30 May 2015

Swell Saturday

Teresa and Tim were drinking coffee while they checked the surf when I arrived at Calumet Park half an hour past first light. In response to my query, they said it didn't look that good so they might check the beaches. No one was out and I saw a decent enough set roll through, so I grabbed my 6'2" from my Mazda3 and headed across the grass to the cliff path. They'd changed their minds and were suiting up, as were three guys who'd rolled in together.
I was first in the water and had already ridden a couple of fun waves before two of the triplets paddled out. They were all wearing similar shorty wetsuits with wide white bands around one thigh and I thought about asking if they'd robbed a Hurley store on their way to the coast. When I told Teresa I was getting cold just looking at them and that I was still wearing a 4/3 wetsuit, she said she was still in a 5/4. The guys didn't last long.
It was surprisingly uncrowded for a Saturday, peaking at seven: me, Tim, Teresa, Misa (the older Asian woman I've also been surfing with all week), and the Hurley triplets. About the time the bare-armed boys left, another local and a couple of other guys paddled out. The camaraderie infused the break with an aloha vibe. There were plenty of chest-high waves for all, although with lulls. I had to take off late on most of them because they were soft, but often made it past the whitewater and onto the clean face. Stoked!

On the way home, I turned down Felspar to check the surf at Crystal Pier. Sponger David had just come up the stairs and I called him over for a report: crowded and mediocre but cleaner than recent days. Glad I hit the reef instead.

29 May 2015


My surfing didn't suck today. In fact, I was pretty respectabiggle.
Teresa was out again with her surf buddy, newly identified as Tim, and an older woman I haven't yet put a name to. Sadly, five other dudes joined us – I guess a lot of people have Friday off. The waves were sectiony but I rode my last as close as possible to the shore, closer than ever before, and had only a few steps to get up onto the glistening wet cobblestones.

28 May 2015

An Off Day

This morning I was nearly always in the wrong place at the wrong time. I had more wipeouts than rides.
At least I caught a fun one at the end.

27 May 2015

Despite an Unfortunate Wind

The surf was really fun this morning, solid head high plus. I'd lowered my expectations when I got out of my car at Calumet Park and felt the north breeze, and dropped them further when I paddled out through the choppy channel. But the surface was smother in the lineup at Hens, populated by five other friendly surfers, including Teresa and two others from yesterday.
I got five good long lefts to the inside that put a gin on my face. It's so nice to have a big face to play on.
Again I overstayed, lingering with a sixth latecomer after the others had gone. It's so hard to know when to leave – a great wave makes me want another, while a bad ride just can't be the last one. On the inside, I caught a wave that was good enough, and left smiling. Yeah!

26 May 2015

Getting My Reef On

Too long away from my favorite reef, I had to surf there this morning. I'm still fighting jet lag - ready to sleep at 7pm and awake in the wee hours of the night - so I didn't make it out as close to dawn as I wanted, but there was still enough tide for a little while.
Only three others were out at Hennemans, all smiling and friendly to put a nice vibe on the water. There was even another girl I'd seen before, named Teresa, and at least two seals, including a solitary baby. I've been testing whether it's time to swap my 4/3 wetsuit for a 3/2, and the answer from my last two shivering sessions is not yet.
I rode a bunch of fun and delightfully long shoulder-high waves, mostly caught late because they were fat. Then I overstayed my welcome – the tide dropped too low – and it took forever until I was able to link three rides together to come in to the cobblestone beach. Stoked!

23 May 2015

Low Expectations Rewarded

Per my surf buddy Steve, I didn't miss much surfwise while we were in Greece. Windy, rainy and meh. Sadly, it hasn't improved much since I got home. Yesterday looked so poor on the cams that I spent half an hour swimming laps at the YMCA pool instead of surfing. This morning was marginally better but I had no high hopes when I rode my bike to the pier in Pacific Beach.
The waves were a bit bigger and had more push than Thursday, and the crowd was initially light. I lost count of my rides, although most were fairly short.

