Facing West on a Maximum North

“Grizzley” Adam “Wipeout’s” older son, Calvin “Boomer” James, with “The Burn,” aka “the Burner” model custom board.

As always, I would like to cover a couple of topics. I will get back to the board.

We’re a few days past the summer solstice. The sun is rising and setting on horizons almost shockingly north of where the sun was six months ago. I have observed this time lapse movement for so long it seems as if I have always oriented my life according to where the sun sets. West. That is where the ocean is; that is where the waves are. West.

West is the direction the teenage me looked, out on the lawn, imagining magical waves beyond the rounded, north to south rows of drought and fire burned hills, past the smog drifting down from the Orange County/L.A. vortex. At maximum north, the sun set over San Onofre, maximum south, Oceanside. Perhaps I more imagined than saw the bounce-back effect a brilliant sunset on the water had on the high clouds. No, it was real, reflection on a horizonal plane. Horizontal.

For the last forty-plus years, living somewhere around fifty/sixty feet above sea level on gravel and rounded rocks and clay left behind in an ancient fjord by one of any number of ice ages, my view to the west is of an almost mountain-high ridge. If I said it looks like an almost perfect thousand-foot-high peak, probably a better right than a left, well… forgive me. It is yet another wave in the north/south coastal range. Ranges, the Olympics being the highest and broadest.

In the winter, the sun sets to my left, almost to the gap that reveals two other higher, craggier ridges. Today it will hit just to my right of the highest point.

OOOPS. TECHNICAL SCREWUP! I just lost a whole lot of good writing. I tried to save it. Didn’t work. LATER.

Meanwhile, since I lost this part, let me explain the board. JOEL, almost app-millionaire, now a real estate mogul in the making, wanted a surfboard to burn as a sacrifice to any surf gods (not arguing for or against the existence of said small g gods here), with a request for something better than the flatter-than-the-usual-flatness around these parts. Adam has a lot of boards. BUT, partially considering how environmentally unfriendly burning something as toxically chemical as a foam-and-glass board, Adam,, on INTERNATIONAL SURFING DAY (all in, he claims, four hours), crafted the board (below) out of a cedar slab, glued on the fins and… AND, YEAH, it’s way too cool a board to be burning up to appease some minor leaguers (when I appeal/pray/beg/hope for rideable waves and uncrowded glassy conditions and a good parking place, in that order, I’m appealing to the big G crew- yeah, a bit bold), SOOOO, now Joel wants to ride the BURNER. So, now Adam, after discussing what to coat/cover the raw wood with, wants to change the name of the board to the simpler “BURN,” as in ‘Joel might just burn people on the board.’

Emmett (no nickname yet, at least not one I’m aware of) James

SECOND MNEANWHILE- Adam has yet to get Emmett and Calvin addicted to surfing. They’re all out on the coast this weekend, so, of course, Adam is working on it.

Waves: Enough is Never Enough

I checked with Chimacum Timacum to see if the quote and the story behind it were correct. CONFIRMED. Yes, he had witnessed Keith’s ride from the perfect vantage point, on the shoulder, looking into the oncoming wave. Keith did, indeed, backdoor the peak, did get tube time, did come flying out with the mental wherewithal to add a few swoops into the mix.

SO, then Tim got a ride (no doubt pretty good to amazing). Because of the pervasive rip, they are both walking back up to the point. Tim catches up, possibly taps Keith on the shoulder and… here’s the QUOTE: “Wasn’t that enough for you?”

This is actually another Big Island shot from Stephen R. Davis

I won’t keep you in suspense. No; not enough. It’s not just Keith who can’t get enough waves, but, yeah, it is Keith. I get it. I understand how, while getting a few mediocre rides will cause any real surfer to keep going until he or she gets a pretty good ride on a really good wave, or a really good ride on a pretty good wave, or even a really good ride on a shitty-ish wave; getting a really good ride on a really good wave will not necessarily cause him or her to say, “Yes, Tim, that was as good as I can hope for during this particular session, and I believe I will now go home.”

NO. Especially not Keith. Even without factoring in that Tim might get an even better wave, possibly from deeper, or that Tim might… NO, enough is rarely enough.

I have noticed that supposedly surfed-out surfers can suddenly spring back to life and compete fiercely for waves when… No it isn’t just when I go out, late in the latest swell window, but, yeah then. And I have been on the other side of that; back out for just a couple more because Chris Erdley missed my best rides, and, hey, I can still make it to Costco before it closes.

