April 4-April 10, 2020

April 5, 2020

I have already surfed in April as many times as all of March. The moon as we know is never still and it is still waxing, almost full. The wind has been down all day, the skies clear, so I decided to head to Anchors. I wish I knew the Hawaiian name for this wave, this stretch of reef, but I wonder if the break itself did not exist prior to the dredging of the channels for the small boat harbor and Kapaʻa Ditch.

C– headed to Hanalei around 10:00 but I have no interest in places where people might be congregating. So, today I surfed alone; not unusual for me, even before the quarantine.

Despite the nice weather for almost a week, the eastside has still not cleaned up completely. Wailua is still full of mud and sticks. Even Anchors isnʻt clear blue.

The water is emerald and teal today,
Green tea, matcha, opaque.
The rains have washed the colors of the forest 
Out to the sea.
I paddle through fields of tidal greens and browns,
The water viridescent today
And the ocean is nothing like the sky, today, 
Itself clear blue and still.
I turn to watch a wave break:
Clouds rolling across Makaleha.

I am not usually worried about sharks but today they were on my mind. Maybe because I couldn’t see the reef beneath me as I bobbed around the takeoff zone way out past the channel markers. As I had hoped, the waves were glassy, superbly clean. I spent about two hours enjoying the smooth, powerful rides that always surprise me out there. The break is usually twice as big and three times as powerful as it looks from shore and today was no different.

Shoulder high swells kept rolling through. Some of the rights were wide open, offering big faces and long walls for more than a few turns. Some bent towards shore sharply, like a V, closing down the second section but offering a ramp or lip to hack at, if one wasn’t too worried about the reef below. Some bent the other way, out to sea, like a Y, the wave disappearing at the fulcrum. I found a few fun lefts, too, with nice steep rides across the shallows, pushing directly towards the eponymous anchor. And though today wasn’t a day primed for barrels, I did find one small on, eventually.

Just in time for my arms to be tired, the wind came up from the South, only a puff of air, really, but enough to blow rifles across the glass and shut the whole place down. I found one last left, paddled for the other anchor on the inside reef, and finally made it to shore, neck and arms burning. 

After a quick rinse, I found my mask and headed for the store, much scarier than the notion of sharks beneath green waters.

April 7, 2020

Today, I headed back to Anchors. The winds are forecast to be light all week and there was still a bit of swell hanging around. I paddled out through perfect glassy waters, surprised as usual when I hit that spot in the paddle when the sounds of the waves suddenly roar to life, just as the anchor comes into view. The tide was low this morning, still dropping a bit, and the moon will be full when it rises just after sunset.

I anticipated that the waves would be on the small side, so I paddled my 7’ single fin today. Just as I made it to the line up, a wave rolled through, maybe waste high. I was not quite in position and the bottom dropped out as the lip hit my back and I somersaulted over the nose and into the green sea. No problem, but in retrospect, an omen maybe. Do I believe in those? 

Back on the board, I headed to the proper take off spot to wait for a proper wave. In almost no time, a perfect shoulder high right came through, sparkling in the morning sun. I paddle, pop up, take the drop smoothly and head down the line. I have time to notice that the power of the wave is not a perfect fit for the single fin, but I make a nice bottom turn, pump a few times over the green reef and I set up to hit the lip and drop back to the second section. This is where things turn as I donʻt make the second drop. No problem, usually.

Then sharp confusion, an impact and searing pain in my skull before I even make it back to the surface. I think I realize my board has been turned into a missile by the wave and has slammed me in the face just as I also worried about checking my teeth. I make my way back onto my board, dazed, lucky to be conscious, lucky my teeth are intact. Now the pain of the impact is more localized and I can tell my nose is broken and maybe I have a cut above my right eye. As I spit out gobs of blood, I wonder if I can or should paddle in. The surfer in me hates to abandon a session after one wave, especially when the day is otherwise so perfect. I decide to see if I can get the bleeding to stop and finish my session, as I think about sharks again. Can they really smell one drop of blood? Do they sniff around for human blood verses that of the creatures of the sea and can they tell the difference? It can’t be that mine is the only blood clouding the waters today. I don’t know what else I think as I tilt my head back and squint and somehow try to keep an eye on the swells.

I eventually stop spitting out blood but my nose never quite stops dripping. I manage to stay out for a full two hours, finding some truly beautiful waves, but my head is foggy and my knees are weak. The dull pain hangs over the session, over the whole day, really. I canʻt find my keys and glasses after I set them down at home later that day before or after I take a nap, try to work, respond to students.

After the board to the face.

This is two hours later, after cleaning myself up. 

April 8, 2020

After a fitful night of sleep made worse because I couldnʻt breathe through my broken nose, I decided that the day was too still to ignore. With the winds still down, the sun still shining, and the seas still as glassy as I have ever seen, I decide to try Anchors again. Maybe for a bit of redemption. My departure is delayed because, as I mentioned, I have no idea where my shades and keys are hiding. Eventually I find them on the bookshelf; a place I have never left them and that I have no memory of being near yesterday, testament to my foggy, post impact mind.

I make it to the lineup around 8:15, tide low and dropping, moon just past full when it reappears later this evening. The water is perfect, clear now and still green, like an emerald today instead of the mountains of the weekend. The swell had dropped a bit further, coming in at knee to chest high, maybe, but this wave is so strong and fast, even these waves proved to be a blast.

For the first half of the session, after seeing a hammer skin fish, I focused on the rights, some short wedgey peaks with nothing but a drop, a few long beautiful runners with a few sections for snaps and turns. I saw some big green barrels and found a head dunker or two, but nothing special.

Eventually the swell shifted, maybe as the tide dropped, and I spent the second half of the session hunting those lefts that bend and then hollow out and run out to the channel all while hurtling toward the anchor. These waves proved to be the best of the day, longer, steeper, hollower. I found a little close out barrel on one wave and on another just had fun rushing down the line while watching the reef fly by below.

What do I think while I surf? Yesterday Erin asked the girls what they think about when they bike. Nothing. Everything but with no words. How to describe what is in my mind while I ride a wave?

Water over rocks.

April 10, 2020

Winds are still light and it feels like the whole world is still. I left before 7:30 this morning, while the air was still crisp and cool. Low tide was just before 11:00, bottoming out at -0.29 feet and the swell was way down, maybe just knee to waist high. There is a NW swell coming in over head and Hideaways is probably epic today, but I just donʻt want to be around crowds right now, so I decide on trying Makaʻiwa, in front of Lava Lava Lounge, hoping that the clean conditions and shallow reef would provide some sweet little rides.

High, thin clouds were still hiding the sun in the eastern sky as I paddled out, keeping the world cool and the water colorless. Not blue or green today. Just clear, almost invisible. My first wave was a nearly perfect stomach high right that peeled through two sections, allowing me to find a little barrel, just over my back. This turned out to be the best wave of the session, but I had fun finding little runners, lefts and rights, some sucking off the reef enough to give me some beautiful closeout barrels. Wave after wave of invisible water, like sliding, like hovering over the reef rushing past my fin.

Waiʻaleʻale was clear today, its long arms visible, and it is hugging Kālepa and Nounou. The horizon across Wailua Bay was cluttered with eight or ten sweepers in black, standing on the water, buzzing around each other, like flies on rotted fruit. Their hoots and hollers carried across the water reassuring me in my aloneness.

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