Barrel-Dodging With Adam Wipeout

Evidently my paint sales people remember my surfing stories; or some of them; tales of two foot waves and rocks and ear infections and surfers who, on hearing how great the waves were on a Saturday, show up at dawn on a Sunday when the waves are half as big. Yeah, I’m talking about Adam “Wipeout” James, who said he couldn’t think even about surfing while he had so much work that just had to be done.

But there he was, actually getting out of the water when I rolled up. And then he was too tired to go back out. And then he did.

And then, in position for the ‘wave of the (this particular, would have been average the day before) day,’ Adam blows the takeoff (he did well otherwise, other than an ‘off the back’ that was supposed to be a cutback).

Sure, it can (and has, and will) happen to any of us. There’s a penalty (worse in Hawaii, I’ve heard) for this particular type of incident, no doubt mentioned by me, possibly reinforced by Keith Darrock, one of the other surfers out this day (and the day before, and pretty much any time the place breaks), and someone who hates to see a rideable wave go unridden. “Wave of the day, Adam.”

Adam, though remorseful, nevertheless struck back. “At least I’m not a barrel dodger,” he said, paddling for the next non-wave of the day, watching to see if I’d challenge him for it.

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“Barrel Dodger?” Pause. “Me?” Wait; let me think. Have I ever dropped low, under a falling section, rather than staying high, risking getting pitched into the rocks? Have I?

If I have, I won’t again. Thanks Adam.

Hydrosexual Stephen Davis Pig-Dogs One

More than one, actually. John the Calendar Guy took some photos of a rare northwest break. Hey, I have to go. I’ll get back to this. There is a story. Yeah, always a story. Here’s 1,000 words…

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Okay, so Stephen, whose wave riding posture is more typically a casual stand-and-almost-slouch (hope you’re imagining a confident, defiant, hips-forward, wave-challenging stance), but, on these little bombettes, was just tucking-in from the takeoff. Some he made, and on some the wave won; not that getting rolled while inside a tube isn’t the very best way to not make a wave.  If being absolutely parallel to the wave would give you a score of 100, I’m giving Stephen 105. Hey, do your own scoring.

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So, on the right, on the same day, in one of several photos taken by John the Calendar Guy, Librarian/surfer (totally alternate egos) Keith Darrock in his typical posture, tucked-and-driving. I’m saying 95, but, if you’re on the shoulder, hoping to take off, and don’t think Keith will make the section, think again.

And, thinking again, on the left, some unnamed spot on the Far Northwest Coast, with whiplash offshores; and because I like to give people nicknames, and a nickname just won’t stick if it doesn’t ring true, and “Stay at Home Nate” obviously didn’t, and I don’t actually know Nate’s last name; I would like to offer “Seventy-five percent Nate” as an alternative. Oh, yes; “75% thinks he’s barreled.” If I get called on this, I’ll probably cave. “Eight-two percent Nate;” no, doesn’t sound right. “Big Bic Nate?”

No, that’s right; Adam Wipeout told me it’s not a Bic.

 

A Teaser on The Continuing Saga, Formerly a Mystery, and soon to be a majorly independent motion picture event, of the Paddle in the Dolphin

NOW that I’ve written it, gotten it out, I’m over it. I hold no ill will toward Raja, and hope we can hang out in the future. He does seem to have the same appreciation for the thrills, absurdities, posturing, and generally high-schoolish behavior involved in surfing anywhere. I’m calling us even. Hopefully Raja will also. PEACE, and I don’t mean that sarcastically.

This is Raja, his given name. I asked. He was born and raised and still lives in Edmonds, a city on the Seattle side of Puget Sound. I’ve seen Raja numerous times over the past several years while surfing on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. His beard keeps growing; hipsterrific.  A few months ago, in an act Raja still claims was not malicious, he found my paddle, which had been ripped from my hands while negotiating the last sixty yards of an inside tube. Now, as I have previously written, I would have bailed on the wave had it not been for the just-mentioned tube. And, hey, the paddle floats, right?

