28 July 2010


The most vocal and least tolerant regulator at our break was nice enough to retrieve my board after one of my rather spectacular feet-flying-over-my-head-while-the-dreadlocks-stood-out-as-if-I'd-stuck-my-hand-in-a-light-socket dismounts. Mind you, he wasn't always this nice to me. I had to earn his respect, both through my surfing and my actions out of the water. He's not a big guy in stature, but Lord help you if you drop in on him or any other local while he's in the water. This is the man who once came up to me in the parking lot and said, "If you don't start yelling at them [and, yes, he meant kooks—I still hate to use that word], I'm going to start yelling at YOU!!!" This is the man who told several of us female surfers that it was time for us to start doing some regulating of our own. He made it clear that if any male ever mouthed off to us in response, we were to let him know and he'd deal with it.

Well, I've yet to wish the wrath of this man on anyone. I tend to surf away from the main peak at the home break. I don't know that "shy and retiring" is a good way to describe me. Actually, I continue to channel Marlene Dietrich because I really want to be left the $#^! alone when I surf at the home break. These days, I'm usually working on stuff when I'm out in the water. So I need room to lose the board, walk the board, work on cutbacks/drop knee turns. I can't do that when too many people are in the way. I think that aspect of my surfing has gained me a lot of respect from the locals as well. They see the improvements. They see that I'm serious. They know that I quietly go about my business while respecting them and their claim to this beach.

This picture made me consider the debate that people in the surf world often have regarding localism and regulating. My feeling is that it's a part of surfing that won't ever go away. Whether we like it or not, regulating has its place. This is not a black or white issue. It's neither, to me, good nor bad. It simply is. When folks invade your break, dropping in at will or happily acting as if surf etiquette is some sort of fantastic myth brought to us by the ocean pixies, you are more than happy to let the regulators straighten them out. When this guy was out of the water for awhile after the birth of his youngest child, he was sorely missed by the rest of us. There are other regulators at the break, but their actions pale in comparison to the venom this guy unleashes on those who piss him off. I admit that I appreciate his presence in the water. It cuts down on the anarchy. I've never seen him resort to violence. Frankly, his tongue-lashings are probably worse than a beating. I think those who cross him understand that a man who can deliver that kind of fury with well-chosen words and the tone of his voice will beat the shit out of you if you make him even more angry.

I'm just glad our regulator likes me. I earned that respect and I plan to keep it.

25 July 2010

Black People Neither Surf Nor Go to the Beach . . . Ever

24 July 2010

How Do You Discourage Snaking?

I've got my methods. Recently, one of them was caught on film . . . er, digital.

If I see you trying to drop in on my wave, I surf right at you before turning and heading on my way down the line.

I know summer surfing is a bit of a harrowing experience for everyone. The term "dog eat dog" comes to mind. Still, I do my best to be patient. I expect the same from others. I don't pretend to be holier than all of thou. I have my moments too. Some guy the other day got mad at me for taking a wave he thought was his. What was worse, in his mind, was that I went left. (Heaven forbid you go left at a spot that people think only goes right! What? You people can't read the waves?) To be truthful, it probably was his wave. The problem, though, was that he wasn't catching the waves. I decided I'd done enough waiting for him to catch something. So, yes, it was his wave. But if he has shown himself incapable of catching it, is it still his wave? If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it . . . ?

20 July 2010

Bad Ass Jim Denevan

From his site:
Jim Denevan makes temporary drawings on sand earth and ice that are eventually erased by waves and weather.

18 July 2010

Why Did the Deer Cross the Road?

You tell me.

Amazingly enough, the headlight still works. The turn signal, however, does not.

The front fender didn't fair so well either. The bumper is sporting Essence of Injured Deer.

The deer damage runs all the day down that side of the car. More Essence of Injured Deer can be seen on the rear door.

Hair of the deer that bit me!

17 July 2010

I'm Going (Methinks) to Kyle's Show

You should too!

16 July 2010

Spoke Too Soon (or Why It's No Longer Summer)

That is a picture of me kicking out. Period. That's about the most exciting thing that happened in my session.

