A Small Comfort for victims of TWA Flt. 800
07 July 1996
I was in San Francisco last week when I saw the first
reports of this
tragedy. Instantly I knew exactly where the plane had gone
down. I had
surfed the same beaches for 10 years and was very familiar
with the area.
For days after the crash reports said the area was closed so
could look for remains. There were many film reports showing
tranquil conditions. I was glad the ocean was at peace so
the Coast Guard
and others could do their grim but necessary job. I knew
during this time
of year that area could be difficult with storm swells and
To help the families of the victims find peace, a memorial
held at Smiths Point, Fire Island. I had surfed this beach
many times and
seen it at it's best and worst. On that day a translucent
light grey sky
shrouded the solemn occasion in weak sunlight. There was
little wind, the
ocean was light green and glassy and only small waves
accented the quiet
of the moment.
There was film of the event I will never forget as a lone
by the waters edge mourning the loss of their daughter. In
the ocean gave up one perfect, small, A-frame wave which
broke in almond
eyed precision, slowly near the shore. This was a gift of
which let every relative there, at this sorrowful moment,
was the most beautiful beach in the world.
Many said later that the beautiful and tranquil setting gave
comfort to know their loved one was at rest in the ocean. I
know I will
never surf those waters again, and not think of those
On the way back we got stuck in Chicago's O'Hare Airport due
to a bomb
scare. We were held over night and the next day many
extremely angry at the delay. I wanted to tell them I was
willing to let
them dismantle the whole plane to make sure it was safe.
As I looked at the film of that couple on the beach I prayed
that if have
to go out some way, please let it be in a beautiful spot
hopefully surfing, and not under the wheels of some runaway
-Foondoggy (Feeling a little mortal today)
"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there
when it happens."
"Jason" the swell that would not DIE!
08 July 1996
It's very rare in the summer on the Right Coast, when a
swell that is not
Hurricane or Tropical Depression generated amounts to much
around very long. In this case, just maybe it was the ritual
a live pepperoni pizza at my pre-vacation surf vigil that
trick. I don't know what caused it, but from the very day I
got to the
Foondoggy Surf Palace and funky old beach break, our Mid-
was giving it up to the tune of waist to headhigh longlined
peeling two city blocks long.
Some would say it was the "Blue Moon" phenomenon (two fulls
in a month)
in concert with the astrological configuration that caused
added to a big lazy low pressure area that idled way out in
Atlantic for many days. These things have occurred before
accounted for "the Swell that Would Not DIE!"
I'd like to say that what we got on my vacation was a
weeklong orgy of
"all time" surf; I cannot. But for days we did receive an
consistent and benevolent swell that resulted in nearly
perfect waist to
headhigh 3-5 wave sets interspersed with lakelike calmness.
It was almost
Sure, the variables of wind and tides made some days better
but rarely in my thirty years of Right Coast riding have I
3-hour sessions per day for five days straight. We started
to call the
swell, "Jason", because it was killing us with consistency
and would not
die regardless of the conditions.
Thanks, I think, to the extreme tides and a violent line of
rolled through one morning, "Jason" gave up what will
forever be known to
me and a kid named Brian as "that July 3rd"! The day broke
beach being closed due to lightning. The storm whipped and
swell into slatelike walls. As the storm moved out to sea
cleaned up and lit up, as the sun came out. Buckets of rain
wonderful offshore breeze groomed "Jason" into a surfing
only Brian and I to ignore the warning whistles of the
I found out Brian was from a town just North and he'd spent
morning riding his bike in the storm to check out other
breaks. (my kind
of kid!)He declared our street to be the best. His first
ride was a
tunnel hugging 2 block jet ride that literally left him limp
pop-eyed! I scored right after him with a long steep wall
that had me
fighting for edge the whole way even as it forced me out of
twice until I fought my way back in for a final shore
pounding dump. I'm
happy to say that what we shared by ourselves for the next
two hours was
arguably some of the best beach break surfing I've ever
experienced as an
adult! Brian and I would trade waves, each seemingly deeper
than the other. As the extreme low tide showed its influence
offshores made the vertical that much more powerful, the
sandbars, which usually only work on a bigger swell, were
spewing some visually very sweet walls that came with some
Brian, though only 14 and skinny, was absolutely fearless
and seemed to
thrive on getting way inside the monster and he didn't much
care how he
got out. Being older, wiser and more brittle, I chose waves
not only challenge my skills, but would leave me in one
piece if I
failed. Rarely has a day at our beach break gone through two
and the surf stayed good or gotten better. July 3rd, 1996
was just such a
day and the only reason I left the water hours later is I
physically no longer ride. (Plus my sinuses had a gallon of
them). Eight hours later at dusk, I tried to ride some more.
