Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Rule #1: Don't Forget Your Board

While waiting at the Jetty for Cynthia and  Marcia, drinking some hot joe, scanning the waves for something rideable and noticing a father and son suiting up, I had this odd feeling.  That Christmas morning, I remembered packing my surf bucket with my wetsuit, fresh water and gear.  I also remembered packing Christmas gifts for my family that I delivered an hour previous.  But I knew I was missing something, but I couldn't put my finger on it.  I looked up on the ceiling of my car where I usually pack my trusted board, and there was nothing there...  I received a text from Cynthia saying that she and Marcia were surfing The Dunes, and I texted back "You won't believe this, but I forgot my board!"  About a minute later, Cynthia texted me back "You can use Marica's.  Come on down!"  That there was the best Christmas gift of the day.

It was a pretty wild Christmas Eve and Christmas day to say the least.  From a forgotten board, procrastinative Christmas shopping, and surfing some fun sizeable surf out at Florida Mile, so far, this holiday season has been festive and surprisingly adventurous. 

On the Eve of Christmas, Panama Red really wanted to surf Florida Mile.  I wanted to surf somewhere on the Eastside of Santa Cruz.  But The Panamanian, being a stubborn Panamanian and someone who resides 24/7 in Santa Cruz, watched all that yucky brown stuff flow out of the San Lorenzo River the previous day and cautioned against surfing anything in town.  I reluctantly said "cool". I met the Panamanian over at our usual meet up spot, Emily's.  From there, we headed out to Florida mile, suited up, and started walking down the trail.  But we could hear the beach from the dirt lot, which is always a good sign.

As we came to the beach, we stopped and looked at each other with a smile.  It was firing 5 - 6 foot consistent, high tide nuggets with the occasional 7 and 8 footers in the mix.  With only a handful of guys out, we were able trade waves for the next three hours.  My best wave of the day was a long, fat, power of a wave that drove me all the way to the beach break.  I rode my now trusted "Hapa" (named it that because the tail is half round, half squash). I have grown a bit fond of The Hapa and her quirky little habits.  What she does well is make really fast, streaking turns and is especially fun on waves where a nice fast cutback is a significant ingredient for pleasurable, sectiony, reformed ride.  I'm really starting to love this board a whole lot.  I haven't even busted out my M-10 in a while.  But the M-10 is my most trusted board, especially when it gets wintery big. 

I ended Christmas Eve at G Street.  I didn't think G Street would work with all the south in the water, but surprisingly, it did.  It was just me and The Hapa this session as the Panamanian had to head out of town for some Christmas family time.  And damn, did he miss out. He texted me a few hours after I got out and asked me how were the waves at G Street.  I texted back "There were waves but they didn't connect".  Later he saw some of the photos that I posted and he wrote "That one looked like it connected!"  And with a grin I wrote back "Oh yeah, a few did."

On Christmas day, I surfed with Cynthia (aka Surfergrrrl) for the first time, along with Marcia (also for the first time).  Cynthia and I had been wanting to surf for a while, but do to our surf schedules and my lack of punctuality (I usually run on Hawaiian/ Filipino time), we never could meet up.  But on Christmas day we did, and we all had a great time.  We started off at The Dunes, a place that I had never surfed before.  It was a bit punchy on the outside.  Not really seeing any of those monsters being ride able, I decided to hang out on the inside.  The ladies had fun, I saw both of them catch some nice rides.  I gotta give both ladies some props, it was foamy and punchy.

We ended up at The Jetty for a second sesh.  The Jetty was a bit mixed up, but I kept patient and caught two fun ones on Marcia's board.  Her board is 5'8 x 20 hybird of a short board/ fish.  With not much rocker on it, it had speed.  And I like speed.  I liked her board a lot, and hopefully we'll surf again and I can use it one more time.