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Raja in left profile. The other two angles are on file.

Oh, those are my fingers. Just can’t seem to get them out of the shots.  Now, you can make your own decisions on whether Raja is a hero for causing an (allegedly) intimidating and (by definition) notorious wave hog to have a few moments of, well, humiliation; or a punk-ass bitch who has never actually said he was in any way sorry for the non-malicious act.  The ‘punk-ass bitch’ is not malicious, Raja (and friends of Raja), and was recommended as the appropriate description by someone who had heard [my version] of the story, and preferred punk-ass bitch over [my choice] hipster dick. Yes, I know you, Raja, and all hipsters, deny your hipster-ness, and, if ‘hipster’ is in any way a pejorative term, this is also not malicious in intent.

There’s intent and there’s actual consequences. Um, yeah; sure.

I’ll get back to this. I’m working on the complete story. I am over it. I think Raja is counting on the wave of prestige for showing up, kind of, a 64 (no, I was only 63 at the time) guy without having to do it on actual waves.

Check back another time.

 

If It’s the Journey, and not the Destination, then…

FIRST, and I’ll be removing this later, but, to terrorist/cowards everywhere, who chose soft targets rather than any battlefield, who consider themselves martyrs when they are murderers who create martyrs; there is no glory in this; there is no reward waiting, there is no God anywhere (and if you, as I, believe there is but one God, is that God not the God of all children?) who would condone massacre, the killing of the innocent and unarmed. And to those who incite and promote violence: Your hatred and fear are consuming you; the flesh is already rotting from your bones. May this only hasten, destroying you rather than infecting others. May God extend peace, wisdom, and mercy to the many. And True Justice. I wrote this to vent after the attacks in Paris; but it applies in way too many places around the world. Always has.

This is a photo taken on a recent day when Tom Burns did a lot of driving and never got to ride a wave.

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He took this while on a long walk with Doug Charles. “Kindred spirits talking story” is how he described the visit.  If your search for waves takes you to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, you probably know who Doug is. He’s “Uncle” Doug to many, the guy who tells you “you’re really not supposed to be here” to others.  If you do surf, you are a guest.

Respect given is respect returned.

Hey, I’m not all enlightened. Far from it. My inner motto, in the water, is “I’m here to surf.” We can get into the sociopath-ic-ness of that another time.

I’ve been trying to include the journey, the there and back, the interactions with other surfers, even with non-surfers, as part of my surf sessions. This is not a natural or easy thing for me. If I were a fisherman, I’d be inclined to only count the time as ‘fishing’ when I was reeling something in. When there are lulls between waves, I’m more prone to sharking, paddling left and right, than patiently waiting. Even if I chat with some other searcher, I’ll most likely be checking my lineup, looking for indicators, trying to make sure that, when the set comes, I’m in position (that is, a better position than others in the water). More likely, I’ll go for some of those inside waves and hope I’m not on one when the set arrives. I’ve only sort of given up on counting my waves. Sort of.

I’ve also been trying to come up with a phrase that might crystallize the experience for surfers in a place that is so rare; the fickle, imperfect, wild, access-so-frequently-denied, beautiful, frustrating secret coast. I haven’t been successful, but now claim ownership of “Keep it Strait.” It was a throwaway line in an reply (to one of my usual overly prosaic emails) from Drew Kampion, the man who penned “Always Summer on the Inside” for O’Neill Wetsuits (with the image, made quite an impression on the 16 year old me) and the now-and-for-years cliche’, “Corduroy to the horizon.”  I’m saving his email saying I can have it, but, all respect, Drew.

It’s tempting to add, “If you can’t keep it secret… keep it Strait.”

It’s semi-related to the North Shore expression, “Keep the Country Country.” I do include all the negatives in thinking of how to illustrate this. Those are all part of the journey. The journey is part of the session. As in all things, working on it.