But after my
first two rides, Jason reared up and axed me one more time,
and this time
he wasn't wearing a hockey mask!
I have not recently been able to surf 9 days in a row. The
is considerable - but I'm not complaining. I just hope I
heal up in time
for my new best friend "Hurricane Bertha" soon, we hope,
visiting a beach
near you (and me).
-Foondoggy (By day 5 I was beyond pain, into numbness)
"Happiness is the light on the water. The water is cold
and dark and
"Jake" the coolest Surf Dog, Hit by a Jetski!!
09 July 1996
One evening last week, Mrs.Foondoggy and I were just setting
up our beach
chairs on the stretch of sand we like to call our own for an
dinner picnic of eggplant parmesan from DeVito's Authentic
(Est.1934) The extreme low tide had exposed wide areas of
sand bar and
you could wade out 50 yards and still only be in knee-deep
About a half dozen surfers continued to milk a very
consistent but small
swell that had been working all week. Down the beach two
wheeled their machines on trailers down to the waters edge.
Some of the
surfers immediately came in knowing what would happen.
For a few days the Hotdog skiboys had been launching their
craft in the
evening and proceeding to tear up the waves on the shallow
spite of local laws prohibiting such activity. Calls to the
usually ignored since they were busy keeping 250,000
control down island. The skiers would jump waves and buzz
impunity, eventually clearing the water for their dangerous
On this beautiful evening we were watching "Jake", a 200 lb,
Bay Retriever, the coolest surf dog, and our beaches
play fetch the 2x4 with his owner "Tank". All of a sudden
one of the
skiboys raced straight for the beach attempting to jump a
wave from the
back despite Tank's desperate efforts to wave him off. The
over the wave and hit Jake on his massive head and
shoulders. Though only
a glancing blow, the dog yelped and went down. The skiboy,
he'd done, cowardly attempted to turn and escape out to sea.
This was a
huge tactical error.
As the jetskier turned he came within arms reach of Tank,
who at 6'6",
280 lbs, and a Viet Nam vet, could move like a runaway
train. The skiboy
never saw the clothesline forearm coming that caught him
full in the
chest and popped him off the back like a sack of wet
laundry. Four people
immediately went to the bleeding and groggy dog and as soon
as Tank could
see he wasn't too badly hurt, he turned his attention to the
machine. In short order he tore off the engine cowling and
$500 worth of radical and permanent surgery on some vital
took several people to restrain him from making the driver
eat some of
the engine parts
It was decided that Jake needed stitches, so when the police
was taken away to the local Vet (wearing a very stylish
BTW). The jetskier was fined over $350 worth of water
Tank received a ticket for not having his dog on a leash,
both copies of the ticket were seen later in a garbage can
Fenegan and Tank are on the same softball team).
After the cop left the jetskier threatened Tank with a law
replied in Tank style, "Think about it kid, considering you
killed my dog, is a broken toy worth having to look over
the rest of your life." Skiboy turned white and wide-eyed at
the not too
Jake had a concussion and about 10 stitches. The Vet said
the scar would
show up nice and pink through his light brown fur for
awhile. He added
that the dog was very lucky to have survived. We're thinking
his named to "Ironhead".
The eggplant had to be reheated the next night, Jake got
thereafter there was a big crackdown on the jetskiers, Hey!
-Foondoggy (Sorry this got split up, after a week off
I'm not to good at
running this thing.)
Bertha Blows Chuck's theory of Market as Predictor of Waves out of the Water
12 Jul 1996
Some of you may remember my friend Chuck's theory that the Stock Market
reflected the occurrence of surf at his beach. This was based on last
years Hurricane season and the Markets upward trend.
I just got off the phone with Chuck. His house is on an island beach a
quarter mile from a prominent point of North Carolina called Cape Fear.
The island lies in the approximate strike area for Bertha to hit today.
