Surf Side Trip South to Northern…

…California, and I only started it this way because I was avoiding saying ‘NorCal,’ or is it ‘NortCal,’ or ‘Callie De Norte’;’ the cousin to ‘SoCal’ and ‘Cali (sp? it’s not Callifornia);’ each of which sort of bugs me and smacks of attempts at coolness and/or familiarity; as in, “Whoa! You’re from Cali?”  “No, I was raised in Southern California, but I was actually born in Surf City, NorCar (pronounced ‘Nor Care’).” “NorCar?”

Yeah, that was me attempting to sound cool and/or familiar with a place I left at three years old. BUT, here’s this story. My friend, Hydrosexual (his rampant relationship with all things water, including the frozen and powdered varieties, is explained elsewhere) Stephen Davis, down and working in the coastal foothills of Northern California, took some time off to cruise down to Santa Cruz. He called to see if the waves he predicted for the area in which I surf actually showed up, and if I, part of the ever-increasing surf population in the area I will no longer reference (explained in a minute), actually caught myself a few.

They did, I did, but now, as he was crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, I was headed to a Ghost Conference in Port Gamble. No, first to Costco, then on to the conference to meet up with Trish, our ex-daughter-in-law, Karrie, our grandson, Nate (or N8, cooler spelling), and our daughter, Dru… and various ghost hunters, busters, believers, skeptics, groupies; the festivities under the direction of Pete Orbea, married to Mollie, lifelong friend of Dru’s.

SO, a shoutout to that event. BUT, and MEANWHILE…

santacruzdavisAnd, then, on the way back…fortpointdavisOH, wait, are these secret spots? Will showing these images increase the number of surfers and hodads and posers (same as hodad, but, if you didn’t know that, you, well, may actually be a poser, poseur if you’re a more-nuanced hodad) and power couples and enthusiasts and parking area maestros and lineup primadonnas?

DEFINITELY, and that’s why I will never again mention anything about waves, surf, or surfing in ____ ________, ____ _______,  and any other spot on the ______ __ ____ __ ____, or even ______; though I will continue to boast of the merits of Westport. Go there, go now.

NOW, it’s hard for me to believe that my site has done all (or even much of) the damage, brought 40 souls last Saturday to the lineup at any (unnamed) spot that surfers who have survived the high-percentage of skunkings, the driving, probably surfed barely-big-enough-to ride waves, endured endless hours of waiting through ‘almost’ conditions, and occasionally found a few peelers.

NO, I BLAME the folks who lucked-out, then told their friends, bragging, exaggerating the size and cleanness and uncrowdedness and length of ride and… AND, having lucked-out, these same surfers try to repeat the rare session; with a few friends.

My friend, Keith ______, is willing to go through my site, remove/redact any reference, quote or tag pertaining to ????CXCkkppplmnno (it’s a list); so, if you think there is any secret info or insight on finding waves on the _____, better just start here and keep reading. START NOW.

MEANWHILE, Archie Endo, still in Thailand, is improving, doing some Facebooking. Archie Endo; worth looking up. AND, HERE’S SOMETHING I’ll make into a whole post: It seems the welcoming ALOHA SPIRIT has been replaced by a sort of disgruntled, begrudging, half-hearted acceptance of increased numbers in chilly waters.  AGAIN, working on that.  OH, and I’ve decided the swells seem to peak a mathematically irritating number of times on weekends because more people are praying for that. Like the 40 surfers at ____ ______ last Saturday.

Not my fault. I was sliding a few at _____ _____. And Stephen was sneaking up on the main peak at some no-doubt well known Santa Cruz spot. He didn’t actually tell me which one. No, I understand. It’s okay.

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Going to Chinook, maybe Seaside, then Cleanwater. Classic… and, Damn, I’ll Running Late

I stole this photo of a typical Westport contest scene from Drew Kampion.  Knowing I was headed down to my Dad’s in Chinook, Washington; and maybe checking out some post/during/pre-storm surf at Seaside, Mr. Kampion, top-tier surf wordsmith, and someone who spent some time judging heats and doing various contest-related chores, sent this photo. I did reply, saying I’m stealing it. He was (and I can’t guarantee it’s actually his photo) encouraging me to give his love to the Surfrider folks who brave harsh conditions to help run the annual contest, or, whoa, even compete in it.

kampionwestpt

Yeah, south wind, sideways swell, sixty yard impact zone, waves that look like the stuff you paddle through to get to the waves you want to ride, roll-throughs, closeouts; welcome to the Northwest Surf City.

