Trust and Sarcasm and Irony and Such

With Whom do You (Dare to) Share… stories of surf trips, where you went and when you started (better trips start pre-dawn, the best end well after sunset), who you went with, why you went (forecasts, buoy reports, some vague longing), road conditions (traffic holdups, police pull-overs, pit stops), perfect (or not) conditions, perfect (or not) waves; waves ridden (estimated number and exaggerated size), selected awesome rides, memorable wipeouts; interesting (or irritating) people encountered, car problems (or not); where you stopped (coming and going), what you ate; and, most importantly, where you’d rank this trip in the banked memories of however trips you’ve taken?

I have actually been thinking about this a while.  For most of us, who we share our adventures with (and don’t even claim to have never even wanted to share something about that surprise barrel you got on an inside section of what you had thought was going to be a closeout), comes down to who you trust not to share this exciting info with someone who will blab it around, or worse, someone undeserving.

If you’ve learned, over years of skunkings and scorings, under which conditions this spot or that spot has worked in the past; accumulated anecdotal information, what you have is, actually, data.  DATA. 

BLABBERS and the UNDESERVING: Why the fuck would you want to give this DATA to some person who hasn’t put in the miles and the hours in the search?  Why would you tell someone you’ve just met at some beach where the waves aren’t happening that they just might be breaking at…?

Because surfers ask.  Because they want to know.  The same surfers who ask what you know might just show up at the beach you mentioned, paddle up just inside of you in the lineup, and say, “MY WAVE!”

That’s the fear.  It has happened. 


“Erwin…waikiki-crowds told me it’d be good.” “Yeah, that’s where I heard it.”  “My wave!”

SO, HERE I AM, with my (desperately) tiny little website, started as a platform on which to write about surf adventures years and miles away (before I became aware that I have another surf life here and now), and I’m restricted from recounting all the shit from the first paragraph because of the then-listed reasons.  Mistrust and a certain desire to not add to the folks in the lineup the next time I go.

SO (I’m trying to go through this with some sort or sense of logic), my not blabbing is the result of PEER PRESSURE and a certain amount of GREEDINESS. 

BUT, I sort of learned what not to say, what not to show, over time.  Yeah, at first, I did write about where I went, what I found.  I named spots and conditions.  NO. NOPE.  In fact, I wrote, years ago, about my first session at a very fickle spot.  It was published in the local newspaper.  Every surfer who was out that day, and many who weren’t had something to say next time we met up (at another beach or, yes, at a grocery store or pumping gas).  Mostly it was, “You can’t put that out there,” and, “Hey, did you see that one ride?”

NOW, MAYBE, it’s clear that I’m not going to even say there are even (ever) waves on the Strait of Juan de Fuca (from hereon referred to as SoJdF, you’ll see why), I suddenly have been made aware (suddenly because, evidently, despite having a mouth for sarcasm, I don’t have an ear for it) that, maybe it’s not okay to mention that there are ever, EVER, any good waves at (in this case) WESTPORT and/or (by extension) SEASIDE, and/or (by further extension) ANYWHERE.  NO WAVES.  NOWHERE.  NOHOW. 

Oh, maybe somewhere over the rainbow.  OZ.  No, not that OZ.  No waves. Never.  And, I hear, it’s always crowded.

HERE’S THE COMMENT I misinterpreted, from PWA (not his or her real name, I am assuming) in response to my piece, “Sometimes Westport is an Option”: “I was wondering if you had any pictures you could share of those epic empty spots that line Washington’s northern coast. Just asking.”

I wrote back: “Wait.  Checking.  Checking.”

Then, after I’d posted “Cougar- Northwest Spirit Animal, plus…”, PWA wrote, and this is his punctuation: “Be honest im sure you had plenty time to consider the personal ramifications of publishing photos of the epic surf spots of lining SOJDF (see, told you, SoJdF is how I’ll now, forever, present it).  That was a very nice day at WP and you know the internet these days.  So put 2 and 2 together and just because its not your locale try keep on things the DL (Trish told me this means ‘downlow’) a little more thats all I ask.”

SO PWA, OKAY.  AND, UM, THANKS.  I guess I thought Westport wasn’t a secret spot; that it was fair game for mentioning by name.  AND, in my defense, I thought I suggested, at least, that it’s usually not anywhere near epic.  I hope no one went to Westport with unrealistic expectations because of something I wrote.  Sidenote: I get Stats from WordPress; and, to date, nothing on has ever gone viral.  Oh, there was a cough, once, but it may have been a mistake.

MEANWHILE, up until 1979, and a few times after, there were waves at places like Swamis, Sunset Cliffs, P.B. Point, Crystal Pier, Windansea, Pipes, Grandview, Ocean Beach, Oceanside (pier and harbor, and in-between), Swamis (upper, lower, middles, church), San Onofre, Cardiff Reef, Blacks…

ALSO, I do have a story I’m dying to tell, conflict and conquest and waves and all.  I’ve already passed it on to a few of the people I trust.  Good story.  OKAY, the takeaway is this: None of us own waves; we’re blessed to ride a few.  OH, and don’t ever call my friend (name withheld) a kook.  KOOK.

