Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Luckiest Surfboard in the World

When we were in Nicaragua, we made friends with a guy from SF named Walker who we surfed with daily for a week. He must've felt sorry for me because after two of my boards were knocked out of commission, he gave me his 6'6 and said that I could either keep it (and give it back to him next time I was in the Bay Area) or give it away, if I found somebody who might need it.

The last couple days of our trip we surfed with a local kid who charged every wave, no matter how unmakable, and seemed to be having much more fun than anybody else. He wore tattered boardshorts and a saggy rashguard, with curly black hair and a bright smile that seemed to pop from his dark complexion after every wave.

On our last day, after watching him get a nice little cover-up, I asked him in broken Spanish how long he'd been surfing. "Seis meses," he said, six months. The kid was already much better than me and I could tell that he was on his way to becoming a local hero, like the other older guys who shared the barreling beachbreak with me for the previous three weeks.

His board was an absolute disaster. It was old and yellow, with open dings and big delams. It had tiny sparkly star stickers that he'd applied to the deck, probably to emulate the pros that rolled through town. I knew that he was the right person for the stick that I'd just inherited, so I told him to stay there and that I'd be right back. I paddled in, ran back to the condo, grabbed the board and a couple bars of wax and headed back to the break. When I got back, the kid was standing on the shore with his old board laying it the sand. It was broken in half.

"What happened?" I asked. He gestured by arcing his arm over his head, smiling, "Grande!" At that, I handed him the new board and he looked it over proudly, running hands over the white deck.

As we paddled back out to the lineup together, I wondered how this coincidence could have occured . Had he been nursing his old board through waves, knowing that it was at the end of its life? Did he finally just put it in a more critical spot when he knew something better was on the way?

It didn't matter really. It took him two rides and he was back up to speed again, slotting himself under lips and doing celebratory flyaway kickouts after good waves. The boy was lucky, but maybe the board was luckier--having been given a chance at a second life where it could be ridden all the way into the ground.

The Sea and Cake - Crossing Line

Walker, if you're still reading this blog, this is where your board ended up. Sorry it took so long to give you the story.

Monday, October 29, 2007


Yesterday I was the first guy out and I'll be damned if it wasn't double overhead again on the set waves. This is going to sound even wilder, but there were also an a bunch of beachcombers watching from the rocks and when I took off on my first one and they cheered as I made the drop. No pressure there...

My first three or four waves went really well, although I felt sort of immobilized by the speed and gravity of the situation as I skipped along on my 5'11. After a knee-buckling bottom turn, I'd go up and down the face of the wave, but wasn't too keen on trying anything more radical than that.

Then, spurred by some kind of lapse in judgement brought on by the "audience" I decided to scratch a little later and deeper into a set wave. I heard that initial "whoooooo!" as I went for it, then "ewwwwww!" as I felt myself free-falling with the lip, my hands still on the rails.

As intense as my first couple rides were, the payback was just as extreme. "Ragdolled" doesn't even begin to describe the tumble I took, arms and legs being twisted behind my torso, complete darkness surrounding me. I was dragged and dragged, at first in the lighter whitewater, then quickly sucked downward into the heavier turbine below. My mind just said "Relax. Don't fight it." I thought about fantasy football. Then the spinning lessened and I could see light behind my eyelids. A couple more strokes and I could finally suck wind.

My next few attempts were the same. I'd just get pitched and gobbled up. I thought I'd experienced heavy wipeouts in Nicaragua, but these were way worse. The good rides from earlier were already losing their crispness in my mind, replaced by the thumping darkness. I commented to OS that I seemed to be logging more time underwater than on waves.

After about 30 minutes, I finally locked into one a little earlier and made a drop, milking it to the end where the shoulder rounded off into the channel. Back outside, I talked to a guy who I'd surfed with before at that location, and he said he didn't trust anything under 7'0 on that wave. His normal board out there was a 7' x 3" thick Black Beauty.

It got me thinking that I might want something a little bigger for days like that. I started envisioning a 7' x 2.75" rounded pintail quad that would get me in earlier and have more edge in the wave as I dropped down the face.

It looks like I may have found a target for the next birthday board fund...

Danielson - Did I Step on Your Trumpet?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Myth and Surfing

I love myth. It's what our culture is built upon. So much of what we experience in life has parallels in mythology, one could say that those ancient stories have a direct impact on our very perception of "living." If you haven't read Joseph Campbell's "Power of Myth" or seen the PBS special that it was based on, I highly recommend it.

