Dru Harrison, Waddell Creek, Color

Too much? Hey, it’s from the late 60s, ma-an.

Image (41)Actually, the color version is so much brighter on paper. Wait, I just tipped the screen a bit. Yeah, there it is.  Rich Wilken took the photo this was taken from. By ‘taken,’ I mean, look at the photo, draw. Just looking at the photo in “The Perfect Day,” the fortieth year anthology from “Surfer” magazine, the smoothness of the black and white version is a tough thing to duplicate.

Smoothness is the essence of style. That ability to ignore the critical, not think of the negative consequences; back against the wall; pressure on the back foot, eye on the lip twenty yards down; project; that would be stylish.

I remember Dru Harrison from surfing magazines; and, because I’m posting this, I just did a little mini-search. He was born a year before I was, surfed his ass off, died in 2003. I do remember reading something about it when he passed. Alcohol-related. Shame. Not the only surfer gone early, missing out on sliding a few more glassy walls.

Okay, I’m off the subject now, thinking about when the next swell window opens. Well, not quite. I’ve been thinking that life is a marathon/relay race; we are handed a certain set of circumstances, we get moving; some slip and are trampled; others pass on a different set of circumstances to our children and those we come in contact with; and we just keep going. Yeah, I’m working on the analogy. And, bad knees and all, moving, looking forward more than back. Twenty yards down the line…

Surf Noir, Illustration for “No One That Mattered”

Trish came into the room yesterday, looked at the early stages of this drawing, asked, “A gun? What’s that for?” “A story.” “Where’d you even find that…um…” It was as if I’d been checking out porno. “What kind of story would…” “I googled ‘man with a gun in his waistband’ and, well…”

To be honest, there were some images of guys with what might be called ‘holster’ underwear, and other people with gun tattoos, including at least one shot of a woman with what my daughter Dru would call a ‘tramp stamp,’ this one of crossed pistols, on the small of her back.

Okay, now you’re opening a new tab.

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I’ll add the drawing to the next post down; the story it was drawn for. I still haven’t purchased ink for my printer, but I will get the backlog of drawings copied so I can do some color versions. Writers are always (because we have to), begging people to read our stuff) read the story if you get a chance. I’m not ordinarily a surf noir writer, and, like the (mostly fictional) narrator, don’t have a lot of first hand experience with the seamier (but real) side of surfing, but I do have some second hand knowledge.

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Secret Spot, Illustration

The drawing is taken from a Rich Wilken photograph of Dru Harrison at Waddell Creek, a spot unknown to me but probably not secret; that photograph from the 40 year “Surfer” anthology “The Perfect Day,” accompanied by a piece by Drew Kampion on “The Day They Walked on the Moon,” July 20, 1969. About that, and, of course, more. In this case, the story was also about radical, for the time, surfing at a Western Surfing Association (WSA) contest at Oceanside, and some perfect (and uncrowded) waves at Lower Trestles.

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What I remember about the day, a Sunday, is that I went surfing, and the next day, I went to the accountant’s office in Oceanside to pick up my paycheck for the previous week’s work at Buddy’s Sign Service. Buddy’s real name, because almost no one, even someone in Florida whose son would end up learning sign painting in prison, would give a child the name Buddy when Lacey, Lacey Rollins, was available (Oh, maybe Buddy was a prison name).

Buddy, with his wife, Sandy, had recently moved from a trailer in the back of his first shop, in South Oceanside, which they had moved to from a shed, to one of three upstairs apartments at what had been the “Blade-Tribune” newspaper building, 1st and Tremont, home of his new shop. Big, high ceilings; quite Loft-like. The building was a block from the Greyhound  bus station, a few blocks from the pier. With the Vietnam War still in full swing, and Camp Pendleton nearby, for a kid from what I thought was the suburbs but would now qualify as rural, this was a pretty scary/exciting neighborhood, with waves just beyond the railroad tracks.