I have some notion that I may be able to sell a few Realsurfers Coloring Books while I’m down there. It is a great time to hang at the surf circus that Westport can sometimes be; so, if you’re going; see you there.

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Here’s the second drawing I did (on commission) for Tom Burns, a northwest surfer for, for, forever; with all the stories to prove it. He sent me two photos, thirty (might have been forty) years apart, same classic spot on the Strait. I completed a first drawing, but Trish said he looked like he had a big ass. He’s thinner here. I expect a bonus. Tom will be judging heats at the Surfrider competition. I did judge last year, but, I don’t know; I’m kind of loud, fool around a bit, judge harshly, perhaps… still, kind of hoping they’ll ask me to fill in while one of the judges takes a bathroom break or has to be treated for hypothermia. We’ll see; and I’ll let you’ll know.

UPDATE ON ARCHIE: I’m thinking no news might be as good as we can get. Recovery is slow and probably lonely, half the world away. Still sending whatever good thoughts I have; and I’ll pass on anything I hear.

The Kook Judge hits the Surfrider’s Cleanwater Westport Surf Contest

It was Tom Burns who got me the gig, two days of judging at the Cleanwater Surf Contest in Westport. Oh, I knew it would be exciting, thrilling, and I’d get some food, a place to stay, and a hundred bucks. Professional. Professional-ish. Pro-Am. Yes, I could see myself moving up the ranks, hitting the World Surf League’s Qualifying Series, then the World Tour; France, Portugal, Honolua Bay; explaining to Joey and Potts why I gave Kelly Slater a 12.9 (out of a possible 10); talking them into supporting the number.

“I have to agree, Joey; it was an incredible move. Total commitment, risking… ” “Me too, Potts; and, sure, why not factor age into the mix of Speed, Power, Flow? Say, Erwin, it’s a lay day in another surfing mecca; what do you have planned?” “Well… oh, hi, Strider. Um, maybe see what’s on HBO, maybe a nap.” “I hear that, brother; but for me, the excitement is just about out of control.” “It’s flat, man, sideshore chop; raining like a cow pissing on a…” “So, folks; another lay day here, with new judge Elwin Dence explaining best surfer of all time Kelly Slater’s remarkable…” “It’s Erwin.” “Huh?” “Huh?” “Huh?” “It’s Erwin, boys; not Elwin.” “Thanks, Rosie; love how you say my name.” “And, Erwin, what is on HBO?”

That was my image. Here’s a shot of the actual conditions on Saturday at Westhaven Jetty, Westport, Washington:

clnwtrJetty

Gosh, it makes you want to suit up and run for the water. Actually, unprepared because I had to work my ass off to finish a job on Friday, I sort of packed, then got up before three am, threw stuff together, made sure I used the bathroom (this is sooo critical- for any surf trip) and headed down Surf Route 101. Then the McCleary Cutoff. Then Highway 8 (I think), then the twenty miles from Aberdeen to Westport, arriving only a little later than head judge Gary Milkie (not sure of the spelling) would have liked. The first heat was about to start, and the judging tent was set up about 75 yards from the main contest area. You know, where the out-of-the-water action is happening.

This is the head judge, Gary; quite a serious guy; and a spotter, checking his Facebook status

This is the head judge, Gary; quite a serious guy; and a spotter, checking his Facebook status

Despite Tom… wait, I should say that I originally met Tom while I was volunteering, trying to make a few bucks for the Olympic Peninsula Chapter of Surfrider, a couple of years ago. I did a crappy job as a heat check-in guy, and a shaky job as a flag changer. “Is it red and green; just green… what?” But, hanging with the judges (who mostly are about my age; I thought I did pretty well. “Red up; no, it’s orange… oh, and, way over there, yellow’s up. No, he’s down. Greennnnnnn!”

