Surfing Vancouver Island  

Foondroppings 02  



Thank you Santa Cruz... all is Forgiven

Wed, 23 Jul 1997

I could not have picked a prettier day to drive from SF to Santa Cruz along Hwy 1. The only bummer was the cigar steward at my hotel was in a meeting when I checked out and I couldn't buy any decent stogies for the trip.

Driving straight West on Geary I hit the coast just as the sun began to burn through the morning haze. I headed South on 1 and struggled to both drive and watch the surf at the same time. Something was happening out there, but I wasn't sure it was a legitimate swell. I took my time checking a few places like Pacifica to see if I could catch some of those nekkid surfers flashing their goodies, but all I saw was a whole lot of people ripping up some adequate surf. During the trip I should have been arrested for the number of times I veered off the road to check a spot. I was like a kid in a donut shop.

On the way to SC I was very fortunate to be able to stop and visit Bill Morris. If there's a nicer more hospitable guy on this group I'd like to know who it is. Bill was very gracious to take time out of his day to speak with me and give me a tour of the breaks in Half Moon Bay, which ended in a cliff top panoramic view of the then quiet Mavericks. Though my knee was sore, I was determined to see the place from the best viewing location which is up the hill by the radar station. Heck of a climb. Though it was not breaking the spectacle of seeing the legendary spot from above sent chills down my spine. Bill's stories of epic swells and the brave locals who pioneered the spot made me marvel at the entirely other level big wave riders operate on...something most of us cannot even imagine.

After lunch I thanked Bill and hit the road for a glorious, sun drenched run down the coast highway. There were at least a half dozen spots breaking with no one out. Doesn't anyone surf on Thursday afternoons anymore!? Later in the day I carefully checked as many breaks as I could from Davenport all the way to Manresa State Beach. Several were showing a weak South swell but side and onshore winds were mushing them up. Recognizing that there may be some potential to surf over the next few days, I pickup up some gear at Freeline Surfshop and recognized one of the women behind the counter as one featured in Surfer Magazine's profile of women who surf in Santa Cruz. Very friendly.

Though I did not go out there the surf and talent at Steamers Lane impressed me the most, especially Friday afternoon when it really started to go off. But what also horrified me were the number of total rookies who caused things to get real scary (and ugly) at Steamers. The food chain system of wave riding is really in effect there with the most assertive personalities copping the good waves. I was equally surprised by the number of very good women who surfed there, but ladies....the Language!!!!! My my my, do your mothers know you speak like that? The highlight of the afternoon was watching what I believe was the longest cheater five I've ever seen, starting at 1st peak and going well beyond the stairs... it just kept going and going and......

The purpose of my trip to SC was to visit my cousin and his family. Some of you may remember when I posted last year about the skunking I suffered at Cowells the day I took my nephews there to bodyboard. If you do then you also remember the big South that showed up the day I left. I promised the boys last year I would return (like MacArthur) to attempt to take them surfing again. This was greatly assisted by two of our own, Steve Hull (Da Hulk) and Gioni Pasquinelli, both of whom were very kind to send me information about a longboard contest Steve was organizing for the weekend at Manresa State Beach. When I got to my cousin's house and announced to the boys not only would we be able to surf, but to witness a surfing contest, well the reaction was overwhelming:

"Uncle Foonie, are you lying to us like you did last year?"
"No boys, Uncle Foonie wouldn't do that." as I crossed my fingers.
"Uh huh, Daddy said that if we couldn't surf this year we shouldn't settle for some crumby t-shirts and that we should ask you to buy us some wetsuits and stuff." "Well I'm not surprised your Daddy would try to avoid buying surfing equipment for you especially if he thinks you can guilt me into it." I leered at my cousin who looked very uncomfortable. "Here's the deal boys, if you don't get to surf, I'll buy you that gear, but if you do then your Daddy not only gets to buy it, but he also gets to buy me a box of expensive cigars." Knowing a win/win situation when they saw it the boys exploded in joyful yells, "That's a deal Uncle Foonie!!" My cousin looked dubious, suspicious I knew something he didn't. I did.

Taking three little boys (we borrowed a spare from a neighbor) to the beach is like launching a new nation....it can't be rushed and it takes forever. Though I was awakened at dawn by 2 boys screaming "WE'RE GOING SURFING!!!!", it wasn't until 9:30 when we were able to finally hit the road with all the appropriate beach stuff and gear... the boys needed a lot of stuff to make their beach trip successful.