Campbell broke down myths that occur in culture into what he called "The Hero Cycle": a course of events that occur as a rite of initiation in every myth, pinpointing the need for mentors, villains, elixirs and jesters along the way.

I can't think of anywhere this cycle is illustrated better that surfing in Oregon. As a surfer here, you're always embarking on new quests and adventures, facing real and perceived obstacles and villains. Sharks, rips, sneaker sets, snakes, rocks, angry locals, freezing water. You hear about all of these potentially fateful entanglements prior to making the decision to go on your adventure, and they provide a barrier to entry that filters out the weak of heart. Without these, surfing wouldn't be the quest we all love.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that as much as I hate localism, it has it's place in the story of Oregon surfing. It can't be easy to be a regulator, always looking over your shoulder, harbouring a constant paranoia, walking with heaviness in your heart.

Last night I surfed until the moon and stars were the only light in the sky. I had a lot of time to think, to rinse away anger, to find the holy grail that isn't an actual object, but a simple, basic joy in that sacred place we call the soul.

Then, after paddling in, changing in the dark, marveling at the warm breeze that came through the pines, I enjoyed an elixir (or two) with a close friend and remembered what this is all about. I think Campbell would have smiled.

Horse Feathers - Falling Through the Roof

Monday, October 22, 2007


So this is what my car looks like. Old Toyota, low miles, runs good, white. It has a few issues. The driver's side window broke last winter, which was a real bitch when summer came and I couldn't roll it down for fear that I wouldn't be able to get it back up again. Hot. The A/C crapped out ages ago. The cost to fix it would have essentially totaled the car. I haven't washed her in probably a year, so the paintjob looks off-white from afar. It has a layer of mold on it. What's that they say about a rolling stone gathering no moss? Not true in this case.

The stereo and antenna seem to have a mind of their own. The radio goes on and off as it pleases. I have a technique that I learned from the Fonz where I punch the dashboard, the antenna goes up, and sometimes the radio works until I hit a bump or railroad tracks. Then the aerial goes back down again and it shuts off. It wears the old crusty roof racks that I bought off craigslist like a crown. What else? It gets awesome mileage.

I like this old car. I know it's going to last me a long time and that it'll get me back and forth from the beach as often as I like without breaking down.

Built to Spill - Car

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Coloring Book

I've decided to forgo the t-shirt idea and make a coloring book for my baby instead. Thanks for your opinions on the drawing though.

Art is power.

The Clientele - Book Shop Cassanova

Monday, October 15, 2007


I missed the "epic" day Saturday and was stressed that Sunday would suck. Our setups in Oregon seem so fickle that if someone farts out of the south, things will get blown out for a week. Sure enough, despite heaps of good stoke karma being projected at our planned destination, the SW winds were flatulating when we arrived, making PC look like bumpy old road. Not to be deterred, Ebb, OS and yours flu-ly scoured the coastline until we found a wind shadow. I swear it was bigger than these pictures suggest, but our stealthy lensman snagged these snaps at the end of the day when the tide had changed, the swell had dropped, and the wind crept into our wee wave haven. Anyone who knows this spot knows how quickly it can change. Imagine it bigger and glassier and you'll have an inkling of our unknown pleasures.

Joy Division - Shadowplay

Friday, October 12, 2007

Don't Leave.

Fall is here and trees are exploding all around my neighborhood. I haven't gotten wet in a while because, so far, fall surf conditions have been pretty dismal. Currently the swell is starting to mellow out and it looks like there's going to be waves this weekend. As a matter of fact, a few lucky souls are scoring as I write this. All I can say is, I hope the good weather patterns are more regular in the coming weeks, before the winter (and the baby) drops in.

Goldie - Innercity Life (4Hero Remix)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ REMINDER

Sometimes things wash up on shore...

Old plastic bottles,
Broken pieces of styrofoam,
Wal-Mart bags,
Kelp bull-whips,
Half-burnt tree stumps,
Japanese glass buoys,
Piles of stinky jellyfish,
Dead seals.

...Things that put the Oregon surf experience in perspective.

Happy Mondays - Step On

Saturday, October 06, 2007

One More

The boat captain is waving the sunburned surfer in, who's resolved to catch "one more" before ending his session. Of course, for the last half hour it's been completely flat.

Black Lips - Katrina

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Defined as the act of watching buoys, reading blogs, creating posts, mindsurfing magazine spreads, checking cams, searching craigslist for deals on boards you don't need, etc. Essentially, what you're doing right now.

Sorry I haven't had as much time to brocrastinate lately. I'm back in the 9-5 world for a minute.

Band of Horses - The Funeral