Tag Archives: surfing

Oregon Days

The massive stone headlands guard the cove from the wide expanse of the Pacific Ocean. Winds from the north or south can destroy any chance of good surfing, so finding shelter like this is special. We follow the meandering path down through the forest of Western Red Cedar, Hemlock and Sitka Spruce. A skinny creek runs alongside our course nourishing the roots of these massive trees. When full with rain it will carry worn pebbles to the beach before losing itself to the sand and sea.

The trail ends at a high bluff. The water is deep blue, and the waves are good. It doesn’t take us long to pick a spot where the cove best captures the subtle bend and refraction of swell.

Will positions a pin tail he shaped into the pitch of a fun right. On his feet in an instant, he grabs the rail, tucks, and leans on a Greenough fin to drive in front of the pocket. I hoot as he follows the curvature of the sea floor beyond my sight. Bobbing in the cool water, the skin of a wetsuit insulates my body. A breeze blows offshore bringing the warmth of land and smell of the forest.

My oldest son is there. I’ve fretted over him for years, but now I don’t need to apply such a careful eye. Will’s partner, Andrea, points. I turn to see him riding a fun left. He manages the speed and spontaneity well. Quality time spent in lower latitudes helps make the moment.

That night Andrea makes Manhattans, and we talk of surfing in her home country of Peru. We make indefinite plans. Will and my wife, Julia, grill leeks and meat. Our two boys poke the fire. That night we lay on the cool sand of the beach. The stars are at our fingertips. Aliens may have landed, but we were in our tents by then.

The next day we arrive late to a different beach. A towering dune of sand 250 feet high morphs into a stone promontory. Prehistoric waves broke at its base. A lone haystack stands guard further out. Grey whales breach and blow. The surf is good. It is the smell of sunscreen again; surf wax; and neoprene. A hint of breeze. We paddle out. Chances appear on the horizon and attempts are made. But a more determined wind deteriorates the conditions. The union is over.

We will try again tomorrow.

Seattle to San Diego

It was a quick trip from Seattle to San Diego to catch some fun surf pushing southwest off of Hurricane Marie. I was little apprehensive to fly on a plane for the first time since COVID-19, but a recent tour of SeaTac made me feel better about it. Kudos to Alaska Airlines for only charging $30 one-way for a surfboard.

I met two friends who I grew up with in Charleston, one who lived 3 doors down from me on the same block. The special fact that three southerners were converging from our homes in Los Angeles, Encinitas and Seattle for 5 days of consistent California surf was not lost on any of us. We had a blast.

As I’ve moved into my 40s, the 6’8 Crowd Killer by Lost has become my go-to travel surfboard for variable conditions whether paddling into deeper or steeper waves or battling offshore winds. Plenty of foam while still maneuverable and dynamic. I also highly recommend these travel bags by Wave Tribe for being durable, protective and sustainably made.

Packed light for the plane so no professional photos this time. Oh well, more time for surfing…

Nicaragua

I recently returned to Nicaragua to welcome 2018 and take advantage of the world-class waves, constant offshore winds, and diverse landscape and culture. Again, I was not disappointed. I would keep my mouth shut it if it were not for the fact that Nicaragua is now regularly featured on travel sites like the New York Times. Gringos are not the only ones carving it in to the next Costa Rica. Nicaraguan investors know what kind of assets they have at their disposal.

Nicaragua has in fact been exploited since the Spanish arrived in 1522. The usual pillaging and plundering, along with the circulation of small pox, did a number on the Chorotega. Nevertheless, the contributions of the Spanish are still appreciated today. Granada is a charming colonial city reflecting the Spanish-Moorish architecture of the time. They also constructed the San Pablo Fort to protect Granada from pirates in 1789, and it can still be visited via boat.

Later on in the 1800s a dubious character from Nashville, Tennessee by the name of William Walker did significant damage on his filibustering campaigns in Central America. Not only did he burn Granada to the ground, but he also poisoned the wells with dead bodies that spread Cholera and killed some 10,000 Nicaraguans and Costa Ricans. Walker eventually paid for his actions when he found himself in front of a firing squad in Honduras.

Fortunately, Granada has time and again picked itself up and rebuilt. Before the Panama canal was constructed this was the shortest distance from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Cornelius Vanderbilt would steam up the San Juan River in to Lago de Nicaragua, and then make the short transport over to San Juan del Sur area on the coast of the Pacific. This route pumped money in to Granada and helped it to recover.