ALSO in my cell phone conversation with Tim, we discussed, as surfers do, past sessions. As you, as an avid reader of realsurfers, are aware, I have been ready to break my resolution to not surf until I have my submission package for “Swamis” ready to go. NO, I actually said I would have to have the novel’s third or twentieth polish/edit done. Backtracking. WELL, now I’m almost there on the submission, and totally desperate to get in the water. I’d be stoked,, rocks and boils and chop and all, to surf something like the wave in the photo, and, after twenty or thirty rides, I would be ready to… no, I pretty much stay until the waves go away for any one of several known reasons, I break a fin, or I just have to get somewhere else (not always Costco) and I’ve run out of time.

AND, HEY, what do you do when your first ride in a session is quite possibly going to be your best?

Keep surfing!

But, if you do happen to see me paddling out, please bear in mind I’m kind of… hungry. Next time, something on ADAM WIPEOUT that isn’t actually about that one wipeout I keep promising to write about.

Six Foot on the Strait and…

Happy honkin’ Thanksgiving. I will explain the honking part in a bit. I hope waves are hitting whatever beach you’re close to, or chose to go to, or are currently at; re-checking the buoys, wondering how a seventeen foot swell in the Pacific Ocean can’t seem to find it’s way to that beach. WAITING, waiting, wait… we all know there are no waves in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and yet…

Yet I spent too many hours over the last two days answering the siren surf call. “In an hour and twenty minutes, big boy, traffic permitting, you could be hurrying to put on your cold, damp, recently-frozen wetsuit (and you should know not to hang a wetsuit outside in these parts- frost is real), enjoying the multiple pleasures and temporary (and, yes, a bit frosty) bliss of plopping your bulky self into the smooth lines of a…” Have to stop; just a bit too (I could say honest) revealing.

That was TUESDAY. Traffic permitted, ocean did not oblige. Hang out, wait, take a nap… didn’t help. Others were still waiting, other surf hunters showing up or driving on. Fickle, these sirens.

Then, WEDNESDAY, calculating, drawing on experience, hoping; couldn’t help hear the siren call. “Forget about finishing that job; the winds and tides are just perfect; the possibility of taking off deep, tucking into a tube, climbing and dropping in an almost endless rhythm, pulling out at the last possible moment; (the possibility) of these things await…” Wait. Again, I should stop there.

BUT I went, waited around rather than going to my job up the hill, no more than six minutes (traffic) away. Then I left, couldn’t concentrate on work, but did some. An hour and a half later, at the far end of when my earlier and constantly readjusted calculations said the tide wndow would close, I returned.

WAS IT all the sirens promised, what my memories of near-perfect sessions constantly remind me is possible? NO, ‘course not. I did, HOWEVER, on both outings (one long one, two shorter) run into memorable folks on the beach.

I COULD write about some of those surfers, real and otherwise. I will. But here, today, let me say something about ADAM ‘WIPEOUT’ JAMES. He was at a beach, my second trip there, yesterday, with his two boys, Emmett and Calvin. It is definitely not helpful that I can no longer seem to figure out how to transfer photos from my phone to the computer (stuck in the cloud or something). The boys and their dad all have COVID haircuts, meaning no hair cuts. As old guys did back when I was a kid with, usually, a ‘high and tight’ cut (because my dad had been a Marine, but, because he had four sons, our hair was longer than average before our next visit to the barber), and because the boys were running around the beach with an girl, I, stupidly, asked, “Who are these girls?”

ADAM AND I DO TALK, fairly regularly, on the cellular devices; but we haven’t surfed together in quite a while (his favorite trick seems to be taking off in front of me); and I was pretty excited at the possibilities.

SO, I’M LEANING ON one of his many vehicles (he implied it’s rude to ask how many), chatting about how he put a mortal crease in the Mickey Munoz 12 foot soft top I once rode, and he’s putting dollops of sun-cure resin on dings on another board, both of us talking to KEITH, and Adam’s wife’s (Andrea’s) friend, father of the girl running around with Calvin and Emmett (not a surfer or in any way knowledgeable about surfing- asked if we wear wet or drysuits), and Adam says, “Hey, Dude; six feet.”

SIX FEET? I scan the horizon. NOPE, the usual lines that look like waves but are rip or wind lines. “OH? Yeah, six feet. Sorry.”

There are, of course, other stories. There are, as always, rumors about where waves DID HIT, where the SIRENS fulfilled their promises. NO, it never was a promise; it never has been. STILL, we listen.

OKAY, HERE’S ONE MORE: Tim Nolan, discussing something about how tides can affect wave size and, let’s say, punchiness, used the word ‘honking,’ as in, “When it really gets honkin’…” I had to ask him about it. Tim’s older, but, it seems, increasingly close to my age; and the word usage took me back to the sixties. For a moment. This was on my first attempt yesterday. Then, possibly because of my advanced age, I forgot the word. LUCKILY, on my second visit to the beach, Tim and a group of paddleboarders were just returning. I asked him; he remembered. HONKIN’!