Buddy seemed to hang out at the office a bit, and, in fact, was there, slouching in a chair, when I came in.  The woman who was making out my check, I noticed, while I was waiting at her desk, had been practicing a signature on some scratch paper. Sheila Rollins (or some other first name I’ve forgotten).

Since I, freshly graduated from Fallbrook High, considered Buddy, at 32, old; and, in fact, thought Sandy, at 21, was a little oldish, and kind of (I’m being honest here) cheap; and definitely thought Buddy was pretty white trashish. He was good at lettering- a skill, practiced and learned; rather than in any way artistic (which is the reason I went after a job as a sign painting apprentice- high(er) art). I was a bit stunned that the woman might consider Buddy- I don’t know, desirable- maybe.

“Where were you… um… yesterday,” she asked. “Surfing,” I said, and probably went into some details of where and how good she, knowing I had seen the signatures and was probably judging her (I was), didn’t actually care to hear. “You know, you’ll always remember where you were when man first walked on the moon.”

Buddy nodded at me and smiled at Sheila, then sat up straighter when Sandy entered the office.

Sheila gave me my check for whatever balance remained, after taxes, from forty hours at $1.35/hr. I would routinely cash my check at the market on the way home, or, if it was early enough, before checking out a few surf spots, maybe surfing Tamarack or Grandview. Yeah, minimum wage was $1.65 an hour at the time. I found this out a month or so later when I found a required government poster in one of the bathrooms at the “Blade-Tribune” building; right after Buddy gave me a raise to $1.50.

“No,” I told the new bookkeeper, Sandy, “You actually have to pay me more.” Sandy looked at Buddy, lettering at a 4′ by 8′ easel, standing on one leg, like Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull (so you get an image). “I can show you the poster. I mean…” Buddy looked at Sandy, looked at me, shrugged. “Next week, then. Okay, Kid?”

I’m pretty sure I surfed at the south jetty that Monday morning, but, can’t quite remember where I surfed on the day… you know, THE day.

NOTE: My  printer is out of ink. I’ll do a color version of this later.

PB Point Never Breaks

HEAD SONGS- It may have been an early Fleetwood Mac instrumental playing in my head. Whatever it was it was perfect for the afternoon, some mix of northwest swell and just the right tide creating fast lines from near Pacific Beach Point to the south end of the parking lot at Tourmaline Canyon. It was turn-and-tuck on each thin, fast, backlit wave, tuck until you are finally engulfed by the tube.

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SUMMER SOLSTICE: The longest days in San Diego seem to end by 8:15 or so. In the three years or so, starting in November of 1971, I lived in PB, just up the long steep drop to the parking lot, I always checked PB Point. It seemed like there should be great, Swamis-like waves there; there just weren’t. No, not ever. On one summer day, unlike the first story (and probably with a different tune moving as a different wave in my head), the waves were peaky, with the best peak halfway to the actual point. I went out after work and stayed long enough to walk back up the hill in the dark, across the street to the La Jolla Bella, long since, I’m sure, condo-ed out and priced out of reach for a newly-married couple, even if both work.

ANOTHER SUMMER DAY, not working on workday, I was out on a little peak just off the actual point. Starting out shoulder-hopping, I was soon mid-peak, then back-dooring the wave, most likely on my Surfboards Hawaii twinfin, the going-right fin moved as far forward in the box as it would go, the going-left fin back because, if I must explain, I surfed differently going backside; more forward-trim going right. I also had my first leash/kookstrap on the board, already shortened by breakage because they were then made out of something like surgical tubing, effected negatively by saltwater corrosion. So, mid-peak, I took a hit, the board slid out from under me, the leash dragged me, kicking and clawing, across the reef. I came up with green stuff under my fingernails. Perfect. Go again.

