sneak into the pack at Tamarack as if I belonged there, a big, kook smile on my 13, almost 14 year old face. Soon I was paddling, head down and blind, into a wave at Swamis that, undoubtedly, had someone on it, with me as an impediment to a great ride. I did stay in the lagoon section at pre-jetty extension at Doheny, an eye on the surfers out on the reef. I was learning, frequently thrashed by waves, but always happy to be out there.

It wasn’t too long a time before I tried, hard, to be one of the better surfers out on any given day. Competitive.

This hasn’t changed in fifty-two years. Hasn’t changed yet. Yet, though I’ve always pushed them, I’ve always known my limitations. At least I knew there are limitations. When I was a kook, I knew it. If I didn’t, other surfers told me. I was told to go (by one guy in particular, but also by consensus) to the Carlsbad Slough to practice knee paddling when I pearled on an outside wave, causing four or five surfers to scramble. I didn’t go, but moved away from the main peak. I was sent to the south peak at Grandview when I lost my board in a failed kickout, putting a ding in John Amsterdam’s brand new Dewey Weber Performer. I did go, looking longingly back at the rights.

It’s not me, though I did once have a VW bus (and hair)

Another lost board incident, with a near miss with some stinkbug-stanced kook Marine swimming after his borrowed-or-rented board found him standing on my board in the shallows. “You like this board,” he asked, threatening to break it into “a million pieces if I ever tried to hit him with it again.” He had two friends to back him up; I had my second brother down, Philip. “Okay.” Still, I paddled back out, ten feet away from him and his friends, brave look on my face.

I persisted. With the nearest waves twenty miles from Fallbrook, I always went out. South wind, north wind, white-caps, big or small. There were setbacks, times I just couldn’t connect, couldn’t get into the rhythm; days where trying to get out for another closeout seemed like more work than it was worth; but I was improving.

Hey, this will have to be part one; I just have to go, and I don’t have the whole arc figured out. I’ll be sixty-six in August; I’m still as stoked (and as immature, emotionally) as ever; still want to be, during any given surf session, competitive.  I do admit to having more handicaps than I’d like.  I’ve adjusted. Bigger board, mostly.

I had two sessions this week; the first, at a mutant slab with a massive current. I was humbled.  While I was thrashed and sucked, others were thrashed and got some great rides. I would love to say I wasn’t embarrassed as much as disappointed in myself. That’s what I’d love to say; the truth is, again, I’m still working that out.   Possibly to make up for this, I went to a more user-friendly spot the next day. I didn’t suck.

just coming up. Photo by Jeffrey Vaughan.

Not really surprisingly, a couple of older surfers I’ve surfed with before showed up. When the waves went from almost flat to pretty darn good, one of them, as cool a surfer as one would meet, admitted that, when he sees great waves, “I just get giddy!”

This giddiness, something so profound that we can forget the posturing and coolness, is at the very heart of surfing. It’s something common to all real surfers. Maybe it takes a better wave to bring it out in some, but that bustable smile is there.  We’re all, occasionally, humbled.  The ocean always gets the last word.  Not actually ready to be humble, yet, I’m persisting.

 

Hydrosexual Stephen Davis On His Way Back UP

Evidently spring is finally coming closer. After driving through some snow, surfing in a squall, changing back into street clothes (socks are surprisingly difficult to put on frozen feet) in another round of sleet, driving back through rounds of sun, rain, more sleet, more sun… yeah, another surf trip in the great Pacific Northwest.

I’m not sure how long it took Stephen to get from lowest Baja to San Diego; almost long enough to get over getting sick from surfing in storm-runoff. But, with people lined up to stay with along the way, it’s taken one day from San Diego to Huntington, one day more to Rincon and beyond…

Here’s a shot of Rincon, the note saying (only) “Rincon with 4 out.” I sent a reply. “Did you go out?” I would have gone out, even if there were, I don’t know, 8 people out.

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Oh, I’m sorry… maybe it’s Rincon.

Cartoons, Coloring Book Drawings, Tattoos, Renderings…

…and kind of thinking if concentrating on doing surfing illustrations with using them in a coloring book has been helpful to my long term artistic goals. It has made me think of trying to show more with simpler lines, but… yeah, but, but I just always want to get better, closer to the feelings as well as the images.

"Water Seeks Its Own Level" I thought I'd post this before I go back and add more to it. I love simplicity; love wild, swooping lines; I just don't seem to stop soon enough often enough.

“Water Seeks Its Own Level” I thought I’d post this before I go back and add more to it. I love simplicity; love wild, swooping lines; I just don’t seem to stop soon enough often enough.

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This was the third attempt. Draw one; the expression on the surfer’s face is wrong, head’s too big. Use that to get to the second. Too messy, perhaps. This one… maybe the face is too cartoonish. AND, I know, got too carried away with the lines. Really, in most surfing images, photos or illustrations, especially if the surfer is wearing a wetsuit; it’s a lot of black. It is risky to try to show expressions; and (sorry for the self evaluation/critique), on drawings where the expression seemed right, the rest kind of followed.

