16 November 2014

What the Sea Gives Me

Last night I saw What the Sea Gives Me at Green Flash Brewery with a few friends.
What the sea gives me is stoke, and hope, and fear, and joy - and so much more. It's my oxygen, and I need to breathe it often. One interviewee in the film quoted Doc Paskowitz:
I entered the water that day wanting to blow my brains out. I came out a warrior. Surfing can make that change happen inside a man.
...or a woman. I've had no more suicidal thoughts since I started surfing, because if I died, I would never ride another wave. And I always want to ride another wave.
This morning the sea gave me several long rides before breakfast. And it was good.

10 November 2014

Blacks Birthday

The surf has been small, but I was hopeful to find some birthday waves at the local swell magnet. Although Blacks didn't look like this:
it thankfully didn't look like this either:
The waves were chest and occasionally shoulder high, a bit broken up, with light texture and light crowd. I scored several nice ones, including a left that took me pleasantly by surprise when, in the midst of a late drop, I somehow landed my feet solidly on the board rode it out.

Blacks is such a lovely spot to surf, facing the towering cliffs of Torrey Pines, with a view of Scripps pier and La Jolla beyond to the south and the coastline bending to Del Mar northward. Wildlife abounded this morning. There were birds of all sorts, including a tiny duckling-like creature that floated near. Large fish arced above the water, taking a fast line away from an unseen predator at a thankful distance.

The increasing breeze grew chilly but I'd sufficiently satisfied my thirst for surf. With Rocket under my arm and a smile on my face, I started up the long and steep private road from the beach, past a woman walking her dogs off-leash.
"Did you have fun?"
"Now you have to keep that with you all day."
That's always good advice about stoke.

One of my best birthday gifts (besides the sweet waves) was a blank book with this quote on the cover:

09 November 2014


The EXPOSURE women's skate event was inspirational. It got me to the park in Ocean Beach for the first time in probably a couple months. I'm rusty and out of shape!
Ross Field Skate Park this morning. And that's how skaters do memorials.
What inspired me was seeing other girls of all ages and abilities skating. Groms (if they're called that in skateboarding) were boosting airs, and I can't wait to see what rad moves they're capable of in five or ten more years. Then there were the seniors, a few women over 50, who were taking their first tentative pushes around the flats. And the pro women were absolutely ripping. Truly inspirational.
This little Pink Helmet Posse girl had the biggest smile when she pulled a fakie with the help of a friend.
Front-row seats - this was the view from our Surfrider Rise Above Plastics booth.
Ready, set...
Amelia Brodka

31 October 2014


I surfed this morning in cat ears and made a few people smile. Google Halloweenified the photo and made me smile.
Surfline's Pacific Beach cam is stuck in a weird orientation (and wouldn't show the south side of the pier in any event), but you can see the waves weren't scary. And that they were a little bit fun. Happy Halloween!

27 October 2014

You Deserve a Name

While the swell came up overnight, the period dropped below 10 seconds. Since it was hitting from almost due west, I knew the beach breaks would be closed out, but wasn't really sure what to expect at the La Jolla reefs.

Straight out from Calumet Park, the ocean was churning, mixed up waves sloshing unrideably at my usual spot off the main peak. They lined up a bit better farther south and also at Sewers, which had fewer surfers out. I mentally tossed a coin on swimming vs. surfing and then Hennemans vs. Sewers, and then picked the latters.

There were four guys in the lineup, including a couple I'd seen there several times before. An older longboarder paddled nearby and smiled. "You've been surfing here enough," he said, "you deserve a name. I'm Rick." I told him mine and he pointed to a shortboarder I'd chatted with on Saturday. "That's Mike." He gave me the names of the two longboarders sitting outside, which flew over my head like pelicans and were gone, as always when I'm introduced to too many people at once.
It was nice to be welcomed into the morning surfer circle. That spirit of aloha and sharing waves makes the session so much more enjoyable. We chatted in between attempts to catch the mushy, shifty, backed-off waves. Turns out Rick is a shaper, and Mike and one of the other guys were taking boards he'd made on their maiden surfs, with encouraging results. My own results were less than stellar, with a couple middling rides and one head-high drop Mike called "wicked"- I got the bottom turn in, he saw, but then my board went airborne as I failed to negotiate a big mogul that suddenly appeared in the face.

I stayed out much longer than planned, trying for one good wave (which is one of the 10 Signs You're Addicted to Surfing), and had to nervously negotiate a return to the steep cobblestone beach at a nearly 6' high tide through mid-period swell. Fortunately I timed it right. I'm looking forward to hopefully better waves and the same company tomorrow.

25 October 2014

RIP Seal Bite

Three days ago, a 67-year-old surfer died at my favorite reef break, apparently of natural causes. I've been surfing there a lot over the past couple of months, and wondered if I'd ever seen him. The photos accompanying news reports were either too distant or obscured his features, leaving me in the dark.
This morning I paddled out at 7, the same time he'd arrived on Wednesday. Since the tide was rising fast to a high high, I hurried past the impromptu memorial of flowers, photos and notes on the north side of Calumet Park.

There were a handful of surfers at Hairmos and a couple heading to Sewers, but no one at Hennemans, so you know which spot I chose. The enticing scent of tortillas baking in one of the clifftop mansions floated on the slightest offshore breeze. Solitude didn't last beyond a couple of waves, but the several near-dawn patrollers who joined me were friendly and talkative.
The waves were small and shifty yet fun, and I remembered to smile so I'd surf better. (Really! Read about that here.) I rode my last left nearly to shore, crossed the cobbles, and started up the cliff path. Ever since I slipped soon after I started surfing this break, I've half-run up the steepest park to the top, using momentum to keep me going, and that's worked every time - except today.

Two months ago, I wrote this in my blog:
The dirt trail to the top of the bluff is also a bit tricky. Not only is it steep, but there's a constant trickle of water dribbling down that turns the footing to slippery mud. (Which is odd, because we're in the middle of the drought, and other than a couple of freak thunderstorms a while ago, we haven't had rain in a long time.) Near the top, one of my feet lost purchase and I barely stopped the slide with my free hand. 
"Want to give me your hand?" said a voice from above, and I looked up to see a longboarder offering his. I raised my muddy paw and he hoisted me up the last few steps. The nice dude told me the trail's always been wet, since he was a kid, due to a natural spring. Perhaps that also explains the brownness of the water there. But hey, I'll take muddy reef break over closed-out beach break any day of the week!
This morning I tipped forward into the dirt and came to an abrupt stop. My feet scrambled for an upward toehold but I found none at first on the slippery slope. I glanced up, half hoping to see an extended hand; there was only sky. I tried once more and got a grip, then scurried the last few steps to the top. Back in the park, I took a look at the photos of Stephen Saburo Fujii, nicknamed "Seal Bite" because one nipped him years ago. I can't be certain, but I think he's the guy I met on the trail in August.
RIP, Seal Bite. I hope your last wave was a great one.