The next time I volunteered, two years ago, I signed up early, and put myself in the spotter position for all day Saturday. Evidently, it was revealed later, some other volunteers were a bit perturbed by my hogging of the position. As usual, perturbation noted, not dwelled-upon (they should’a signed up earlier). I did have one chance to judge when Tom had to go the 75 yards (imagine a triangle, bathrooms, main event area, judges tent) to go number one (he says). I was doing fine until two surfers took off on one wave, splitting the wall, three more on the next wave, one of those way down the beach.

“Errrrr! What?” “Put the pencil down,” Gary, whose normal position is stalking behind the row of five judges, asking constantly for a wave count, said. And I did.

clnwtrtent

Hey, look; I have to go. I’ll get back to this; wanting to do it right. Tonight, and I’ll upload some of my photos. These were taken by Tom Burns. That’s Sonny; Larry; me with the Seahawks cap under the hoody, concentrating (probably commentating); Gus, one spotter also concentrating, another spotter probably concentrating while trying to keep his parts warmed.

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Again, I’ll be adding more later. “No, I gave him a 5.6. Oh, it’s old guys in this heat? 5.9.”

DCIM101GOPRODCIM101GOPRO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

clnwtrJettyDCIM101GOPRO

DCIM101GOPRODCIM101GOPRODCIM101GOPRODCIM101GOPRODCIM101GOPRODCIM101GOPRO

There’s no instant replay here. Just getting this from my GOPRO to here took about three heats worth of time. So, we have… no, I have to go. Now that the photos are on this site, I’ll move them around and tell a few tales that, if my performance as a judge doesn’t do it, will keep me from being invited back. No, nothing serious; but, well, you probably can see why judges and on-air talent are different (I wanted to say) animals.

Over 40 Years (and Counting) On the Strait with Tom Burns

The usual thing to expect when the unusual thing (an actual swell) happens (so rare, so very rare) is that any waves you luck into on the Strait of Juan de Fuca won’t last long; hence the expression, “If you see waves, surf them.” However, sometimes you’re there just a little early, a bit ahead of the briefly-opening window. Maybe you’ll notice I’m being all non-inviting here; just don’t want you to waste your valuable time when Westport is always breaking.

So, a few months ago, on a day I wrote about in “The First Book of Nick,” the waves actually got better. I stayed where I was, but a lot of surfers headed farther west or went back towards Port Angeles. So, while I was headed for some painting job, Stephen Davis and Jeffrey Vaughan (not together) hit up a secret (that is, I’m not revealing it) fast and gravelly right, while Tom Burns hit a classic, just off the rocks left that, it will soon be obvious, hasn’t changed too much in forty years.

Tom sent me a couple of long emails of early surfing experiences all over Washington’s coast and the Strait, with these photos:

TomBurnsOneTomBurnsTwo

And, from forty years earlier, to the day, same guy, two more at the same spot.

TomBurnsThreeTomBurnsFour

Maybe you’ll notice, even recognize, the rocks in the foreground. Hard to imagine any kind of long ride this close to the beach.

Uh huh; keep imagining. I’ll have more from Tom, but, after he sent me all kinds of info on exploring and sometimes finding great waves, with retro photos and names of early northwest path(and wave)finders, he ended with some comment/threat on how he just knows I won’t get all too revealing.

In a side note on the “Don’t get all excited and think the Strait is often great” category- while I was hanging out as a volunteer with all the judges, huddled under a tarp against the south wind, at the Surfrider Foundation’s Westport Cleanwater Surfing Contest a couple of years ago, Tom, one of the judges I was spotting for, revealed he’s kept a log of all his surf ventures, and discovered he’s been skunked on the Strait more often (way more often) than he’s scored.

So, continue to be tantalized. I still am. Thanks, Tom.

BLOG-LIKE UPDATE- Stephen Davis and I made an afternoon speed run (not, like, speeding, Officer, but like curtailing other daytime activities and heading wnw, hoping/gambling the swell that hadn’t shown up yet would). We found some rideable lefts, surfed there alone for almost two hours, with the swell actually building, before two other rigs materialized in the partially-visible parking area. Interesting how the dynamic shifts, and competitive personalities clash. No, no, I think I won the exchange with the guy wearing the blue prescription glasses/goggles, who said the thing that led him to believe there might be waves was, “The buoys.” Sure, but if had a little faith… we could’ve hassled for set waves earlier.

