25 February 2009

The Park (El Porto), 25 February 2008

I spent last night in the hotel from hell, the Holiday Inn at Santa Monica Pier. Thin walls and noisy neighbors, room-rumbling trucks, and a 1 am evacuation for a false fire alarm left me sleep-deprived, but got me up early for dawn patrol with my old surf buddy D and his roommate R.

So very, very tired, but the cold water woke me up. I had to borrow D's funshape because bringing my own board would've cost $200 roundtrip. (Ridiculous, and if you haven't signed the petition against discriminatory airline surfboard fees, go now.) After sticking to shortboards for so long, only rarely taking out my longboard on tiny days, the funshape felt ungainly and uncomfortable in the messy short-period 3-4'+ surf. But I managed to get the beast out to the lineup right behind D on his shortboard, due more to luck than skill I'm certain.

Sitting outside of D, shivering in the light breeze, my heart paused for a nanosecond when a fin breached the surface of the water 30 feet away and then vanished. But it quickly reappeared attached to the smooth blue-gray body of a dolphin, who cruised with two friends along the back of the lineup, passing within 6 feet of me. It was awesome to see them so close, majestic water-beings wild and free in the wide sea.

Conditions were marginal but D and R pulled off some decent rides, marking the difference between skilled regular practitioners of the art and a once- or twice-weekly dabbler on a strange board. I didn't ride anything but some fast whitewater in, losing it nanoseconds after the popup, but at least now I've surfed So Cal. And have a bruise to show for it, a huge one on the back on my thigh from a fin impact when I didn't quite make it over the top of an outside wave. I'll have some splainin' to do when I get home.


  1. Next time stay at Manhattan Beach Inn.

  2. Welcome to LA. Now you see why SF is bettah.