A friendly black dude with dreadlocks started up an ongoing chat. He lives nearby and his name is Andrew. He said he'd seen me before although I didn't remember him; odd, since black surfers are rarer than female ones on this part of the coast. He's on break from studying oceanography up in cold and sharky Humboldt County, working for the summer at the local Rip Curl surf shop and as a surf instructor. I must confess to being a bit envious. If I had it all to do over again, knowing what I know now ... maybe I would've followed a similar path to an marine career instead of becoming an aerospace engineer. And surely I would've found my passion before I was in my late thirties. I would rip so hard by now!

The crowd rather suddenly increased to an unpleasant level, although most weren't as close to the pier as I. It took a while to find my ride in, but it ended up being my best of the day, a right that took me near shore where a couple of smiling kooks were foundering on Wavestorms. Then a fast belly ride propelled me to shin-deep water.

As I crossed the walk path at the top of the bluff, a cute brown-haired little girl gave me a thumbs-up and asked, "How was the surfing?" I returned her gesture with a smile. "Fun!"

21 May 2015

There's No Place Like Home

After more than two weeks away from surf, it felt so go to walk into the ocean north of Crystal Pier this morning with my trusty 6'2" under my arm. The water was chilly on my feet as I shuffled over the sand. Small crumbly whitewater splashed me as the onshore breeze blew back my hair, still greasy after more than 24 hours of traveling and a short sleep. My desperado session ultimately paid off with a long left. I had to work the turns to keep my board where the wave had enough energy to push it all the way to the beach. Sweet!

The biggest waves I saw in Greece were these.
Perissa Beach, Santorini
Boat wake in the caldera, Santorini 
Natural rock sculpture on the trail from Fira to Oia, Santorini
 The rest of the time, the ocean was flat. But certainly not the land.
Firostefani, Santorini
Compared to San Diego, there was little wildlife in or out of the ocean. But having your feet nibbled by tiny fish was all the rage.
Kissingfish, Oia, Santorini
There were sharks though.
Oia, Santorini
 And I saw many ancient sirens but only one mermaid.
Folklore Museum, Mykonos
There was even a surf shop that sold nothing for surfing.
2 pm closing time, Paros
It's good to be home and surfing again. And so nice to be able to flush toilet paper.

05 May 2015

What a Feelin'!

 Thank you, Mother Ocean, for the wave that made me go "Woo hoo!"
And for the bonus dolphins. Stoked!

04 May 2015

Faceless Waves

Game of Thrones has Faceless Men.
La Jolla has faceless waves.
My neighbor's wind chimes were clanging when I got up before dawn, and that never bodes well for surf quality. As my buddy Steve said, "Super long period nice size ground swell completely going to waste." I paddled out anyway - all alone at Hennemans - and took off on some mutants. I rode a few waves only briefly, fast rides derailed by chop. Another one contorted into a squarish, most un-wavelike shape as I popped up, and I air-dropped six feet into a wipeout. It was a good show for the folks watching from Calumet Park on the bluff. On the way in, I finally found a shoulder on a small wave.

Still good to get out in sizable surf again, even with the hairy exit. Set waves were reforming as shorepound, smashing into the cobblestones and hurling the smaller ones into the air. I waited a while to make a dash for shore – better safe than sooner.

I'm hoping to sneak in a sunrise session at Cliffs ahead of tomorrow's long journey to Greece. A stokeful send-off from the Pacific Ocean would be nice, before I dip my toes in the surfless Aegean Sea for the first time.

02 May 2015


I feel like I have whiplash. Earlier this week, we were going to Greece next Tuesday. Then our 20-year-old cat Jamie, who's been with us since she was 8 weeks old, fell ill with major heart and kidney issues. We feared the worst, but after an overnight in the hospital and the right drugs, she was much improved and the problems seemed manageable for perhaps six months.

As I read recently, hope can be a bastard.

We cancelled our trip to be with her. Yet less than two days later, she went into a fast decline and we had to put her to sleep. She's buried in the backyard under a blue-flowering bush next to Chrissie, our 18-year-old cat who left us only last fall. 

The Greece trip is on again so Kelly Say Surf week is no longer moot, but it seems unimportant, even trivial. I'd gladly trade Greece to have Jamie back again for even a little while longer.

I surfed this morning at the Pier and yesterday in Mission Beach with Steve. Tomorrow I think I'll just go for a lap swim and let the frothing masses claim the over-hyped south swell that's filling in.