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WINTER SOLSTICE: On the shortest days of the year, it seems, as I remember, to get dark in San Diego somewhere between 4:30 and 5pm. I mention this because, in the Northwest, way farther north, but also farther west, the longest days go close to 10pm, but the shortest days turn dark before 4:35. Interesting. Not really, but, on one of those winter afternoons, PB Point was working. It was, and I don’t exaggerate on wave size, six feet. I must admit I’m daunted by larger waves (less daunting, more excitement on a point break compared to a beachbreak), but I found myself comfortable. And the waves just got bigger, until, just before dark, it was, by my standard, eight feet and I was still more excited than concerned. The darkness closed in so quickly, exhausted, looking way down the beach toward the lights, that I decided to go up the cliff. I climbed a fence or two, went through some rich person’s yard, and walked back down the road toward home.

PBPoint

ONE MORE STORY: My friend from Fallbrook, my first surfing accomplice, Phillip (long since Doctor) Harper, and his first wife, Pam, because they had to work weekends, would often come down to San Diego, or we’d meet at Swamis or somewhere, on a Wednesday or Thursday. On one of these visits, Phillip and I were surfing quite small and pretty crappy beachbreak at Tourmaline. I wiped-out on a wave, my even-shorter leash wrapped around the back of my board, and, when I came up, the board hit me right in the eye. What was interesting was, because I thrashed (and still thrash) boards, and rarely patched them (or patch them), a week or so later the glass on the nose of the board was broken away. It would have been a different result, Jack.

OKAY, TWO STORIES: That board was getting so thrashed that I would frequently go home with several new cuts on my legs from the board. On one winter afternoon, the tide very high, most of the surfers not catching any waves, I was taking off, kicking-out close to the shore riprap, close to the parking lot. When I got out, a tourist, an older woman probably escaping snow or something, said, “You look like you were having the most fun out there.” “Probably was,” I said, some new line of blood running down my leg.

THESE DAYS, because I need new gloves, I seem to get a new wound on my hands from each session, though, donning my old (properly thrashed) suit for a second session, recently, I noticed, later, that I had new scratches on my knee where the wetsuit was ripped. Should repair that.

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.

A (Revised) Last Look at the Second Occasional Surf Culture Event- and A Bit on Drew Kampion and Something on Author Justin Hocking

Alienating Drew Kampion is something that sits high on my worry list; right up there with being called a Kook or a Hodad (first I was thinking young surf punks who don’t appreciate the experience and innate coolness of someone who has been surfing for, forever- but then I really mean anyone, even if I’ve done something Hodad-ish or Kook-like). Mr. Kampion is held in a rare position in the surfing community. While surfers like Miki Dora and Greg Noll are admired for living a lifestyle unavailable to those of us who love adventure yet opt for some sense of security, and other surfers are noted for gloriously blazing and tragically (but, maybe predictably) burning-out, Drew Kampion has kept a toe in the waters and an eye on the changes in the surfing world since the evolution/revolution in the mid-to-late 1960s, pushing “Surfer” into new-age journalism while most of us were cutting old boards down and sticking one hand in the wave to duplicate some controlled sideslip we saw in the magazine. It would be pretty difficult to find a surf-related book without a forward or comment or endorsement by Drew Kampion. Or written by him.

DCIM101GOPRO

It was with great excitement that Port Townsend Librarian Keith Darrock was able to persuade Drew to come over from Whidbey Island for the first Surf Culture on the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Salish Sea Event. This photo is from the second time I ever met the legend in person. When I first met him, last time, I said, “My only hope is that this isn’t all too cheesy.” “Have no fear,” he said, “I live in the cheese.”

Well, there’s cheese and there’s cheese. As I mentioned, I’m fortunate enough to be included in a group receiving a weekly email featuring a poem by Walt Whitman. I always write back something long, frequently something about the latest surf trek to the wilds of the Olympic Peninsula; sometimes a rant. I get back (thrilled to get anything back) some terse and brilliant.  I may never reach brilliant… or terse, but I am grateful to not be called out as a poser/kook/hodad; but if I did get called out, I’d have to believe it.