According to reports, there is a lot of swell heading towards the California shore in the next weekend and the following week.  I'm hoping that the weather will assist us surfers with some suitable, maybe cloudy/ sunny days where we can enjoy the surf without those howling south winds.  If the swells work out and the weather cooperates a bit, I'm hoping to take a drive all the way down, just south of Santa Barbara to a little place that roughly translates to "corner" in Spanish.  I've been itching to surf that spot since my last encounter with her a year ago.  And that encounter turned out to be one of the best waves I have ever surfed in my short time sliding down waves.  Crossing my fingers. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

South Central

As I was walking down the beach, board in hand, Panama Red picked up an enormous, half eaten fish.  Only the head was left.  The Panamanian looked at it's stiff, cold body.  He then looked back at me and decided to roll it's head towards me on the sand.  I let it roll inbetween my legs as I continued to walk.  "That was a damn big fish that took a bite out of that guy!"  Panama said.  "Damn big shark you mean!"  I replied.  We laughed pretty hard, but then we slowly processed what I had just said, looked at each other, and said quietly to ourselves "shit..."

We wanted something new and fresh today so we decided to head "south" and enjoy Monterrey's "central" coast (get it?).  The water was warm, the waves were clean and the wind and rain stayed north until about 3pm.  The waves at the first point were firing double overhead rights and lefts.  All of the fellas decided to paddle out and get some of that, except for me.  I just wasn't feeling it today.  I wanted something a tad mellower.  So I headed a couple hundred yards down the beach and found a really clean, right breaking point with only two others on it.  The rest of the Kiwis came over within an hour and we all caught some really fun mellow waves.

It was a great day in Monterrey, met a couple really good guys in the water and left with a lot of stoke.  I'm gonna let the pictures do the talking today.  But in honor of "South Central" and all the stoke that I was blessed with, I would like you to press play and be serenaded as you scroll down the rest of today's entry, by the Mayor of "South Central", Mr. Ice Cube.

Manav told me that a little warm cup of Joe always gives one a boost before a cold dawnie...

 The early morning search...

Breakfast of champs...

Search complete...

That cup of Joe worked!  Manav throwing some spray!

Rooting on my boy, Panama Red!

Panama continuing to trim on his Arrow..

Then... oops...

Trying to snap of a section...

I think I can!

I think I can!

I can't...

It's time to go...

When Don Corleone says it's time to go...

Strap'em in...

Peace out Monterrey.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Making It Out

As I paddled out at Ocean Beach on Saturday, I noticed this grom screaming down a barreling left.  The grom had to be around eight.  And compared to this little shorty on a short, short board, the wave had to be at least 2 1/2 times overhead.  The grom had no hesitation, no plan of attack, he just went for it all.  He was going critical.  I paddled over to his father and told him how amazed I was at his son's skill.  "Your boy is a charger!" I said.  His father replied "You have to be if you live around here".

The waves were pretty user friendly that day.  The paddle out was bit below mild, if that.  The waves were in the four to six feet range.  But like Ocean Beach does, when the tide got lower, the more hollower she became.  It looked like there was a mix of two swells in the water.  And being that it is almost winter, the water was warm.  Like spring time warm.  And the when there was wind, it was blowing lightly and out to the ocean.

I don't know if it's ever possible to get comfortable at Ocean Beach.  I have those recurrent PTSD symptoms from back in the day when I got the life beat out of me at Kelly's last summer when a swell picked up with a snap of a finger and huge mounds of water came speeding in, aiming for the top of my head.  But now days, I can take a beating with the best of them (knock on wood), but I do have my limits.  And the limits that I do have, aren't saying much.   

But like I said, Saturday was pretty user friendly.  It was one of those days when you can pull a double session at Ocean Beach.  At around mid to low, things really started to get clean and hollow.  I saw guys pulling into mini, crouching barrels to tubes where they were standing straight up.  One thing  I notice was when the fellas were making their drop, their inside arm was instantly in the wall, stalling them as much as possible so that the tube can catch up.

I decided that I was going to employ this new, discovered technique.  For the first hour, I wasn't catching anything that could produce a tube, but I stuck my arm into the wall anyway as I made the drops.  I played around with this technique, sticking more of my arm in and taking it out, seeing my speed change slightly every time I made an adjustment.

