Stephen Davis Gets a Barrel (Roll)…

HEY, REALSURFERS, my site is a mess. I’m aware of this. I decided it might be easier to just do a monthly thing, adding new stuff when it comes up; probably not a good idea, but… hey, here’s something I came across in my many-times-daily search for whatever information I can find to determine when I can best avoid getting skunked.  IS IT A GHOST SURFER, or someone who went out in storm surf, found a corner of a wave in the corner of the bay, and got on camera?  I don’t know; couldn’t help but share it.

OKAY, and, incidentally, it’s also Barrel-roll Stephen Davis’s birthday; and he’s lucky to have made it to this one. Read on; there’s other new stuff.

…ADAM WIPEOUT wades into the crowds in Southern California; ARCHIE ENDO heads back to Thailand; the (UNOFFICIAL) PORT TOWNSEND CREW (with HamaHama backup/alternate) hike (to a non-secret-but-unnamed spot) in, separately and together, and score; MANY SURFERS travel and get skunked; ANOTHER BEACH ACCESS IS SHUT DOWN, another ACCESS IS THREATENED; I sneak in a few sliders before THE WESTPHALIANS show up;  and other news that doesn’t include revealing any secret spots on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Steve at one of his day jobs, pre-roll.

But first… Headed up a Big Island highway at six in the morning on Friday the 13th, en route to his job (one of his jobs) as a crew member (and guy who swims with dolphins AND tourists) on a catamaran built and owned by legendary surfer Woody Brown; Hydrosexual STEPHEN DAVIS, in his words, “Nearly met my maker.”

“Oh,” I said, Saturday afternoon, Steve having called me back while I was on a slippery roof trying to finish a paint job; “But you’re okay. Right.” “Kind of. I’ll send you some photos.” “Okay. I mean, but you’re okay.”

“Mostly. The first thing I did when I got out of the car was say, ‘Mother-fucker!'”

We both laughed. Since he was okay, I was imagining Steve’s impression of me in boss mode, crouching-down, hands splayed-out, saying, “What the fuck?” Yeah, it’s pretty accurate; at work; never in the water- very chill, not as chill as Steve.

I didn’t look at the photos until a couple hours later. Steve’s quick reactions, no doubt, saved his life. A DISTRACTED DRIVER was in Steve’s lane, head-on. Steve swerved, the other car hit him in more of a glancing blow.

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WAIT! WHAT! Yeah, a glancing blow that…WHAT! I had to text Stephen. It went like this:

“Did your rig flip?” “Several flips and spins. It was upside down when it came to rest. Had to kick the door open all laying on my head.” “Geez, man, just had a chance to look at the photos. thank you Jesus. Trish and I are en route to Mass.” “Ya. Super grateful.(emojis) Will you thank God for me please?” “Sure, already working on it, and trish has a bit more clout, and I’m sure your appreciation is noted. You were definitely barreled.”  “Gracias. (more emojis).”  A bit later; “Okay, mentioned your accident to the Priest. You’re all set. Be strong. No, you are strong.”  “Mahalo (emojis).”

Now, please don’t think I’m like, super religious; but I am a believer in something mysterious and beyond our understanding.  I think Stephen ‘Barrel-roll’ Davis is, too. I was ready to drop the ‘hydrosexual’ part of Steve’s nickname anyway; getting too many spam attacks from porno promoters.

OKAY, I have to go. I’ll get back to the other alluded-to news; but, ARCHIE seems to be stronger than when he arrived in the northwest after over 90 days in the hospital after a stroke in Thailand. Part of this has to be due to the above-mentioned Stephen Davis taking him to the pool in Sequim. “He lit up like Christmas,” Steve said. AND Archie is talking about getting back in the surf. Better. He better.

ADAM JAMES, on a surf-and-oyster-sales-related trip, surfed Pipes, twice at Swamis, another time at San Onofre (that I know of), tried to teach northwest-style surf etiquette to my old surfing grounds.

WAIT, here’s an UPDATE (October 16)- Now Adam has added MALIBU, VENTURA POINT, AND COUNTY LINE to his list of Southern California conquests. Nice business trip.

County Line from the rental van.

SO, parking in someone’s yard to access a rivermouth break west of Port Angeles, which has been shut down before, is shut down again. Plans for a Land Trust parking area are stalled, on hold, or just not happening, and the alternative is a long walk. When some surfers from Port Townsend hiked in from one direction recently, they found other surfers from Town who hiked in from the other direction.