DISCLAIMER AND ALERT- Immediately after I read the RANT section to my wife, Trish, with the intention of deleting it from the post (she asked why, if I meant it, should I delete it; so… maybe later), while checking my e-mails (and all this was immediately after the Seahawks lost the Sunday night game), I discovered I had a comment pending. It was from Foamclimb (probably not a given name- self-given, maybe). “Could read a bit homophobic, no? How about ‘Sometimes better than Lake Michigan?'” It just didn’t compute. Was he saying something about the RANT?

Maybe I was delirious from the defeat and the ‘knock-em-out’ pills Trish had given me for the headcold I’d exacerbated by surfing two days in a row; whatever; it was when I woke up (sort of, not actually fully awake yet- this is how those pills work) that I realized it was about “Keeping it Strait.”

OH, SURE. NO; never gave a thought to how that might sound to, you know, surfers who might not be heterosexual. AND, OH, maybe (referencing an earlier usage of ‘straight,’ as in not drunk or stoned) surfers who might be stoned or drunk or otherwise drug-influenced (like me on the nighttime cold pills) may also take offense.  We can’t have that. No.  AND, when I thought it might be good to add, “If you can’t keep it secret…” GEEZ. NO.

SO, let me say I did not mean anything mean, or to demean anyone except those who do not respect and appreciate the rare gift we are sometimes given of a few cold sliders. AND, when I say a few cold sliders, I’m talking about waves and really can’t imagine any other twisted usage of the phrase. It’ not like I said, “a few long straight tubes” or…

WAIT; In going through a few wave descriptions that could (maybe) be construed as sexual, and not wanting to be too crass, I’m thinking back to the artwork by a guy in San Diego who managed apartments for my brother-in-law. His stuff was definitely not in any way PHALLIC. Quite the opposite. So, I asked him what the opposite would be. “VAGINAL,” he said, with a straight face. “Uh huh,” I said, “vaginal.”

OKAY, THEN; I may not ever progress farther with “Keeping it Strait.” I’d give it back to Drew Kampion, but, once he sees how negative it can be, he may not want it.

All TIme (So Far) Strait Skunking

“Everyone gets the same forecasts,” I am quite fond of saying, and, indeed, probably just did say to one or more of the accumulated surfers, one of whom said he didn’t self-identify as a hipster. “You could shave the beard,” I offered, if he didn’t want to look like a surf hipster. Or he could have gotten in the water if he wanted to look like a, you know, surfer. This was all taken after I got out of the water after two and a half hours of cruising on little waves, mostly alone. This sort of de facto crew was mostly there at dawn, with an incredible number of other rigs pulling in, checking it out, discussing the fact that there should have been bigger waves, better waves. “The buoys, the forecast, the…”

Yeah, well. It’s the Strait. I actually sort of set up this shot, calling for one of the VWs to tighten up so I another could fit in. And there was another one back by the main road, evidently broken down. And there’s one up on the road; maybe you can see it over the top of the others. I did, at one point, say, “Why don’t you all do a VolkswagenTrain to Hobuck.”

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Maybe it’s because it’s an El Nino (gee, where’s the key for that curly thing that should go over the n?) year, maybe it’s because the Seahawks have a bye week; maybe the fact that the road closer to Neah Bay was washed out during the previous day’s rain; maybe, maybe there’s a great explanation for why a record number of surf enthusiasts, surf yuppies, some hipsters, and pretty much everyone who ever surfs in the northwest, was out. As for why the surf chose to not come down, who knows. It’s the Strait.

