Wednesday, January 31, 2007

More Like It

Attempting to surf huge winter swell (see last post) is like swinging two bats in the hole before going to the plate in baseball. When you finally step into the box on a day like yesterday, surfing summery waves seems all too easy.

It was a near-perfect day: gentle offshore breezes, consistent sets, long lefts, sunshine. I surfed with one other guy for most of my three-hour session, the owner of a surf shop in Seaside. I also ran into Foul Pete, who had already been out there several hours before I arrived.

It was a good day for a quad. As a matter of fact, I found myself wishing for a little more size as the tide quickly drained out of cove. So soon we forget the winter's wrath when given gentle gifts like these...

Now that's more like it.

Professor Murder - Mountain

Monday, January 29, 2007

One Wave Day

Saturday was bigger than the bouys were reading, and gnarlier than the 4-star rating given by Magic Seaweed's forecast site. It looked pretty unsurfable at first, but we went for it anyway, paddling out on the north side of Shorties. Amazingly, there were some workable lefts firing through, if you could find the shifty peak.

Smithy found it first and ripped a long head-high grinder. I think he caught a couple more too, the lucky sod. After being manhandled by a few head-plus closeouts (where I'd have to belly back to the rip just to get outside again), I finally grabbed a big left. Popped up and my feet were too close together, but the drop was so hairy that I couldn't adjust. I just hung on for dear life, the instability of my stance freezing me. I flew down the line, eyeballs bulging, legs shaking, trying to find my way back up the face. Warp speed achieved, I assessed my situation: I was heading directly into a closing righthand section. Exit plan? Couldn't make it over the back, so I had to do my patented swan dive into the trough.

After a few gymnastic twirls under the whitewater, I emerged, my left leg still being yanked by the elastic leash. I made it. Paddled back to the rip and back out to the lineup, only to be caught inside by one of the biggest monsters I've ever experienced.

The photo above is from after we got out. I'd consider it mid-sized in comparison to the sneaker sets.

Toll: Two surfboards dinged (neither of which were mine). One glove nearly ripped off my hand during a duckdive. One giant dungeness crab wandering shellshocked in the foam (which I caught and released).

Of Montreal - I Was Never Young

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Memory Trigger

This is a page from the sketchbook that I take on every vacation. I've had the book for 10 years. It starts with drawings from my first trip to Thailand. This particular sketch is of an perfect evening at Old Man's in Baja Sur. That backlit green wall with a finger leaving a trail gets me every time. If you blow the drawing up, you can see a tiny piece of cran d' ache (fancy crayon) that makes his calf look perfect, like the evening light is just barely reflecting through the wave and onto it.

Pink Floyd - See Emily Play

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The (Bruised) Plantain

This is my quiver right now. I've decided to rack the Grean Bean and stick with the stick that has opened up my surfing the most since I started three years ago. It's a quad shaped by Stu Kenson. Not sure I can remember the dims: 5'8 X 2.75 X 20 (double wing) comes to mind.

Like I've said before, it rides really well. I think it has a little more nose rocker than traditional fish, so it can drop into some pretty decent waves without pearling. I think I also mentioned that this thing is a ding magnet. I just picked it up from the shop, where I had a huge gash from Mexican reef fixed on Saturday morning. As I got into the water and started paddling out, stoked to finally have my favorite board back, I came to a screaching halt and heard the sound of crunching fiberglass. I had just run over a barnacle-encrusted stone hiding inches below the surface.


I hustled back to my gear as the other guys continued out into the rip, more mindful than I of the rocks. I asked everyone I saw if they had tape; nobody did. I grabbed a tube of Suncure and smeared some into the fissure, then I aimed it at the sun, which had creased the clouds near the horizon. 15 minutes later, I was on my way back to the rip, paddling wide of any submerged boulders.

You guys are all going to tell me to fix this ding myself, but I'm a little hesitant, as I don't want to screw it up. I also want to use the board this week... I'm not sure that the Suncure is completely sealing the cracks. What's the best quick-fix? Duct tape? Clear packing tape (as Slim assures me)? A "Life's a Beach" Sticker? More Suncure? How hard will it be to do a better repair if I throw another layer of crusty resin on it? Kenson assured me that this Surfblanks Australia blank has a more closed cell structure than other poly boards, so maybe shouldn't stress on it.

Anyway, some peeps asked to see my quad, and here it is!

