Drop in on the Mild-Mannered(?) Librarian, and What do you Get?

I heard about the photo before I saw it. “It has to be Keith,” Adam “Wipeout” James told me. Then we all met in the water, Adam mentioned it to Keith. “Could be,” Keith said. Then he sent the photo to Keith and me under the heading, “Either of you recognize this hooded surfer?” Then…
To: Adam James
I don’t immediately recognize the surfer in question, but the photo is my new screensaver.
Who sent this shot? It’s so clear, so up close and personal.
It’s like, um, Exhibit #1, misdemeanor drop in, with felony attempted assault with a deadly SUP.
And what about the paddle?
I think it’s self defense as the defendant claimed.
The photo really needs to go on realsurfers.net.
To: Adam James, Erwin and or Trisha Dence
 ?That’s classic! Yes, that’s me getting dropped in on by a large, helmet wearing, SUP rider. I totally remember that wave/day well. It was last winter around Christmas when Erwin, Steve and I rode out together – getting a speeding and non-seat-belt wearing ticket in route. I think you came later, Adam. The waves were solid but it got really crowded fast. I had been on that wave since the top of the point when she blatantly dropped in on me without looking about half way down. The shove was purely out of safety.
You can post the photo, Erwin.

Adam James
To: Keith DarrockCc: Erwin and or Trisha Dence
No idea who the photographer is. I just saved a screen shot from his instagram feed. I was sleuthing surf shots last  Saturday morning while the kids were snoozing, having coffee and thinking about all the surf I was missing and I just happened across it.   AJ
Actually, I have seen the woman in question out on the Strait several times. The first time I desperately wanted to tell her, “Your Mom’s not here; you don’t have to wear the helmet.” The second time was probably on this day. I was pretty busy having lost my board after my leash got ripped loose, first thing in the morning. Swimming with a paddle isn’t all that much fun, with the high tide causing a big beach swirl. My board, which had been caught in the rip, was rescued by Big Dave (thanks, BD). I was not quite my confident self for a while after that, knee-boarding on a few waves I would have (really) stood up on; and then it got crowded.
Still, Dave and Stephen and I were getting waves, though Brett, electrician from Port Townsend, got vocal with a longboarder with a shamrock on his board who was going for the best of the set waves, and actually (I witnessed this) pushed Brett’s board back as the guy on the smaller board tried to take off. AND, Adam just reminded me, a kayaker with a sparkly rig (not common at this spot) and Mr. Wipeout had a bit of an altercation. “Oh; yeah; I’d forgotten that.”
And, of course, there were other surfers clogging the inside, resulting in several other near-misses. And, of course, there was the speeding ticket for me (I went to court and got it reduced) and the no-seatbelt ticket for Keith (he paid it, his wife, Marley, temporarily banned him from riding with me- yes, I should have had the back seat belts out); AND half the surfers on the beach witnessed the pull-over. “Man, when I went by you were spread eagle on the side of the car.” No, I was trying to fish out the belts.
It seemed everyone was at that spot that day. Later, Jeff Parrish, who no longer prowls the Strait with me, sent me a video entitled “Kneeboard Magic,” featuring me, three bottom turns, three speed sections, and a clean pullout. You’ll have to take my word for it.
AND, the last time I saw the helmet-wearing SUP rider, her surfing had improved, and, since she hadn’t (though others had) dropped in on me, after I got dressed and loaded-up, I walked over to give her a couple of words of encouragement. Really.


Adam Wipeout’s Realsurfer Guide- Number 3; The ‘Roll-up-the-window’ and the ‘Double Over-the-falls’

realsurfersOvrtheFlls I actually started doing a drawing/cartoon/illustration for this, but have a time crunch trying to get a major-sized job completed so I can (hopefully) have a day off during the week to hit what looks like the run of swell we’ve been waiting for. Sound familiar? The scheming, hoping, dreaming, mind-surfing, knowing you’re missing good (possibly… no, probably) waves with the promise (often imagined, often broken) of catching better waves?

Anyway, Adam Wipeout is a real person, totally stoked, more of a name-dropper, and definitely more of a name-rememberer than I am; but, since his nickname seems to be sticking, and because I actually got the ‘roll-up-the-window’ simile from him, he seems like the perfect spokesperson for realsurfer hints and tricks and techniques. Try any and all at home.

NUMBER ONE- might be that it’s all right to pee in your wetsuit or trunks, and might actually provide some temporary warmth, provided you’re at least genital-high in the water. It would be kind of embarrassing to be leaking yellow from the leg of a dry wetsuit (though the process of suiting-up with pumping waves visible can create an urgent need to go- at least it does for me). Washing of the wetsuit later is up to your own personal hygiene standards and practices. But, good idea.