At 9:45 am we were heading South on Hwy 1 past Capitola. The noise of three boys in a full on surf frenzy from the back of the car was incredible. The car stereo tuned to KPIG (107 oink 5) was pumping out the hypnotizing sound of Mumbo Gumbo, a zydecoesque band whose songs and drum patterns would be implanted in my brain for the rest of the weekend. I was fairly confident we would get to ride based on my surfcheck of the previous day and the mornings surf report, which predicted 3-4 foot waves with an occasional headhigh set. When we got to the beach at Manresa I was both surprised and delighted. It actually was better than I thought it would be....glassy, long lines about waist to chest. We unloaded a ton of gear and walked the half mile down the beach to where the surf contest was. There I met Steve Hull, organizer, alt.surfer, and generally nice guy. We watched the current heat of good longboarders do their thing in some nice longboarding waves. The boys went into a panic when someone mentioned the waves might decrease as the tide came in so we trudged back up the beach to catch some of our own.

I paddled out into a group of 15 longboarders, me being the only bodyboarder. I lurked inside the group picking off anything they didn't jump on. I was regularly buzzed by a young lady who, though an adequate rider, had an attitude a mile wide. Every time I paddled near her she teed off on me warning me to stay away from her. So I judiciously rode my waves and steered clear of her when she took off. As fate would have it she would be the one paddling out when I caught a bigger than average wall that was moving in her direction. I was both sizing up the wave and watching her kneepaddle out like a she-bat from hell. It was obvious she was not going to take any evasive action to avoid me in the interest of getting through the wave before it broke. I'm not sure she was aiming at me but soon I had to decide what it was going to be...a great wave or run over my first female longboarder. With about 8 feet to go, screaming high in the fast moving and steep wall I just about herniated myself snapping a neat 180 turn to avoid her. She made it through the wave dry headed and I was left to soup it in hoping the wave would reform on the inside.

As I paddled out I expected no comment, hoping she would do the same courtesy for me sometime. I was surprised when she paddled over and said, "Nice cutback, some guys would have tried to run me over for getting in the way." I smiled and said, "I don't run over people unless I know them." She considered this then smiled, "I guess I'm glad you don't know me." I nodded and paddled away thinking, "Yeah, but now I do." Later, totally unexpectedly she gave me a wave she could easily have made. It was a gooder too.

As I tired I let myself drift down the beach toward the longboard contest. I got out and went up the beach to find Steve again. By chance I bumped into Gioni and started up a very friendly conversation. Soon we were joined by Steve. As I stood between these two big and friendly men I was struck by the joy I felt a that very moment. Here was a great day of surf, meeting two guys who had made me feel most welcome on the Left Coast, and another great memory to save and cherish. It occurred to me that if I get nothing more from contributing to this newsgroup than the chance to correspond with and meet people like Bill, Steve and Gioni then I will be totally satisfied with my adventure in cyberspace. Herein lies, I believe, the true power of the medium... a chance to meet and discuss ideas, face to face or on the group, with all types of surfers. It is truly a good feeling.

During my time there I wallowed in Santa Cruz. I just absorbed it into every pore. Believe me I will come back. That night my cousin and I "did" Santa Cruz like a couple of sailors on a 24 hour pass...Drinks at the Palomar Inn, dinner at Coasta Brava, coffee at the Cooper St. Cafe, and some big, stinky, Nicaraguan cigars from the cigar shop. My cousin didn't even blink at the cost of a box ($180), judging the day at the beach with his boys to be one of the most fun he'd had in years. "Money well spent," he said. Later we cruised the Catalyst, Blue Lagoon and Moe's Alley finishing up with ice cream from Marianne's and a box of fresh ones from Ferrell's Donut House...God what a day. I LOVE Santa Cruz. If I missed anything, please any and all suggestions for next years trip will be gratefully appreciated.

Epilogue:

Now about that Route 17 down to San Jose. What the hell kind of fucking road is this!!!! Does the California Highway Administration know what kind of an hellish engineering nightmare this is??? The government should declare that thing it's very own log flume ride to HELL.

-Foondoggy


Liquid Stage -the Lure of Surfing

Thu, 24 Jul 1997

By chance I caught this documentary about surfing last night on PBS. I was very skeptical when it started then I noticed many of the references and pictures of surfing history from books I own. As the program progressed I was impressed by the interviews with legendary and current surfing stars. Finally, I was intrigued by discussion of real surfing issues like how representative the pro surfing world is of real surfing. The writing, though a bit puffy did show that the authors knew their subject, it's just that the piece had to appeal to a mostly uninformed audience. At the end of the program they pitched copies of the film for purchase. For those who have friends or relatives who are not big surfing fans, I'd get a copy and pass it around.

A bit of trivia I didn't know was the speculation that the reason Bob Simmons invented the hollow surfboard was because he was physically handicapped by an injury from a bicycle accident. He couldn't handle the 100 lb boards of the day and worked to invent a much lighter more manageable board. Also I didn't know he drowned at Windensea.

