31 December 2006

Good Enough

Finally!! Waves!!!

Today's session was good enough when one considers the conditions at the home break. There were shoulders, yes, but there were also a lot of closeouts. I managed to get worked more times than I liked. One wave held me down long enough to make me nervous. I couldn't tell which was was up and I couldn't even figure where the little bit of sunlight was coming from. I didn't get scared. I save pure fear for bigger waves. I wasn't about to drown or anything. I was simply out of sorts, doing the Maytag thing. I don't mind getting worked. It's a reminder that the ocean does what it wants when it wants. You're just visiting. Anyway, I took out the new performance longboard today. After all of my over-thinking, I ended up with the Na Papa. The manager of my surf shop talked to me about it (as had another one of the guys). He'd ridden one and liked it. He also explained, in no uncertain terms, that the Australians to want to take over the surf world so I shouldn't be put off by this company's preoccupation with sales. But, he said, it's a good board. It's not a pop-out. Then he reminded me (and this is the kicker) that I could bring it back if I didn't like it. See, this is how you get treated when you establish a good relationship with a shop. I can take it back and get my money back if I don't like it. Unbelievable. So I took the board out today. It was a good day for the board. What's my opinion? I love it. Responsive, fast, and loud (that is, the green and white checks). I was right when I pegged this as the type of design I would like. This board is great.

I do remember one wave. I'll remember it for awhile. I almost got covered up!!! I'd been taking rights the whole session. At some point, I finally got a left. It was so steep that I was forced to angle more than I like. (We all know I prefer to paddle toward the shore and then do a hard bottom turn once I've popped up.) Anyway, I angled into this wave and crouched. That's when I saw the height of the wave was over my head and it was beginning to fold over. I stayed with it for a few seconds, then I got tossed. But I saw the light. In other words, I get it now. I understand how getting covered up works. This is not to say that I'll get into a little barrel any time soon. But then again, maybe I will. Anyway, it was a fun session at the home break. The new board performed well. People either liked the checkerboard deck or hated it. There was no in-between. I actually like it (having been a rude girl/ska lover from the early 80's). Those checks bring back memories of The Specials, The Selecter, The English Beat, Madness, and other ska bands. This board looks like a keeper.

30 December 2006

Dread Messenger

The Cupboard Was Bare

Flat and breaking (barely) in one foot of water. There's no there there. Many of us stayed for the paddle out being held for a true local who died recently. We didn't get in the water. However, we attended the memorial they had in the sand and watched as his buddies, guys who've grown up surfing that break and who now are pushing their kids into the waves there, got on their boards and paddled out. It was pretty sad.

Perhaps tomorrow will bring waves. Wetsand says something is coming. I don't think it's anything big. Still, something's better than nothing.

28 December 2006

The Surfing Rabbi

I've crossed paths with this guy a few times. He strikes me as a nice and generous person. I don't think we've ever said more to one another than "Hello," but he always smiles (and doesn't give me the I've-never-seen-a-black-woman-surf-before-so-I-must-stare-long-and-hard-at-her-to-make-sure-I'm-not-dreaming look). Don't ask how I got to chabad.org, which is where I found this article. I know there are some black Jews in the world. I'm not one of them so it's not like I was on the site on purpose. However, I'm glad I found it because it gave me this article.


By Nachum Shifren

There it is! You've managed to weasel your way out of the San Diego Freeway madness and by divine intervention, are now out of the Sears Tunnel at the Santa Monica Pier where you can see the white-water bouncing like carroms on the harbor rocks --true to form, the biggest swell of the summer--and you're on it!

You're careening up the Coast Highway, pulling off maneuvers that would pale Evel Kenievel, with only one goal in mind: to get to the 'Bu before the after-work crowd launches their long-boarder juggernaut. You round the corner at Topanga and . . . NO! It can't be!! A rock slide narrows traffic to only one lane! Anger, frustration, and wild rage build up as the day you've been waiting for slips through the endless back-up of motor homes and gawking tourists.

By the time you pull into the parking lot, it looks like the annual "White Sale" at Bullocks, and the crowds threaten to drown out your stoke.

Funny thing, you're not alone! First Point looks like the Eureka County annual loggers convention and 2nd Point has about 20 caneras covering every radical maneuver of the 150 surfers out. Insane wipeouts, drop-ins, collisions, all turn the crowd into a circus act. Fights are the rule and exchanges are generally brief, if not fiery.