Yesterday they evacuated the island of all tourists and most residents.
Chuck and his wife have stayed because they belong to the Emergency fire
and rescue squad, and if things get bad, they have access to a lighthouse
that has been on the island since 1861. Also yesterday the stock market
took a 100 point dip and today continues to go in the toilet.
I asked Chuck, "How much of a beating did you take yesterday?"
He said, "About 20 grand, but I'm looking out at Frying Pan Shoals right
now and I can see 8-12 foot waves all the way to the horizon."
I offered, "I guess this blows the theory of Market as a surf predictor
out the window."
He laughed and said, "I guess so, but in the next few days I'll have
access to 6 miles of some of the best North Carolina beach break surf
that Bertha can produce, and since of the 24 people left on the island
I'm the only one who surfs, I'll be riding BY MYSELF!"
I said, "Too bad you can't take the surf to the bank." (Clever comeback)
He replied, "True enough Foonboy, but I'm not the one that's leaving for
San Francisco tomorrow, missing one of the best surf opportunities of
the summer. Just think where you'd be if you didn't have to go."
I hate Chuck.
Foondoggy (I hope the Bay Area is good to me this time)
A Visit to Norte Cal, pt 2. Santa Cruz
24 July 1996
It is 7:30 am, Saturday, July 20th, and I'm heading South on
Scotts Valley to Santa Cruz with two little boys lashed into
seats in my
cousins Minivan. The boys, Zack and Sean, are my cousin
and they've been up since dawn yammering about "Uncle
Foony's" promise to
take them to the beach. Since the minute I arrived at their
home the day
before, they've reminded me about the promise I made to
teach them how to
surf last year, about every 2 minutes. My cousin smiles
solemnly and says
it's all they've talked about since they learned I was
coming to visit.
So here I am, driving slowly with a huge hangover thanks to
good Tequila and ok cigars, and two gleefully squawking boys
100 mph. My head hurts and I AM SCREWED, since I already
know there is no
surf. (I checked a few reports). Ray, his wife, and
happily off to KPIG's "Fat Fry" music festival in Aptos for
the day and
the boy's Mom is giddy with the prospect of a day off from
some good music, food and sun. I, on the other hand, am
entertaining two little boys for the whole day and I am
underwhelmed and unprepared for the task.
From the back seat comes, "Uncle Foony, tell us again about
the time you
rode Makaha Point on a Dick Brewer Gun, in 20 foot surf."
"Uh, is that what I told you? Uh, actually it was Montauk
Point, I was
16 years old, riding a Hobie Eastern Star, and it was only 6
"Uh Uhnh Uncle Foony, that's not what you said last year."
"Yeah, well Uncle Foony's getting old and sometimes the
a little fuzzy."
It is going to be a long day, but strangely these are
delightful boys to
be around. They attend the Waldorf alternative school and
are not allowed
to watch any TV except for certain movies and parent
(all educational). Interestingly they are totally devoid of
sitcom induced backtalk so prevalent among kids today. But
also they are
endlessly curious and ask questions about everything and
answer they feel does not fully satisfy their thirst for
knowledge. I am
determined to teach them as much about the sport as I can in
one day, so
early on this Saturday morning we are munching donuts and
Natural Bridges State Park. It's flat. I decide we will
check every street from the Park to 41st street, to fill the
day. As a
result we take in the Surfing Museum and memorial statue
along W. Cliff
Sean begs me to let him show me the "naked beach" which is
rumored to be
at the foot of one of the streets and supposedly is
sunbathers. We look and thankfully there are none. Not that
anything against sunbathers, but I just didn't want the boys
their Mom they had duped me into looking.
By 10:30 am we are touring the Pier where we find out about
fish, sea lions and clothes. To make up for the lack of
waves Uncle Foony
buys the boys their first Rusty caps and surfing t-shirts!
Uncle Foony." "You're welcome boys.") I purchase one that
says, "The older I get, the better I was." My second choice
was one which
said, "One Tequila, Two Tequila, Three Tequila, Floor."