NUMBER TWO-  Never do a number two in the water. Okay, maybe, not confessing here, and, besides, statute of limitations, I may have done it once; way back, in an emergency, pulling down the trunks, underwater, and I was the only one out at, let’s say, the Oceanside South Jetty just before dawn, but, since it was a floater and not a sinker… lesson learned, lesson passed on.

NUMBER THREE- The technique is this: It’s a head-high wave, and, because you’re not sure you’ve actually caught it, you jump up, just like you’ve practiced, just like you do several times a day at your work, for more practice. It turns out you didn’t quite catch it, and you’re almost standing, maybe too much weight on the front foot, and you’re dropping in too late and too out of control. You stick both arms out perpendicular to your body, if your body was actually standing straight up, and you rotate those arms, just as if you were rolling up (or down) the windows in your car. I guess this would assume your car was, maybe a tiny smart car without automatic windows. Anyway, that’s the image. Arm rotators. Or, picture you’re at Waikiki in 1914 But, this attempt at rebalancing doesn’t work, and, as the wave drops out underneath you, the lip crashes into you as if you were (like, on purpose) performing a full body head-dip, and you go over the falls.

This is the first one, the single. Then, because the wave is so powerful, you’re sucked up from the trough and… no amount of arm-rolling can save you now, you go up and over the falls the second time, your board… you have no idea where your board is, you just hope it doesn’t hit you. You (and I really mean Adam) don’t need another thigh bruise like the time you tried the SUP, caught the outside (beach side) rail. Ouch! Still better than catching the outside rail, having the board come up, sideways, between your legs, as you do the single over the falls in the shorebreak. Happened to me. Once. Tamarack. Only once, though the-board-to-the-nose when I tried to push out through a wave and lost my grip on the rails… a couple of times. Tamarack, K-54. Oh, and now I’m remembering several instances of the dick-n-balls board slam/slap. Tamarack, Swamis, Pipes, etc.. This is less likely in a wetsuit than in loose board shorts, but usually means you didn’t get the nose-knock but did catch some air on the way out, then… ‘ouch, me hardies!’ (this is a response to this type of injury used by my son, James)

But, we learn. A hint from me, though I don’t remember ever having performed the double over the falls, and I’m way too cool to do the window-rolling thing, more likely to do the dismount/bail with accompanying yelp/scream: When you’re helpless, being thrashed by the wave, and you’re not sure where your board is, and you’re assuming the fetal position, both hands over your head… well, good luck. I have to go.

Thanks Adam. Get working on Number 4; how to look like a surfer and where to find the perfect apres’ surf hangout spot that isn’t actually a parking area or Goodwill, the real surfer’s clothing supplier.

How to ‘Water-Proof’ Your Child


“Daddy, is that what will happen to me if I go in the (pointing) ocean?”

“Well, yes; it could. I mean, no, no; that sea lion was probably old and… The ocean (pointing) is a dangerous place and…”

“Will a seagull (pointing at the carcass) bite my eyeballs out?”

“No. No. Probably not. Usually some… (fluttering his eyes) small fish will…”

“But… (points) you go in the ocean; and you don’t get eaten.”

“Well, yes; but that’s because… (points to himself) I…”

“Do you have… (puffs out his chest, strikes pose) super powers? I mean, when you put on your costume, and…”

“Super? Well; sometimes… (puffs chest, strikes several surfing poses) I get a super ride; a head dip or, um, three; but usually…”

“I want a blue and red costume when I get super powers. Okay? Oh, and, Daddy; you know… (walks closer) you’ve just given me Post Twamatic Stwess Disorder… for life, and, someday, when I’m older, with or without my superpowers; I will have to sue you. (long pause, looking into each others’ eyes)          Oh, and about swimming in the pool, later; I won’t need the waterwings.  I’ll just watch.”

“No, no; watching’s good. You know I’m supposed to be watching you. Right? Well, if Daddy catches a few waves…”

“Sure, Daddy; But remember it when you give… (removes a glove for effect) your deposition. (smiles somewhat menacingly) Later. Much later.”

Thanks to Adam James for the photo, one of several from a recent James Family trip to the Long Beach Peninsula area of Washington State.

Speed Run, New Friends, Parking Lot Surfing, and The Beast


I convinced Keith Darrock to do a Straits speed run a few days before Christmas. Because my daughter, Dru, was home and our small town offers no excitement to compete with the dangers of Chicago, and despite her having gone to a casino with her mom the night before, she asked to go. Early

The tide wouldn’t be perfect, the swell was forecast to drop, but, supposedly, slowly. Archie had already expressed no interest in going early, gambling on my favorite spot, hurrying back. And, he had surfed my (and his) backup spot the day before, reported the swell ‘weak.’ He had, nevertheless, surfed his usual three hours. Archie did have some plans to show up there (the backup spot) on the high tide rather than risk getting skunked farther out and waiting. And I could call him with real conditions on my way back.

