Monday, December 31, 2018

Last Post of 2018

I have some unfinished posts that have been stuck in "Draft" phase. They both discuss dead ends on the search for satisfaction, happiness, etc. I think the last day of the year is a good time to purge those drafts and get on with life in the new year. So here goes:

One revolves around hazy memories of living near the beach, going to school, and surfing. The memory of a time in my life that seems better than now. I was trying to compare the simplicity of that time to the complication of now. But it comes off as self-pity, which I don't think is how I truly feel. In reality I have it pretty good! When I'm out surfing I feel that I'm lucky to have ridden so many waves in my life, and I'm still riding more! Sure, it would be great to have all that free time again, but I was also lonely and board much of the time.

The other is about the search for the "magic board" and how that ideal doesn't really exist. I try to describe that a good session is a complicated mix of board, waves, crowd, wind, tide, mood, etc. But I get lost in trying to simplify everything and that post is an un-publishable mess.

And on the way to the beach this weekend, another idea for a post started forming, but again doesn't feel suitable to publish. The idea is that I have all these different ways to ride waves, (a whole quiver in fact!) and I have a car large enough to bring several boards with me, but for some reason I typically only bring one or two options. Why? Laziness? Focus? I couldn't figure it out, so I don't have a complete thought to share.

Okay, now looking forward to 2019. I have some goals:
1) Bodysurf more.
A full body workout, fun in most any conditions, minimal gear!

2) SUP adventure.
I proved to myself that I can paddle a few miles, ride waves, and paddle home. I've scoped out more places to do this. This year I want to get at least two more in the books.

3) Surf more.
My responsibilities have shifted allowing more surfing. I need to build momentum and make sure it happens more often.

4) Go on a surf trip.
It doesn't need to be some place remote and tropical. In fact, considering my situation as a whole, a good old fashioned drive down the coast mid-late winter might be my best bet.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018


I woke up feeling something I haven't in awhile, early morning need-to-go-to-the-beach stoke. It was 4:30am, so I quietly slipped out of bed, grabbed what felt like pants and a shirt, and went downstairs. The internet told me it might be good at OB, but it also might not. Wind is fickle, and all too important at OB. I opted instead for a sheltered spot where the wind would not be an issue. BO-BO's!
Unfortunately being protected from the wind also means being protected from most swells, and nearly all the wind swell. I arrived in the first light of dawn and didn't even look before suiting up and walking down to the water. The wave size was disappointing, but being the first on the water allowed me to take advantage of whatever the ocean offered. I ended up crossing the channel and surfing the far-side to myself for an hour. I caught twice as many waves in that one session than my prior two combined. I'm getting a better feel for the V-pin. Being solo I felt free to force the board past it's limits, which is the only way to find the limits. The waves were soft, and not really right for the board, but I got enough to make myself happy. The session reinforced my belief that I need to ride a longboard to rekindle the stoke. It would be great to get a board more like a pig, but no longer than 9'8", which is the longest I can lock securely inside my car.

The two boards I dropped off on consignment are still awaiting new owners. I figure eventually the shop will call and tell me to lower the price. And maybe I will, but I'm patient.

Monday, October 15, 2018


The wind was light enough this Saturday morning for Ocean Beach to be surf-able. From where I was standing, the waves were not playing along. It was rather crowded considering the majority of the waves were closing out. It was around head high, and the south swell was delivering waves with energy, if not shape. I knew I needed exercise, but really didn't like the prospect of fighting through closeouts to ride closeouts. But hey, bodysurfing into hollow closeouts would work.
I suited up and walked down the hill to the beach. I gave myself a cramp at the waters edge pulling my fins on, but it was up in my quad and loosened up once I began swimming. Because I was bodysurfing I was able to slip through the waves and into the lineup with minimal effort. It did take some work to fight the current and get up the beach to where the waves were hitting harder, but all the boards were also fighting the current.
I got plenty of hollow rides into closeouts. No long rides, no exits from the barrel. I got a few good tumbles and held down a bit to remind myself that winter is coming. I was the only one in position for one of the set waves and it looked like it would hold open for me to get a ride. I find that when bodysurfing I want to get into the larger waves early. I feel like its more important (and more difficult at times) to get below the lip and avoid going over the falls. My effort to get into the wave early caused my calf to cramp. I dropped in with the cramp and the wave closed out anyway, which was okay because my foot was flexing trying to relieve the pain of the calf cramp. This turns the swim fin into a drag and usually ends the wave.
So now I'm in the impact zone with a foot in the 90 deg. position and more waves on the way. I let the ocean push me towards the beach and rubbed on my calf. It released and I started swimming back out and it cramped up again. More floating and rubbing and stretching muscles before getting back to the lineup. I caught a few more waves using my other leg (not cramped one) as the main power source. Well that lead to a cramp in that calf, and the end of my session.
I almost always am happy after a bodysurfing session. The only times I'm not are when I see good waves go un-ridden that I could have enjoyed on a board. The rest of the time the full body work-out feels good. Besides the inevitable calf cramps, no muscle gets over-worked. Arms, legs, back, core, they all are used and if one gets tired I can use other muscles or just float. The ocean is also good at giving a massage of sorts. I am able to relax and let the waves tumble my body, and that always feels good.

