February 23, 2020
M– needed to surf before dawn today and C– couldn’t head out until after 10:00, so I made my own way down the east side. The wind was light, almost nonexistent, no clouds anywhere. Waiʻaleʻale was crystal clear looming over us all, the morning sun lighting up each of its countless folds and crevices, like the definition on life had been turned up too high, like watching someone you love in the moment that you love them. The tide was high early today, well before dawn, and was dropping towards the low at 10:17, bottoming out at .17 feet.
Since the winds were light I decided to check Anchors which looked surfable but a bit mixed up, not settled yet after all the winds earlier in the week. My next stop was Kitchens. Similar situation: surfable but not organized, like maybe the sandbars weren’t set up right. I decided to head to Mahaʻulepu to take advantage of the light winds and the dependability of reef, but made a last minute decision to check Playgrounds and I am glad I did. I haven’t surfed here in over a year and today was the perfect Playgrounds day. The waves were perfectly glassy, dreamy, the early morning sun turning every watery surface into liquid silver, all glare and sparkles. I paddled out with a few other guys I have seen around and we shared the next two hours of waves together with some dolphins and about a half dozen sea birds, themselves seeming to surf back and forth with the swell. I know the birds were fishing, looking for food, for survival, but they certainly looked to be enjoying their rides, dipping their wing tips into the wave faces as they made little radical turns, just like a surfer letting her fingers slide through the water as she heads down the perfect line, also looking for survival I suppose.
It took me a while to get settled and find the spot, but after 15-20 minutes, I was locked in, picking off the set waves breaking straight out from the pavilion. A few were well over head and all the sections connected, giving me those classic fun Playgrounds rides, waves like dirt bike tracks. Of course, long rides mean long paddles, but the tired arms are well worth it. Eventually I slid south to join the small pack I paddled out with, surfing the rights coming off the shallower end of the reef. No barrels today, just fun, dreamy rides with one or two critical sections adding a touch of adrenalin, like the big floater I pulled off over the steep section of an inside runner.
On my wave in, I found each next section (and donʻt we wish life was like that?) before finally laying down on my belly for the last stretch. Surprisingly, the wave started to stand up again, and so did I, pumping a few times and finding another spot to hack, before I belly surfed it the rest of the way, opting to slide up onto the ledge instead of fighting through the keyhole. I sat on a log to finish my coffee and watch the ocean and those still out, still beautiful but not like the early morning before the light winds came onshore. As I watched, a whale jumped, twisted, and landed back with a huge splash.
February 23, 2020
Tired from my sunrise session, I called Erin to see about her plans. She had a whole morning out sketched out for her and the kids and their friend, apparently, so I headed back up the east side, wondering now about squeezing in a second session. Anchors looked much better on my way back up, but was crowded (four bodyboarders…not my scene). I headed for Kealia and watched the waves as I ate a tangerine.
Again, conditions were beautiful. Silky smooth water, all the shades of all the blues. Landings, in the north corner, was breaking big and mushy, perfect for the handful of SUPs out there. Down the beach were maybe three or four sandbars at various distances from shore, all looking mellow, smooth, and fun. I made up my mind to head out to the closest sandbar, just in front of the lifeguard tower, pretty close to shore, for a second session.
The tide was just at its peak low as I paddled out. I noticed a strong rip on the north edge of the break and filed that info away. The crowd was friendly; a mix of groms, moms, local shredders, and classic uncles. I felt crowded in at first but the groms ended up sticking to the inside, the moms just outside them, the uncles over on the other edge of the sandbar and there were plenty of waves to go around.
At some point I noticed a tourist on a bodyboard paddle straight into the impact zone. He eventually floated past me and I saw that he had no fins on. I filed this info away as well. A few waves later, I noticed him two or three times as far out as any breaking wave, hands clutching the front corners of his board, kicking straight to shore, going nowhere. I watched him for a while and after a few waves with him still stuck out there, I decided to paddle out.
“How’s it going?”
“Great,” he smiled.
“What’re you doing way out here?”
“Not catching waves. This board is too small,” he smiled some more.
“Do you have fins on?”
“No,” his smile faded a bit.
“You’re paddling straight back into the rip, which is why you aren’t going anywhere.”
“…” he smiled. “So…?”
“Head that way or that way, not into the rip. Do you need help?”
“No…” and he kicked off towards Landings, his face red from sun and shame, maybe. I watched him out of the corner of my eye to be sure he made it in, which he did eventually, but not before I was nearly bumped into by another bodyboarder sans fins also way too far out also caught in the rip they did not know existed that I could see from the shore. Through a language barrier, I convinced this guy to head in as well.
Apart from ushering these tourists to safety, the session was mellow and lots of fun. I spent the second half closer to shore, off the shoulder of the sandbar, waiting for the larger sets that were swinging wide. These had more power and shape. The last wave of the day was the epitome of both, a wall of water rushing up off the sand as I stood up taking the first drop. I pumped down the line watching where I knew the second drop was coming, watching the oncoming section from the north. The second drop and the pit appeared just in front of the closeout barrel from the north. I decided to go high, hit the oncoming lip, and the whole exploding wave gobbled me up and spit me out of the foam. Smiling, I let the white wash roll me up to the sands.
Back on shore, the lifeguards gave me a head nod and a shaka and I headed home, tired from a rare double session, but happy.