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Different angle, same group of woulda-been surfers had there just been waves. The two folks in the nearly-but-not-quite (because they’re not like couples with matching windbreakers) matching sweaters and the city-sized dog, were probably also planning on surfing. Behind me, and I now wish I’d taken a few more photos, was a nice setup of beach-made coffee, some boutique snacks, a bottle of sparkling Pellegrino water, which, later in the afternoon, could be replaced, perhaps, with an appropriate wine. The vehicle was there at dawn when I arrived; and, when the guy sleeping inside got up, and I said the waves were big enough for an old guy like me, and wondered why all the younger folks didn’t go to the coast and take on overhead, long period swells, he… well he rolled out his yoga mat and started doing, I guess, yoga.

“Getting into my wetsuit is enough of a warm up for me,” I said. As what turned out to be a set rolled in from the darkness, I added, “It’s big enough for me.” What I didn’t say is I should have listened to Keith. He figured, and now I just knew, correctly, that the swell wouldn’t hit where I was. Yeah, I should have waited for Monday.

Oh, I should mention that behind my birdshit-splattered rig were groups of surf power couples, chatting, with new personnel being added, others giving up and trying to beat the rush for the ferries. It’s not like one can really tell a real surfer just by looking at a crowd. A Patagonia cap might not mean the person wearing it rips. However, I might offer that guys who pile out of a rig with four boards in bags on the rack, each one looking all impressed by the number of people hanging out (three surfers bobbing in the actual water at this time), and then each give a nod to the only guy, and an oldie at that, in a wetsuit… those guys might be wannabes.

Let me reiterate that I did catch a lot of waves. The couple who live down by Crescent came out on SUPs, rode quite a few; Big Dave, now again employed (which explains why he was there then on Sunday), paddled out. When the tide was about to do in what waves there were, one other guy on a long longboard came out, caught a wave. “That’s one,” I said, being friendly. What I did notice from the water was the sort of slow motion movement of surf rigs into and out of the area.  I asked Mr. Yoga before I left, “Since you never did surf, maybe you kept count of how many vehicles came and went.” “About 80, I’d guess,” he said. “So crowded,” I offered. “You’re looking at the future,” he said, “word’s out. Maybe you heard of a place called Malibu.”

I did look at the future. Gathered at the water’s edge, chatting in groups like it was a Ballard block party. I’m not hating, here; maybe it’s just my image of surfers hasn’t been properly shifted from the illusion of blue collar rebels to, to… Anyway, Keith did get surf, and Adam Wipeout and his friend Nate got surf. They drove past the scene I was involved in, made it past the now-partially opened road, checked out the coast, managed to score somewhere in between. I passed at least ten vehicles still headed out when I was cruising back down Surf Route 101. When Adam and Nate drove back past this spot, it was dead, dead flat.

“Epic Skunking,” Adam said. “Well,” I said, “I got more waves than anyone on the beach.”

Today it may be firing. NOTE: Again, I’m not hating; we all just want to have fun. Next time I’ll bring some Pellegrino water, though I’m not fond of the sparkling kind. “Maybe Wednesday” (a holiday for many) I heard a woman in the parking lot say. “What does the forecast say?” “Iffy.” Iffy for sure. Always iffy.

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

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

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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.

 

“So, like, it’s, um; where did, you know, these waves come from? You know?

The guy on the left,  Sheep-collar Beardman, says, “Hey, Robin Hoodie, look at Mr. ‘I-just-rolled-in-from-Houston’ Tourist with the camera-slash-smartphone; like he’s never been to a wave park before.” The  to-remain-unnamed guy in the van with his own camera-slash-smartphone says, to himself, “Whoa; Derisive Derrick just turned into Drop-in Derrick! He burned Shortboard Aaron sooooo bad! Badly. Third degree burning! And I have proof.”

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Robin Hoodie, without looking away from The Tourist, cleverly disguised in a “Surf Galveston” t-shirt (under the unbuttoned Costco shirt), asks Beardman, “Yeah, um, I know all about these here waves. It’s all because they don’t have a sewer system in Victoria.” “You’re wrong, man; the waves come from… but, uh, no; I mean, uh, what do you mean?” “It’s scientific, Doofburger; they have, like, collection tanks, and…” “So, it’s like a big ass toilet?” “Yeah…” laughing… “Really big ass. Like your mother’s.” “Hey, not fair, Dingledork.”