And then I went by a surfshop and dropped off two boards for consignment. It hurts me when I sell a board. I'd prefer to keep every board I've ever bought because they all have something. Each one is unique and has a feel that the others don't. One of the boards was just a bit too short. It was a pin-tail single fin at 6'6" and I couldn't quite get into waves like I need to on a board like that. Another 6-12" and I would really enjoy it, but instead it just sat in the shed. The other one I couldn't figure out why it didn't do what it should. It is of the "Liddell" style, wide, flat, knife rails. For some reason it never worked under my feet, and with the new V-pin in my quiver, I really didn't see myself riding this one. So they're both out there waiting for someone. Someone maybe a bit younger, smaller of waist, or with the skill to make them work.

Monday, October 8, 2018

The first sentence of 23breaths from today is a perfect way to start,
"I had ventured out with low if any expectations at all"
This is precisely opposite of how I started my Sunday session. I had been eyeing the forecast all week, planning and dreaming of the awesome waves I would ride. I have this great board I bought and I can't wait to get it going and relive all the best rides of my life! I just know this board is the secret to happiness. I just know that this Sunday that spot will be just like that one time I got it really good with a small crowd and perfect conditions. I just knew it.
The waves were good. The board is good. However, there were plenty of surfers there. Only the main bar was working, and if the wave didn't hit it then it rolled through a deep spot before closing out in the shallows. I couldn't find a wave to myself, and the waves weren't right to share. I finally earned one by waiting in the lineup and letting others take waves. It was mine and I was going for it. But I missed it by standing up too soon and letting the wind get under the nose and hesitating thinking someone was deeper than me. And that was it.
My arms had already given me what they could. The tide was dropping fast making the waves un-makeable. I got caught over the sandbar for what turned out to be the longest set of the day, which culminated in taking the board to the side of the head.
I was heartbroken. More so than I should have been. This wasn't what Sunday was supposed to be like. I never got a good one. (I only rode 3 waves.) What happened?
Overheated expectations. I got back to my car and ate the lunch I brought. I struggled out of my wetsuit and sat in the car seat to stare blankly out the window and reflect on what had happened.
It was a beautiful day. Although crowded, people were friendly enough. I am out of shape. I probably arrived too late to the beach. I wasn't enjoying what the day was because I was focused on the day I had imagined, and how the day wasn't aligned with that image. Once I thought it through, once I let it sink in, then I let it go. I walked down to the beach once more to watch some waves. I sat in my car and read the book I just bought, enjoying the beach air and sunshine. I washed away my disappointment with fresh air blowing through the window as I enjoyed the drive home through the forest.
Pranaglider went to the beach with low expectations and was happy with what he found. I went to the beach with high expectations and was disappointed with what I found. Who did it better?

Monday, September 24, 2018

There should be a word for it...

My usual internet beach report data source is offline. It's a great resource with a camera pointed at the beach and a weather station showing the last 72-hours worth of data. But it wasn't working so I used an alternative, which lead me to believe it was a little too windy. The NOAA weather forecast told me Sunday would have less wind. Well...
I got word mid-day on Saturday that the morning had been clean enough to surf, although not great waves. I had already missed my window to go to the beach, and I was hopeful I had made the right choice to wait for Sunday. I knew hadn't at 5am Sunday when the wind reports were in the double-digits in some places, and the waves went from small and clean (Saturday) to small and junky Sunday.
There should be a word for that feeling when you realized you've made a mistake, but it's 24-hours too late to fix it, and you'll have to wait a whole work week to make up for it. "Adulthood" kinda works, but feels cynical. "Hindsight is 20/20" is similar, but doesn't describe the feeling. It needs to convey regret, with nobody to blame but yourself, but also knowing you were trying to make the best decision. The opposite, driving to the beach on Saturday to find it un-surf-able, then to find Sunday is better but you can't go, is worse. I think it's worse because at least on Saturday I was productive taking care of chores and rushing through a board repair. After a bit of moping, I was productive on Sunday too. No wasted gas, no wasted time. I even got some exercise. Very little, but more than nothing.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Got one