The sun never did make an appearance. However, the rain did. The wind blew this way, that way and the other way, making for a somewhat chilly session as compared to the last few days of sun and glassy goodness. As you can see from the picture, it was gray and choppy, cool and stormy.

July Gloom has returned with a vengeance. (Sigh)

People continue to stare at me when I swim in for my board or as I walk, with my board, from the water back to the car. I've come to expect the stares now. The staring would unnerve me when I was a newbie surfer. Now, I tend to ignore the stares. In fact, I'm not proud to admit that I will sometimes gift those staring at me with stinkeye in return. Why? Well, I spent my first few years as a surfer having to constantly discuss my presence in the water with those who found it worthy of conversation. I've evolved. I don't want to waste my sessions talking to people who are intrigued by the presence of a black, particularly a black female, surfer. It's not an interesting topic of conversation for me. When I'm in the water, I don't want to spend much time talking about it or anything else. I just surf. If you find it interesting or inspiring, good for you. If you find it not worth thinking about, better for me. The stinkeye is reserved for those who feel compelled to engage me in a serious conversation about all of this during the middle of my session. Don't want to talk about it. I exchange quick pleasantries with strangers. I will spend a minute or two talking to a friend when he or she paddles by. Other than that, I wish to be left alone to surf in peace. So, people can continue to stare. I expect that and often wave to those who are obviously taken aback. I get it. If I weren't a surfer and I saw a black chick out in the water catching waves or carrying a surfboard or waxing a board, I'd stare too. Why do I bring this up? I have no idea. I guess I got stared at more than usual this week.

Pray for glassy surf with shape!

15 July 2010

The "Summer Finally Showed Up" Dance Party

I don't remember the last time we had July Gloom for as long as we did. I do remember it raining in June a few years ago. But July? What was that about? I'm just thankful that the sun finally gave up on that stupid GPS, got a proper Thomas Guide and found its way back to Southern California. Yeah, it's hot now . . . and I love it! I was in a 4/3 on Monday. Today, I was in a 3/2 which I ended up only half wearing because I got overheated. I like my summers the way I like my men—hot and bothered. (Cue rimshot!)

I was stalked by a rather large jellyfish during today's session. No matter what I did, I could not get away from that thing. I'd paddle away only to find it right next to me a few seconds later. I'd take a wave and paddle back out to a different position in the lineup. Guess who would swim back over to find me? I know the sting won't kill me. I've been stung before. Still, I'd rather not repeat that experience if I can in any way avoid it.

It's summer. Finally!!

12 July 2010

Bluegillin' in the Victory at Sea Closeouts!

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Pictures of me being thrown from my surfboards, with dreadlocks flying in various directions, never get old. Ever!!

I didn't have much to work with today. My car was in the shop, so getting a board to the beach seemed like an impossibility . . . until it was suggested that we try to cram one of my boards into the car that was left . . . along with the three of us. Yep, it did kind of resemble a clown car when all was said and done. But, hey, I was able to get my Bluegill down to the beach.

Why did I head to the beach? Because it's there. The conditions were terrible, of course. Over the weekend, the home break delivered glassy goodness. Had there been a commercial on TV for our break, the tag line would have been: "Now with more shoulders!!!" In other words, the surf this weekend was decent enough. Today? Not so much. It was closed out and choppy. And there I was on a board that deserves much better than that. Nevertheless, I figured surfing it at that spot with those conditions couldn't hurt. It would force me to work harder with that stick. I was right. I was more attentive simply because the waves sucked. So I did what I could do to eek some kind of session out of that mess. Since it was closing out, it's not like I could angle, pop up and head down the line—not that I've mastered that on this board anyway. I'm a big fan of the bottom turn. Love me a good bottom turn. Well, Bluegills aren't made for bottom turns. As you can see from the photo, I still keep trying to do one. At some point, I will learn my lesson.

This board still delights me. It surfs like nothing I've ever been on before. I felt the beginning of a turn today. I know that tail was sliding out the way I wanted it to. Then, of course, I fell off. I can at least be satisfied with the knowledge that I am getting the hang of this board slowly but surely. The next time we have a good swell and I can get into a wave that promises a lot of face time, I'm leaving the longboard at home. No "nine or nothing" for me. I'm going Bluegillin'!