REVISION/NEW MATERIAL- Just to show there were younger folks at the event, and because he was the keynote speaker, I had to get back to this to say something about Justin Hocking, author of “The Great Floodgates of the Wonderworld.” Just this last weekend I ran into someone on the Strait who, like Justin, surfed Rockaway Beach in New York State.  Connection? Because Justin spent some time in Colorado, and because Stephen Davis was raised there, and because Stephen read his book before Mr. Hocking was invited to speak, and was impressed by it, Steve sort of grabbed (someone more sophisticated than I would say ‘button-holed’) the author during the after-presentation part of the program; and then I attacked him, interrogated him. “San Diego, huh… what part?” “Well, and this affected my skateboarding verses surfing; it was mostly geographical.” It turns out he lived in La Jolla for a while, then, when his father remarried, moved inland. “Not to, like, El Cajon?” “Yes. El Cajon.”

It explains a lot.  Stephen wanted to buy a book. I wanted a book. I had money, but someone else gave Steve enough for two books. “Steve, I can buy my own book.” “No, I’m buying you one.” Slightly more aggressive, maybe, than Stephen, Justin was busy writing something on mine when Keith came up, saying he wanted a book. He was out of books, but I still had some money, and bought one for Keith, offering some extra money for shipping. In my mind, it all kind of evened-out, and, anyway, I have my personalized copy.

So, what I’d like to say is, as always, there are connections, if we attack/interrogate/converse with someone enough to find them. I know this book isn’t the end of Justin’s work; I know attending cheesy gatherings and such activities is important to the promotion process; but, in the same way I hope for the best for those who are daring enough to pursue a career in the dangerous world of art and literature, like surfer/artists Todd Fischer and Jesse Watson, I would like to think Justin’s ride will find success. Go, Justin!

Hocking,Justin(AnnaCaitlinHarris)

A legend on the Strait, TIm Nolan.  Google "Tim Nolan and the Wave of the Day" for more. It's somewhere in the realsurfers.net archives. Still dominates.

A legend on the Strait, TIm Nolan. Google “Tim Nolan and the Wave of the Day” for more. It’s somewhere in the realsurfers.net archives. Still dominates. Oh, and check out the paintings in the background by Stephen Davis (center) and Todd Fischer.

part of the crowd at the event

part of the crowd at the event. Hey, there were some younger folks, also. No, really. That’s Stephen Davis with the man-bunn.

Singing and Surfing and Remembering and Not Remembering, In Reverse Order

The Second Occasional Surf Culture On the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Salish Sea Event is coming up in Port Townsend on July 11. I’ve been working on several things for it. One item is music. For the first event, Archie Endo, now stuck in Thailand, working, some surfing, brought a little amp, played surf music. Great idea (his), and really added to the evening. This time, Pete Raab is putting together a sort of mixed tape from his huge music collection, with classic surf instrumentals and some island-themed ‘ambient’ music. Thanks, Pete.

My evil scheme was to have Pete (and he was willing) sneak two of my original surf songs without informing event curator Keith Darrock. That’s the evil part.  I originally recorded the only two strictly surf-related songs I’ve written at a former Theater in Quilcene (right on Surf Route 101) with the help of longtime professional sound engineer Tom Brown of HearHere, with me playing harmonica and singing. Pete was doing a surf music show on the Port Townsend radio station, 91.9, KPTZ, along with his old friend, and former music store owner, Ron McElroy, and graciously incorporated one of my tunes, “I Just Wanna Go Surfin’.” The other song is “Surf Route 101.” Naturally.

But, here’s the failure: Pete couldn’t find his copy, I couldn’t find mine (and searched frantically), and Tom Brown, after checking, determined the digital recording is somewhere on a dead computer.

Oh, and although I’m willing to read the piece I’ve been doing more thinking about that working on, concerning the images and memories we save, I won’t perform music live at this event. A sigh of relief might be appropriate here. Not that I’m embarrassed by my harp playing or the lyrics…

But, thinking about music, and singing, I wrote to my old friend Ray. You have to read it bottom to top. I do think it was him with the Monkees tape.

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NO way, I never owned a Monkeys tape, you must have me confused with somebody else I swear.

