The Lost Paddle- The Full and (not quite) Final Story

You may have to study this photo carefully. There are some clues.


Clint, boat shop owner from Port Townsend (with cracker), is sitting in front of Tim Nolan’s car. Beyond Clint is the man I only know as Nick. Behind Nick is his son, Adam. Beyond Nick and Adam is my SUP and my car, thermos and cup on the top, the back open. Beyond that is an older model Suburban, owned by a guy named Raj. Beyond that is some surfer who got her too late, wondering where the hell the waves went; or if there had been waves at all. All will be explained.

If you look a bit closer, you may discern a paddle on top of the heavily-damaged, never-repaired (partly because I still insist I’m not a dam SUPer) SUP. That would be the paddle Nick just, and this was shockingly gracious, gave me. I carry it with me when I go surfing, ready to return it to him when we next meet up. Tim Nolan may not be in this photo because he was taking a picture with his telephoto of my paddle, stuck in the wire rope holding two of the three pilings that instantly identify this spot. The surfer who performed the act/prank of grabbing a paddle I would have bailed to recover had the wave not been so good was, at this time, unknown. I should say, at that time.

So, I’m actually going to write this epic mystery/saga on my zip drive (rather than here, live), so… so stay tuned.

CHAPTER ONE- SURFING WITH gOD (the upper/lower case is relevant)

I asked the other stand up paddleboarder what it was he liked about surfing. “When I’m on a wave,” he said, “I feel like God.” Okay. A few rides later I had to ask, “You mean like ‘a’ god; or, like ‘the’ God?” “If I’d said ‘a god’ it’d have a completely different meaning; now, wouldn’t it?”

It would (to be continued). Wait, here’s a photo of Clint taken on a different day at another (secret, or, I should say ‘secret’) spot. It was taken by Adam “Wipeout” James, sent to me to gloat, originally, and, more recently, as part of the ongoing discussion of what constitutes ‘head high.’ Adam will also be a character in the upcoming mystery. So, yeah; okay, it does seem to be head high.  [UH-OH, couldn’t use the shot- too much extra information]. You’ll have to take my word for it; It’s headhigh, Adam Wipeout Scale; I’d say five feet, three feet Hawaiian.


A Couple of Mysteries On and Beyond the Straits of Juan de Fuca

I’ve been working in Port Townsend for the past week or so, hoping some waves come down the Straits of Juan de Fuca and grace the local shoreline. This is frustrating business, and, with windows in which actual waves actually break small, I just missed a couple of times. Tide too high, swell too south, not enough prayer, whatever.

On Tuesday evening, having already checked earlier, I pulled into the parking area in a downpour to see both of the guys out catch a couple of waves each… then, waiting, waiting… nothing. I went to the Penny Saver and talked with a guy I’d seen at the beach. His name (I asked later) is Will, and he’d just moved from the ‘West End,’ knew a few local surfers.

Nothing hitting on Wednesday. Or Thursday.

I did go out on Friday. One other guy, Tim (I ask names but usually forget them)who had cruised around and had been skunked on the Straits, thought he’d found some. He was wrong. I hit a few rocks, did a pull-the-fin-sideslip a couple of times, paddled in, gave myself a 6.5 for the dismount.

On Saturday, a few actual waves were showing, and the crew that would show up at the best-guess time for waves wasn’t around, evidently headed west to the Far Straits or the Farther Coast. Keith Darrock was out, and an electrician (Brett or Brent) who said he and I had ‘shared blood’ on job sites, and the waves were, indeed, slightly larger. Still, they pretty much disappeared after an hour or so, but, later, Keith already dressed, the set of the day came in. Then, waiting, waiting… ready to go back out… nothing.

On Sunday I listened to the Seahawks, did some repairs after the previous week’s rain and wind.

On Monday I was supposed to go west with Stephen Davis. I punked out,  now having to catch up on work missed while hanging around looking for surf, talking surf. The swell was WSW, not conducive, typically, for the Straits.

On Monday night, working late, Trish called me to say the Port Townsend fire department was conducting a search off Port Townsend for someone who had said he was suicidal, and whose car was found in the parking area at the very beach I had (sort of) surfed so recently.

Later Monday night, Stephen Davis sent me this photo. No information. Maybe it’s that spot Steve and I had promised each other we’d hit, a spot I’d heard about for years. You now know as much as I do. Now. Another mystery spot.


It’s Tuesday. I checked the buoys, checked the forecast, checked my hotmail, wrote my friend, Ray Hicks, my longest-term surfing friend (off and on, known him since 6th grade), checked for any update on possible drowning/suicide. Sadly, there was something; a body had been pulled from the water half a mile or so down the beach from the place I’d so recently surfed.  The name hasn’t been released yet. It’s tragic.

Mystery. Mysteries. I’ll find out more about this wave, whether Stephen surfed it; how much I missed. Later. If all is never really fully revealed, frequently enough is.  Meanwhile… meanwhile we wait. Or we go looking.