Meanwhile, out in the wavepark, Shortboard Aaron, riding, today only, a really big ass homemade board someone found in a barn over on Marrowstone Island, gets a flush-roller to himself as Drop-in, peering into the water, stands up on his standup paddleboard, the glasses he was so casually sporting, now somewhere among the rocks.

“Let me review my photos,” the still-unnamed-guy in the van says, temporarily distracted by the image in his sideview mirror.

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“Okay, there’s the shot,” VanMan says. “Oh, and here’s one with, I think it’s Longboard Aaron and… those must be the folks from the Mercedes. Tourists, wondering where the heck these waves came from.”

The guy at the computer (me, obviously) says, “I better blow that one up. I wonder what those people are saying.”

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“Sure,” the woman (on the left in photo) is obviously saying, “Romantic walk on the beach my ass. He’s  trying to look cool and all Port Townsend-y. I don’t care about surfboarding and how waves from Russian come down the Strait of Juan de Fuca.” Aaron, back in the soup, is saying, “Nice fade, Derrick. Next wave I’m burning you. Don’t care if it IS your birthday.” Drop-in is saying, “I’d be cooler if I hadn’t lost my cool shades.” The man with the hip beanie is saying, “Find!! And I think they’re the 100 percent UV-blocking kind.” “Uh huh,” his wife says, wondering if he’ll help her up to the parking lot. “Sorry we didn’t see any great whites,” he says, actually having meant to say Orcas or Killer Whales, but distracted by his new self image; “they have a great DVD back at the B & B.” The woman says something under her breath, as her husband, an unbagged and sand-covered piece of dog poop squishing from the heel of his sandals, ponders how wonderful it would be to live a beach comber’s life, then says, actually quite loudly, knowing Poopy Sandals isn’t listening, “and when you said great whites; silly me; I had a different thing in mind. Moby Dick my ass.”

Meanwhile, over in Victoria, someone pulls the handle and, Woosh.

Wait, wait; the forever-unnamed photographer and observer told me that, a bit later, the Tourist met up with Beard and Hoody, inquiring about legal weed. “Weed?” “Yeah, ya’ll; like, dope, mary jane; mari-jeuh-wanna. I hear it’s legal, and, well; figured you’d..” When he realized both were (this is a quote) “a bit drunk and a lot stupid; though that’s kinda like being stoned,” the Tourist, who, without being asked, admitted he wasn’t a Galveston local but (another quote) “I am perty much accepted as one,”  and noting the waves had disappeared, asked, “So, what time does the next tanker go by.” “Tanker?” Beard said, laughing. “Tanker,” Hood said, rubbing the start of his own beard.

The guy in the van, window rolled down, scanned the horizon, over toward Victoria.

Hydrosexual Stephen Davis Spiderman’s Pilings

Ten days after my SUP paddle ended up stuck in the wire rope that holds the three pilings together  (making it, technically, a dolphin), I was surprised to find it still there, still looking like an antenna.

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Unlike the session where I lost the paddle, this time Stephen and I were the only ones out. Jeffrey Vaughn, a longshoreman (who also identified the pilings as a dolphin, probably used back when the area was a source for extracting and shipping clay), parked in front of the rights, took a lot of photos, but was changing into his suit when Stephen borrowed my SUP (he was riding a classic Phil Edwards model Hobie), and paddled over to the dolphin.

Having tried unsuccessfully myself to scale the ancient poles on the day of what I’m now calling ‘a prank of opportunity,’ I didn’t have much hope that Stephen (to refresh, I call him hydrosexual because he loves all water sports; ice hockey, skiing, kite surfing, classic paddleboard racing, sailing, etc.) could actually free the monument to my (yeah, we’re talking about the husky old guy with the gorilla hands) unappreciated lineup dominance.