IN CONCLUSION: Surfers love to tell stories. If you meet me at some beach or grocery store or gas station, and you convince me you can be trusted, I might tell you about that super secret spot that doesn’t ever, EVER have waves.  IF you believe you can trust me, tell me about any spot I’ll never even attempt to go to, and… no, no reason to trust me.  Or, maybe I’ll tell you about the last time I checked out Westport.

It was crowded AND shitty.     

Sometimes Westport is an Option

I try not to go to Westport.  It’s a ways down surf route 101, with a shortcut here and Aberdeen there, and it can be crowded, super crowded, blown out, with an attitude from depression-central to carnival-like.  Sometimes, and maybe it was because Stephen Davis made his first trip there, it can be…



If you check the photo, there’s someone bobbing around inside, and someone on the wave in the middle, soup well over his head.  Uh, yeah; this is when the crowd thins out.

The Groins are sometimes (hope this isn’t a secret) an option.  Though it certainly looks rideable, Steve, after getting a few bombs at the jetty, turned it down.


I might have selected this, but, again, I didn’t go. To round out Steve’s Westport escapade, he made the required pilgrimage to Al Perlee’s SURF SHOP, got some of Al’s cheery/gruff repartee.  “Oh,” I asked, “he wasn’t really nice?” “Not really.” “Well, Steve; all I can say is (channeling “Chinatown”), forget about it; it’s Westport.

ART ROUNDUP- Occasionally I have to put some of my stuff on display; partially because I’m always begging my clients (and non-clients, pretty much everyone I speak with) to check out this site.  I do get more selective each time.



Various Shots of Various Secret Surf Spots


[ABOVE] Offshore winds on a northwest shore. Photos by Stephen Davis.

[BELOW LEFT] Manageable (and average-sized) crowd at above average Westport. Photo by Adam (Wipeout) James.


[ABOVE RIGHT] Another Stephen Davis shot from classic West End Washington State.


[ABOVE LEFT] Another secret point break on the Straits of Juan de Fuca. Or, if it isn’t a secret; you try to find it at exactly the right time and tide and swell to do a little side-slipping into deep cold water. Photo by Keith Darrock.

[ABOVE RIGHT] A sunrise photo from Cancun by Carol Christiansen

Clean with offshores

Micah, a friend of Stephen Davis's, sent him this photo from an expedition to (the general vicinity of) Westport. Though the waves have been ill-angled and the swells too small for the Straits, the offshore winds and rideable-sized waves have been hitting the coast almost non-stop. Okay, maybe some fog.

Micah, a friend of Stephen Davis’s, sent him this photo from an expedition to (the general vicinity of) Westport. Though the waves have been ill-angled and the swells too small for the Straits, the offshore winds and rideable-sized waves have been hitting the coast almost non-stop. Okay, maybe some fog. Stephen said he thinks Micah is fine with the photo showing up on my site. If a bunch of surfers suddenly show up at Westport (and/or the general vicinity), it may be my, I mean Micah’s, fault.

Today’s Uncrowded (almost) Offshore Westport Storm Surf


So, I was out in that northwest winter version of afternoon/almost-dark, sitting in my work van in a rainstorm, trying to see pretty much anything through the fogged-in (plus a couple of leaks) inside and the furiously beating-but-not-keeping-up windshield-wipers, somewhat desperately looking for any sign of surf.  Just as a small wave approached the two guys out, one of them (I think) rock-standing-while-waiting, an extra surfboard that was supposed to be on the low bluff blew over the small bluff and into the shorebreak.

Actually the shorebreak was the only break.

Hey, maybe tomorrow the Pineapple Express will make a little jog, and, whoa!

So, since I didn’t recognize the vehicle two down in the parking area, hence, didn’t know who the surfers in the water riding waves even I couldn’t quite get up the enthusiasm to ride, I called Keith, gave him the report. I had checked it early, ‘flat;’ Keith at mid-day, flat, with ‘some lines showing,’ and now I was checking it again, ‘pretty flat, offshore, though; with two guys out.’  I called Stephen (you remember, the hydroxexual) Davis, got his voicemail, told him Keith and I are still looking at (oh, I can’t say, do your own forecasting), invited him along. Then I called Trish to tell her I’d be home earlier due to a lack of surf to ride and a lack of desire to go back to my job. Then, heading to the Penny Saver for some of that almost-like-homemade salads, I gave Adam “Wipeout” James a call, just to make sure it wasn’t him and one of his friends out in the cold chop, not catching many ‘head high’ waves.

Yeah, because the waves are always ‘head high’ in Adam’s reports.

