Saturday, November 25, 2006

Remnants of a Thanksgiving swell

The past two days were huge, double overhead and head high, and today's small waves are the remnants.

Though the waves were smaller, they had the same shape: closed out and dumping. I sucked ass even on the two foot waves. I either went for the wave too early and missed it, or took off too late and got thrown off my board. I think the back of the board pitched forward and flipped me over, but there's no way to tell. Next thing I knew I was in the water and my board was floating in front of me, fins up, nose pointing toward shore. If the board just flipped over wouldn't the nose be pointing the other way?

Either my timing was fatally off, or I got scared as I saw I was catching the wave in the criticial split second window and did not get my weight distributed right on the board. I didn't think there was such a thing as putting too much weight on the back of the board but maybe there is

Monday, November 20, 2006

Me Bizarro Surfer

There was a time when I would think twice about going in the water once the temperature dropped below forty degrees. Those days are long over.

It hadn't hit 40 when I got out early (for me) this morning, but the sun was out and it was beautiful.

There were teeny, tiny little lines coming through and nobody else in sight. I wasn't cold at all. I went out right in front of my house and caught lots of waves and on many of them, got up. I didn't get going very fast because the waves lacked power, but I got going fast enough.

Later I found out Surfline called it flat today. This seems to be a pattern; I do well only on days officially considered flat. This makes me Bizarro Surfer (you know, after the Bizarro world in the old Superman comics, where everything was the opposite of real life). I'm the opposite of a real surfer, since I can surf only when there are no waves. I'm not sure I like this. But the upside is that I get to do a lot of solo surfing.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Just clicking

And then sometimes, for no reason, it just clicks.

I wouldn't have thought it would be today. I woke up tired but dragged my butt out of bed early because I thought I was going to meet up with W. (who ended up sleeping in, the slacker). I had a headache and my muscles ached. I would not have put any money on it being a good day.

But the waves were the perfect size and shape for me, the water was beautiful, peace reigned among a sizeable crowd, and I just got it about how to position myself on the board.

So I caught most of the waves I went for with no problem, but it was still a problem getting up. I'd stay up for a few seconds, then fall. Unfortunately, with the crowd my wave count was small. Even trying to be super careful about not getting in anyone's way I alienated Q., a regular surfer who seems to go back and forth between liking me and not being able to stand me. I understand why he finds me annoying. I really do.

I should never, ever go for a wave within one mile of Q. He makes every wave he goes for. On the other hand, I kept pulling back from other people who I knew were not even going to make it---and they didn't. In that circumstance I think I should have gone, but I didn't dare risk it. It was so frustrating---I kept pulling back for one woman, an unfamiliar face, on a purple board, and she kept blowing the waves.

That plus getting cold meant I got out earlier than I would have liked, which I guess is a good way to get out after all---when you're still having fun.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Why is that man sucking on my board?

The prognosis on my board is dire. I've been covering up dings with duct tape since August. It's hard to find anyone to fix a board around here, and the one guy I found quit after doing only half the job. Since then more dings have accumulated, including a serious one on the nose. With only one board, I have no choice but to use it if I want to surf.

Today a new guy (wonder how long he'll last) looked at it. To be more precise, he sucked on it. I was wondering why he had his tongue on my board, and then he explained that this is how he tells if there is water inside; he sucks on it to see if water comes out. I did not know this and believe me, it has to be true because I could not make it up.

Bad news is the board has been taking on water all along. I was scolded for using it with duct tape, for thinking that would keep it dry. I should not use it at all the way it is, he says.

Fixing it would take "hours and hours and hours"; "it's a money hole"; I could tell he doesn't want to do it. But he finally quoted me a price, told me it would take until mid-January, and said I'd be better off just selling it as is.

Oh, and then he said I could get something called an "epoxy stick" and fix most but not all of the dings, at least well enough to last six months, myself. That seems like the no-brainer choice.