From: ERWIN
Sent: Tuesday, June 23, 2015 9:28 AM
To: Ray Hicks

Ray, have a good time on vacation. I checked back before leaving; glad to see a response. I’ll be working until dark anyway (9ish). I do remember you once telling me that the best song ever done was the Cream song…. wait, was it ‘white room with white curtains at the station,’ or, no, I think that was it.  Otherwise, “driving in my car, smoking my cigar, the only time I’m happy’s when I play my guitar.” Join in anytime. Now I better go. And, hey, that was probably enough gas to get home, to school, wherever… See you, Erwin
I am pressed for time, so I might use this on my site, not mentioning that you had a Monkees tape, or that I liked some of their songs also.

From: “Ray Hicks”
To: ERWIN
Sent: Tuesday, June 23, 2015 9:14:06 AM

HI Erwin,

Not in Hawaii yet. Today is my last day before starting vacation but we don’t leave until Thursday. I’ve never been much on lyrics, to this day I hear the voice as another instrument rather than a method of delivering poetry or storytelling.  My loss according to Carol. I do remember the ‘fruit of the vine’ song though. The music that brings back surf memories to me is Cream. When I hear some of those songs I am taken back to driving down the coast highway cruising by the camp grounds in South Carlsbad with an eight track player under the dash. I listen to the Sirius radio classic stations now and hear that music all of the time. Occasionally I’m driving down the coast highway when I’m So Glad comes on the radio and it really takes me back. I also hear the Doors often and still love it. Other than classic rock I listen to the blues. I just love the B B King channel on Sirius Radio.

I remember one occasion of us surfing at Swami’s  then coming up starving and thirsty, buying something to eat at the liquor store in the middle of Encinitas then buying gas for your Morris Minor in Carlsbad with the left over change. Maybe 26 or 27 cents worth.

The only music I associate with Phillip is Jethro Tull because he introduced me to them, still one of my favorites.

Ray

From: ERWIN
Sent: Tuesday, June 23, 2015 8:08 AM
To: Ray Hicks
Ray,
not sure if you’re in Hawaii right now. I almost called you yesterday. I’m working on a thing for the surf culture event on surfing images we keep in our memory banks. The idea is, if we think of surfing as something magical, and we can conjure these (I was originally thinking only visual) images, allowing us to ‘mind surf’ when we can’t actually surf; this is kind of magical.
That got me thinking that my memories of my high school surfing adventures include fewer actual surfing images (maybe because I seem to concentrate on my own surfing rather than noticing that of others) than images of you and Phillip and the other assorted characters going to or from the beach, hanging out around various fires. Mostly pleasant memories, maybe with five of us in the back of a CHP cruiser less pleasant, but, overall, good images. Jeez, we were going to, at, or coming home from surfing.
So, as I was driving an hour to a job, I started thinking about songs we used to sing cruising around town or going surfing. Maybe we were in cars (like mine) that didn’t have radios; maybe we had only AM radios with the pop stations the best we could get.  This line of thinking might have been helped along because the local Port Townsend radio station played the Doors cover of the song with the lyrics, “Show me the way to the next whiskey bar; oh, don’t ask why…” followed by something about “Whiskey, let me go home.” A theme, evidently; and I was trying to remember the song that seemed to be one of Phillip’s favorites, without much luck. A few miles later I pulled (from the brain archives) out a few lines. “Bottle of wine, fruit of the vine; when you gonna let me get sober? Leave me alone, let me go home, let me go home and start over.” It took a few more miles before I remembered, “Pain in my head, there’s bugs in my bed, my pants are so old that they shine; out on the street, I tell the people I meet, to buy me a bottle of wine.”
I’m not even sure if those lyrics are fit together correctly. Perhaps you remember. Oh, and my singing hasn’t improved a bit. If we were going surfing together and I started singing, I’m sure you’d still reach for the radio control knob, whether the radio works or not.
The other, and real point of the thing I’m working on is that if we keep trying to remember, we keep the connections straighter, and if we keep surfing, we’re always refreshing our image files. More to conjure.
Writing this actually helps in writing the real piece, keeps me away from a couple of peripherals.
I’m in the usual summer position of too much work, not enough time, and no rain in sight. Luckily, perhaps, the waves are really small. Hopefully you’ve managed to slide a few. See you, Erwin

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Tom Paxton wrote the “Bottle of Wine” song, but we probably heard the version by the Kingston Trio. White people. Oh, but, when we sang it, it was  sort of another contest, who could sing it with the most soul, raspiest voice… you know, another thing to compete in. Guess who usually won? And that’s why someone (else) always reached for the radio control knob. Oh, and maybe it was someone else with the Monkees tape. hey, hey!