AND, AGAIN, people who camp out overnight in a parking area/access to another rivermouth spot are SERIOUSLY RISKING the closure of this area. IT IS PRIVATE PROPERTY. Park somewhere else. Please.  Thanks. As far as surf etiquette is concerned; it takes some nerves to tell a local at any break that, “Hey, that was my wave.” And, I think Adam is planning on hitting Malibu before he comes back home. “Excuse me, but; you know; I’ve been waiting, and…”

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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?”

 

 

Surf Dreams, Fevers, Surf Fever Dreams

Something had to be written down (typed-out, really) before the dream images all got too foggy, too distant, ceased to make even the smallest amount of sense. And then vanished as dreams do; perhaps to reappear in later dreams, perhaps as a memory of a real event that was never real. And I’m wasting clarity time even writing this.

It was a surf contest, and there weren’t, really, real waves; but someone had just slid down an artificial wave-like face (it was sort of transluscent, blue-green, though maybe this was added, since, supposedly, men dream in black and white), on a board, hit the bottom, a transition curve to the floor, all still blue-green. The surfer cranked a smooth backside turn, and, running out of wave face (there was a door visible to his left, our right), he turned the bottom turn into a flyaway kickout, the board clanking against a beam or an actual wall, the contestant stepping off, three steps and a sort of victory stance. He had nailed the dismount.

And there would be more. I felt like I was awake, that I knew it was a dream, had to be a dream; but I couldn’t leave it. Somehow I (and this has to be connected to my having served as a judge at the Surfrider Foundation’s Cleanwater surf contest in Westport last weekend) was not only a judge, I was in the finals; and I said, “Okay, but now, each surfer should have to ‘describe’ the ride.” The smiling-and-confident surfer now looked angry. Picture Andy Irons. Yeah; weird. “Oh, I know that would be a winning ride, but now…” Other things that make sense only in dream movies came into play; stolen cars, unfinished paint jobs, having to hire three guys (and grateful the fourth disappeared) to finish that previously-mentioned paint job; waves that appeared only to be obscured by highrise condominiums; roads that didn’t lead to the beach.

Partly to make sense of the ‘fever’ part of the title, I have to add that Trish has been sick for a few days, and on Friday, I had muscle aches, that sinus-y feeling, maybe a little feverish, and I really believed I would come down with the thing. I didn’t, but, maybe her fever transferred… okay, maybe I just wanted to reference some old surf movie I may or may not have actually seen.

I was having surf dreams; not like those from the night before, when I’d gone to sleep having just found a surprising (having missed the forecast midweek pulse) and a rising swell showing. Not only was there a slight increase registering on the buoys closer to shore, but up the line, out into the North Pacific, with winds pushing that swell toward… toward morning. I knew the tide would be too high early, that the swell window was tight. I woke up around three, blearily checked the computer. The possibility of surf was still there. A couple of hours more to sleep, and then…

I got totally carried away, kind of an illustration of a dream in color. Probably why men (according to women, mostly) dream in black and white.

I got totally carried away, kind of an illustration of a dream in color. Probably why men (according to women, mostly) dream in black and white. I didn’t save the black and white version, so I’m stuck with this, for now.

“You say when you dream, your mind can just unravel; well, I’m fast awake and mine’s testing the seams;
No sign posts tell how far you might have traveled, No one’s standing at the boundaries of your dreams;                     And those dreams, they’re filled with clouds you can’t explain;                                                                                                       It may as well rain, may as well rain, may as well rain.”
from original song, “May as Well Rain”

Okay, I got lucky; found a couple of hours worth of waves as the tide dropped and the swell only gradually died. Faded. I was hoping the swell stayed around long enough so my friend Archie, just home from nine months or so working in Thailand, and his friend Sandro, could catch some decent shoulders at a different spot on the afternoon high tide. I had heard, ten miles farther out the Strait of Juan de Fuca than ‘Archie’s Reef,’ that the place they (by now) would have surfed, was overhead (and no doubt closing-out) while I cruised on two footers as the waves died out, as waves do, less and smaller sets, then no sets. I heard from a guy on the beach, someone I swear I’d talked to before, that Hobuck was indeed closed-out by this same semi-phantom swell; and this was notable and a shame as there was a surf festival going on out there.

“Isn’t every weekend a surf festival at Hobuck?” “Sort of.” “Well, the good news is, the surf will drop off. See?” “Well; maybe on the incoming tide…” “Maybe. Gotta go (home, work, reality, those real and unfinished paint jobs). Good luck.”