You sit in the line-up, with a deep, low-level anger keeping your intent stare away from every other human being in your radius. Likewise, everyone else out is a cauldron . . . unto himself.

Several hundred years ago, there was a Rabbi named the Baal Shem Tov, ("Master of the Good Name") who remonstrated his followers to learn from every thing they saw. The wind, the rustling of the leaves, each daily encounter was a lesson in a spiritual life.

Everywhere we are told, "Follow the middle path" "Don't be too extreme" "Moderation is the rule!" The Torah tells us that these utterances apply in most cases -- one exception is arrogance and anger. The language of Maimonides (12th century codifier of Torah law) here is interesting: "If a man is humble, he is not following a good path. Rather, he must hold himself lowly and his spirit very unassuming." That is why the Torah describes our teacher, Moses, as 'very humble' and not simply humble (Numbers 12:3)... The sages further declared: whoever is arrogant is as if he denied G-d, as implied in: 'And your heart will be haughty and you will forget G-d.' (Deuteronomy 8:14)...

"Regarding anger, the sages said the following: 'If one is a wise man, his wisdom leaves him; if he is a prophet, his prophesy leaves him. The life of the irate is not true life . . . one should distance himself from anger and accustom himself not to feel any reaction, even to things which provoke anger. This is the good path." (Maimonides' Mishneh Torah, Laws of Character, chapter 2)

Meanwhile, our young surf-star, totally blown away and demoralized, can take solace from the famous remark of the grandfather of surfing, Duke Kahanamoku: "There's always another wave." Phil Edwards, perhaps the greatest surfer of all time -- (yeah, dude, go ahead and laugh! You try stuffing yourself in at the pipe on a 10', 40 lb. log that more resembled a guillotine than a surfboard!) never won a contest and his ability and humbleness were even admired by his colleagues.

Dare we mention the "Oxbow Incident", where a "surfer" mercilessly pummeled a fellow surfer because he "was in the way"! Let me tell you, I was there that day and it was south winds -- junk! That's what people kill each other for?!

We are the luckiest of all the earth's inhabitants. The fact that we can partake in the mightiest power of all creation is as uplifting as it is awesome. And what better thing to share with another human being? How much there is to learn from that 6' swell at the 'Bu. Amazing: We actually have to share something! Incredible: The discovery that the world really doesn't revolve around us!

Next time you paddle out, look toward the West at the setting sun and the perfect peeling waves that were certainly created for Man to ride, and think to yourself: "How lucky I am to be alive!"

27 December 2006

Go Read a Book!

This is what I'm reading:

24 December 2006

Mo Better Surf

What's that I see? A little bit of a shoulder? I'm on it!!!

Ah, the home break and its macking closeouts (even on a small day).

There were waves to be had today. It was much smaller than yesterday. But there was also much less cursing.

Santa and his elves were on the beach with coffee, hot chocolate, donuts, cookies, and cake for all of us at the home break. Now that's how you spread the Aloha Spirit. Thank you, Mary and Family.

23 December 2006

Nope, Those Weren't Them

Those weren't the waves I was looking for. Today's session was a study in frustration as one lone surfer—damn you, Palmer!!—was feeling it and catching everything. The rest of us were being being buoys, buoys that paddled furiously and watched waves nonetheless pass right under us. Let's just say there was a lot of cursing going on out there. I caught a little bit of nothing. In the end, that's fine. I needed to get wet to blow out the cobwebs. My first session back after being out of the water for awhile is always terrible. I was prepared for that. My main goal was to reawaken the muscles I use for paddling. I did that. Surfing? I didn't do that, at least not to my satisfaction. I'll try again tomorrow.

22 December 2006

Now I'm Taking Bets

Will the weather cooperate tomorrow? Will I actually be able to paddle out? Or will the dog and I be standing at the ocean's edge with the forlorn looks of those who have known love and lost love? Oh, sorry about that. Once I got to the word "forlorn," I got confused and thought I was writing a romance novel.

All I wanna do is surf! I'll be out there tomorrow looking for surf. Soul Grandmother #2 is babysitting while Soul Brother #1 is at work. Everyone think good thoughts. That ought to generate enough positive surf karma to bring waves, Christmas waves, to all of us.