Having already shed my booties, seeing Steve ‘chimney-climb’ between the pilings and then climb onto the dolphin, I ran down the rocky beach. Jeffrey would miss the shot. Two Natives, a father and son I’d seen here before, were pulling their crabpots, loading their boat onto the trailer. “Yeah, I saw the paddle. I think it had a flag on it for a while. It’s been there since that one day when there were lots of surfers here.” “Yeah, it’s my paddle.” The son thought this was quite amusing. “But you got it back.” “Yeah.”

I asked Jeffrey to try to make me look skinnier. Maybe he did and this is the result. I’m going to hang onto the paddle Nick so kindly gave me (loaned, I’m saying), ready to return it the next time I see him.

A Temporary Monument to A Notorious Wave Hog

Maybe it was just a sort of harmless prank; maybe it’s a statement that those wave-hogging, SUP-riding, Aloha-be-damned surfers should always hold on tightly to their paddles. Yeah; even if there’s sixty yards of spinning inside tube ahead of him. And yeah, even if the set-wave-grabbing lineup Dominator is somewhere on the downhill side of sixty, with bad knees and… I mean, you should have seen him trying to get to his paddle as the tide dropped… yeah, he may have deserved this.

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I might agree if it wasn’t my paddle.

I’ve been working toward posting something on realsurfers that might go viral. A few pieces, over the three years or so since realsurfers hit the electronic cosmos, have had a sort of slow-motion version. But, what I do know is, even if someone as athletic as whoever found the paddle and jammed it into the wire rope-held pilings pulls it out, King Arthur style, the story will spread. Quickly.  After all, surfers hanging out on the Strait, waiting and hoping some sort of swell might show up, might just have to tell the tale of how the baddest-ass, kook-burning-est, wave-catchin’-est, loudest, least cool guy ever to knee-board an eleven foot board from the pilings to the fence got a sort of comeuppance.

I’d argue with the description if it wasn’t supposed to describe me.

There is more to the story; coming soon. If this wasn’t a happy ending for me (still feeling a bit outside of the tribe of mellow, never-took-off-on-anyone-ever-no-really-like-never-surfers, I’d probably guess anyone ever frustrated by SUP-riding over-compensators might just go, “Right On, Man!”), there is a surprise twist in this little morality play. This twist is forcing me to question my initial reaction to be hurt, then pissed-off at being singled out for this little prank; then humiliated by my pathetic, clumsy, and unsuccessful attempts to retrieve the paddle (witnessed by anyone who cared to look among a gathering crowd on the beach). These feelings were followed by a momentary-but-deep (why me? am I really that much of an asshole?) depression combined by a significant amount of anger at people who I would like to think of as peers (even friends). I aimed these feelings to those responsible, and to those who (owing to a different strain of tribal-think) would never reveal who did this. This rather quickly morphed into ‘fuck them/I don’t need them,’ a throwback to my days as a loner/outsider (yeah, I know you think you are. Probably not) with a fully-functioning (as in, I got waves) ghetto-mentality surfer in Oceanside and Pacific Beach,  and Swamis, and Trestles, and made me almost proud to be the Antagonist.

Still, until I sort it all out in my mind, I’m leaving it at this. [not true- I’ve already added to this piece several times] I’ve been very satisfied with the many surfers I’ve met over my years surfing in the northwest, an contrast this, happily, with my time in California.

Here are a couple of things: I won’t drop a paddle again. I catch almost every wave I try for. If you aren’t getting enough waves, take off in front of me.  Really.  I’ve never really yelled at anyone for this (wait, once I yelled, “Really?”), though my usual thing is to sarcastically yell, “Waikiki!” or “Party!” but, my new and humbler self might just smile and say, “Aloha!”(Durn; still a bit bitter, but working on it)

I’d give acknowledgement to the photographer, but, just in case he’s maintaining a safe distance, I’ll just say, ‘nice photo.’ Oh,and Trish said, “If you had a ladder, you could have walked out and climbed up to get it.” “Oh, uh huh.”

