“Surf Free- Parking $5.00” illustration

I have tried quite diligently, over the years, to not pay to surf. Particularly, I have walked some distance to avoid paying to park. Access. It’s all about the access. Right. I get that. There always is a price. Right. I get that, also. I no longer work across some railroad tracks from the bluff just south of Oceanside Pier. I no longer live kiddy-cornered from the road down to Tourmaline. I can no longer use my bike to cruise down to Crystal Pier.

image-158 Okay, so I’ve tried to keep the price down. If I’m lucky enough to be working close to where some waves are breaking… write off; stick my board in my work van. If I can get someone else to ride along… sure, you know the options. Cruise around in the Northwest with five or six sticks on top of your rig, even four, and… yeah, someone’s going to flip you off. It might be me, though I do enjoy the ride sharing- always some good stories exchanged, and, the destination probably is some remote and uncrowded setup. But…

There’s a whole sort of backlash, not new, but increasingly noticeable as surfing becomes increasingly popular in the cold north, social media spreads the word on semi-secret spots far too quickly and far too far, and surf forecasting gets better and better.  Post a photo; even take a photo; call a friend from the beach; share some readings that worked for you; gloat about how awesome a particular spot was on a certain tide…

One can expect to get some glares, maybe the ‘stink-eye’, for showing up on a beach without a good reason for being there. “No, no, nobody called me. Internet? Well… No; I won’t tell. Instagram? No. Hey, it was an accident I even found this place (parked on an unnamed logging road, walked a mile and an half, climbed down a cliff- all accidental) at all. But, man; it’s just so epic-ly awe… good? Crappy? I’m getting skunked? Okay, then. I get it.”

What sort of evens the whole thing out is the skunk factor. I’ve headed for Westport (not a secret spot), no wind to mess it up. By the time I got to the bridges… south wind, howling. The coast is often messy, as likely to be too big and out of control as rideable. AND there are no guarantees that the buoy readings that brought good conditions in the past will be repeated, and windows close very quickly.

Obviously off-subject. So, one short winter day, when gas was well over $3/gallon, I cruised out in my Subaru (28 miles/gallon), and only managed to catch four waves before it got too dark. I did the math. Not sure, but I think it came to $4/wave.  My friend Ray Hicks, down in California, parking outside the fence to surf Pipes (not anywhere near a secret spot), asked how the rides were. “Great.” “Worth it.” “Yeah.”

Of course, mostly I decrease my cost/wave by catching more waves. This might not make one popular if there’s a crowd of folks who loaded up pre-dawn, caught an early ferry, only stopped once for coffee/pee break, and, just as predicted, found some waves.

INCIDENTALLY- My friend, Hydrosexual Stephen Davis, STILL down in Mexico, will not tell me where the hell he is. It’s not like I can just get down there, though, if I could, I would. AND, if he did tell me… hey, new rules; I couldn’t tell you. No, really. Please, stop asking. NOOO!


Yeah; new rules. BUT, the factor that evens

RAJA On Seattle Surfers Facebook Heroes

The changing rules of surf etiquette (and the ones that haven’t changed) with the influx of new surf ‘enthusiasts’ in the Northwest (and everywhere, no doubt, though I care most about the area I’m in), have prompted a lot of discussion lately. Evidently Facebook, with sites like SEATTLE SURFERS, has prompted some of this. Surf forecasting is getting better, but calling forty or fifty of your closest friends to go with you is kind of self-defeating; if you want a few waves for yourself.

Around here, it’s ever-more-unacceptable to call your friends from the beach, if you’re at a beach where cell service works, and discussion has gotten to the point where one shouldn’t brag or gloat about a good session until the next day. Tough, with most ‘windows’ closing after a few hours, and gloating being so much fun.

SO, when I got a ‘reply’ from Raja, famous for sticking my (would have been temporarily) lost SUP paddle in the pilings at… if you don’t know the spot… too bad… I decided to put the comment as a POST. Oh, and Raja, the reason you haven’t seen me since the famous “Swell of the Summer” is I haven’t been surfing there. Okay a couple of times. Oh, and I have gotten over the incident, can see it may have, to quite a few people, seemed like justice; and I have tried to be more sharing with others, tough as it is to let a good wave go past; and, if you think Raj is a serious badass… great.


Hi Erwin- been awhile since I’ve seen you around.. It’s kind of funny/serendipitous, I’m reading this post and comments section right after I found and joined that Seattle surfers Facebook group.. I think your voice would be an excellent addition to the conversation they’ve been having there lately, about the etiquette of Internet surf talk. Most of the folks in that group haven’t been surfing for very long and are unaware that posting swell/tide formulas, directions to formerly “secret” spots, bragging about illegal camping, or even naming spots is considered very bad form in the surf world. I think a lot of it stems from the fact that they are used to everything in this world being “open source” now, with free information about everything instantly accessible. The idea that not all information is for everyone, that you have to put in time, sweat, tears, and prove yourself before you are initiated into secret knowledge, is alien to many now.
Some people have been trying to educate the neophytes about this, I think your voice would definitely be appreciated in the conversation.

BACK TO ME: I could actually do a FACEBOOK page, and probably should; but probably won’t. Meanwhile, Westport looks really good for… forever… and the vibe on the beach and in the parking lot is so, so social. Meanwhile… see you again, Raj.

OH, and I can’t help but add that surfers who haven’t learned something about when and where to surf from knowledge from experience, including skunkings, who may have actually gone to Surf Camp, had Surf Lessons (along with other camps and lessons paid for by their parents, or, even, themselves); probably do enjoy hanging out in the water, sort of waiting for an easy wave amid casual and friendly coffee shop conversation.  AND, surfing is fun; but, really, isn’t it ski season yet? AND, skiing has Lodges where you can hang out and brag and gloat in the latest gear. I mentioned that surfing doesn’t have a Lodge setup, and the person I mentioned it to said, “WHOA, that would be a great idea.” Yeah, in Westport, where it’s, as I said, always awesome…. GO, go now!

Happy Thanksgiving Shoulder Hoppers and…A Few Comments

…Set Wave Droppers, hope you got some, or are getting some waves today. I did. Thanks, to those souls who braved cold winds and rain to slide a few… and, yeah; it isn’t easy not going for a set wave; but it is great watching friends tuck in; and it even feels nice to throw the occasional (only if deserved) compliment.

Something about waves: More will be coming. I’m thankful I can still slide a few.