A few things you must do in Granada:

  1. Visit the San Francisco Convent to see the statuaries that have been excavated from Zapatera and Ometepe. A couple of these guys are in the Smithsonian, but you can see 30 of them all together in the same room. Each one represents the leader of the time, so they all have their own personalities. This is a highly informative account of their origins.
  2. Check out Mi Museo where there are many artifacts from Pre-Columbian times. It also helped me to understand where the Chorotega came from and when.
  3. Take a boat tour out to Las Isletas. These islands are a result of a massive explosion from Mombacho. Lots of wildlife, and you get to see the San Pablo Fort.
  4. Visit Volcan Masaya at night to see lava pouring from the crater. You definitely want to get there early to avoid waiting in line, but it is worth it.
  5. Tour the coffee plantation on Mombacho and then hike out to the stunning views of Granada and Lago de Nicaragua.
  6. If you still have time then head over to Pueblo Blancos to see local artisans at work. You will save yourself some money, for the shops around Granada certainly mark their prices up.

There are a couple of reasons why Nicaragua is safer than say El Salvador, Colombia, or Honduras. After the Nicaraguan Revolution, the country created a democratic police state in that each community would have at least one dedicated police officer that everyone knew. A bad apple arises, and they deal with the issue quickly. Second, drugs from Colombia and elsewhere go up the Caribbean side, so there are no cartels in the Pacific region.

Still, I wouldn’t drive at night. But during the day I generally went wherever I wanted. In the dry season you can get a way with a 2-wheel drive vehicle. But if the price is not much different then go with 4-wheel. I did end up using it along the coast to drive a section of road that terminated on beach front. It also gave me more confidence on dirt roads with potholes and stream crossings. In short, you are not limited and instead prepared for anything.

I’d tell you more about the surf breaks, but I just can’t do it. You’ll find it somewhere else. 😉

But I will tell you that I look forward to returning soon.

Gulf Coast Surfing

Rejected

Luke grabbed this shot of me yesterday out at “The Street” in AMI. I like it for the perspective and because it shows how beautiful the water and waves around Tampa Bay can be. Normally, I would be riding a shortboard in conditions like this, but with mine in the shop, I decided to give the longboard a try. It can be pretty exciting trying to maneuver a longboard in steep, shallow waves.  I got worked a few times, but I also managed to pull into some hollow barrels. I’ve said it already, but what a great season of surfing on the Gulf this winter/spring. Now to get rid of some junk in the trunk…

Gulf_Coast_Longboarding

Doing More with Flickr

Of course, there are a gazillion different things you can do with Flickr to get the most out of your photos. But one simple and easy-to-use service is Mosaic Maker by BigHugeLabs. You can quickly turn around something like the below poster I made from photos I took at this year’s O’Neill Sebastian Inlet Pro contest. No need for Photoshop, just plug the photo urls from Flickr in and hit Create. You’ll see there are a few different customization features to take advantage of, and best of all – it is free.

Oneill_Sebastian_Inlet_Pro

Testing the Sigma APO 80-400mm with OS

Testing the Sigma APO 80-400mm with OS.

This image was taken approximately 100 yards away in the middle of the day with a Canon Rebel XTi body mounted on a monopod.

You can click the image for a larger size.

Click here for more.

Air

 

Surfing at Sebastian Inlet


The coastline between Melbourne and Sebastian Inlet is littered with great surf spots, and it is not uncommon to catch the waves all to yourself. Because you are in what is described as central Florida, the water is much more blue and warm than the northern breaks. Even in the winter you can get away without a wet suit, but I would recommend a 3/2 full suit if not for the simple reason that you can stay out in the water for much longer.

Ever since I moved to Florida I keep a regular eye on the surf report, checking Surfline.com and Magic Seawood. It is interesting to see how often Sebastian Inlet catches a slightly larger swell than say Cocoa Beach. Also, it is far more tranquil and less developed. The thin stretch of land that separates the intercoastal waterway from the ocean makes for beautiful views on both the bay and ocean sides.

On my last visit to Sebastian Inlet the O’Neill Pro Surf Contest was just getting underway. As part of the week long series of events there is the “Red Bull Tow-At,” which involves towing competitors into the swells behind a waverunner. It gives the surfers the extra speed they need to pull of some pretty big air. It is certainly fun to watch.

If you want to experience some serious lens envy, just go to a surf contest. I was laughing my ass off pulling my little DV camera out and mounting it to my tripod. It was like having a water pistol in an artillery battle. Nevertheless, I was able to put together a little video of the action. I hope you enjoy it.