20 December 2006

Sunset at My Favorite Break

I know I keep posting pictures of this place. There's just something about the sunsets I see on the stills taken by the cam.

The board search is almost done. The shop put a call out to Slick. If he calls back and can come up with a board for me, I'll get a Slick. I don't think this is promising though. They said he's in Hawaii. I'd heard awhile back that he was going to move to Hawaii. If he's done so, I probably won't see a board from him any time soon. My second choice now is a Stewart. I saw one yesterday, one I hadn't seen in the shop before, that is pretty much what I'm looking for. I'll need to visit it again, spend some time with it, hold it, whisper sweet nothings in its ear, and then make my final decision. My surf buddy from work and I hit up two surf shops at lunch yesterday. I hadn't been in the Becker shop in ages. I'd forgotten how sweet those boards are; I'm sure our dried drool has stained at least three of the boards there. We then ran over to my favorite shop, which is right up the street. That's when someone showed me that Stewart. There wasn't enough time to do more than pick it up, hold it, run my hand down a rail, and leave. However, I was quite taken by that board. I'm not sure why I never considered a Stewart before. It's not like I'm just now learning of this shaper. For some reason, the Stewart boards never appealed to me. But then someone suggested this one (which was in the back of the shop in a spot where I never would have seen it). Again, it's just what I'm looking for. (I did take a closer look at the JC and it was not.)

17 December 2006

Quiver Shake-Up (Part III)

So, here's what I've surmised after contacting the company and poking around on the internet: this Na Papa board is made from foam, but it's computer-shaped. Alan_M has explained to me (and everyone else who read his comment) that this isn't the end of the world, that some hand-shaping must still be done on a board that's shaped by a computer. Okay, then, I get that this board is not a pop-out. What makes me nervous is the attitude of the company that makes the boards. That alone will probably keep me from buying this board. (I'll just tell the guys at the shop that I'd rather get a different board—no problem.)

Why don't we read over their literature together?

We are suppliers of market demand surfboards. That is shortboards, retro-eggs, fun-shapes, mini-mals and longboards. With factories and offices in the U.S.A. and Australia, as well as Europe by the end of 2005, we are by far the largest supplier of surfboards in the world.

After 37 years of surfboard production experience, we found that we were able to production experience, we found that we were able to produce surfboards that were superior in design, quality and price than most of our competitors. It was only after we discovered that other major surfboard manufacturers were not interested in using us to outsource their manufacturing (and saving themselves millions) that we decided to offer our complete range of surfboards to the wholesale/retail industry.

No surfboard should ever be shaped until it has been designed to work. Our design team had simple parameters to work within: to design the absolute best board in each category. To achieve this goal, our design team had at their disposal every science, engineering and design resource available. The result achieves sheer surfing pleasure. Every board in every range must take any surfer to the next level of competency. These surfboards are shaped by a computer-controlled machine to guarantee the absolute integrity of our shapes.

We're in the business of selling surfboards. It's our business to help wholesalers and retailers sell our products. Sales assistance is imperative. We provide staff training to wholesalers and retailers covering the technical features of surfboard design and manufacture. We assist in training the retail staff in sales techniques and also provide promotional support to retailers.

Frankly, I don't like what I'm hearing. I can't quite put my finger on what it is I don't like. You know, I try to be an open-minded person; I try to see and understand both sides of a situation. Something is wrong here. I almost feel like these people are trying to take over the world so to speak. I am fine with the fact that the boards are computer-shaped. I'm not fine with the use of the word "outsource". I'm not fine with the feeling that it's only about the bottom line for them. It's all about the Benjamins. When you make a point of discussing how important sales are, you've revealed yourself to be a big corporation that's only in it for the money. That is an untenable position. I won't give a company like that my money. I know people criticize Tyler because his boards cost so much, thus leading the criticizers to assume only rich kooks/yuppies surf them. Say what you will. After he made my board, Tyler called me twice to get feedback and make sure I was happy with what he'd produced. If I'd said it sucked, he would have made me one that did work. That's the kind of person you want to give your money to—a shaper who cares. I will get something else. I truly like the design of the Na Papa performance board. And, frankly, I bet this company will eventually change the face of the surf industry. They just won't do it with my money.