Clinton Burks on Point Grenville, Me on Jeff Parrish and Tom Decker, and a new Illustration

I received this comment in response to one of the most popular, over time, posts, “Tom Decker and Jeff Parrish.” Noticing the consistent number of hits the piece seems to get, I thought either Tom Decker, well known to pretty much anyone who surfs at Westport over the last twenty-five years, is a name people google, then find my article; or Jeff sends friends to check out what I wrote about him. I’ve had a sort of suspicion that, always just trying the real story, I may have written something that would or should offend Jeff. Since Jeff’s wife, Ruth, has started surfing, and, actually, before that, he seems to have other people he prefers to surf with (and, yes, I am somewhat hurt by this, but no longer whine about it when I see Jeff’s father-in-law, Jim Hodgson, at the post office.). Because I got this comment, I checked.

Yeah, maybe Jeff had a tough outing, called-out by Mr. Decker; but he’s not alone in that. I do drop the name (Tom Decker, though I always ask people from Seattle if they know Jeff. “Which Jeff?” They all know at least one) with folks from Westport, or those who say they surf there a lot, when I see them looking for waves on the Strait. Maybe Tom has mellowed; other names are mentioned as enforcers at the Groins and the Jetty.

So, here’s the contribution:

Clinton Burks (@soloncircus)

Erwin,

If it’s of any value to the surfing community, I’d like to recite some first-hand oral history about Pt. Grenville.

I surfed there from 1967 to -69, when I was in high school. We just showed up with surfboards and camped for the weekend, without any fuss from “authorities.”

Then, in 1969, we showed up as usual, and a truck pulled up and a well-spoken, close-shaved Indian came over to us in an very authoritarian manner, and spoke to us ominously, “Where are you boys from?”

“Bremerton,” we said.

Then he looked at the rock cliffs covered in grafitti, and most of it was the names of various high schools painted in great big letters in a wide variety of colors.

He paused and said, “If I looked up at these rocks and saw ‘West Bremerton,’ or ‘East Bremerton’ written here, I’d arrest you and put you in jail. But as it is, you can just leave.”

So we got kicked out, and never went back. Good thing us Bremerton guys specialize more in thievery and violence, and “school spirit” was for “soces.” Besides, our writing skills were sketchy, anyway.

In 1970 I heard that some friends tried to go there, and the Quinaults confiscated their boards and they had to pay fines. I left the state in 1970, and have not heard anything about it since, except for your piece on this web page.

BTW, concerning Washington surfing at the time, I had the feeling that Pt. Grenville was the only place, because the waves were dependable. I wasn’t part of any big surfing “scene,” because there were so few of us, so I don’t know if there were many guys scouting all the coastline in the state, looking for a good break. In those days, I’d never heard of surfing at Westport. (What’s more, I lived the 1970s in San Francisco, and never heard of Mavericks, though no one else seemed to know about it, either.) People in Bremerton were always going there for more fishing. When we got out of high school, it seemed like everyone went to Hawaii, got jobs, and stayed for awhile.

Aside: We didn’t use wet suits. When I was aged 6 to 9, I spent the summers living in a tent and a beach cabin at La Push, because my father was a commercial fisherman out of there & Neah Bay. My mom told me, “Just wait till you get numb, and you can play in the surf all day.” She was right. Last time I did it was 2010.

Clint Burks

So, I really don’t know anything about Mr. Burks except that he must be about my age, possibly another member of the class of 1969. And I have heard a few stories about Point Grenville in the mid 1960s, some which might explain why the beach was closed. Still, the image of some waves peeling off that point…

Here’s my latest illustration:

realsurfersUPcolor 001