But, it wasn’t Adam and a friend I’d seen, unless they got out, Adam checked his voicemail, and called me in the four minutes since I left the parking lot, and called me. He mentioned another friend of his had been to Westport today, and that he’d sent him a photo which he’d send to me. Yeah, the one above; high tide, semi-offshore, no one out, and, of course, ‘head high.’  Of course.  Thanks Adam’s friend.

Hey, I only posted something, like, yesterday or the day before, but, sure, this is news. Sort of.

Still, if you don’t have the time or inclination to check out the last post…

realsurfersshortjohn 001

Maybe tomorrow the… I’ll let you know.

Woosh… A Couple of Days Working in Seattle and… Woosh

Sometimes my tendency to make more out of some experience than it deserves, to expand a moment to metaphor irritates me. Even me. Still, I think of all experiences as part of some story; meaning some puzzle piece we haven’t found a place for yet. Not yet.

I occasionally work on ‘the other side,’ in the city, Seattle.  In the Pacific Northwest, this is like a reverse surf trip. Still, there are more surf shops in Seattle than on the Olympic Peninsula, and more surfers as well. Cities are where the jobs are. It makes sense.

And maybe it’s been too long since I lived in a city. The overload of competing stimuli strikes me even before it’s my turn to get off the ferry. My Google Map directions not quite memorized, I have the printed version in one hand, ready to take on the crazy traffic, always with someone who knows where he or she is going moving up quickly in the lane I may have to switch to. Instantly. And of course, it’s raining. The storefronts are passing quickly, sideways vision blurred. There are red traffic lights on clutch-burning hills, pedestrians, and heights, and reflections, and curtainless windows shining; and signs I have to read among those I cannot.

All of it is too much.

And yet the houses in the neighborhoods can seem deserted if not for the rain-coated landscapers raking and cutting; if not for the dog-walkers, plastic bag held in a plastic glove, each of them blind to some worker leaning into the side door of his van (though the dogs haven’t learned the city-posture, the ghetto-mentality, and sniff between the coffee and the paint on passing); if not for the occasional children who chirp like stellar jays at a freshly-filled feeder; if not for the car alarms and the whoosh of passing cars, and the sound of some ambulance siren, moving, moving, blocks over; stopping, evidently, but with the siren still going.

That sound becomes something like seagulls on a rooftop; eventually.

And yet, with the city humming like redundant jazz, I’m listening for the sound of the ocean, maybe remembering the excitement of the stimuli overload from my years in San Diego; taking cross streets and alleys to check the surf between PB Point and Crystal Pier, or dropping down the winding roads out of Mission Hills, hoping to beat a couple of traffic lights en route to Sunset Cliffs. Yes, I have been that guy moving up in the right lane, knowing where I was headed, annoyed by those who are overwhelmed.

Woosh… pick up some masking stuff and some tools, remember to lock the door to the van… woosh. Count the seconds…



I will have to write something about localism as it has been redefined in the northwest. With Seattle a ferry ride and another two and a half hours of driving to get to pretty much anywhere on the Straits, and about two and a half hours of driving to get to Westport, depending on traffic… well, it’s like being a surfer who lives in Sacramento, maybe even Los Vegas. Okay, maybe Needles.

Or, thinking from another angle, it’s like (checking the Google Map) living in Fallbrook, California, where I was raised as a suburban non-cowboy, and surfing 1), Oceanside Pier- 25 minutes, 2), Huntington Pier, one hour and twenty minutes, or 3), Malibu Point, two hours and a half; all depending on traffic (jams).

So, this relates to me, now; as: 1), Port Townsend, 2) My favorite Straits spot, and 3) either the real coast near Neah Bay, La Push, or, in the other direction, Westport.

There are other spots, kind of like Fallbrook to Swamis, or La Jolla, or, no, Tijuana Sloughs is probably Huntington-ish. Ish.

Still, even if you live in Port Angeles, it’s over fifty miles to the real coast.

This isn’t that story. And yet, I purchased my latest wetsuit at a Seattle surf shop, cruised through another one over by Gasworks Park. “Don’t touch that,” the guy working there said as I leaned in too close to one of their boards.

“I live on the Peninsula,” I said. “Local-er,” I’m thinking. If I’d needed to, I would have added that I own land and live ON Surf Route 101. Not the local-ist, and I did once own a cowboy hat. Didn’t seem right.

Oh, I’m still going here. So, I did see some legitimate locals late one winter day, on beyond Joyce. I got out of the water because it was getting too dark when two pickups pulled in, logging gear and surfboards in the back. “Doofy has to go out because he missed it this morning,” the guy in the first truck said.

As Doofy (might have had a different nickname) suited up and paddled out, I talked to the local logger/surfers. “Well, there are so many spots,” he said.

“Really? Where?” He looked at me. Owning a house on Surf Route 101 wouldn’t have helped at all. “Nevermind,” I said as Doofy cruised across a dusky left.