AGAIN, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Time- Warped, Wasted, Spent

To quote; or, possibly, mis-quote Miki Dora; “Life’s pretty much a waste of time. Surfing’s as good as any way to waste it.”  I’d spend some time trying to look it up if I felt like I had the time.

TIME.  So, recently, headed back along the Strait of Juan de Fuca (SoJdF) and into the zone between the Northwest’s Pacific Coast where cell phone reception becomes merely spotty (Joyce for most of us), I gave Adam Wipeout a call (one of the few surfers on my short list of people- and I’ve explained this to death already- I share session reports with).  WHAT? It turns out he had tried to sneak in an (another) stealth surf at an undisclosed location and was forced to now make up for all the things he was supposed to do.

“I feel like I was in some sort of time warp,” he said.  “I can’t believe it’s one o’clock.”

“Well, it is.”  It was, and it wasn’t even raining.  I should have been painting.  Adam should have been… something, something with his family or for HAMAHAMA SEAFOOD; something else; not sliding and barrel-dodging and getting praised by onlookers for better-than-proficient rides.  That was Adam’s recap. He hadn’t invited me, probably wouldn’t have told me about this until days later.

AND, I was elsewhere, allegedly (someone willing to pay roaming rates called someone he knows, he called another surfer from my short list, and that guy called me and left a voice mail I couldn’t listen to until I reached Joyce, and, as happens, restarted my phone) catching more (somewhere between slightly and considerably more) than my allotment of waves.

Well.  I hate to waste time.  Not an excuse.

OKAY; that’s out of the way. I’ve been working on a series of NORTHWEST SPIRIT ANIMALS. My latest was the eagle.  Now, the national bird has been done from so many angles.  I wanted to go for a new one.  I spent some time on the first version of this; but it just didn’t work.  I must have some fear of using large patches of black, but… not an excuse.

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Rather than tear up the whole thing, I doubled-down (I know, you’re thinking Trump backing up ridiculous claims with more ridiculousness) and added the checkerboard stuff.  Ewww. Well, maybe, in color…

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Not thrilled.  Not my favorite.  Next time…

MEANWHILE; and for quite a while, TYLER MEEKS, the owner, and I have been discussing using the logo I came up with for the DISCO BAY OUTDOOR EXCHANGE on t-shirts.  There are some very small decals available, but the problem is, and has been, that the design isn’t ‘tight’ enough to be instantly recognizable from a distance.  And I agree.

SO, I spent some time drawing, and several trips to various printers, trying to get it tight enough to print as white-on-colored (or black) t-shirts, possibly with ORIGINAL ERWIN designs on the back.

NOW this presents an additional problem/mind game, at least for me.  The design was drawn to be black on white (or light), and too much thinking is required to make the switch.  OKAY, here’s how it goes:

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This is the black-on version.  The black outside the drawing (including the points of light) would be cut out.  White mountains and clouds.

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Here’s the white-on version (there are some outside-the-image things to be eliminated). SO, everything black on this would become white on the shirts Tyler and I have gathered (various colors and sizes), but I have some amount of trouble making the switch from what I see (black clouds and mountains) to what will show up.

ANYWAY, the plan is to have some shirts available soon at a reasonable price.  I’ll let you know.  OR, maybe one of your friends will call someone else with the news; something like, “Got skunked, but, whoa; they have some awesomely cool new t-shirts at Disco Bay, Bro.” Then that person might call you.

Meanwhile; I have been working on my novel, “Swamis,” making it te-ight!

 

 

Memorial for Emerson ‘Emmett’ Davis

While I do fancy myself a writer, and I have done some work (paid) as a newspaper reporter, it will soon become obvious that I am neither a photographer nor a photo/journalist.

The memorial for Emerson ‘Emmett; Davis, tragically killed in a fire in his apartment in Seattle, had been planned for a while.  His father, Stephen Davis, often mentioned in ‘realsurfers’, is a friend of mine, and, while this was an opportunity to mourn the loss and celebrate the life of someone taken away from those who loved him way too soon, it also afforded the many people whose paths in some way were touched by Emmett’s.  Including mine.

My connection was, originally, through surfing.  Emmett was, and Stephen is a part of the loosely-connected collection of surfers with a homebase in the unlikely corner of the country, the Olympic Peninsula.  Because Steve travelled, ‘posted-up’ (his term) in Baja and California and Hawaii and Costa Rica, and often included Emmett for parts of these adventures, because Steve put off work (occasionally) to go snowboarding with his son, met up with him in Oregon; the community of surfers with a connection to Emmett has grown.