Clinton Burks on Point Grenville, Me on Jeff Parrish and Tom Decker, and a new Illustration

I received this comment in response to one of the most popular, over time, posts, “Tom Decker and Jeff Parrish.” Noticing the consistent number of hits the piece seems to get, I thought either Tom Decker, well known to pretty much anyone who surfs at Westport over the last twenty-five years, is a name people google, then find my article; or Jeff sends friends to check out what I wrote about him. I’ve had a sort of suspicion that, always just trying the real story, I may have written something that would or should offend Jeff. Since Jeff’s wife, Ruth, has started surfing, and, actually, before that, he seems to have other people he prefers to surf with (and, yes, I am somewhat hurt by this, but no longer whine about it when I see Jeff’s father-in-law, Jim Hodgson, at the post office.). Because I got this comment, I checked.

Yeah, maybe Jeff had a tough outing, called-out by Mr. Decker; but he’s not alone in that. I do drop the name (Tom Decker, though I always ask people from Seattle if they know Jeff. “Which Jeff?” They all know at least one) with folks from Westport, or those who say they surf there a lot, when I see them looking for waves on the Strait. Maybe Tom has mellowed; other names are mentioned as enforcers at the Groins and the Jetty.

So, here’s the contribution:

Clinton Burks (@soloncircus)

Erwin,

If it’s of any value to the surfing community, I’d like to recite some first-hand oral history about Pt. Grenville.

I surfed there from 1967 to -69, when I was in high school. We just showed up with surfboards and camped for the weekend, without any fuss from “authorities.”

Then, in 1969, we showed up as usual, and a truck pulled up and a well-spoken, close-shaved Indian came over to us in an very authoritarian manner, and spoke to us ominously, “Where are you boys from?”

“Bremerton,” we said.

Then he looked at the rock cliffs covered in grafitti, and most of it was the names of various high schools painted in great big letters in a wide variety of colors.

He paused and said, “If I looked up at these rocks and saw ‘West Bremerton,’ or ‘East Bremerton’ written here, I’d arrest you and put you in jail. But as it is, you can just leave.”

So we got kicked out, and never went back. Good thing us Bremerton guys specialize more in thievery and violence, and “school spirit” was for “soces.” Besides, our writing skills were sketchy, anyway.

In 1970 I heard that some friends tried to go there, and the Quinaults confiscated their boards and they had to pay fines. I left the state in 1970, and have not heard anything about it since, except for your piece on this web page.

BTW, concerning Washington surfing at the time, I had the feeling that Pt. Grenville was the only place, because the waves were dependable. I wasn’t part of any big surfing “scene,” because there were so few of us, so I don’t know if there were many guys scouting all the coastline in the state, looking for a good break. In those days, I’d never heard of surfing at Westport. (What’s more, I lived the 1970s in San Francisco, and never heard of Mavericks, though no one else seemed to know about it, either.) People in Bremerton were always going there for more fishing. When we got out of high school, it seemed like everyone went to Hawaii, got jobs, and stayed for awhile.

Aside: We didn’t use wet suits. When I was aged 6 to 9, I spent the summers living in a tent and a beach cabin at La Push, because my father was a commercial fisherman out of there & Neah Bay. My mom told me, “Just wait till you get numb, and you can play in the surf all day.” She was right. Last time I did it was 2010.

Clint Burks

So, I really don’t know anything about Mr. Burks except that he must be about my age, possibly another member of the class of 1969. And I have heard a few stories about Point Grenville in the mid 1960s, some which might explain why the beach was closed. Still, the image of some waves peeling off that point…

Here’s my latest illustration:

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Clean with offshores

Micah, a friend of Stephen Davis's, sent him this photo from an expedition to (the general vicinity of) Westport. Though the waves have been ill-angled and the swells too small for the Straits, the offshore winds and rideable-sized waves have been hitting the coast almost non-stop. Okay, maybe some fog.

Micah, a friend of Stephen Davis’s, sent him this photo from an expedition to (the general vicinity of) Westport. Though the waves have been ill-angled and the swells too small for the Straits, the offshore winds and rideable-sized waves have been hitting the coast almost non-stop. Okay, maybe some fog. Stephen said he thinks Micah is fine with the photo showing up on my site. If a bunch of surfers suddenly show up at Westport (and/or the general vicinity), it may be my, I mean Micah’s, fault.