-Foondoggy


Love-Hate

Fri, 25 Jul 1997

In the summer, which is high season at my homebreak, I have a Love-Hate relationship with the beach:

  • I love having a vacation home at the beach and being able to go there whenever I want.
  • I hate having to leave it and go home to work, especially when the surf is good.

  • On a holiday weekend I love the 300,000 people who show up to vacation; next to surfing people watching is my favorite beach activity.
  • I hate when 22 of them from Baltimore (pronounced "Ball Mur") show up at my beach, sit right next to me and proceed to get shitfaced drunk (and you should see the Kids!!)

  • I love it when a Tropical Storm or Hurricane swell makes the conditions at my beach so good I feel compelled to keep going back in for more waves.
  • I hate after several sessions in a row I'm so sore and tired I ignore waves I would give a major vital organ to have on other days.

  • I love it when the lifeguards shoo the stand-up surfers out of the water at 10 am.
  • I hate it when, despite all their disrespect for bodyboarders, many of them are right back in the line-up riding bodyboards (many surfing better then when they stood up).

  • I love it that many surfers I see are young women who are serious about the sport.
  • I hate it when one of these is a young mommy who not only has enough skill to defer to no one in the line-up, but enough attitude to snake me when she thinks I don't have what it takes to make a section, grrrrrrrr.

  • I love it when black surfers at our beach get along so well with the white surfers that even when there's an argument over a wave, it never deteriorates into a racial thing.
  • I hate when I think that this color-blindness does not cross over into much of society.

  • I love as an adult, I can choose to smoke a cigar and drink a beer at the beach - one of life's great pleasures.
  • I hate the fact that so many young people, especially young women, seem to have taken up smoking and abuse alcohol. I hope I am not setting a bad example.

  • I love to listen to my favorite jazz tapes on my walkman at the beach.
  • I hate the fact that even though I am using earphones, some asshole has set up a huge boombox nearby and is blasting almost incomprehensible RapCrap music, so loud I can hear it over my own music.

  • I love the fact that the jerk with the boombox has not checked the hightide mark and has set up his box below the line, so as the tide comes in eventually it soaks the boombox and the jerk is too zoned from drinking to realize it until too late.
  • I hate the fact that the tide has driven the boombox jerk up the beach even closer to where I have placed my own chair -exactly on the hightide mark.

  • I love the fact that the beach is the quintessential place for families with kids to vacation.
  • I hate the fact that many parents seem to check their brains at the dune and set a very bad example for kids, drinking too much, swearing, acting stupid or foolish in the water and leaving litter all over the beach.

  • I love the fresh seafood we buy at a nearby seafood market.
  • I hate the fact that now I am not satisfied with how most seafood is prepared at restaurants.

  • I love when two guys, older than me, (probably in their late 50s) showed up at my beach in an old Jeep Wagoneer with two classic longboards stuffed inside. I really loved it when I tossed one of them some wax and he said, "Thanks sonny boy."
  • I hated it when they both went out and gave the rest of the beach a real clinic on wave selection and stylin, and I realized that at my best, I was never as good as these guys are now.

  • I love all the different shapes of female bodies that are decorated with all manner of lovely bikinis and the fact my wife lets me look all I want.
  • I hate the fact.......you know I just can't find anything to hate about bikinis.

  • I love the fact that some young man who was missing his right arm up to about the elbow, could still take a bodyboard and fins, and go out on a good day to charge waves with the best of them.

  • I hate the fact that some of the surfers figured the guy didn't have what it took to handle good waves and routinely snaked him.

  • I love my new green and black Quiksilver boardshorts.
  • I hate the fact that I saw the same shorts on a big, fat guy from Philly, who was so hairy it looked like he was wearing a fur shirt under his too small hot pink Tank Top, and who wore black socks and sandals.

  • I love to see how excited little kids get when they get near the ocean screaming, yelling, shrieking, laughing and twilling around in circles.
  • I hate the fact that sometimes I find all this noise very annoying.

  • I love to sit on top of the box at our beach that holds the handicapped beach/wheelchair to check the surf.
  • I hate the idea that it may not be too many years in the future that the chair could be the only way Mrs.Foon can get me down to the beach. When that happens I've instructed her to take me down on my beloved sandbar at lowtide, lock the wheels and walk away. Surf Free or Die. (Just kidding)

  • I love when I'm sitting out in the lineup and I see, a very attractive woman who tries to enter the surf but a particularly powerful wave pulls her not securely attached bikini top down to her waist, exposing her lovely and cute pink nippled charms to every guy sitting out in the lineup with me.
  • I hate when that woman is Mrs.Foon (True story)

  • I love when I see a middle-age guy line up a perfect 5 foot set wave and as he pulls into the tube the lip of the wave breaking on his back is so powerful it peels his loosefitting boardshorts down to expose a huge expanse of alabaster white ass.
  • I hate when that middle-aged guy is me (Another true story).