Moving right along, what about a JC board? I know JC (John Carper) is well-known for his shortboards. I did notice a peformance JC longboard was at the shop. The only thing I didn't like about it, as usual, was the lack of color. It's a plain white board. Since I was willing to overlook the plethora of color on the Na Papa, I guess I'd be willing to overlook the paucity of color on the JC. Any thoughts on JC boards? (Obviously I'll take a good look at that before I make a decision whether to buy it.)

16 December 2006


Yes, I said it! I've come to the conclusion that there is a conspiracy against black women over 40 who surf. You don't think so? Well, how's this for evidence? For two weeks in a row, I've headed out early, only to find nothing worth surfing. Nothing, I tell you, nothing. What is that about? I can only surf two days a week. So by the time Saturday rolls around, I'm chomping at the bit. And like I said, for the second week in a row, the surf door was slammed in my face. I'm sorry but I'm not going out to play in the closed out Victory at Sea conditions I saw today. Eddie would go, yes. Grace went, yes. Guess where I went? You guessed correctly (if you've looked at the time of this post and realized that I probably don't post from my car, but rather from the comfort of an Aeron chair—snagged by Soul Brother #1 from an employer who bought a bunch of them for a department that was later eliminated—in front of a large display that's actually bigger than our television). All I want to do is surf. Why are the fates plotting to keep me out of the water?

Back to the pop-out topic, let me pose this question: if a foam board is shaped by a computer, is it considered a pop-out?

I'm out of here. I gotta go hit the rowing machine. I've got to row 100,000 meters between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I've done over 60,000 meters so far. The folks who make my rowing machine (Concept 2) do this every year:
Looking for a little extra motivation to row this holiday season?
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14 December 2006

Explain This

Okay, I hear about pop-out boards and I thought I knew what that meant. Now I'm getting confused (for reasons I will go into in a later post). What is a pop-out board? I thought that term just referred to the epoxy boards. Now I think I'm mistaken. What is a pop-out board?

12 December 2006

Quiver Shake-Up (Part II)

After trying both Craigslist and eBay without success, I took my Channel Islands MSF to the shop to make a trade. I find it difficult to think clearly when I'm in that shop. My head spins. My eyes dart from one board to another. I won't even go into the heart palpitations and the hyperventilating. It helped that I knew what I went there for. I wanted a performance longboard. But which one to get? Stewart? August? Slick? What? Although I'm no expert on board design (i.e., I cannot always articulate what features a board has), I know what I'm looking for. After looking at a board, I eventually have to fondle it. I know exactly what I want in a board but I'm usually unable to see it. I can feel it. That means I literally put my hands on the board, especially the rails, and feel the angles. After doing this to quite a few boards, I decided on a board that, to be truthful, was visually hideous. It had a white deck with red flames. It also had yellow rails and a yellow bottom. Then (yes, there's more), it had a god awful logo on the nose, the design and colors of which clashed with the rails and deck. Still, the board had perfect lines. So I inquired. I was prepared to take the board I was looking at even though I thought it was going to get me laughed at in the line-up. As it turns out, they had a few more of these boards, but they weren't on the floor. Wanna know how hideous this board was? It was so hideous that I settled for the one with green and white checks on the deck. Green and white checks? Oh my god. What am I thinking? Well, that board looked beautiful compared to the first one.

I didn't have the funds to take the board home. My trade-in was a down payment on the board. Apparently, it's made by an Australian shaper. The only website I could find on the board is in Japanese!!! But there are pictures. You can see for yourself how bad these boards look. I think these folks are trying too hard with their board graphics. I'm willing to overlook that for a board that surfs well.

I was happy to hear that I'm not the only person who disliked my MSF. The guy at the shop said he didn't like his either. In fact, neither one of us knew of anyone who liked that board. I'm feeling a bit vindicated now. It was an aesthetically pleasing board, but surfing it was no fun.

09 December 2006

Expect Nothing . . .

and you won't be disappointed. Yeah, I was up at the crack of dawn with everyone else. All I've got to say is this swell isn't doing shit around here. It was flat at the first place I stopped. I didn't stay long enough to have a decent conversation. If the place wasn't firing when I got there, it wasn't going to fire. Period. I moved on. And there I was at the home break, watching long lulls . . . between closeouts that didn't even have the nerve to be giant. They were big, yes. Massive, no. What kind of swell is that? I went home unsurfed. I wasn't mad. I hadn't been expecting much anyway. Some people paddled out. Others wanted to wait for the tide to fill in. I know shitty not-gonna-get-any-better-today surf when I see it. Tomorrow is another day. I'll try again mañana.

