Darryl Wood hits and Outtakes

First, I would like to thank Darryl Wood’s daughter, Kaylee, for spreading the word that my site has several posts about the legendary surfer of the Strait and the Pacific Northwest. Darryl was the first surfer I met when I moved up here from San Diego. In order to get to our jobs in Bremerton, Darryl a Union Carpenter and me a Civil Service painter, we were both forced to ride a passenger-only ferry when part of the Hood Canal Floating Bridge broke off and sank, Tuesday, February 13, 1979. The state set up the route across the canal in about a week, I met Darryl on, I estimate, checking with my googled calendar, on Monday, February 19, instantly discovered we both surfed, and on Saturday, February 24, I was bobbing around at a break I still am not supposed to name, California wax on my sister Melissa’s board, the only one I had left, wearing a diving wetsuit, no gloves, no hood; my board popping up and away when I tried to sit on it, and the waves so steep, the drop so quick, the wetsuit so ridiculously ungainly, my body so frozen that, despite being 27 years old and a pretty decent surfer, I was unable to pop up as I dropped in.

Sign of things to come.

I’m pretty sure Kaylee’s checking out my site is somehow connected to her father’s birthday, which is on St. Patrick’s Day or fairly close to it. It’s always a pleasure for me to run into or talk to Darryl. Is he, as Kaylee asked, the quintessential Pacific Northwest badass? Yes. Is he a real surfer? Definitely.

ANYWAY, I’m pushing through on polishing and editing “SWAMIS.” If writers say the story leads them, rather than that they write and somehow control the story, I would have to agree. It seems my novel is getting a bit more romantic (and I kind of squirm just typing that). The relationship between Jody DeFreines and Ginny Cole is, in the constant editing/thinking/writing/rewriting process, getting, slight squirm, fleshed-out.

I was pretty happy with the way a chapter was going, set up, dialogue, action, ending; and I was left with this. Some of the exposition would be helpful later, and I hate, as always, to just toss out… yeah, word retentive. SO, here is an outtake from the third night class Ginny and Jody are in together:

GINNY WOULD, according to the plan, earn her Associates Degree at Palomar in a year and a half, transfer to a four-year university, most probably U.C.S.D., still nearby, in La Jolla (above Black’s beach); and she would become an accountant, like her father; with her own office, like her father.

“And vote Republican, like my father.”  Evidently imitating her father, Ginny said, “If Goldwater’d been elected, Hanoi’d be a big-ass hole.”  In her own voice she added, “Big ass hole,” then looked to see if I thought that was important or interesting or amusing.  I did.

I asked her why she didn’t seem to have to go to her dad’s office, “to get a feel; do some accounting, some math shit.”

She said her father had told her “there’s plenty of time for work, for that boring shit.”

David Cole and Glor were fine with her surfing, she said, even with her hanging out with surfer boys, with her dawn-patrolling with Wally’s crew.  “My dad does Wally’s books,” she said, “everybody’s books, actually, but he says Wally’s smart; smart enough to wholesale all his pots rather than trying to go through flea markets and…  Smart. Besides, he has a son my age and…”


“Yeah; and…  And they either figure I’m some sort of lesbian; or they figure I learned something from my older sister.  Caroline’s her name; not that you’ll remember.  She’s what my… our Real Mom calls…”

“Judith. Your real mom, Caroline your sister.”

“Yeah.  Judith says polite society would call her, Caroline, ‘boy crazy.’  Glor has called her ‘a wanton slut.’  Couple of times.  She, Caroline, got PG, preggo, pregnant… senior year.  ‘Got herself knocked up’ as Glor would, and did say.  She, Caroline, wasn’t showing, so she did get to go to the graduation.  San Dieguito, huh?  That shit doesn’t happen in Fallbrook.”