-Foondoggy


Danny we hardly knew Ye

July 28 1997

At a nondescript government office building on a Friday afternoon in suburban Washington, the hallways and offices are deceptively quiet due to the large number of people who are off on vacation. In one office a Division Chief talks with a high-paid consultant about new and inventive ways to have computers further confuse and terrorize his staff of overworked employees. Off in the distance a phone rings and a series of strange hoots and yips can be heard.

Within seconds a blur of motion rockets down the hallway as the words "Seeya Boss!" can barely be heard over what sounds like a ricocheting bullet and the rustle of papers that are left floating around by the force of the moving air.

The consultant looks at the Division Chief and says, "What the hell was that?!!"

The Division quietly looks up and replies, "Surfs up."

I'd been checking the progress of TS Danny, a surprise visitor to the Right Coast who'd taken an inland route to get here. Reports off Va Beach told of chest high but disorganize surf on Thursday. My homebreak started making noise Thursday night. While at work Friday I got two very distinct messages, one from a Delmarva Peninsula surfrelated mailing list which said simply "GO NOW!!" And a phone call from my homeboy, "Tank" down at the beach: "Foonboy? You'd better get your sorry ass down here bro. The winds are offshore and Danny is kicking sets in chest to head. Tides going out this afternoon and the evening session is shaping up to be schweeeeeet! The tourists are thick as flies but I just saw some potatohead bodyboarder from Boise get housed for 5 SECONDS! If you don't believe me, here's Jake (the coolest surf dog) to give you the real skinny. Here boy, tell Foon what the surf's like - Wooofff!"

Though Tank's reports are given to some exaggeration at times, Jake's are not. His sloppy, saliva-enhanced bark told me he was jonesing to hit the surf himself, chasing frisbees or stray bodyboards. Jake has never lied to me.

So I'll skip the drill which you've all heard before. Yes I called Mrs.Foon and yes we left work like a bat outta hell and yes she outran two Maryland State Troopers using special shortcuts only she knows about and yes we vaulted a half open draw bridge at 90mph making our trip to the beach seem like a chase scene out of "the Dukes of Hazzard". Yadda-Yadda-Yadda.

We got to the beach in time for a fine evening session and for once I was glad to bag work, fight traffic and brave the tourists to ride my home break.

Saturday: with the tide low at 7:00 am it brought remarkably good bodyboarding waves to the homebreak. Danny's effect could still be felt with wellspaced and powerful chest high waves pounding the sandbars to a pulp. Longboarders were completely out of it, shortboarders struggled but failed to master the fast round cylinders. Only the bodyboard crew had what it took to fit into the oil drum round pockets that raced in as the last gasp of Danny. I got my share and DAMN!!! when was the last time you got sucked over the falls on a fourfoot wave that slapped you silly. The size/power ratio was deceptive.

By late morning and my bones tired from a very satisfying session, the tide came in and the wind shifted to the South, and the whole thing deteriorated into a massive mush session with a zillion boogie toy riders in the lineup. All rules of right of way and etiquette were suspended. I enjoyed the fact that my aggressive riding cleared a 75 foot space along my sandbar where swimmers and boogie riders hesitated to roam for fear of encountering that crazy dude with the Black Bodyboard and white hat. It's easy to mark your turf with fear.

Foon to the rescue:

It is with some small pride I can report I rescued a couple of kids from a fast moving rip. As the tide started to come in, every significant set would pour more water over the sand bars. The water would seek to return to the ocean by the easiest route and this developed temporary but fast moving and powerful rips at low spots in the sandbars - like fast little rivers flowing out to the ocean. Coincidentally one of these rips formed right next to my favorite bar and I watched it gather strength. Two little kids on boogie toys were in waist deep water one minute with their mom. In exactly 15 seconds they were swept out by the rip right passed me 150 feet offshore. They weren't 35 feet away from me when I heard their mother go ballistic. The kids were only about 5 and 7 years old and were very spooked. Though mom was shrieking the guards didn't seem to hear her. I paddled quickly over to the kids and told them they were caught in a riptide and that we had to paddle to the side to go back in. They were too small and scared to comprehend this, all they knew is they were way out in the ocean in water way over their heads.

I said everything would be ok and told them each to hang onto to one of my fins and that we were going to play tugboat. I was going to tow them in. By this time the guards were standing up on their stands just getting wind of what was going on. I checked the outside to make sure we wouldn't get caught by a sneaker and felt both whimpering kids latch onto my fins. I then armpaddled just 30 feet to the side of the rip and angled in toward the beach. By time I got us back to chesthigh water one of the guards was there with a float. He grabbed one and I grabbed one and we walked them both in to the hysterical mom. The guard was thankful I'd seen them and claimed he couldn't be sure we weren't just some bodyboarders out in the break. The mom was effusive in her thanks and it made me feel very good. In 10 minutes the rip was gone and the beach returned to normal.

