February 8-February 14, 2020

February 8, 2020

S– decided to stay on the east side and M– was putting shingles on the roof of his rapidly emerging ʻohana unit so I headed to Mahaʻulepu by myself. I made it to my spot under the trees by 10:45, very near the bottom of todayʻs low tide, which was an even 0.0 ft. The winds were light offshore to non-existent. The waves were smaller than last week but even more perfectly shaped.

I paddled out, expecting to enjoy the calm and some mellow waves. The waters were crystal clear, still cold by Kauaʻi standards. No current today, rare for Mahaʻulepu, a result of the light winds and small swell. Despite their small size, the waves proved to be more fun than expected (I should just expect more fun, by now). When the wind is down and the tide is right, the waves here have a near perfect shape, a nice bowl and beautiful curve all the way down the line. The last thing I expected out of today were any clean barrels but I found a few, lit up from the inside as the sun reflected off every molecule of h2o spinning across the reef. Everything above me was bright and blues and whites, everything below was bright and greens and pinks and blues, a kaleidoscope of sea and land and sky.

I eventually pushed my luck too far dipping into the last section of the wave, ducking under the lip for one more sweet barrel, cut short. My right fin clipped the reef, only inches below the surface, spilling me off and out of the wave, pulling the fin halfway out of the board and popping the fin plug. Strangely, my body never touched reef until I stood up in the ankle deep water. With a sigh and a shrug, I paddled back out, shaking my head, determined to catch a few more despite the spill and the fin damage, which I did.

I ended the session by paddling around the outside of the rock pile to explore the left over there, a wave that no one surfs as far as I can tell. There is a spot there where the water sucks of the rocks. I sat there then paddled into a thick slab and enjoyed a fun, much more powerful ride out into the channel before heading to shore.

February 9, 2020

Iʻm on Maui today, out in Hāna for a WASC visit. The conditions on Kauaʻi were beautiful this morning. The flight was smooth, with great views of Kauaʻi, Oahu, Molokaʻi, and Maui. The approach into the central valley was especially nice. The water there on the south side looked smooth as glass and deep blue. Whales were everywhere as the plane dipped lower and turned north towards Kahului.

The drive to Hāna was uneventful, though beautiful. The wind was up at Hoʻokipa but things were eerily calm by the time we parked at the hotel. As we checked into the Hana Kai, I could see the bay in the background, smooth and black. A sweet little A-frame was peeling about halfway down the curve of the bay. I asked around for hidden boards, but none were present, or no one wanted to share. I made up my mind to walk out to the break anyway, and just swim, body surf a bit, secretly holding out hope for some cast off soft top in the bushes.

Finding no hidden boards, I instead had a great time swimming and body surfing. It turns out the wave I saw from up on the hillside was setting up off a shallow spot fronting a small river that doesn’t quite make it to open ocean, trapped behind a large dune of black sand and pebbles. The floor of the bay is made up of black and dark grey pebbles and rocks, ranging in size from small fists to beachballs. No sandy bottom here. The water was clear, the wind was down, and the sky was bright blue, but the water was the color of black tea, reflecting the hues of the rocks below.

The waves were just as pleasant as they looked, maybe two feet, peeling left and right, lazily. I caught a few long rides, pulling my body into bright shiny little barrels, then swimming back out for more. I swam and bodysurfed for 45 minutes or so, trying to tire myself out before I had to head off for the first of many meetings over the next few days. Hoping for a free hour or two tomorrow eve to maybe get a board out there.


Anytime I surf, one of the waves is wave of the day, which is reason enough to head out. Eventually, one of those waves will be the last wave I surf, which is reason enough to keep going out.

February 13, 2020

Institute Day.

C– backed out of surfing today to stay close to home and get some work done. S– never texted me back. So, I again made my own way down to Maha’ulepu, looking for some of the east swell that I saw rising on the forecast. The tide peaked at 1.4 ft just before 7:00 this morning, and I was paddling out by 8:15. The winds were up, not overwhelming at all, and the current was relentless but manageable.

As I paddled out, a huge set came through, nearly connecting the outside left to the wide corner of the rights. I briefly headed out in the direction of the outside reef with my eye on those massive lefts but was distracted by the main break, which is where I spent the next two+ hours, constantly paddling east on a dropping tide, into the treadmill that is Mahaʻulepu’s main feature.

A few showers passed over, flickering a rainbow to life over the west end of the bay, light briefly riding water droplets from sea to sky to shore before the whole thing flickered out again.

That first set turned out to be an anomaly. The others were just head high, but still plenty of fun on my 7’ single fin. I found a few clean bright barrels on the inside, one after a nice fade back to the foam. After an hour or so, another out of the ordinary set rolled in; really it was a set meant for that outside eastern reef but it just brushed past the shelf and rushed across the to the main break. I ducked under the first wave and scratched for the outside corner of the back up, bigger than the first. I turned, paddled, and got to my feet just as the lip exploded behind me, spitting my hair around my eyes. I made the drop, but my single fin slid out at the bottom turn and I bailed. My head just above bubbling white water, I watched the wave of the day roll into shore, smiling.

All in all, this was a good institute day. I am glad to carry on the tradition of surfing while the others sit in a cafeteria or conference room. I think I learned more this way.

4 thoughts on “February 8-February 14, 2020

  1. I’m not even a surfer (or an ocean person at all except to watch it from shore lol), but your writing is so beautiful and descriptive and poetic that I’m addicted to these posts. You have such a masterful way with words.


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