January 8-January 14, 2020

January 10, 2020

The wind has been howling for most of the week, well beyond the normal trades. The east side is huge, wild, unsurfable in most spots. Kealia, the salt encrustation living up to its name, is all the shades of blue from white to black, every breath is filled with salt air and every surface is bejeweled with salt crystals. S– and I planned to try Wailua today, but he called in sick. The waves were still rolling in there, across a mean looking rip. “Probably not worth it,” I mumbled as I continued my drive to work. Sidewalks is an option for the weekend.

***

The tide is under the moon.

It pushes us

And pulls.

***

January 12, 2020

A surfer’s nature, maybe just human nature exposed by water, is to check. We crane our necks at every glimpse or flash of ocean, even as we drive. We struggle not to stop at every potential break on the way to where we know we will surf, pulled by where we might surf. M– always pushes against this tendency, insisting that we drive all the way to the end, to Waikokos or Hideaways or Polihale, before checking spots on the way back. A–, on the other hand, has me walking down cliff sides and scrambling over boulders at nearly every turn. This need to check alters our behavior even in the water, as we paddle. 9 times out of 10, if a surfer sees what might be a wave on their paddle out to the main break, that surfer will stop to explore, to check, just to see, is this a wave?

M– and I planned to meet this morning at 8:00 at the far corner of Kalapakī, in an attempt to get out of the wind, still howling, and find something rideable. The tide was well over 2 feet at 5:34 a.m. The skies have been dark for days. I had a suspicion we might find a reprieve from the wind and maybe a wave out at Sidewalks, at the end of the cliff under the little light house. I was right about the wind, but the waves hauling around the corner of the cliff did not look promising. Mostly, they just exploded on the rock and then crumbled out into surging brown water. I could see other huge waves rushing straight into the bay, towards Amonias, that shallow jumble of rock and reef and rebar mere feet in front of the break water and ocean liners. Some swell rushed in towards middle of the main break, but nothing seemed to be working very well once the wave arrived at their respective lineups, fizzling out or exploding on rock, the tide probably still too high.

As I waited for M–, the only decent wave I saw was on the inside, glorified beach break in front of the activity hut with the red awning. I pointed all this out to M– once he made it down. He was not impressed by my analysis and decided to go to the dump and to Home Depot instead while I decided to give the little beach break runners a try. 

As soon as I paddled out, I noticed that the waves were much larger than we had anticipated and the current was hauling faster than Mahaʻulepu on a big day. It was all I could do to make it over to the corner to find the lefts I had seen. The waves were shifty, the current was terrible, and there was a lot of water moving, but by paddling nonstop, I kept myself in position for a few fun rides. As I paddled to stay in place, I had time to realize that this was some mystery sandbar and all the energy rushing into the bay was running out right here off the back of the bar.

Over the next few hours, a few people paddled out: an older guy on a rented stand up, a local guy with an old broken nosed longboard, C–F–, and a young guy on an epoxy rental, but no one stuck around long. The wild conditions and the current were regulating the lineup today. C–F– greeted me with his usual cool-guy-who-downplays-everything tone, “It’s exercise, I guess,” and later “This is the definition of insane.” The conditions were not ideal, but the waves were beefy, brutal, long, and some of the lefts ended in a nice bowling, spinning wall before a close out barrel.

“Was it good?” No, but I possess so little cool that I can say “This is fun,” as a smile creeps over my face.

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