Courage:

Around noon a woman and her family came and sat down near us on the beach. In her arms she carried a young girl about 8 years old whose legs hung limp and lifeless from her body. The withered legs were covered in some kind of white fabric leggings and were no thicker than my wrist. The woman plunked the girl down on the sand and from that moment all afternoon never touched here again to help her move around. This kid was amazing with arms and shoulders like a little gymnast, her body a perfect V. Whenever she wanted to get in the water she would asshop her way down to the shore with her arms pushing her worthless legs in front of her. In the water she would swim around like an eel dragging her legs behind her. To leave the water she would simply ride a wave in then ass hop her way up the beach. During the time I watched her she boogie boarded, raft rided, played tag with some other kids, threw a frisbee out in the water and played keep away with some boys. In the water no one could catch her! And even on the sand she was so fast moving around, she caught the boy who was it twice!!! Late in the afternoon the woman announced the had to leave. The little girl looked very unhappy sensing her time of fun was over. She hopped her way up the sand and almost unwillingly allowed her mother to pick her up for the walk to the car. The little girl laid her head on her mom's shoulder and quietly began to cry. As they slowly walked away I lost it too. But I have no doubt this little kid is going to have a great life.

Cowardice:

During the waveriding wars that occur daily at our beach when 1000s of tourists rent boards and surf, occasionally there are a few who get in my way (like every 10 seconds) On this day a big (6'5" 240) stoooopit guy from Joisey was straight riding waves and was generally making a nuisance of himself. On one particularly good wave I rocketed by him and nudged him out of the wave he'd snaked me on. When I turned around "Godzilla" was thrashing my way offering to tear me a new butthole. Of course he couldn't catch me since I had fins and he spent a good 10 minutes chasing me around. Everytime he'd get near, I'd take off on a wave and sweep by him laughing out loud. Having to avoid this thug was getting old so I offered to meet him up on the beach to discuss it. With his girlfriend and buddies gathering around "Tony" (what a surprise) was looking to get into it with someone he could easily stomp (me).

Screaming and swearing at me for being a jerk, Tony came real close to throwing a punch when I did not acquiesce to his demand for an apology.

I simply said, "Look my friend, you simply got in my way and I moved you, now your pissed. Shit happens pal, and now you want to take it out on me. Just be certain that if you so much as lay a finger on me, I am going to drop to this sand like a house of cards and play dead. I assure you dozens of cellphones at this beach right now are going to be dialing 911 and you, my friend, are going to be in a world of trouble." I could say this with some impunity, mainly because my own backup muscle, Tank, was standing in the crowd trying not to laugh out loud and sort of mock motioning dialing 911 on his own cellphone.

Tony apparently woke up and saw the logic of my argument and simply blew me off telling me to "Stay outta my way, you jerk" "Likewise, I shot back." And the rest of the afternoon was spent blissfully cutting up the mob. Danny was not all we had hoped, but it did salvage what would have been a deadly boring weekend at the beach.

-Foondoggy


Shark Week -Regurgitated

Wed, 06 Aug 1997

I missed most of the first Shark Week last year so I'm not sure if what PBS or Discovery or whoever is offering this week is original broadcasting or reruns. In the two nights I've spent watching the Jaws Wannabes barely a segment goes by they don't mention how attractive surfers are to sharks because they look like seals or sealions. Then they hype this with endless pictures of people paddling and HOTDAMN some quality surf footage from Hawaii.

Discussions center around Northern California (great Whites at the Farallon islands) and Hawaii (Tigers everywhere) and the very few attacks that have occurred. I get real tired of the hyperbolic prose and images so calculated to increase fear, then they pop that bubble by citing statistics saying it is safer to surf than it is to drive to the goddamn beach in a car. So why do these shows spend hours jacking the public around about sharks, staging feeding frenzies and showing cute little surfers with their delicate tasty legs hanging in the water? Don't answer that, it was just rhetorical. We all know why - Ratings!

I gotta admit I got suckered by the hype when I was in Santa Cruz recently and a seal swirled some water real close to me. Involuntarily my first thought was -Shark. It just pisses me off that these shark shows jack up the big predator stereotype, then reveal that the science shows they're mostly a bunch of pussies who if they even take one bite, spit you boney surfers out and say "Ptoooey!!"