“Seems like every dream of mine; explodes right in my face;
Can’t seem to find a better dream, to take each lost dream’s place;
You still dream of horses, though I’ve never seen you ride;
Still, the dream of mine, I hold most dear, is to keep you by my side.
You should sleep, perhaps to dream; I see no need to raise the shade;
The dreams at dawn, that seemed so clear, about this time, begin to fade.”
from original song, “Surf Route 101”

What I’ll (at least try to) take from yesterday’s session, to be placed among the scraps and notes and out-of-order manuscripts and image files of my memory, is the fields of diamonds, looking toward the sun, that climbed the wave faces as I tried to get more in line, in trim, to sync-up with the concentrated brilliance at the crest, everything moving, flowing… maybe there were two rides in the session where the reality and some once-and-future dream combined.

Still, someone watching from another vantage point might not notice the flow, the way I cocked a hip to pull the board into that tighter trim, unweighted to allow the board to fit just under the lip, then shifted just slightly to control the drift; and, pulling out onto a flattening shoulder, my left arm, swinging back, my right leg, rotating, precede my board shifting, swinging a hundred and eighty degrees. I cross-stepped, angling into the foam, twisting my front foot, rotating further. I then dropped to my knees to a position to paddle back out.

Or my board might just skitter across a blue-green floor. Five points for the ride, 6.5 for the description.

A Temporary Monument to A Notorious Wave Hog

Maybe it was just a sort of harmless prank; maybe it’s a statement that those wave-hogging, SUP-riding, Aloha-be-damned surfers should always hold on tightly to their paddles. Yeah; even if there’s sixty yards of spinning inside tube ahead of him. And yeah, even if the set-wave-grabbing lineup Dominator is somewhere on the downhill side of sixty, with bad knees and… I mean, you should have seen him trying to get to his paddle as the tide dropped… yeah, he may have deserved this.

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I might agree if it wasn’t my paddle.

I’ve been working toward posting something on realsurfers that might go viral. A few pieces, over the three years or so since realsurfers hit the electronic cosmos, have had a sort of slow-motion version. But, what I do know is, even if someone as athletic as whoever found the paddle and jammed it into the wire rope-held pilings pulls it out, King Arthur style, the story will spread. Quickly.  After all, surfers hanging out on the Strait, waiting and hoping some sort of swell might show up, might just have to tell the tale of how the baddest-ass, kook-burning-est, wave-catchin’-est, loudest, least cool guy ever to knee-board an eleven foot board from the pilings to the fence got a sort of comeuppance.

I’d argue with the description if it wasn’t supposed to describe me.

There is more to the story; coming soon. If this wasn’t a happy ending for me (still feeling a bit outside of the tribe of mellow, never-took-off-on-anyone-ever-no-really-like-never-surfers, I’d probably guess anyone ever frustrated by SUP-riding over-compensators might just go, “Right On, Man!”), there is a surprise twist in this little morality play. This twist is forcing me to question my initial reaction to be hurt, then pissed-off at being singled out for this little prank; then humiliated by my pathetic, clumsy, and unsuccessful attempts to retrieve the paddle (witnessed by anyone who cared to look among a gathering crowd on the beach). These feelings were followed by a momentary-but-deep (why me? am I really that much of an asshole?) depression combined by a significant amount of anger at people who I would like to think of as peers (even friends). I aimed these feelings to those responsible, and to those who (owing to a different strain of tribal-think) would never reveal who did this. This rather quickly morphed into ‘fuck them/I don’t need them,’ a throwback to my days as a loner/outsider (yeah, I know you think you are. Probably not) with a fully-functioning (as in, I got waves) ghetto-mentality surfer in Oceanside and Pacific Beach,  and Swamis, and Trestles, and made me almost proud to be the Antagonist.

Still, until I sort it all out in my mind, I’m leaving it at this. [not true- I’ve already added to this piece several times] I’ve been very satisfied with the many surfers I’ve met over my years surfing in the northwest, an contrast this, happily, with my time in California.

Here are a couple of things: I won’t drop a paddle again. I catch almost every wave I try for. If you aren’t getting enough waves, take off in front of me.  Really.  I’ve never really yelled at anyone for this (wait, once I yelled, “Really?”), though my usual thing is to sarcastically yell, “Waikiki!” or “Party!” but, my new and humbler self might just smile and say, “Aloha!”(Durn; still a bit bitter, but working on it)

I’d give acknowledgement to the photographer, but, just in case he’s maintaining a safe distance, I’ll just say, ‘nice photo.’ Oh,and Trish said, “If you had a ladder, you could have walked out and climbed up to get it.” “Oh, uh huh.”