By midafternoon we've covered the entire coast to 41st
street and dropped
in on Freeline surf shop. At this point I remembered someone
that Cowells always has something for beginners to ride. I
and we stop to check the North side which is slightly
shielded from a
delightful, sunny, onshore breeze. Sure enough, the tide is
now coming in
and there is a one foot shorebreak, pathetic by even Right
standards. The boys cannot accept the idea of not going
surfing so with
their boogies and little spring suits I wade in with them up
to my waist
and for the next ball-chilling hour, alternately push each
of them into
whatever micro waves arrive. I expected they would tire of
but they are having a blast. I notice too others are doing
the same thing
and some people have actually rented big Morey sponge boards
wind up paddling around.
By 3:30 the only way I can get them out of the water is to
with chocolate covered strawberries from the Pier. I find
out later from
Mom sweets are strictly controlled and rarely given which
they both gulp down five each.
We arrive home just minutes before their parents at which
time both boys
shout and scream about all we did and to show off their new
is not impressed) The boys go into great detail about what I
about waves, wind, tides, and surfing and how I actually
taught them to
surf! Then Zack declares, "Daddy, did you know Uncle Foony
Point on a Hobie Brewer Star in 16 foot waves when he was
Raymoondo looks at me and says, "Was that Uncle Foony or
Jose Cuervo?" I
tell the boy, "Close enough, Zack, I like your version."
"I hope you and your brother remember all that Uncle Foony
has done for
you today so someday when he comes back and you're old
enough to drive,
you can take him to all the good surf spots in Santa Cruz."
together, "Yes, Uncle Foony." I look up and smile. My work
here is done.
Then I look at their Mom who silently mouths the words, "Fat
I loved Santa Cruz.
When the Town says, "You're NOT a Surfer!"
29 July 1996
"What do you mean I'm NOT a Surfer?" I'm looking down with
every inch of
my 6'2", 210 lb size into the sweetest blue eyes of a
Christi, who just whistled me out of the water during my
since July 8th. And I was having a REAL good time, too.
It seems the town, in it's infinite wisdom, during the
the location of the "official surfing Beach" among all the
Christi has just yanked me out promptly at 10 am from my
because, under the rules, since I bodyboard, I am NOT a
"Look Christi, you know me, I'm here all the time. I "own"
There's nothing out here but kids on potato chip boards
anyway, and none
are even riding. I'm surfing circles around 'em."
"Yes sir," she says sweetly. "I've been watching you all
summer and I
must say sir, on any given day, you're one of our best
Oh this one's good, very good, and dangerous. I recognize
right off page
28 of the Lifeguards Handbook, the chapter on "Dealing with
"When faced with a balding, pudgy, middle-aged male using
solve his mid-life crisis, and who's throwing a tantrum
'cause you won't
let him surf, smile sweetly and flatter the shit outta him."
got her number.
Christi goes on, "I also remember the day you and some boy
ignored my warning whistles about lightning conditions to
paddle out on
what was admittedly one of the better days of the summer.
The alert was
just about over, so I cut you some slack then, but I can't
let you by on
this one, sir. According to the rules, you are not a
you don't seem to mind not being called a surfer when I have
to call all
the standups in every morning at 10, leaving the waves to
you and your
boogie crew, do you?"
"Your logic is irrefutable, whistle-girl and in fact, I
really enjoy it
when you do that. It's probably the second most important
reason I took
"What's the first, sir?"
"I love it, and uh, I'm a lazy lard-ass." This got her
laughing, but I
knew she was only doing her job.
"Honestly sir, this happens just once a summer. Every day
have to go to a new beach, most of which stink. Where are
they going to
go practice and get better?" She was right of course. The
future of the
sport depended on it.
So with the words, "NOT a surfer" stinging my ears, I
(fin-walking) down the beach dragging my sorry butt and my
I stopped and shouted back, "You just wait and see, whistle-
this place is mackin in Rocktober, how many of those chip
riders will be
out there then?!!"
She said, "I'm sure you'll be the only one, sir. G'day."
oooooo, she's really good at this stuff.
What really pisses me off was not the humiliation (people
have called me
worse) but the fact that our girlfriend, Bertha, had taken a
chunk of beach and deposited neatly out on the sandbar,
today into a wave making machine. Today was my first chance
to sample the
new contours on the Foondoggy homebreak and it was smokin!.
Rocktober magic were forming in my head.
Now where did I stash that long board, and maybe I should
practicing them popups. Am I a goofy foot or what? Geez,
it's been so
-Foondoggy (the mind is first to go)