Following this discussion, I proceeded to go to the store, get some more duct tape since he'd pulled all mine off, and tape up the holes once more. I was determined to get in the water before dark and I didn't want to take W.'s board because I thought it would be too big for a board I didn't really know how to use. The waves had been head high this morning and there were still some approaching that, but it had had gotten smaller.

Unfortunately, hanging around talking to this guy for an hour in my slightly damp 4/3 suit in the 50 degree weather had made me cold, so I had to go home and break out the 5/3 for the first time this year. Damn, I hate that! My 4/3 is my favorite suit, because I associate it with the nicest weather and waves for surfing, in October. The 5/3 is just so much thicker and harder to get on---annoyingly so today, since I'd forgotten how.

The usual thoughts prevailed on the beach---I don't want to do this, it's too big---but I ignored them. It wasn't hard getting out, but once out I sat so far back I didn't catch waves. No one else was getting very many either, though, I noticed. I had many near misses but didn't pearl, held onto the board, didn't wipe out, wasn't ever scared or out of control. This is getting to be the definition of a good session for me! It's not very much and it's surely not fun, unless you count the satisfaction of trying to do something that's difficult for you, giving it your all, and failing honorably. That's "fun" of a sort but I know it doesn't compare to riding waves. Mostly, what I was doing out there was taking on water, I saw with horror, as the cheap duct tape came unglued and the gash in the nose was revealed.

I did catch one wave nicely, but getting up was only a dream; as always with waves over one foot, I simply could not think how to do it. As soon as I tried to get up to my feet, I fell off.

Because once you're cold, you're cold, I didn't last long, only 45 minutes, before I just had to get out.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


I had a bad night's sleep, folks. Did you know that little doggies who have dog- Alzheimers wander around all night long in confusion? If they were 84-year-old humans they'd open the front door, wander two towns down and have to be brought back by the police. My dog simply walks around crashing into walls and everything else. I heard strange noises all night long. At one point she apparently knocked over the ironing board (good she didn't kill herself) and then peed on it. Such are the trials of caring for a 16 ΒΌ- year old dog.

Does this have any relation to what transpired today in the water? I don't know.

I looked out and saw little one-foot waves, the kind I usually do well on. (I've never ridden a wave over one foot.) I was pretty confident, especially since I could see a couple of people out getting rides.

My third time out on the "new" board, I thought I'd easily figure it out in these conditions. Well, was I wrong. I don't know why, but nearly every time I tried to catch a wave, I'd see the nose start to go under; next thing I knew I was separated from the board and doing an underwater somersault, then coming up and grabbing the board before the next wave hit. I figured, OK, that tells me I need to be farther back on the board. I tried to get myself back more which was counter-intuitive; it would seem that on a longer board I should be farther forward than on my old one where I know to place my toes right on the tail. But I just couldn't figure out where to be. I guess, farther back than I ever was.

This big, heavy board is a lot harder to paddle out than a lighter one. I was getting kind of tired of the slug out, cause there were few if any lulls.

Once a wave is caught, though, the board is very fast and stable; that's why W. gave it to me. On the one wave I got correctly today, I was able to stand and ride even though I didn't get up right away; there is lots of time on this board to clamber to your feet, even using your knees (I know, I know) and still get a decent ride.

I usually don't spot-hop because it doesn't help, but today I tried three different spots and still couldn't get it. So after an hour or so, with the ratio of exhaustion to enjoyment leaning heavily towards exhaustion, I gave it up for today.

What a buzzkill; but wait, there's more.

A few of the younger (teens and early 20s) guys who are regular surfers out here make fun of me mercilessly because

A) I'm a woman
B) I can't really surf
C) I'm old enough to be their mother
D) I'm not "hot"
E)They can
F) No reason
G) All of the above.

I saw and was seen by two of the biggest assclowns today...the brothers. If you live here you know who they are.