06 December 2006

Count Me Out

This just in from our local surf reporting site:

*We are excited to announce that beginning January 1st we will be shifting into a premium business model. Before you start cringing and complaining take a look at our offer and sign up. We promise to deliver the goods and are counting on your support!

I think not.

05 December 2006

Quiver Shake-Up

It's on like Donkey Kong now. Got one board on eBay. It probably won't sell. If that's the case, I'm trading it in. I've got another board on loan to a friend. Once that comes back, I'll probably part company with it as well. I'm at a point once again where I'm curious about other boards. I saw an egg that interests me. The only problem is I don't quite understand what kind of surf an egg works best in. I guess I'll have to do my homework. Slow Polk, are you the person who emailed me about possibly working a trade for the board on eBay? That sounds like your M.O. to me.

I won't be back in the water until the weekend. Like everyone else, I've read that there's a swell coming. I'm not getting my hopes up. It's one thing to get a swell. It's another thing to get a swell that's mixed up and further confused by the wind. If we get that kind of swell, it won't be fun. So, I don't get excited by the reports anymore. I just wait and watch, hoping for the best.

One hour later
I've done my homework. I've now vetoed the egg.

04 December 2006

For the Uninitiated

I made reference to this fellow in the previous post.

03 December 2006

Black Folks and the Cold

I don't know why I always say to my friends, "You know black people don't like cold water." I say it and yet I don't hesitate to paddle out when it's freezing. You'd think all this African blood would keep me out of the cold. Nope. I still paddle out. Today it felt like it's just about time to pull out the booties. I did not wear them once last year. I don't know why that was. I keep saying they prevent me from feeling the board. But what's the difference if my feet are so frozen that I lose feeling in my feet about 20 minutes into a session? Yeah, I'll put the booties in my surf bag in the event that I come to my senses about my poor feet. What brought up this discussion about the cold? Well, it was pretty damn cold out there today. The water was bad enough. The breeze on top of it was almost more than I could bear. I was still out there though. And it was decent . . . for a basically flat day. There were waves to be had if your board was long enough. One of the local guys told me I'd gotten "the left of the day". Most of the rides today were short ones. I nonetheless hopped on a left that, to my surprise, opened up and kept on going. I carved. I pumped. I milked that thing dry!! I knew it was good when I was on it. I heard someone behind me hooting as I went down the line. As I paddled back out, he started hooting again. Once we got back to the parking lot, he was still talking about it. That wave, of course, made my whole session. There were many others, but this was the one that mattered. Once again, I had a witness so I wasn't being delusional when I thought I was surfing that wave well. Hell, I even walked up to the nose and did a cheater five today. I rarely walk the board these days. I just don't think about it. Today, I got on a wave that ran out of energy, leaving me stuck at the back of the board with the nose sticking up toward the sky. Instead of jumping off, I cross-stepped over to the nose and got a little extra out of the wave. I guess I was feelin' it today. That's good since I could barely feel my feet by the time I got out.

Hair update: I'm not even thinking about covering my head when I get in the water. The dreads were set free about a month ago. I decided since I was no longer in danger of them coming out, it was time to surf with them out. That decision lead me down yet another road. There's one school of thought that dictates that you constantly twist your hair in order to make it lock. Usually, you'll put some kind of gel or locking agent on it to keep it twisted. That's the route I took at the beginning. Now, I've decided to go the rasta route. From now on, I'm letting the dreads form on their own. All I do now is separate the roots. No more twisting. No more lock gel. What this means is that I don't have that freshly-twisted look anymore. It also means that my hair is puffy, especially after I wash it. I'm aspiring to get dreads like these:

In the meantime, I have to contend with dreads that look like this:

In the end, it's fine. I'm not hung up on hair much. The hardest part is trying to keep the dreads in check for work. This Sideshow Bob stage is worth it now that I can feel the water running through my hair when I surf.

01 December 2006

My Favorite Local Break

The funny thing is, I rarely surf here. It's too long a drive for me given the small window of time I normally have to surf. And the place usually scares me to death (when it's firing). I still love everything about this break.

No surfing tomorrow. It's going to be small. I'm not in the mood to be disappointed. So I'll be back on the bike, trying to gain a little fitness. Let's hope there's something in the water on Sunday.