Friday, April 2, 2010
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Monday, October 5, 2009
(warning: content contains cursing like a sailor)
Six hours a day in the water has gotten me well acquainted with the ocean, but I know I’m still far from obtaining the waterman status of the guys I read about in the pages of The Surfer’s Journal.
The wind has been blowing onshore all day, turning what little surf exists into chop. So what do watermen do when the surf is down? They catch dinner—which is exactly what I decide to do.
At the bait and tackle shop in town I buy supplies and rig myself a decently complicated—if I do say so meself—set up. A 20lb leader on a barrel swivel with two #3 drop hooks and a 3oz. pyramid weight. Combine that with the 11’ surf pole my Pops hooked me up with and I look like the shit.
Knowing the cape like the back of my hand, I climb down near the boulder garden where I’ve seen fish jumping daily. Finding a high post, I pull the top of the bait can full of sand shrimp.
Oh god, the poor bastards are still alive!
Grasping a little guy, I start to get choked up… “Wait a minute” I think, “I’m a stone cold waterman, quit being such a ninny.” And so, clenching my teeth I tap into my machismo and punch the hook through the soft abdomen.
Preparing to cast I realize how bid an 11’ pole really is. It’s huge. Reel engaged, line pinched, I cock back and let loose towards the sea, watching as the shrimp go flying, no longer hooked to the line.
Oh goddamit! Not only did I cause them unpleasant pain, but I failed them the honor of fulfilling their duty. It was like a missing the casket with the flaming arrow during a Viking burial. Those shrimp must think I’m a huge asshole. I promise the rest of them it won’t happen again.
I hurl the next round of bait nearly fifty yards but reel it in to no avail. The third cast yields a hit. I give it a snap but can’t sink the hook… the theme for the rest of the evening. With each bite I practice technique; feeding line here, quick tugs there, but nothing works.
As my bait stock dwindles the only thing I’ve accomplished is hosting a dinner party for a hungry school of fish and I’m starting to think I should have just eaten the bait myself… then it hits.
I give it some line, then reel it back in. The somnabitch is a real go-getter, forcing me to take a seat. No matter how much I crank the rod, I can’t bring ‘er in… then it hits me. I’ve been in a ten-minute match with the sear floor. I decide to release it.
With the last of my shrimp gone, I retreat to my beer, sulking over the long road ahoe to waterman status… Oh shit, the Top Ramen is burning!
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Through the eastern window of my bedroom, the orange glow of the rising sun blankets the coastal range. Rummaging for my glasses, I laboriously struggle out of bed and stumble upstairs.
I’m not a morning person, but the rich coffee aroma and possibility of glassy surf makes me a devout member of dawn patrol. From my third story post, I scope the cove through my binoculars… chest high peelers and only two guys out. I pour my java into my travel mug and grab a pear, pack my wetsuit into my pack and pedal north to the point with my nine-footer tucked under my arm.
Four of us—all familiar faces—share the early morning surf. Gary, an older local with long gray hair and a bulldog stature, trims the waves from the nose of his log as effortlessly as buttering his breakfast toast. Another local, Stan, sits deep inside the cove and carves long, endless rides. These dawn sessions are the only time I see Bates, the local shaper and shop owner, in the lineup.
By 10 o’clock the lineup has nearly tripled, which means breakfast time. For the past week, the swells have been consistent, but mid-afternoon winds occasionally turn onshore, adding chop to the surf.
Come sundown, there’s been a welcome trend of offshore winds. Paddling out at sunset is enchanting. The sun punches holes in the jade green walls of the Pacific creating a passage into sanctuary. Sitting in the lineup, the spray catches the low angled solar rays, casting a rainbow that trails the barrel.
Surfing until dark wraps another days worth of tranquility to be continued when dusk becomes dawn tomorrow.
Friday, September 25, 2009
“Strangers are people I haven’t yet met,” Steve-O, the skydiver whom I met at the Point the previous afternoon, tells me. Strangers can also become instant friends, which is why I’m moseying towards a Taiwanese man with long thin facial hair and a black braided hair tucked in a weathered truckers cap. He’s posted in front of a beat up white van watching the surf through tortoise shell glasses in the shade of his multi-colored beach umbrella.
I compliment his rig and we get to talking. Shortly after introducing, Salat (saw-lot) invites me to sit down on a broken stool and offers me a beer. Salat and his wife are road tripping to San Francisco along 101, but a ding repair has sidelined him in Pacific City and he might not make it to the Golden Gate due to time restraints.
He isn’t bothered by it one bit.
“This is like surfing nirvana,” he exclaims. The past three days has been nothing short of sunshine, consistent 4-6’ swells, and with the weekend crowd come and gone, fairly empty. Though momentarily boardless, a former stranger named Mike offers his longboard to Salat. The mid-afternoon surf is mediocre at best, with winds turning onshore, but Salat’s ecstatic grin after catching a couple waves pushes Mike and I into the water.
After what turns out to be a decent session, I head up to the van where Salat compliments me on my timing while arranging fresh albacore tuna on the grill. Handing me a plate of grub and a glass of IPA, we talk travel—past, present and future. Once Salat fulfills his cultural obligation of feed guests until they can’t swallow another bite, I insist on washing the dishes. When I return from the shower, Salat’s board has reappeared from Seven Surf Shop.
With the sun nearing the horizon, I leave Salat and Kadai to enjoy the last sunset of summer together as I wander around the beach wishing everyone a happy equinox… and shortly thereafter a new moon.
Once the sun crests the long blue horizon, I find Salat curiously eyeing the surf and before I realize the side ache we’re in the line up with winds blowing offshore and glassy five foot sets rolling in. I could not imagine a more serene way to end the summer.
The next morning I paddle out at the first sunrise of the fall. From the lineup I see the white van. Salat and Kadai are headed for Winchester Bay in search of more surf and new sights. As we part ways, Salat reminds me to keep meeting new people, and I assure my friend that I surely will.