Of course, it did.  “No; boy craziness, wanton sluttiness, and preggo-ness; not allowed.  It’s all in there with the dress code.  No hats, no facial hair or hair over the ears for boys.  For girls it’s, there’s a minimum skirt length on dresses.  They will measure, girls on their knees, pervert teachers with rulers.  Really.  Two inches, I think.  Oh, and it’s dresses only; no jeans, no slacks, no culottes, no pregnancies.”

“Wait, Junior; no culottes?”

“No, Virginia Cole, no culottes.”

“My sister should have gone there, huh?”



The World Surf League, “Hard Yards,” Sharing, Not Sharing

Without permission from the World Surf League (WSL), I’ve taken a photo from their site. If they disapprove, here are several things in my argument: 1. I love the WSL  and their live coverage (and the fact there is live coverage). I’ve gotten up early and/or stayed up late to watch contests from all over the world. 2. It’s not like I make any money on this site, even IF I mention the WSL. 3. I’ll see if I can get “express, written permission…” in a moment.

This is a drawing I did for a piece on the World Mind Surfing League


Here’s the shot I’ve borrowed. Decisive scores for a close heat between Kelly and Gabriel Medina were about to fall. Kaipo Guerrera had, boldly, aggressively, just grabbed both of them, all looking at the screen in anticipation. I do always root for the overdog, if it’s Kelly Slater, and felt he should have won the heat. In the same way, having watched Stephanie Gilmore lose a close one to Carissa Moore, a heat that, if Stephanie had been scored correctly on either of her two best waves… yeah, big Stephanie fan, also, not taking away anything from anyone else on the tour, each of whom surfs better than… Here’s the truth:The difference between any WSL surfer and a regular (or ‘real’) surfer is the same as the difference between us and the casual, once-in-a-while-on-vacation surfer. Massive.

I really wanted to talk about secret spots and the information we share about secret and/or fickle surf spots. If you knew that I took off right after this moment, then got back in time to watch Stephanie win the final at Snapper Rocks, and Owen (“O Dog” according to Martin Potter) Wilson, back from a year off after a concussion at Pipeline, win a close one against Wilko (okay, I’m just going to use nicknames for people I don’t actually know); if you did some calculations on time and distance, checked back on buoy readings, tide charts, you might know something, too much, possibly, about where I surfed (and that I surfed, if I did), secret, fickle, or great. Check it out, Sherlock.

So, here’s something Potts says all the time. “You have to put in the hard yards.” That’s the thing about sharing info. My friend Daryl Wood, pathfinder in surfing on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, said surfers would see his vehicle parked on someone’s private property (with permission), and, the next time he came there, other surfers would be there. Word had spread. It’s been a while since surfers had to call people to have anyone to surf with.  And we love to brag. Other surfers have gone down trails, followed streams, explored; keeping a mental record of when a spot worked, how well it worked. Hard yards. Anecdotal becomes, with enough of it, science.

We’ve all benefited from information on where to go and when; but most of us have spent some long hours studying, waiting; have traveled in search of waves. It can be irritating when someone who hasn’t just checks out a forecast; or gets a call from the beach, shows up. “My wave.”

But I love to talk; and, if I score… so guilty. Trying to quit, but I only have a small circle of surf friends. And they have friends. Basically, if you share too much information, expect the person to share waves with you, and some of his or her friends, next time.  That said, the waves weren’t awesome the time I’m writing about;  at least not where I went. A couple of other surfers did show up, weren’t impressed, didn’t want to have wet wetsuits for the next day when, they hoped, there was a chance for some waves. “Really?” I asked.

The truth is, we don’t need more information, we need more swell. Meanwhile, next WSL event, Margaret River. I think their dawn is, geez, I don’t know; probably prime time here. We’ll see. I’ll still be rooting for the overdogs… and O Dog. And a shout out to Strider.