10 July 2010

Guest Blogger #7: Ramsnake

Ramsnake and I keep crossing paths. Either it's on my blog, his blog or on the two group blogs which list us both as contributors. Who is Ramsnake? Well, I can't say. I wouldn't do him justice. All I know is that he is a waterman in the best sense of the word. He's not wed to the idea that one must always stand on a board in order to be accepted into the surfing fold. What really caught my attention about Ramsnake was his complete, almost obsessive, appreciation for the surf mat. He does stand up to surf: I've seen video of this fact. He also appreciates the fact that riding a craft in the prone position offers more satisfaction than one can explain to those who've never given it a serious try. He totally "gets it". His stoke cannot be described with words, but I feel it every time I read his blog, read one of his comments or see his videos about riding mats. I am thankful that I can call him a friend, a friend I hope to meet some day soon.


For many years, I wondered why it was I ended up living in Australia as there did not seem to be much about my life that prepared me for it particularly.

From This Colonial Life

I was born in Scotland, raised in Singapore until the age of 18 when, after 9 years of thrice yearly flights home to Singapore from boarding school in Perth Western Australia, I commenced living there permanently.

It took me awhile to sort out what it was that I wanted to do with my life which ended up being a career teaching music as I had played the guitar, mainly rock and blues of course, with passion and gusto, non-stop as a teenager. But to undertake a career as a music teacher I decided that I needed to study the classical guitar, which I did for 10 years, 5 of which were at the West Australian Conservatorium of Music.

Now Australia is a country where sport is revered rather than the Arts and I often felt that I might have been better off in Europe. As there, the choice of a career in Arts was admired and respected, unlike Australia, where the usual response, when I told somebody what I did for a living, was often a derisory " Well, when are you getting a real job?'
Anyway to cut a long story short, I no longer do make my living from teaching the guitar as I did eventually get a real job as a Lecturer in Business & IT at the local college of technology. Funnily enough, this has not been the negative step that it might sound like as I have found that I create and play music far more now that it is no longer my livelihood. So much so that I made a recent decision to learn the piano which is where I now spend a lot of my day. As I have a wealth of knowledge and experience about the guitar I still feel obligated to continue to pass that on and teach no more than a handful of carefully selected students most of whom search me out having discovered that I may be able to help them where others may not.

From Waveriders

In 2001 when I was 48, my current partner Michelle and I got together and it was then that I think I truly discovered the reason I ended up living in Australia.

Yep, your correct to ride waves!

She had attended surfing classes and was keen to continue the journey. Up to that point in time, my experience wave riding wise had been restricted to very sporadic hand-boarding and bodyboarding. Interestingly, it turned out that a neighbour had a 7' 6" mini mal that he was happy to loan me so as I could accompany Michelle on this journey also.

9 years on and our lives are arranged as much as possible around the opportunity to go ride waves. We both only work part-time and live only 6 minutes away from a consistent break so can conceivably surf everyday if we want to.

Through the medium of the internet and blogging, I have now got to know many other stoked wave riders of all ages and likes that I would never ever have thought that I might have got the opportunity to meet. Some of them are truly inspirational and probably none more so than Surfsister, whose recent account of the decision to have a knee replaced and her return to being able to enjoy her passion has been riveting and at times distressing but inspirational reading.

To all of you who I know and share the stoke of riding waves, thank you for taking the time to post your stories, pics and vids. It really adds to and enrichens my life!

regards Ramsnake

From surfers over 50

07 July 2010

"This is the Best Winter We've Ever Had in July"

Someone paddled right up and said that to me as I sat there shivering. That 3/2 of mine is completely worthless. It's a couple of years old. Really, it's like wearing a wetsuit made of cheesecloth. The water streams right in. But in July, that shouldn't be an issue, should it? Normally, it's warm enough so that you're able to squeeze a few more months out of a dead wetsuit without having to suffer from hypothermia.