High-Lining Again

I just kind of stared at the title for a bit too long. It could say more, or, maybe it says enough.

You have to love the waves you don’t think you’ll make, ones on which you’d like just a little more speed out of your board. You’re trimming high on the wall, focused only on the wave ahead and below you, and it’s only getting hollower; and you know that section ahead, that last pitch before you can glide; it breaks, explodes, really, on river rocks, round, smooth; no oversized chunkers; cobblestones; and you’ve already been caught in that shallow trap, board dropping out and down as the lip hit you; you’ve already pirouetted and half-twisted and leaped toward the open ocean, and been thrashed, bounced off that reef, your board going over you in inches of water.

And you made some. Easy. Too easy; you must have been too far out in front.

Blacks photo by Matt Aden

Blacks photo by Matt Aden

“Again” is really all you’re thinking; “This time…” Maybe you’ll crouch, hand in the wave face, tight, ready.

This time you might make be in that perfect spot. More speed. You take off at an angle, too far over, probably, project out of a down the line bottom turn, and find that high line again. Speed; you need more. You see the ribs of the wave ahead, the already-pitching lip. More speed. You don’t tuck in; but you move your weight forward, subtly pumping, just tweaking the angle. If you weren’t holding your breath, you are now. No, you’re ready to scream, success or failure; this is where you always wanted to be; that high line between… between frightening and thrilling.

The board skitters, no way it would hold in the thin lip; it side slips down the curve, you in the curtain, trying to stay on, your back hand pushed farther behind you, focus still on the deep water ahead, and…

…and now you’re laughing, and not thinking of anything else but… “Again!”

This piece was inspired by my last session, able, by luck and tide, to find and surf some rights, rare in the Straits of Juan de Fuca; no, not the pitching sand-spitters featured a few posts down, but something in preparation, maybe, for those. I’m dying to surf those, maybe not quite ready. I’m more ready now.  I was fortunate enough to work up the hill from Trestles for ten months in 1975, and, remember well telling my friend Phillip Harper, on the phone (he was in medical school at the time) that I would get going so fast down the line that I’d pull up to the top of the wave and my board (and I) would freefall, catch, and the process would be repeated. However, forty years later, I should admit that I pulled a few tight waves standing, but, probably the ride I’ll remember longest, the ride the longest and the tightest, I was on my kneeboarding it after a very steep takeoff, and, eyes wide open, I was totally covered in that moment of weightlessness.

Okay, now I’m sort of staring into some file in my memory bank, hitting the ‘save’ button, and hoping you know exactly what I’m talking about. “Next time…”

Email To Ray Hicks, 1,100 miles down Surf Route 101

Hi Erwin,

Thanks for writing, I’ve been dragging my feet with no news. I’ve been ready for several weeks to get back in the water but when there was surf it was way bigger that I wanted to get into out of shape. Then there was none but I’m ready when there is some. So you should be getting a surf story soon.