Shortly afterwards, as I was getting out, another 20-something guy---I've never seen him before, I don't think---came up to me and started chatting in an overly friendly way. I thought he was a little weird but went along with it. It was a dumb beach conversation, leading up to "You know (Grandma), I think you're really very pretty." I started laughing my ass off, then for good measure added, "You're full of shit." I almost added that I knew he was put up to saying that by one of the assclowns, but didn't because I wasn't 100% percent certain. But later, I realized he had used my name...although I hadn't told him what it was. So I think it had to be the assclowns.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Good day...despite everything

Today started out bigger than I'm comfortable with, with some head-high waves, but by the time I got out had gotten a bit smaller. The sea was full of locals and regulars doing as much chatting as catching waves. K., my former friend and roommate, was at the center of it. Unfortunately she now hates me (due largely to backstabbing calumny heaped upon me by a third party who wanted to, and did, usurp the beach house). This makes surfing uncomfortable, at times, since I can't avoid her and she won't speak to me. Apparently I'm on some permanent, invisible shitlist.

Nevertheless I persisted. I was able to catch some waves on the new board, which made it OK. On the first, I was so surprised that I got going, and so fast, that I couldn't think to stand up....just had a good, long ride. On the second, once I caught the wave and got going I could tell there was going to be a drop, so I didn't stand up right away. (No one's ever been able to explain to me about the drop, why it happens and what it means.) But once the board dropped down, I was able to stand up briefly. Other waves, I blew in what I think were nosedives...I didn't really see what happened. One time, I took off well but couldn't get my feet in the right spot and fell as soon as I tried to stand.

K. left, D. came out. As I've said, he's one of the best surfers at this beach. It was interesting paddling out with him, seeing how he does it. It wasn't graceful and it wasn't pretty. He just went. He did a couple of turtledives, but other times he just ate it, lost the board and got pushed back. The thing was he didn't seem to care about getting smacked by the lip. Nor did he seem to put a lot of thought like I do into, "Can I go over this wave or should I go under?" He just kept going, no matter what, until he was out. He didn't get out that much faster than I did, though. Today I was actually proud of myself for the way I got out in what were more difficult conditions than usual. I also had some embarrassing wipeouts in front of D., who was rooting for me, but that's OK. Even though I had no rides, I had a good time.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

My "new" board

Yesterday and the day before were officially epic. We went from virtually no waves in a month to ten-foot waves, overnight. Of course I didn't go in either day, but watched from the bleachers (boardwalk). It was actually very pleasant because it was sunny and warm out, and I enjoyed it while the question nagged at me: Could I have handled the waves the second day, will I ever be able to handle big, what most surfers would call good, waves?

But really, though these waves were big they weren't so good; they quickly closed out and no one got rides more than about three or four seconds.

Today I was determined to go out no matter what. The wind was against me, making the waves choppy and sectiony. It was my first try on W.'s board, a 9-4 which looks crappy but is a good shape and heft for me. So he says and I agree.

But the dicey waves and a board on which I had no clue where to place myself were a bad combination. When I did get a wave, it was much faster than it looked; and when I did get up, only once, the ride was much bumpier than I expected. This even though the waves were only two feet. There was a kind of cross current going on (that's not the word, but I don't know what to call it) from waves breaking in different directions and hitting each other. You'd thinking you were riding one in one direction and then pow comes some whitewater from the other. Bump, bump. Fall, fall. It was amazing I got even one ride. The other times I just fell, in ways I normally don't, like off the back of the board.

Since these small waves were more powerful than they looked and I had a wipeout I didn't like, I decided to just try riding whitewater and moved over to a spot more conducive to that; but then in that spot the whitewater turned out to have much less power. I only got going on three waves and those I couldn't stand up on. I really do think, as people have told me over and over, bigger waves are easier to stand up on! There's that drop which helps you get your feet under you which you don't have on whitewater---there you only have the strength of your arms, which in my case isn't enough.

The board did really glide, though, once it got picked up by the whitewater. I can feel that it is more stable than mine.