Here are a couple of other recent, non-surf-centric illustrations:

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I’m not sure why the second one seems off-kilter. I’m blaming the scanner. Again, it’s the expression first, rendering second.

MEANWHILE: Trying to keep from naming surf spots; but reaffirming that there is never any surf on the Strait of Juan de Fuca; I did go surfing quite recently with Adam Wipeout, Cameron, Adam’s dog, Victor, somewhere on the wild Pacific Ocean coastline in Washington, just ahead of more incoming snow.

BECAUSE Camo is six feet four with long legs, he got to ride shotgun in the ‘should be stealthy, but with four boards (two for Adam, just in case) on top, non-descript Toyota’ while I, with short legs but a quite long torso, got to ride in the back with the over-active dog. Now, part of Adam’s deal with his wife, Andrea, is that, evidently, if he gets to go surfing on a Sunday, he either takes their two overactive boys, Emmett and Boomer, or the aforementioned dog. AND Victor seemed to resent both me, taking up less than half of the available space, and the paddle that split the space. AND it’s a long haul there and back; speed reduced by the off-and-on icy, and almost all winding roads.

AND, when we got to the ocean, there were choices; not between almost great and great waves, but between junky and less-junky. AND it was cold. 37 degrees, with a colder wind possibly ready to get even colder. I must admit I waited a while, looking for… geez, what are we always looking for?  WHILE I was shivering, watching, four surfers came running down the beach, headed out right where Camo and Adam were getting a few decent beachbreakers. Bear in mind, there were no other surfers out anywhere. AND, one of the surfers had a GoPro in his mouth, just sure he’d be getting barrelled.

SO, I went out, found a few fun ones, cranked a few turns, connections, got bumped off on a tuck-in, got caught inside way too many times, traded off peaks (the wind did shift, and it got better) with Adam. EVIDENTLY, when we were pulling through Port Angeles, someone flipped us off. Really, they flipped Adam off. “So,” I asked Adam while we were waiting at a Mexican Restaurant, “don’t you flip off cars with four boards on top? I do, sometimes, I admitted, if it’s only an under-the-dashboard flip-off.

AND, incidentally, there were PA locals at the restaurant, possibly, almost certainly, surfers, but, on this day, they’d been hitting the local slopes (not sure if this is a secret spot or not). You can tell; they kept their passes hanging on their outfits. Outfits. “It was just too good to pass up,” one of them told Adam. Other than the car with the dog hanging out a window and the four boards on top, there was little proof that we’d been ripping up the ocean waves. Maybe if I’d had a GoPro in my mouth…

So, sorry to get too involved in the story. Hopefully I didn’t reveal too much secret information. Again, remember there’s always something breaking on the coast, never anything on the Strait.

New Year, Almost

image-128I’m still scheming on how to fit in one more session before the end of the year. You probably are, also. Okay, I’m not going anywhere tomorrow morning, so… wait, Sunday’d be 2017. I am going to figure out where I did my surfing over the last year, as soon as I find the calendar I used for the first months, only transferring the number of sessions.

Remember, the whole realsurfers thing started, or, at least the notion of realness, because I read that real skiers go at least 30 times a year. So, I am real. At least. Best to you in the coming year; may you luck into some perfect conditions, and tuck into a few perfect waves.

Hydrosexual Stephen Davis Goes South- PART II- 12/10/16

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Here’s a spot. Evidently not a secret spot. Steve did not surf here with 50 or more other rabid, aggro, or merely fun/crowd loving enthusiasts; but, rather, surfed a pretty empty lineup without a lot of other position-jockey-ers. When I asked him how he could find an uncrowded spot, he said, “Hey, I’m not from around here; I don’t know why everyone was out there. I don’t understand at all.”

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There are a couple of other shots with landmarks that might reveal which spot this is. No, it’s not Seaside, even on a Saturday, but is south (I think) of Santa Cruz. Okay, it’s Morro Bay (probably). I spoke to Stephen later, when it was already dark up here, still light, but foggy, at a break he was watching. I think it’s Cayucos.

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Below is a shot of Steve pig-dogging a super-top-secret spot in the PNW, aka GNW.  As in, Rarely but rarely (and not currently- rarely, rarely) great.

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UPDATE- Sunday morning, 12/11/16.                                                                                                        It was too dark for Stephen to get a shot at Rincon, barely breaking, but longboardable. With a dropping swell,  I don’t know how he resisted. He was sorely tempted, but wanted to get through LA before… you know, before. And he did. He thought about Trestles, but opted for San Onofre. Got in the water with quite a few others spread over a hundred yards or so, south to north. Caught some peaks. I have to edit, but Trish loves all the photos. Yeah, I do, too.