Darryl Wood, Legendary Northwest Spotfinder

The first surfer I met in the Great Pacific Northwest was Darryl Wood. That was in February of 1979, just after half of the Hood Canal Floating Bridge, the link from the Olympic Peninsula to the rest of the world, had been ripped from its moorings in a very localized storm that included hurricane-force winds, along with a powerful tidal surge, that shift made stronger by the almost record low pressure, and waves pushed higher on the sixty mile fetch of the ancient fjord, all focused on the center of the bridge, opened to allow the pressure through, pushed open like a gate, and gone.

A week later, Washington State had brought in a passenger-only tour boat from Seattle, set up some connections with a bus company on the Kitsap County side, and I met Darryl, and many other commuters I might never had met if the bridge wasn’t gone. It was the first boat of the morning, both of us headed for work at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton. Darryl and another guy from Port Angeles, whose name, and I apologize for this, I have long forgotten, were car-pooling, now only as far as the Southpoint ferry dock. A Civil Service painter, I had just transferred here from San Diego. Darryl and the other guy were Union guys, working on a new facility connected with the dry-docked nuclear-powered vessels. I do remember that Darryl down-played his role as a carpenter, but said his friend was a ‘superstar among the laborers.’

A week later I, a person who had thought I was through with surfing, was surfing, in a diving wetsuit I had just purchased and would later give to a Gary Gregerson,  a friend and fellow signpainter at the shipyard, who planned to use it for walking around in creeks. Sure.

I should say I was attempting to surf at a spot you could then access, after first navigating some winding roads, by driving straight toward the Strait, past the guy who would step onto his back porch, six feet from your vehicle’s window, then pulling to the right on top of firmly in-place riprap. It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon, 38 degrees, there were three other surfers out, each of whom asked where I came from; and the water was freeeeeeeeezing. My sister Melissa’s board, the only one I hadn’t sold before leaving Mission Hills, longer than the one I had been riding, didn’t float as well with the cumbersome extra rubber, my hoodless head felt like each wave I pushed through was filled with ice cubes, my feet almost instantly went numb, the wax seemed to be as effective as rubbing the board with suntan lotion, and the waves were fast and steep. I caught several waves, couldn’t help but get barreled, and never got to my feet.


Darryl Wood, with coffee cup, his longtime friend and fellow surf adventurer, Arnold, and several other members of the local Surfrider Chapter, cleaning up this parking lot just rolled over by another storm.

“The more things change,” huh?

“You still, um, riding most waves on your knees, Erwin?” “Well, no, I, uh… yeah, pretty much. Get a longer ride and, maybe… how are you doing?” As older guys do, and Darryl is a bit older than I am, we both talk about knees without internal padding. He added shoulders damaged from years of swinging hammers and lifting beams and such.

Still, Darryl remains the surfer I most admire and respect from my tenure in the northwest. He has held, tenaciously, to his Christian values, maintained his sense of surf etiquette, and, although he considers himself quite conservative, he is able to look past the posturing and pettiness of a succession of amped-up surfers. Including me.

I asked what Darryl what he thinks of the increasing number of surfers hitting the Strait, so changed from the days when he personally knew most of the surfers in the area, and knew the landowners who had gates blocking access to secret spots. He shrugged. “If it’s breaking on a weekend,” he said, “there might be fifty, sixty surfers.” This wasn’t a weekend.

On this same day I ran into the guy who owns this access, just checking on the storm damage. I had heard that the lot could be closed if surfers abuse the place (or when this guy passes on), and kissed-up pretty much to the limit of my ability to do so. “It’s not for overnight camping,” he said, expressing his displeasure at having, in the past, before “Darryl Wood and those Surfrider people” put the sani-can in, suddenly finding things he didn’t want to find while weed-whacking.

“See you in another ten years or so,” I said as Darryl and his crew moved on to survey some other properties the Surfrider Foundation oversees. We both turned to watch my friend Keith Darrock make it most of the way across another slightly-chopped-up line.

“He’s good,” Darryl said. “Yeah; always does the tuck.” “Always a pleasure,” Darryl said, taking another glance out, at the indicator, the one outside the lefts. It was breaking. He gave a nod toward the water. Always a pleasure.