I had the chance this weekend to get that V-pin into some waves. I went out to Sunday morning Pleasure Point, just me and a hundred others. I stuck to Sewers hoping to find a pinball wall. I got one really good one where the board held a line and speed as the wall ran with a bit of throw of the lip. No barrel, just a nice run with the curl.
There were more than a few surf matters out picking up all the small ones that passed below the main lineup. That used to be a wave I could shoulder hop to keep myself occupied while I waited for the wide swinging waves. Instead I stayed occupied watching the matters take off in the barrel, run the short peaks, ride waves together, and generally have a good time. I absorbed some of the stoke radiating off of them, but needed some actual waves to feel satisfied. So I paddled over to Rockview.
There were a few beginners out at Rockview and I offered advice on how to catch the tricky wave to one guy. He told me he was on a borrowed longboard and didn't want to smash it. I shared my story of once riding my fathers longboard at Rockview many years ago and on one wave driving the nose  strait into the reef. He didn't think the story funny, but I told him it hadn't happened since! The on the next wave history repeated itself and I drove the V-pin into the reef. I stood up in waist deep water, flipped the board over and saw what I didn't want to see. Split open glass with mud in the crack along the nose, and a nice ding on the other side of the nose to match. I headed o the beach.
So after one good wave and no more than three other waves, the V-pin needs repair. I walked the board back home thinking I'd throw on some swim fins and take the mat out to Rockview. When I got home the door was locked and I hadn't brought a key with me surfing. It was a beautiful morning and it made perfect sense that my wife and little guy would want to take a walk, play on the beach, do anything except sit at home waiting for me to return. So I wasn't all that mad as I sat in my wetsuit on the front porch for 30-min waiting for my family to come home and let me in. (Not unlike a dog in the rain.)
Even with only the few waves I got I could tell the board felt good under me. I need to fix it, and be more careful next time. I have to remember to not force it and ride the right board for the conditions, even if that "board" is a bag of air, or even just my body. I have plenty of options on hand specifically so that I can take full advantage of whatever the ocean offers. No need to take a longboard to a nasty little slab!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Early Memories

I was inspired by pranaglider's latest blog post to write about my own early surfing memories.

I recall going on vacation with a friend to a condo on the beach in Coronado, San Diego. We had cheap bodyboards but no fins. We were in grammer school, and I wasn't a good swimmer when I was that young, and the surf was not small. Regardless, we spent hours trying to walk/hop/swim/paddle our bodyboards through the lines of whitewater. We were never successful in getting through the broken waves. After what felt like a long time, so was probably about 20 mins., we would agree to give up and go in. The sand was boring so we would return to the water several more times each day, trying our best, but never succeeding. Nothing to show for it but raw nipples.

I recall my dad taking me and that same friend to "The Jetty" in Half Moon Bay. The waves were smaller and easier and we could walk out to where they first flopped over. We rode waves strait to the beach until we were to cold to continue. We had so much fun we convinced our other friends to buy cheap bodyboards and come with us. This opened up more parents to drive us, more friends to frolic with, and the fun continued through high school. By high school it was a tangent to the "real" surfing I was doing, but I never missed an opportunity to go ride waves up onto the sand with my friends.

The best part of those early days at The Jetty was my dad could park at the water's edge and watch us. Watching us play in the waves stirred his memories of surfing back before his career, kids, and the Vietnam War tore him from his carefree high school life. He borrowed a way-to-small funboard and took a trip to Santa Cruz with a coworker who surfed. He didn't invite, or even tell me, what he was doing. I understand now that he didn't know if his body, wrecked by a desk job, alcohol, and smoking could survive the ocean.

He barely survived, but found his old stoke. I come back into the story when we bought wetsuits, the longest boards we could find (pre-longboard resurgence) and started making trips to Santa Cruz every weekend. He got healthy and I got stronger and the rest is for another time...