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UPDATE: 12/12/16- Steve, his van in long term parking, is enroute to Hawaii. He and I had talked about Swamis and Pipes and other North San Diego spots. He was a bit confused about where actual Pipes is, but did hang out on the fence on the bluff for a while, surfers doing the ‘talking story’ thing in the parking lot. Unable to find parking at Swamis, obviously not breaking, with “some sort of circus or something, people doing yoga under the trees… kind of confusing what was going on there.”  Here’s a shot from the bluff. I told Trish that maybe it’s my old friend Ray Hicks and his wife, Carol, strolling the beach.

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UPDATE- 12/14/16- Having flown out of San Diego early Monday morning, Stephen is in Hilo, Hawaii. I called him this morning to see if he’s watching the Pipeline Masters. Yes. Surfing? Yes, but mostly body surfing. I asked him to send me a photo of the shop Oceana’s father owns. “Haven’t gone there yet.” “Why not?” “Too busy.” “Where are you staying?” “Next door to the shop.” “Oh… sure. Maybe you can take a photo?” “Okay.”

Here’s a photo of a beach. I already forgot the name. Probably, judging from the heads of those in the beach chairs, heavily localized and probably secret.

img_0711 Steve identified the spot as “Magic Sands.”

Dawn Patrol from Home and the FROTH Factor

Everyone who surfs seems to get the same forecasts, the same weather reports, and buoy readings, tide charts; it’s all in how much faith we put in the forecast, even faith in the buoys; and how we analyze the data. Ebb, flow, go or not go; load up the car, head out in the dark.

cam-lapush-wa-1Looks good; I think I see a line…wait, on the outside…looks glassy. Hmm.

OH, and we have to factor work into the eventual equation: WORK, the reason I’ve missed so many days others reported as epic, including, most recently, last Wednesday, a day I’d predicted as worth trying. Even more frustrating, I can easily, still ten miles from the spot I hope is breaking, remember working on the bluff above Stone Steps, painting someone’s house… OH, and the house down by (original, real) Grandview; while others, others, fortunate others, were enjoying glassy peaks.  OH, and the ultimate, working on Camp Pendleton, painting on base housing, with a perfect view of Lower Trestles, hoping it wouldn’t be blown out by lunchtime, hoping for an after work.

AND, it must be said, that looking at perfect, or even good waves once you’ve been out, and you’re tired, and you’re satisfied, and you’re warm (and your wetsuit is hanging or thrown into a bin) is way different than arriving to mediocre waves and a big crowd (as in, Last Saturday). “So, here comes a set, five people scratching for it… where’s my thermos?”

SO, we can talk about the FROTH level, exacerbated by third hand reports of favorable conditions at a spot I by-passed on Saturday (Was I, as accused, ‘too good’ for that spot? I had hoped to be, and was skunked at a spot I just knew would be working), and the generally hyper-competitive nature (so my wife says) between me and my small circle of surfing friends. Wanting to score, to brag, to, (even) gloat; factor these into the Froth Formula. And factor in one friend saying I was, perhaps, rather than not being so rude as to paddle out in a crowd of surfers of various skill levels, I was, and I should consider this, getting soft.

NO, I’ve always been competitive; and really, it’s mostly with myself, a desire to be better, better; as good as the conditions and my ability will allow.

FROTHING. WAVE LUST. So, yesterday, after a few skunkings, a near-(and should really be classified as a skunking, but I won’t)skunking, and some sessions riding barely-catch-able waves, I was FOAMING.  When I arrived, an hour after dawn (mostly because of indecision about the buoys), there were already six people out, the tide was already high and getting higher, and I was… here’s a froth-mediating thing: If the waves were epic, insanity; they weren’t, but there were waves, and the waves wouldn’t last through the tide; the swell could move a degree or two and it could all vanish… I paddled out.

Does that look... um, kinda...hmm

Does that look… um, kinda…hmm

Here came a wave; I turned and paddled for it alongside a guy with a beard and a very long longboard with a Gopro on the front of it. I backed-out, he missed the wave. “Oh, I thought you would’ve caught it,” I said, politely. No response. I jockeyed around a bit, then pointed to the Gopro. “How do you turn that thing on?” “By not taking off on my wave,” he said in a voice loud enough for me to hear despite wearing earplugs and a hood. “Oh, okay.”

Okay, froth mediation. “Be polite. Relax. Share,” I told myself, quickly followed by asking myself, “If I’m farther over, it wouldn’t be his wave?”  I caught a couple of inside waves, carefully avoiding the GoProHipster, and did notice he did the paddle-in-not-on-a-wave (sometimes called the ‘paddle of shame’), then hung out on the beach for quite a while. I kept surfing.

All lust, I remember from Psychology 101, seeks to end itself. Hungry? Eat. I’m okay, for a while, but, pre-dawn, still checking the buoys, the forecasts, doing a little writing before I go to, yeah, WORK. I don’t, incidentally, have Work Lust, at least not that requires counseling.