Sharing my usual pre-surf anxiety with Keith and Dru, I revealed my en route wish (and often, prayer) list. First, I request some kind of waves (preferably the rights that only show up at lower tides); then bigger, better waves, then glassiness; then lack of crowds.

Keith admitted he really doesn’t like sharing waves. “What about with me?” “I’m not afraid to take off in front of you.” “Really? You know I ran over Archie’s board?”

Accidently. Still, Keith had taken some pleasure in spreading my name around the small but rabid (and yet polite) Port Townsend surfing community when I ‘circled’ the lineup on a glassy but increasingly crowded afternoon. Yeah; well I already explained (and wrote about) that it was a sort of accidental wave hogging.

So, on this morning, the swell was, indeed, weak. The rights were weaker than the lefts. I did have a fear that I would (again) push someone to go and we’d find conditions where I could cruise around on the SUP, catch a few fin-draggers, and be pretty happy, but my ride-sharer might not be so thrilled.

But Keith was game, suited up quickly and paddled out.

As he did a minivan drove up, a guy got out. As often happens on the Straits, It turns out I’d run into him before; twice, in Port Townsend, checking out the conditions from the parking lot. In fact, he and I had dared each other into going out in a gale. While he caught a few, I got thrashed, putting the first ding in the SUP by going sideways over the falls.

Adam is in the seafood business on the Hood Canal, near the Hamma Hamma River, farther down Surf Route 101. To my chagrin, though he spoke of surfing the backup spot, he suited up, paddled out to join Keith, who had already tucked himself into a couple of occasional and small semi-barrels.

“This’ll be fun,” I told my daughter, she checking the rocks for a few nice ones.

“It’s still bigger than Sunset Beach,” she said. Another story, but she did bring me back some coarse Sunset Beach sand.

I went out, caught as many waves as I could, tried to share. Keith dropped in on me once, I dropped in on him once (different sections, really), and I called out Adam for taking off on a wave Keith could have ridden, and choking. Sort of nicely.

Adam didn’t last too long. He got out, drove off, still in his wetsuit. Dru accused me of chasing him off. “No. Not really. And, it turns out Keith knows his wife. So, we’re all, like, friends now. Yay.”

There were now three other vehicles (rigs in the local lingo) in the parking area. Many others had pulled in, checked it out, and continued further toward the coast. Or given up. A random set showed up and two guys who had been parked a while, kind of creeping-out my daughter, started suiting up. Headed back, we passed many rigs with boards headed for the Straits. “Good luck,” I said, “Glad we went early,” Keith said. “You were kind of a wave hog, Dad,” Dru said. “I’m here to surf,” I said.


My head may actually be that large, proportionately. Or we can call it a cartoon.

The next afternoon Keith texted me to report there were waves at a rare mysto spot near Port Townsend. I couldn’t go. A couple of local shortboarders, good surfers, Aaron and Nolan, both of whom know, first hand or by reputation, of my wave hogging ways, were heading out to hit the critical takeoffs. I’m determined to ride the spot. Not this day.

Later, my new friend, Adam (he had my number from the thrashing session), texted me (under the name Adam Wipeout) to ask me about waves at the above not mentioned spot. Possessing a Bluetooth but needing my hands for working, I called him back, kept painting.

It turns out Adam has a friend who took some long distance photos of the mysto spot, going off. “Yeah, so I hear.” Adam said, after doing some parking lot surfing the day before, he ended up surfing “really fun waves with, once the tide filled  in and the Seattle surfers left,” with some guy whose name he told me but I instantly forgot (if I saw him three or four times, I might bother). Adam’s new surf friend, he said, had checked out the spot we’d surfed earlier.

“He said he noticed ‘the beast’ was out,” Adam said.

“Wait. Me?” “Yeah, he meant you. I asked. ‘ You mean Erwin?’ He described you. It was you.”

“Wait. Why do I have to be the beast?”

“Maybe he meant your commitment level,” Adam said, unable to come up with a reasonable and/or flattering explanation.

“Okay. Hey, if you’re going some time; give me a call; maybe we could…”

“Oh. Okay. We’ll see.”

“Okay.” It might be my larger-than-the-average-(good) surfer size, my intensity in the water; doesn’t matter; I’ve decided to own it.

“They call me the Beast, and I’m here to surf.”

No, really; I’m nice… while parking lot surfing.