April 18, 2020
Light trade winds again today and clear air. I made my way to Makaʻiwa, in front of Lava Lava, with my normal surf bag: water, coffee, one banana, sunblock, wax, wax comb, wallet, shades, wetsuit top, and towel. My board, of course. But now I’ve added the mask. I park, don my mask, grab my board and bag, and walk down the path to the shore. I see no one when normally I’d have to step aside at least twice to let others pass coming in the other direction. Similarly there is no one on the shore. Just piles of sticks, a few huge trees left over from the storms in March, and some birds.
It is 8:45, just after the 8:05 low tide of .09 feet. High tide is just after 2:00, topping out at a bit over 1 foot. Rising off a low tide with some east wind swell, or south east ground swell, is perfect for this bit of reef. Today the water is inexplicably green and the waves look smaller and messier than I had hoped. Mentally preparing for the simple pleasant feelings of paddling and duck diving, I made my way out to the line up.
Just as I reached the peak, a decent sized wave rolled through, sucking off that familiar slab of reef, the bottom dropping out as it peeled off to the right. I turned mid-paddle to take off on the next wave, slightly smaller, but still chest high, super fast and fun. I always marvel at how waves at Mahaʻulepu can be overhead and just mellow, slow, but the wave here is tense with speed and power, even those that come in at knee or waste high. The session ended up being much more fun than I anticipated, with no real lulls and some beautiful green barrels peeling just over my back. I even found one or two deeper barrels, green and bright in the morning sun, though I didn’t make it out of those. As time wore on, the sets picked up a bit, but they also got a little wilder, with steps and ledges all along the face, adding a bit of dirt bike fun to these later rides.
I paddled for what looked like a nice clean right but I got hung up on the take off and it closed down to mushy white water. I dropped in, turned into the fat mush and bailed over the top, not thinking anything of it. I felt my board hit my shin as I tumbled over the white wash and I quickly located the ding in the rail, some leg hair still in it. Not wanting more water to seep into the foam, I caught the next wave, about as clean and fun as I had hoped that other wave would be, then paddled in.
I dumped some cold water on my head to rinse the salt off, hung up my wetsuit top, and started drying off. I didn’t notice the cut on my leg until I was putting on my slippers. Ding and body repair are on the docket.
April 19, 2020
The winds were even lighter today. Erin and I started the day with a walk around the neighborhood, now almost as habitual as our after dinner walk. From the end of Lani Road, I could see out over the old buildings in Kapaʻa Town to the clear, clean ocean. The fact that Anchors would be perfect right now registered in my mind but I did not say anything. I canʻt remember now why I didn’t head right down to surf; someone had something to do. I waited until about 10:00 and as I was getting ready, Erin decided that we should all go down. The girls and Erin would ride their bikes from the library out to the grassy meadow past Paliku while I paddled out. Ok.
The winds were up just a bit and the parking lot was packed. I saw someone skittering across a left out at the break. No solo surfing today. When I made it past the eponymous anchor, I saw that there were three guys out there, two looking like first timers with a friendly guide. I paddled my patched up spitfire out past all of them and over to the take off spot to wait. I quickly found a decent left but dipped the nose in on the second drop, tumbling head over into the water. No injuries, though, and no one seemed to notice. I havenʻt surfed this board in a year maybe and I am not used to the speed and aggressiveness, especially on waves like this. Shaking off the spill, I paddled back out, found another left, and carefully made it to the inside section, though this was no wave to describe. Just water moving.
Next up, a huge wedge came through and I was set up for a right, not sure if they were even working today. I paddled, started to pop up but I felt my board get hung up. I stood and took the drop super late, tail escaping the face of the wave, then catching again, and then…down to the bottom, the actual bottom, the reef beneath the wave. Sometimes a great wipeout is as fun as a great wave. That drop was exhilarating and I made it back just fine, with a few extra ounces of salt in my sinuses.
The leader of the crew started talking to me. His name is T-. He grew up on the east side, lived in Portland for a long time. His buddies had never been to Anchors, and that was obvious. Despite my initial frustration at having to surf around others, I enjoyed getting to bullshit with T- about waves, about Portland, Kauaʻi life, the swell today, tides, bending NW swells. He and I agreed that the rights just weren’t working today. His first words to me, in fact, were about my big airdrop, telling me there was no wave after that anyway.