I swear I'm ready to put my 4/3 back on!

Dear Dude Trying to Surf Prone on an SUP Board:

Get the %@#! out of the lineup with that crap. Your board is too slow and so are you. You know who you are. There is no place for that giant boat-like thing in the lineup, whether with a paddle or without.

Thank you for your cooperation.


An SUP is no match for a longboard hull. It's probably no match for any other board. And yet, this guy paddles his happy ass out there on an SUP . . . sans paddle. I was fine until he dropped in on one of my waves. (The nerve!!!) And I proceeded to quickly catch up to him and then surf around him. Let me tell you, that surfing around him was not easy to do as he was a big boy on a gigantic board. I find it disturbing that he thought he and that board would not present a problem to the rest of us. Wrong!! SUPs are slow if only because of their size. I would venture to guess that the person surfing it was also lacking in whatever skill it takes to surf one as one might a traditional surfboard. Either way, I was both highly impressed by my Paul Gross hull and highly offended by how worthless this board, and its surfer, were without a paddle. Get out of the way! Period. Had he been tearing it up and surfing that board well, I would have nothing to say. But he wasn't and he wasn't. So take it to an unoccupied section of that break, thereby keeping the rest of us safe from your behemoth and allowing us to surf our waves unimpeded (which is hard enough to do during the summer as it is).

Can someone please ask the sun to come back from vacation?

05 July 2010

On Crowds, Surf Cams and Bad Attitudes

This morning, I finally pulled the trigger on a surf cam. In other words, I recognized that I could no longer live my life without having access to a cam. In the past, I've made do with the free cams, both through the County of L.A. and Surfline, and use of a friend's username and password for a different cam. The latter was working just fine for me. Just fine.

Alas, this last swell has seen an increase in the use of that cam under that friend's name. I think our entire crew has used this guy's access to the cam. And finally, it happened. A message began popping up advising that this cam had been accessed under that name way too many times from way too many computers.

With that, I decided my time had come. As cheap as I am, I could no longer act like I could live my surfing life without a cam. During the winter, I use the cam to watch the waves. I rarely look at the surf report that accompanies it. Those reports are virtually useless. All I want is to see the water. You can see swell direction, tide and everything else by just watching the water.

But it isn't winter, is it? It's summer now. The cam is more important than ever. In the summer, I don't need to see the water. I know when there's a swell. Everyone knows when there's a swell. In the summer, the need for the cam is not about the water. It's about all that's wrong with this picture:
When I see this, regardless of the swell, I know to look for surf elsewhere. In the summer, the cam is what tells me where not to go. And guess what? You won't see me here until September. My attitude in crowds is not what it used to be. My patience is not what it used to be. Therefore, I choose to surf away from the masses. That's hard to do in L.A. since June, even with all of its gloom, brings out the surfer in everyone. And let's face it, not everyone is a surfer. But I'd like to think I get that everyone needs some time in the water. They just don't need to spend that time in a great, big kooky bunch around me. So I look for the breaks with fewer people and smaller waves. See, it's like this. I don't believe you can surf in a crowd. When there are too many people in the water, your concentration is on not running into or over people. Your focus is on out-paddling the four other people on either side of you who are going for "your" wave. That's not surfing as we'd like to think we know it. That's surfing as contact sport. Some people get a kick out of that. I do not.

So, I've finally gone and paid for a surf cam. I guess the time had finally come.

02 July 2010

Wax a Pig

I could leave the board out on the porch all night sitting just like that. No one would take it.

I surf this board so much that I'm now forced to strip the wax off every few weeks. I just did a new wax job a few weeks ago. But by last week, I'd surfed this board enough that there were spots on the board that no longer had wax. I don't mind though. One of my favorite surf-related pastimes is waxing my boards.

In other news, my hair has begun it's summer bleach out again. The neighbors are nice enough to point out that my hair is turning yellow (which is not something you see often around here). I will continue to follow my practice of letting it bleach all the way out in the summer and then dying it back to a dark color in the winter.

Have a good weekend! Be safe and sane! Surf/skate like you mean it. Try not to lose your cool in the lineup.