I've had it with Shark Week. The slowmo shots of these creatures thrashing and knashing, teased with hundreds of gallons of chum then taunted with a horse leg on a rope are disgusting. Even the legit scientific study segments are rampant with ominous footage and music. One quote actually said, "If sharks were as dangerous as the popular media make them out to be, surfing would be suicide."

-Fishdoggy

"Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood."
Marie Curie

"There's nothing I'm afraid of like scared people."
Robert Frost


Summertime is Surfer's Time

Wed, 30 Jul 1997

Recently I was sitting out in the lineup with a longboarder who was let us say, my age contemporary. We had been trading and alternating waves for awhile in a very friendly manner, and struck up a conversation during a lull. He finally looked at his watch and said he had time for just one more wave, since his wife was holding him to limited amount of time to surf. In mock horror I said,

"Wait a minute friend, these waves are still good!!! You don't have to go in, you're on Surfer's Time!!"

He laughed and said, "What's that?"

I explained, "When the waves are rideable, all surfers are relegated to a time zone that is wholly theirs- Surfer's Standard Time (SST). The time zone applies as long as the surfer perceives that there are waves worth riding. Further, the total time in the water can be deducted from any other landbased activity that is not surfing related, without penalty."

He asked how I knew all this and I told him I work for the government scientific agency that invented and maintains the nations official atomic clock, the NIST-7. This little ticker shoots lasers through Cesium gas and counts the vibrations accurately keeping time in the Trillionths of seconds. I'm told the next generation, NIST-8, will use Rubidium and will have a sweep hand that looks like a surfboard and lights up in the dark. I went on to explain that the clock was so accurate it had to be reset to accommodate the imperfect rotation of the earth. Therefore, we had to add a whole second to the month of June. I have through a special arrangement succeeded in having this official new second be designated "tubetime" so that all surfers who claimed time in the tube during the month of June can add a second to that time.

Though I was very convincing in my explanation of this phenomena, the Longboarder was not buying (hard to believe, I was very sincere :), but he said his wife might just believe it if I could give him the name of an official responsible for this event. I told him this information is given with the authority of President William Jefferson Clinton who we all know would never lie about a subject as serious as "making time."

I spent my extra second tearing hell out of a chesthigh wave, June 14th, Wrightsville Beach, NC. How did you spend yours?

Foondoggy

"The only true time which a man can properly call his own, is that which he has all to himself; the rest, though in some sense he may be said to live it, is other people's time, not his."
Charles Lamb


A View from the Deck

Wed, 13 Aug 1997

Warning ! ! Surfstarved ramblings - not for the squeamish.

The view from the deck of a cool, beachfront rental house on E. Columbia St. in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, gave three middle-aged surf buddies a chance to spend four days to relax and share our lives. We'd vacationed together last year and had a good time (see my "No Ms.Travis, it's not like riding a bicycle" post on Dejanews) so we promised then to meet again this year to try it once more. What we did in four days could fill a book, but I'll just give you a few snapshots from this Summer of '97.

Throughout the four days a tide sensitive 4 foot swell would tease us into going out for long frustrating sessions in mediocre surf. Not what we'd hoped for (actually there was a $20 bet I lost promising some hurricane swell. My surfshrine let me down) but as Lifelong Right Coasters with over 30 years experience each, pretty much what we expected in August. During the first session on Friday, my good friends, Stan the Man, and Big Ed, both snaked me repeatedly. Since the surf sucked I generally expected that any good wave that came along was worth stealing. Payback, as usual, came in the form of me ramming them from behind, grabbing some legs with a death grip and tumbling in front of the breaking waves, a tangle of arms, legs and boards.

When that rare good wave did come along, I happened to score one. As I slalomed down the uneven wall I saw Stan paddling out. The X Y co-ordinates of the path of my ride and his paddling destined us to meet somewhere inside. If I'd cutback he would have been ok, but familiarity breeds contempt and all my friends understand clearly what the Foondoggy waveriding policy is. Given the choice between making a sweet wall or scaring you shitless - I'll take the wave every time. Appropriately, Stan headed for the bottom just as I climbed the wave to go over him and his board. Unfortunately, my fin caught his leash - wave over.

There were long stretches of doing absolutely nothing but sitting on the deck and watching the meager conditions improve or deteriorate. This is the miserable plight of most Right Coasters in the summer -waiting and watching, and bitching, and whining. Luckily all our wives have been through the drill many times before and steered clear of us, not wanting to hear the same surf stories for the millionth time, and not caring if there was surf or not.

During the lulls we got to catch up on our personal stories and view a variety of beach scenes from the deck. There we sat, Big Ed, the entertainment mogul, Stan the Man, a broker on Wall Street, and me, Government flunky. We were all feeling very good this summer. Big Ed had just closed a deal to produce the half-time show for the Super Bowl this year, the Stock market has made Stan a very rich man, and I just painted a dragon face on the bottom of my body board to scare away sharks.(Thank you Shark Week).