Evangelicals - The Water Is Warm


Friday, January 19, 2007

Blame It on the Board

This is a picture of me waxing up my 6'6" hybrid swallow tail "Evo" model board from Hammersurf. I used to fondly refer to it as the Green Bean, having named all my previous boards after fruit (The Banana, The Blueberry). But after last weekend, I decided to rename this board The Banana Slug. When I first got this board two years ago, it seemed impossibly fast and squirrley - a far cry from my stable 7-foot and 8-foot fun boards. Now, after riding a quad that is almost a foot shorter than this, the board feels cumbersome and stiff. Like a raisin sliding through cold oatmeal.

Last weekend was the first time I'd ridden the Slug in months. The waves were big and fast all three days, requiring speed to make freight-training sections. The days where I surfed backside were the worst. I've never been incredibly comfortable with my back to the wave, but this was ridiculous: I watched other surfers generate speed backside, clearing sections and getting tubes, but when I dropped into the reeling rights, I would start my bottom turn and get hammered by the lip (did I mention that I'm riding a Hammer?).

Granted, I wasn't doing what I knew I should: grabbing my rail and twisting my torso (kinda like my position in the picture above), but I still wasn't making waves that I thought I might be able to on my quad (The Plantain). Even on the last day of our trip, when we were surfing the barrelling lefts of a certain mysto spot, I couldn't get in early enough and have time to pump down the line before the wave chewed me up and spat me out.

Is it the board?

Is it my wimpy arms?

Is it my lack of skill in technical waves?

How big a wave can I surf on my 5'8 quad?

One consolation was that almost all my other surf chums who I talked to about the surf last weekend were having similar issues. Maybe we were just all knocking off our collective rust. But I'm still claiming that this board could be a little big for me. Anybody want to make an offer? It's never been dinged!

New Pornographers - Use It

Monday, January 15, 2007

Scenes from a Snowy Surf Weekend

It was an amazing weekend. White knuckle rides over icy roads. Bourbons and beer backs. Wining ourselves to sleep. Swell that tested sand bars. Long intervals and speedy walls. Moth-like snowflakes falling in the lineup. Clear turquoise water. Chilled Pinot Gris. Home cooked dinners and breakfasts. A last second victory by the Oregon Ducks over Arizona.

What more could we ask for?

How about a final session under clear skies at Oregon's most mystifying mysto spot? And a final wave, fifteen minutes before we had to leave, that was redemption for 15 thick lips to the head, 11 trips over the falls, 6 slams against the ocean floor, and 20 numb toes and fingers from 3 days in sub-zero air temps.

I'd do it all again in a heartbeat.

Jose Gonzales - Heartbeats

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Fruity Booties

I think this brand is pretty dorky, with all the massive logos they throw on everything, but how sweet would these sleeping bag/uggs hybrids be after a surf sesh where the air temp is 27 degrees. Not sure how well they'd fare on the hike back up the switchback trail, but $40 is a small price to pay to find out.

The Mountain Goats - Broom People

Monday, January 08, 2007

A Sight for Sore Eyes.

This is a sight for sore eyes.
A tall glass of water.
A breath of fresh air.
A kick in the pants.
A fine how-do-you-do.
An answer to prayers.
A motivation to do some push-ups.

Colin Meloy - Jack the Ripper

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Seminal: Photek "Ni ten ichi ryu"

No surf. So I'm starting a recurring column on this blog about music. The songs featured are ones that I find motivational, new and old. These tracks kick me in the ass and get me to write, run, surf, skate, create. I call it "Seminal" because when I was a music writer, people (girls) said it was a very un-pc term to describe music...

This first cut is from the mid-90s, during what I like to think of as the "golden age" of drum 'n bass. I was living in LA, and my boss at the time, Randy Kaye (RIP), used to bring tons of music back from the UK during his A&R trips there. There was a jungle night on Sundays at Pink in Santa Monica called "Science." Randy and I would go religiously, every Sunday. Sometimes there was herb involved, which isn't something I would normally do, but it enhanced the music somehow. This track would always fill the dancefloor with an ecclectic crowd that was just discovering D 'n B at the time. Indie rockers, hippies, hip-hoppers, rastafarians, blacks, whites, asians. It was a big, sweaty, inclusive, bouncing mess of people in a very tight space. I would always close that place out.

A few years later, I got to interview Photek (it was probably one of my first interviews) and was blown away by his knowledge of all kinds of music: jazz, hip-hop, world, etc. This will always be my favorite track of his, if not my favorite of that... screw it, I'm going for a run.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Goin' Straight Is Great

Sometimes going straight is pretty great. Nothing like heading down the line and just seeing your reflection in a backlit green wall.

New Romantics - I'm Straight