Hey, Ray,
I know you’re all busy with your new house and all, but, man, you must have done some kind of surf activity by now. It’s been a pretty bad winter, supposedly the season, for surf on the Straits. The coast has been, overall, the place to go, but it’s farther away. I took off at 6:25 am on Saturday, with the buoy readings having just gone from iffy to a pretty good signal there might be waves. There weren’t. I hung at T— R—– a while, did some sewing and gluing on my gloves and wetsuit, took a nap, loaded up some rocks, chatted with a couple of other searchers, and with a father/son team checking crabpots, the father on shore and the son out in a dinghy. Mark, the dad, invited me to surf at the spot near his house some time. I know the spot, D— C—-, have checked it, but it’s farther out and is usually smaller than T— R—–.  I was offered some fresh, live, Dungeness crab, but declined. Though we both love crab, it’s the live part that might freak Trish out, and keeping them alive would be a chore for me.
After two and a half hours, I left, drove back towards home and checked out  C——-. Also flat, but, en route, I had passed Big Dave, once of PB, on his way out. Having talked on the cell phone to Keith, in PT, who was supposed to go with me, and hearing the buoy readings were even better and the tide was coming in, and thinking maybe Big Dave knew something I didn’t, would hit it big, and I wouldn’t hear about it until the next time I ran into him; I did something I rarely do; I headed back to T—-. Up the hill from the spot, I spotted Dave’s truck. Having already decided T—- wasn’t working, Dave, recently laid off from the mill in PA, was picking up cans on the side of the road (not so much because he was desperate- a little extra money when the surf might happen). He was planning on hitting C——- on the high tide, still hours away. While chatting with Dave, a three vehicle caravan with surfboards headed down the hill.
“Maybe it’s turning on.” “Doubt it.” “I’m going.” “See you.”
It was the cool hip Seattle crowd, “Oh, and we also surf;” checking out the scene, preparing a seaside brunch, letting their dogs go leashless. “What’s your name again,” Brad asked. “We’ve spoken before.” “Uh huh.”
There were a few waves catchable with the SUP, sort of protected from the rising west (sideshore) wind. I thought I’d go out. Then Dave showed up. “Pretty sad,” he said. Dave left, I went out, caught a few waves that required paddling to stay in them. I may have been the only one to go out on the Straits, mostly because I was desperate.

sorry to interrupt my own story, but in this version I added color to the original larger drawing.

sorry to interrupt my own story, but in this version I added color to the original larger drawing.

Archie, back temporarily from Thailand and a business trip to Boston, and his friend Sandro had been planning on hitting C——- on the high tide. I called Archie and found they were at the state park having a sandwich. I was hungry; met up with them at a picnic table that overlooked the break. Not breaking. At least we couldn’t see waves from there.
Then I went to Costco, Petco… so much fun, then stopped at Archie’s house. Then I got a call from Keith saying N—- B—- was breaking and he was going home to get his stuff. I called Trish, she said, “Have fun, lock the car; and, by the way, I’m not making dinner.” Good enough. I hauled ass.
About five minutes away, Keith called back. “Oh, it’s gone?” “No, it’s better.”
Three waves in I forgot about the rest of the day. Great fun, with just Keith and Brett (who showed up already suited-up while I was suiting-up) and I trading waves. Brett had a girlfriend or wife on the beach, and got out before Keith and I did. We got out sometime after sundown, the waves having peaked, the window having closed.
My next posting will include my new motto: “You can’t get skunked if you don’t go.” Everyone I’ve tried it on goes, “ew.” And then there’s the glass half full version, “You can’t score if you don’t go.”
So, I got back in my driveway at 8:25. Fourteen hours, dark to dark. I drove about 180 miles, round trip. Keith did about 18 blocks.

Anyway, get some surfing in. And let me know.
See you, Erwin20140330_181718

Two title illustrations for “Inside Break,” the Novelization

realsurferstitleTrish 001

Using the photograph used as an illustration in Chapter 3 of “Inside Break,” the novelization, I did a larger drawing, had it reduced and several copies made at the local (Port Townsend Printery) print shop. I then added color to two of the drawings. The top one is the one Trish preferred. I’d like to say I preferred the lower one, but, never totally satisfied, I went back to the original and colored it in. Now I have to wait until I can get back to PT to get it reduced to a size I can use. You have to know I’d love to add some color to the graphics.

I would really appreciate it if you could read some or all of the novel. I’m really trying (honest) to keep the writing tight and on point, but, there are just so many angles, so many other surf stories. Oh, yeah; that’s why I started this site; because real surfers have real stories in common, and each of us has a few that are just ours.

insidebreakTitle 001