The conversations revealed a wide range of interesting tidbits. These you can take to the bank. Stan predicts the market will go to 18,000 by year 2000. His motto about the market is, "If you're not in it, you are out of it." When I begged Big Ed to pander to his Baby Boom generation when picking the talent for the half-time show by getting the Eagles or for God sake, John Fogerty, he said, "I hate to pop your bubble Foon, but the demographics dictate a much younger act. Put your money on seeing the Spice Girls at half-time." I considered this important information for a minute, stared directly at Big Ed and said, "Who?" He smiled and murmured, "Exactly what I mean."

Big Ed provided some modest Cuban cigars, courtesy of Emilio Estevan (yes, Gloria's husband and Ed's good friends) Stan contributed several bottles of Mexico's finest Tequila, and I was good for a bag of Cheese Doodles. (Hey, they were the crunchy kind!) While we sat one day taking in all the beach sights we noticed that a newlywed couple from the bed and breakfast next door had finally decided to come out on the beach. The young man was a surfer and he'd brought his board down on the beach, but each time he made a move to go out, his nubile young wife would grab his hand and pull him back toward the house. (smirk, smirk).

At one point, when we were all out in the water, this pathetic young man finally paddled out into some lousy waves. He just sat there next to us peering out into the ocean even though we kept telling him his wife was calling him from the beach. He steadfastly kept looking out to sea and said to us it made his wife crazy to think he would choose surfing over being with her. Three middle-aged heads nodded in understanding. Then he said he thought his wife was trying to screw him to death so he wouldn't have the strength to surf. Three middle-aged men smiled in envy. The whole time he was out he never even tried for a wave, happy to just sit and have a little time to himself, alone with his thoughts in the ocean. Three middle-aged men knew exactly how he felt. Welcome to the club son.

Late one afternoon, as usual the surf was shit, but a man came down to the ocean on a bicycle that had a long board rack attached. Accompanying him was a little boy on tiny bike. The father took a longboard and a very small Doyle-type sponge surfboard off the rack, both trifins. The little boy didn't seem old enough to walk let alone surf, but he was outfitted in the smallest springsuit I'd ever seen. His Dad even had to attached the little surf leash to his ankle. Off they went into the minuscule waves, Dad pushing the little boy on his blue sponge surfboard through the shorebreak, then teaching him how to paddle and push through waves. As they slowly made it out to the break, it was obvious this was a first time surf lesson. Dad spun around several times to catch some waves but always returned to his son's side. Eventually Dad began to push the boy into little waves, telling him to paddle and stand. Though the little kid was a plucky little guy, he always got nailed. But just as quickly he'd get on the board, straighten himself and start charging out again. Dad would always paddle or ride in to help him and give him encouragement.

This little tableau went on for an hour, with the boy only catching but not standing or riding a few waves. At one point Dad pushed his son into a fairly large 4 footer and the boy just got worked. He scrambled up on his board and laid very still, but we could see the heaving sobs from where we were. Dad came paddling back and laid next to the boy on his longboard with his arm over the tiny shoulders, talking and comforting. Soon we could see the little boy gather himself and start charging outside again. It was so obvious the kid was totally tapped we wondered why the Dad persisted in urging him to go on. On the very next wave Dad pushed the little boy in, he took the drop on his tummy but popped up, steadied himself and rode the wave all the way in using a wide Greg Noll type stance. Three middle-aged men erupted from their deck chairs hooting, yelling and screaming. We gave the kid a standing ovation. We could see the boy's face light up like a neon sign. His Dad paddled in, gave us a thumbs up sign, and soon they left.

Bout an hour later the Dad came by to thank us for making a big deal over his kid's first ride. He said all the boy had talked about all summer was trying to learn to surf like his Dad, and this had been his very first day. We invited him to sit and visit but he declined saying he wanted to be there when his son woke up from his nap. He thanked us again and left. Three middle-aged guys smiled and felt real good. The boy is five years old.

Big Ed is the schmooze master of the world. He makes friends with anyone. One afternoon he met a woman on the beach named Priscilla Bourgeosie. She mentioned she surfed and since Ed did not see a board nearby he offered her his. She declined saying she had plenty back at the shop. It turns out Priscilla and her husband Chuck, own the Sweetwater Surfshop in Wrightsville Beach. Their son, Ben, is a young professional surfer, currently sponsored by Quiksilver and touring. He's been featured in several magazines and is an example of Wrightsvilles finest young riders. Nice people, nice shop, good surf family vibe and a credit to the sport.