We settled in, chatting, finding little rights, me trying to get used to the tightness of the spitfire after so long on my retro boards. After one pretty decent left, that I connected to the inside sections, stalling in the pocket, I paddled in to the other anchor. I saw Erin and the girls riding across the bridge just as I made it to shore. We spent a while swimming together, getting our state approved exercise in together. These last ten minutes were the first ten minutes we have been able to all swim together in months and it was nice. Cool, warm, fun.
April 20, 2020
One day later, and Anchors is a different place. No crowd. No cars anywhere near the library. The swell is solid, not breaking apart, but lining up frequently, draining all the way through from the outside and across both sections of the left. Maybe the swell direction shifted just enough. Maybe it filled in a bit. Maybe I just felt better on my spitfire after so long. But today, the lefts were firing and I felt good.
The water was blue today, no surprise, but like broken glass shining in the sun, with a little southeast wind blowing. Today was the first day in weeks that I saw a passenger plane fly over the coast. I hoped to myself that it was empty of actual passengers, or that its passengers were animals, or supplies. And then minutes later, a second plane flew in. I hate that now I donʻt just get annoyed when I see a plane, or too many people. Now I worry about disease, about carrying or passing the virus, like a horrible game of tag.
By the time the sun was high over my head, the wind had risen enough to start blowing the once decent waves apart, rendering the rides much shorter, disjointed. Before that though I had a blast, finding left after left. A few were pretty close to epic. Head high at the peak, chest high out the rest of the way. I stalled into the pocket on one, hit the top, made the connection to that second drop and bowling section, then a floater, and finally that creepy bend in the wave towards the anchor. There were few rights today. Just big, familiar, sicken drops, followed by nothing. Not much payoff for the risk on the rights today.
I managed to find one last decent left after the wind came up, but I botched the inside section, right at the bend. I managed to avoid the reef, but was rolled up in the barrel a few times, tumbling on rinse. I decided not to go out like that, so I found the edge of the inside slab to wait for another last wave. What I found looked fun, with a nice wall running out, but I again misread the drop. The bottom dropped out as the wave sucked all the water off the reef which I did not avoid this second time. I tumbled over once, and then again, and then smack on my ass. No blood, though, which was a nice change after my shin at Makaʻiwa and my nose out here a few weeks ago, and my board was fine. Back out to the edge of the slab…hunting, waiting, paddling. Finally, I found a decent one, made the drop, navigated the bend, and drifted in towards the anchor. Session over.
The moon makes the tide And the tides mark the time And the wind brings the waves. I havenʻt seen the moon for a few days But the stars Spun around our heads Violet in the corner, Evora next to her, scared, Erin and I with our feet to them. We watched the stars And I thought about waves.
April 24, 2020
The trades crept back, as I knew they would, over night. S– had asked me to let him know the next time I was heading to Mahaʻulepu, so I texted that Iʻd be there around 9:45, just after the low tide of -0.01 feet. High tide was well past midday, giving me a perfect two hour window of a low to high rising tide with some decent swell. The large North was wrapping around and surging across the reef, along with the typical wind swell and a bit of a south swell. No shortage of waves today.
After giving S– a few pointers (he had never been out here) about the reef and the current and the take off spots, we tiptoed across the rocks and paddled out. It turned out to be a classic Mahaʻulepu day, brisk trade winds, a bit of current, and nonstop waves. Some sucking off that inside section a little deeper than most, some mush-bombs breaking outside, some closeouts peaking on the east side of the break, most with that nice bottom turn section and fat shoulder before flattening off.
I found a few reelers that took me all the way in, a few with great shaped faces for hacks, a few with nice little ramps. A classic day out there. No crowd, just fun. The day was all blues and greens and puffs of white. Mahaʻulepu is rarely epic, though I have had some amazing days there, it is almost always able to provide a lot of fun waves. After surfing it as long as I have, I am able to find more little sections and bowls and take the waves farther than most casual visitors to this break.
After a “last wave left,” I paddled over to the rock pile for one of the sketchy little slabs and found one fairly quickly. Iʻm getting better at sitting close to the dry rock here without getting sucked over or past it. The wave isnʻt great yet, but the drop is fun, a bit scary. S– followed me over there but wisely decided against trying to find one of these waves, and we headed in.