Add in the fact that Emmett was raised in Port Townsend, went to college and worked in Seattle, it shouldn’t have been surprising that so many people met up at Fort Worden.

Though I knew many of the locals through working in Port Townsend for many years, I was probably more at ease among the surfers. Not saying I’m totally accepted; I’m tolerated.  I gave a ride to the memorial to a surfing buddy of Stephen’s and mine, Archie Endo. A stylish longboarder, whose daughter, Lillian, went to school with Emmett.

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Archie was in town from Thailand. He had a stroke a couple of years ago, and, though he recently surfed some small waves there, he fears his days of hitting the waves in the cold Strait of Juan de Fuca may be over.

Friends of Stephen actually came into the area early, and, because it’s what surfers do, they went looking for waves.  And they found some; glassy, long walls; one of those rare, brief, and magic windows on the fickle Strait.  Cap, here from the Big Island, credited Emmett for sending the waves.

I met Cap, who introduced himself as Brian, at a beach north of PT where Stephen was preparing to kitesurf. Not being a photo/journalist, I did not take any photos.  Supposedly, Stig, who, like Cap, I had heard stories about but had never met, a friend of Steve’s from Oahu, was in town but not there at this time.

cap with cap

Okay, let’s look at photos I did take.

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Local ripper/librarian Keith Darrock, left, media darling and local wherever he goes, Adam ‘Wipeout’ James.

 

People I don’t know, or didn’t know, and Stephanie Moran, who Steve and I have both done work for, and who Trish is great Facebook friends with, though they have never actually met (yet).

Top, then clockwise- Archie and Cody Caputo (who I haven’t taken off in front of in quite a few years); the same shot twice of Cody, Archie, and Keith (I’ve never, to my knowledge, burned Archie, though I did totally ding one of his boards once, I think Keith and I are about even on wave usurping); and a photo of kitesurfer/SUPer/long-or-shortboarder Derrick Vandersurfer (I swear, no one can really get through his real last name, Wipeout, All-board (formerly shortboard) Aaron Lennox, and Archie.

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Stephen R. Davis.  I heard one of Emmett’s friends say “He’s dressed up, looks like one of my professors.”  If it doesn’t show up, there’s a matching blue tie in this sartorial mashup.  If one gets strength from hugs, Steve should be powered-up for a long while.

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Bob. Not a surfer. Everyone seemed to know Bob except me. When I was introduced, he said, “Oh, you’re Erwin. Some people thought I was you.  Some woman in Town, every time she’d see me, she’d say, ‘Erwin… love your column. Erwin.’ (I had a column in the Port Townsend Leader for about ten years) Finally, I said, ‘Thanks. Where’s that forty dollars you owe me.’  She never called me Erwin again.”

I don’t really have a right to be offended, but I don’t really see the resemblance, and,  should add no one has ever said to me, “Hey, Bob; how’s it going?”

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Steve with Cosmo. Cosmo is a landscaper from Chicago and made leis for the paddleout.

People headed toward the lighthouse for the paddleout.  That’s Michael Morrow top right. Raised in Panama, he’s surfed all over, lived for a while in Hawaii.  Has some great stories.

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Emmett’s sister, Katrina. She took some of Emmett’s ashes out to the circle.  I had never met her, and her expression might be explained by saying I had just introduced myself.  “Oh, you’re Erwin.” I’m not sure what she heard about me, but I held back from saying, “Yeah, often confused with Bob.”  I actually considered asking, feeling somewhat guilty for not participating in the paddle out, if I could hop into the canoe.

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This isn’t the end of this. While working on this, and I apologize for not having a closer shot of the circle, Adam called me.  A tanker’s passing pushed some waves into the bay, described as ‘perfect little peelers’ by Mr. James.  He sent photos.

Later.  It was, for someone who avoids these things, so worthwhile.  Archie met a guy who married into a Japanese family, Adam, who claims not to be a fisherman, regaled Aaron with a well-told fishing story as well as asking Aaron if he had, indeed, been hiking in the hills down around HamaHama (he had), and gave him some pointers on climbing spots in that area.

At one point I asked a young man across the picnic table what his connection to Emmett is: It was more his wife, but he was from Seattle; he’d seen the local news coverage.  He started talking about another incident where a young person tragically lost his life in an accident.  That was the closest I came to breaking out the tissues Trish made me bring.

I still never met Stig.

Emmett, rest in peace.