Throughout the weekend the beach house was a turmoil of activity with teenagers coming, going, surfing and yapping, asking for money and car keys. Our wives bonded together to protect themselves from the evils of too many old surf stories and too many Cuban cigars. We three guys basked in the warm glow of a Carolina sun and the good friendships we had with each other. We wondered if it was possible to smoke too many cigars, drink too much good tequila, ride too many crummy waves and retell too many funny surf stories. We tried and failed, but promised to try again next year.

For all of you young guys who hang together - cherish your young surfing years. Establish and maintain the friendships you forge now. In 20-30 years, if you're still out there charging, hopefully it will occasionally be with some old surf buddies who know you and understand why we do what we do in the ocean. Hopefully too, you can take you children out into the ocean and pass on this great tradition.

Foondoggy

"You never know till you try to reach them how accessible men are; but you must approach each man by the right door."
Henry Ward Beecher


The Joy of Icing

August 15 1997

I'm no athlete and I've been in better shape in my life (1978). Even as a kid I was picked last for most teams unless they needed a big uncoordinated guy for a tackling dummy. Like most athlete wannabees I tried and failed many sports and learned which ones to stay away from. And like most middle-aged men who perceive the inexorable passage of time as a phenomena that does not apply to them, I cling desperately to the few sports I am able to practice with some success.

I have X-rays of hips, knees, ankles, back, neck and feet that make orthopedic doctors wonder how I'm still walking upright instead of on my hands and knees. My drug of choice is an 800 mg salmon colored Motrin which I take like vitamins. My doctors warn me that taking too much of this could aggravate and accelerate a congenital disease I carry called Polycystic Kidney. But that may not get me until I'm over 60. By then it'll be too late.

There isn't a morning I don't wake up to discover some new ache or pain. Yet despite all this I still go surfing whenever I can, play racketball whenever Mrs.Foon feels like whuppin my ass, and spend three torturous sessions a week in a gym lifting weights, and repeating back and stomach strengthening drills. I hit the stairmaster for 40 minutes 3 times a week which has awarded me my Doctor's praise as the fittest physical wreck he knows.

Unlike my contemporaries, I will not embrace or take up the sport of golf until I must do it from a wheelchair. I will not take up sports which quite frankly will kill me, like skiing, snowboarding, handgliding, or skating just to reaffirm my youth. (what's that old quote, "youth is wasted on the young") But what I will do is cling tenaciously to the one thing I find physically challenging and spiritually cleansing -surfing. Sure, I only bodyboard and gave up the standup version years ago, and we can spend another 20 years of posting personal opinions regarding whether it is surfing or not. Frankly, I couldn't care less what you think, I love it and will continue to do it until Mrs.Foon can no longer launch me into a shorebreak herself.

But as the years go by this gets tougher. One of the things I have discovered in my many years of overextending my less than physical nature is that due to stress and extreme movement the muscles and joints of an average body tend to strain and hurt. Over the years it has become my practice to ice down any part of my body I think will hurt after surfing - neck, shoulders, knees, ankles, feet, anything. In fact, I can think of only one joint you probably shouldn't ice if it becomes sore or swollen after to much usage. And if that joint is really sore or swollen after a session, maybe you should stop spanking it for awhile.

Icing has been a very good therapy for my short term and long term aches and pains. Most of you may recall I've had foot and ankle injuries in the past. Well bodyboarding with fins can wreak havoc on these structures and there have been times I've had to leave in the middle of a good session because of the pain. With a good regimen of icing and my favorite analgesic (Motrin) I can be out there charging the very next day in search of more body abusing tubes. Don't forget too, pre and post session stretching. It can really help avoid those tiny muscle pulls that can easily develop into sharp pains that will wake you up at night from a sound sleep when you move.

I envy the young men who blast, thrash, and crash through the big waves with impunity. I once believed too I was indestructible. Even though to this day I suffer from a back injury I received when I was 12, I chose to ignore the discomfort and trust my youth and vitality would prevail. I know an emergency room nurse who has described to me the most atrocious injuries she's treated among young men and women who practice extreme sporting activity without the experience, skill or even protective gear they should have. I'm talking about shattered bones and crushed ligaments. I'm sorry to say they also will experience the not too fond remembrances of those injuries as they get older. So think of me each time there's a good swell in the Mid-Atlantic (few this year) and the fact that after every session I'll have ice on my left ankle (bad fall off a halfpipe), ice on my lower back (bad fall as a kid), ice on my right shoulder (old volleyball injury) ice on my right knee (racketball injury), ice on the arch of my right foot (racketball again), ice on my left hip (congenital scoliosis) and a tumbler of ice in my right hand, full of my favorite Doctor, Jack Daniels.

And look after yourself out there, nobody else will.

-Foon (on the rocks)

"To know how to grow old is the master-work of wisdom, and one of the most difficult chapters in the great art of living."
-Henri Frederic Amiel

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