Once a guy who tried my board told me it was "slow". I didn't know what he meant. Well, it's possible it wasn't the waves that were faster today, it was the board.
That's going to be a good thing, I think, once I figure the board out.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The ratio of exhaustion to enjoyment

I wasn't planning to go out today at all; no waves were predicted and I could see none from my balcony. I was all ready to sit down and do some work and then I see a guy going down the street with a surfboard. I follow him and I see a tiny little wave like yesterday. Probably, if he had been heading to a bridge to throw himself off I would have followed like a lemming to the sea as well. I was all, like, If he's doing it I'm gonna do it.

But even though the waves were so small I still had a bad time, and I don't know why. I kept expecting to have a good time like yesterday, which is why I persisted. Again, it was a nice day with no one out, and I was so optimistic. I was singing gospel songs to myself in the "lineup" (hey, no one could see or hear), that's how good I felt, and still I blew wave after wave. It was embarrassing to be seen by the lone fisherman.

I'm not a believer in giving up but I'm a believer in maintaining a reasonable ratio of exhaustion to enjoyment. If you stay out a long time because you're having fun, and you go past the point of no return (I have one, at least) you're OK with being exhausted later, falling into bed at nine p.m. and sleeping for twelve hours. But if you stay out past your set point because you can't or won't admit that you are having a bad time and are determined to make it good, you will fall dead from exhaustion for no good reason.

I wasn't even aware that I was out nearly two hours, my absolute limit, probably because of the gospel music. By the time I realized it was too long it was too late.
I'd exhausted myself and had to pay the price.

If I'd learned something from the session, such as what it was I was doing wrong, it would have been almost bearable; but I didn't. I had no good reason for sucking, that I could see. I just did.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Tiny waves at last

Yesterday was the first time I've been surfing in over two weeks. It was unseasonably warm, almost 70 degrees and sunny, certainly the last summery day; and I was so determined to get out that anything over six inches would have been enough to get me in the water. That's about what it was---tiny wavelets. But they were surfable. Of course after being out of the water so long I sucked; that always happens. And who was out on the beach to see my mortifying performance on the baby waves? C., of course. Always. But this time, instead of ignoring me, he was actually trying to be helpful. It's so rare that I get any feedback on my surfing I'll take whatever I can get. And it did help.

Today was not quite so warm but turned out sunnier in the afternoon; a jewel of a day. I was supposed to go out with W., C.'s friend, in the morning; but he checked Surfline and saw it said conditions were flat, plus it was cloudy and rainy, so he bailed. Ha! Silly Surfline, always wrong. What you couldn't see on that site---but you could from my window---was a tiny, infrequent, well shaped little wave, and one determined soul in the water, getting nice little knee high rides.

I waited for low tide and the sun. I was the only one in the water. At first I wasn't even sure the less-than-one-foot waves were rideable; but they were. I ended up getting lots of rides, catching the waves perfectly and riding them all the way in, even turning I think (though I would need someone watching me to tell me if I was or not, and there was no one else there except one fisherman on the jetty, miming his support from beyond earshot, drinking beer and catching no fish).

It was just a perfectly lovely time, my favorite type of session: alone with the sun and the sky and the different colors of the water and my thoughts.

Everyone always says it's bad to ride the little one-foot-or-less wavelets, it's not real surfing and spoils you for the real waves. At least I think that's why they tell me it's bad. It's probably true that the skills you need for surfing the wavelets have little in common with what you need for what anyone would call real waves. For instance, I find myself learning forward more while catching the wavelets in a way that would probably lead to pearling and be no good on a three-foot wave. But at least I don't have to worry about pearling! On the other hand, maybe that's exactly what I need to be doing on the bigger waves, only on the bigger waves I'm too scared of pearling to do it.

It's certainly true that there's much less margin for error when the waves get bigger. Mistakes that won't trip you up on these waves will on the bigger ones---on these you won't even realize you're making them. So in that sense maybe it's bad. Plus you get lulled by the ease of "getting out" (a joke in these conditions) and then are not on your game when it's not so easy. Maybe. Anyone here have an opinion why I shouldn't surf the little wavelets? I had such a nice time today. Wasn't it really surfing?