Chasing the Diamonds; Quilted, Kenetic, Allusive

My sister, Melissa Lynch, the real artist in the family, scolded me for being in any way apologetic for my drawings. Yeah, well; I would like to be honest. If I could capture the building blocks of always-moving water, figure out how to weave a seamless shadowed/reflective/glimmering/black/white/multi-hued image I would.

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If I could.

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Since I can’t; yet; I’ll keep trying.

Meanwhile, I’m still in the thinking-it-through phase of a piece I must write under the working title of: “Are All Surfers Sociopaths; or Just the Good Ones?”

Three Acts: ACT ONE- several highschool surfing buddies and I surf Swamis after school. The only other surfers out are three (also high school age) members of the Surfboards Hawaii Surf Team. On the drive home, my friends complain they couldn’t catch any (or enough) waves. I hadn’t noticed, being busy catching waves and watching incredible longboard surfing. ONE, PART 2- One of my friends (Ray Hicks, most likely) points out (I think this was the day I ripped out my pants and had to borrow a pair of Levis from Billy McLean) that, when encountering other surfers of about our age, I seem to puff out my chest. “Maybe you’re intimidated.” “Yeah; probably.” “It’s, uh, like a gorilla.” “You mean, like, primal?” “Yeah, probably.”

ACT TWO- During the last week of my job up the hill from Trestles, taking an hour and a half break during my half hour official lunchtime, some surfer (I’ve always believed he was a Marine Officer) burned me and everyone else (I still got some, but not as many as usual waves). When I checked back at my half hour afternoon (supposed to be ten minutes) break, the guy was still out, still burning surfers mercilessly. I didn’t hate him; maybe he was going somewhere sucky, where a rifle was mandatory, for a while.

ACT THREE- My friend Stephen Davis, last time I spoke with him on the phone, mostly about his upcoming trip to the Oregon Coast and the chance I might meet him somewhere (probably won’t happen); had to, (had to) mention how I fell out of favor with many members of the Port Townsend surfing crew (very unofficial) because, over-amped, I (accidentally, I swear)wave-hogged on a day almost two years ago. Two years ago. Jeez. When I mentioned this on the phone this morning with Keith Darrock, and that I’m no more a sociopath than he is, and I do have empathy, whatever that is, he had to (had to) mention his observation that I’m kind of loud and possibly abrasive (see how he was tactful about this?) in the water, and, also, incidentally, I do seem to “kind of strut in the parking lot.” “WHAT? ME? No, it’s just being friendly.” (I am laughing at this point, but, also, thinking. Is he right?) “Like a rooster. And, oh,” he adds, has to add, “You kind of stick out your chest. And…and it seems like you want to dominate (I’m adding ‘even in’) the parking lot.”

There is no ACT FOUR where I try to change my ways, get all friendly and nice; empathize with those who won’t (before hand) or didn’t get enough waves. Empathize. I did tell Keith I’d rather attempt to empathize than be one of those who didn’t get enough waves. Maybe they’ll get points toward sainthood. No true contrition. Sorry. At least not so far. But, I am thinking; and since I can’t afford professional help, I’ll have to self-diagnose.

STEP ONE-“Yes, it’s all true.” See you in the parking lot.

Surf Forecast: Culture is coming to Port Townsend, July 11th

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I went back and added some more crosshatching to the drawing after, first, I saw the way it looked on the computer screen, second, Trish commented there was something wrong with the woman’s boobs, and third, this morning, when our daughter checked it out while turning on her work computer in Chicago and said, “Nice boobs. Wetsuits kind of push boobs down, so they must be, like double Ds.”

“Wait, Dru, I’ll put the newer version on the site. Whoops. Dru; check back later.”

The color gets sort of diluted from the original drawing, which I knew. I’m trying to allow room for the event director, Keith Darrock, to add the rest of the information through photoshop. The event will be be held upstairs at Port Townsend’s Carnegie Library on the evening (about 6ish) July 11th, will feature work by local artists, possibly some artistically-enhanced surfboards, several readings (so far this would be a brief reading by me, and, hopefully, a slide-and-chat by surf literature guru Drew Kampion), with the keynote reading, in conjunction with the Northwind Gallery, by Justin Hocking, author of “The Great Floodgates of the Wonderworld.”

None of the above explains the woman’s breasts. I better check the drawing again. I’ll repost the flyer when I get it back from Keith. Meanwhile, if you’re in the area…