After a while, I decided that I was going to sit inside more and try and catch a fast one as it ran into the shallow sandbars below.  Within fifteen minutes I spotted a nice fat peak with a nice, maturing, right wall coming towards me.  I turned, waited for it for a moment and gave it three quick strokes.  I popped up and noticed that the drop was really steep.  I didn't expect that.  As I made the drop, I stuck my right arm, all the way to my forearm, in the wall.  My board slowed a bit and I noticed that as I slowed, the wall got steeper and closer to my body.  Then I noticed that a ceiling of greenish water began forming just above my head.  I knew then that I was standing in barrel land.

As it curled, I noticed that my speed wanted to increase.  I decided that I was going to try and stay as deep as I could in this tube.  So I stuck my arm farther in and my board reluctantly slowed.  And there I was, feeling the tug of the crashing water on my leash, looking down the line at a small opening, just for me.

Right when I felt the crashing water tug on my leash, I figured it was time to make my way out.  I pulled my arm out, crouched forward just a bit, releasing pressure from my tail.  I felt my speed pick up.  I felt the rush.  I felt the endorphins.  I felt the testosterone.  I felt the slight breeze of the spinning water.  Then I felt about one hundred gallons of water hit  my face.

I wish I could say I made it.  I did everything I could.  I did everything I practiced in my head.  But today my friends, wasn't the day.   Will tomorrow be the day when I can finally say that I "made it out. Clean."?  I don't know.  But I'm still pretty stoked.  If anything, next time, maybe I'll just stick my arm in only to my wrist. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The 72 Hour Rule

Is good surf worth it?
We have been having a lot of rain over the last week here in the Bay Area.  Four windy, draining storms in a row.  San Francisco reminded me more of Seattle.  And Seattle probably reminded itself of Seattle.  My buddy in Seattle posted that he was getting drenched and another buddy, a surfer who lives up in Portland, said they were getting hammered too.  So I guess the whole upper half of the left coast was washed in. 

But I was hopeful to get a session in.  Couple of my buddies, along with some twitter friends were saying that the surf was alright, but only in between the fronts.  One friend of mine said he caught a mind blowing left out at Boats in Linda Mar.  He said he shared the lineup with only four guys.  Three of them regular footers and one goof.  He said the regs were just going for closeout rights and he and the other goof were enjoying some really great lefts.

Another buddy told me that he was out and the waves were so big and wompy that he had trouble getting back in.  That got me craving.  You know me and my goal, and getting into big and wompy fits those conditions.

My wife, being the caring person that she is, insisted that I stay out of the water.  She understands the "72 hour rule".  But I was craving some waves like Santa craves cookies.  All the swell monitors and buoys were all saying the same thing.  Blown out energy.  I just needed to find the right spot.

According to Surfline, "Bacteria in urban runoff have a limited life span so after three days they either diffuse in the water or die off. Three days is a general rule of thumb, not a hard and fast rule."  I know and understand this rule.  I know what the consequences of my actions "could" be if I take that chance.  But, I'm a hard headed brown boy, and I'm always willing to take that chance.

I surfed on Saturday despite my wife's advice.  I decided to surf because all my buddies surfed and didn't show any signs of sickness.  I decided to surf because there was swell.  I decided to give into my addiction despite my conscious telling me otherwise.  And you know what, I had an epic session.  Probably one of the best sessions I had in the last three weeks.

The After Math...

I woke up Sunday and had the sniffles.  I didn't have much of an appetite either.  By the second football game, I couldn't hear through my right ear.  By the Sunday night game, I was out like a light, snuggling under the blankets.  My wife had the "I told you so" look written all over her face.  Now here I am, better then I was on Sunday, but still not strong enough for the demands of my nine to five.  Could have I went in?  Possibly, but it doesn't help that I would be walking around, passing on this particular foreign, bay bug that probably nobody is immune too. 

Was it worth it?  Not really.  Surf will always be there and the world isn't going to end like everybody thinks it will on the 21st.  So there will be more swells too.  In hindsight, I should have been strong and stayed home.  But like I said before, I'm a hard headed brown boy.