April 26, 2020
The moon was new a few days ago, maybe yesterday, and the morning low tide has been negative. Today it bottomed out at 10:50 a.m. reaching down to -0.11 feet. I did not know this as I pulled up to Makaʻiwa, standing on the shore at 10:45. In my head was the 9:00 a.m. low of Friday and I assumed the tide would be well on its way up by the time I got to the beach. The negative tide was only one problem with paddling out at Makaʻiwa in front of Lava Lava. Another was the green and brown water. Yet another was the swell itself, messy due to the stiff trades and the mixed swell directions. Also, the sets were much bigger than I had anticipated, but none of these issues stopped me from a paddle. Just get wet, as they say.
The first half of the session was a wild mess of green water, sucking barrels with no bottoms, boils and fountains of white water exploding out the backs of the set waves. As soon as I made it out to the peak, a large a-frame came my way. I was in position for the left, so I turned, popped up and barely made the drop, fins releasing from the wave face momentarily. As I struggled to land the airdrop and I grabbed my rail, I could see that I was much deeper than I had hoped, the rest of the wave pitching over down the line. I managed to stay up and stay just in front of the crashing lip all the way out into the flat section near the heiau. I paddled back out to the peak, sufficiently creeped out now, as I understood the tide was way too low and the swell was way too wild.
Iʻll just find a few corners, paddle around, I thought, and stay safe.
That first hour was sketchy, dodging bombs, constantly feeling the rush of water up through the holes in the reef after the wave washed through, always worried my feet were going to drag on the rocks. I managed to find some fun waves, despite the craziness, though one did dump me over and hand me yet another injury, this one courtesy of a fin slicing across my left shin.
As the session wore on, and the wind lightened, and the tide finally started to come up, I noticed that the waves became more organized and predictable. In that second hour, I really found some great rides, one or two strange roller coasters with pits and sections, and even a few decent barrels. My last ride was a hefty head high wave that sucked off the reef again but let me in early enough to make it doable. I dropped right into the bowl and let the lip curl over my back for a few seconds. I stalled into another section before running it out to the last section of white wash, which I met with a decent little hack.
I rode the white wash the rest of the way in and headed up the incredibly steep shore to my bag under the ironwood. The angle of the sand down to the sea just right here, on the north side of Kukui Heiau, has always struck me. The land ends so abruptly here and runs steeply down to the sea. These are not the dunes of Polihale where hundreds of yards of sand separate vegetation from the sea, so far off you can never quite tell how big the waves are. This is just a matter of a few board lengths forward but a drop of ten to twenty feet down.
*** “For whatever we lose (like a you or a me) Itʻs always ourselves we find in the sea” e.e. cummings
May 1, 2020
Today is May Day across the country, Lei Day here in Hawaiʻi. A day invented by a white guy in the 1920s and so engrained in Hawaiian “culture” that I almost always forget the colonizer part. It is the last month of Spring, or the first month of Summer, depending on who you ask or when in time you ask it, and it is easy to guess why this month is named after Maia, the Roman earth goddess. I prefer the older word, Magya, she who is great.
Today I drove through the wind and sun to the south shore, hoping for a miraculous break in the breeze or for some random uncalled swell. I could tell as I drove that it was too windy for Mahaʻulepu, so I had decided to check my little spout under the Spouting Horn, across Kukuiʻula harbor. As PKs, Centers, Acid Drop, and Heroines came into view, I could see that the wind was mostly offshore, making the sea beautiful, if not full of waves. I watched Acids for a few minutes. There were some waves breaking there, but they foamed out into nothing almost immediately. I drove on and watched the water under the blowhole and watched the moʻo breathe. Again, beautiful but no waves.
Still thinking it was too windy for Mahaʻulepu and now worried about time, I headed for Keoneloa Bay. The parking lot was blocked off, so I parked on the side of the road, got my stuff, and walked down to the shore. There were maybe 7 people out; a mom pushing her son into waves, a guy with his sons, and a handful of others. The waves looked to be breaking pretty deep and a bit soft, a rarity for this spot.
I paddled in and could tell that the vibe was nice and mellow, to match the waves. I chatted, shared some wax, ran into the strange outer edges of that alterna-life of the other Jon Medeiros, and found plenty of fun little waves, most slower than I am used to here. Eventually, the swell shifted and started breaking a bit more like its typical self and I found one or two great head high bombs that allowed me to stall in the bowl as the lip peeled over my back.
Two National Guardsmen, in full camo, boots, hats, gloves, face masks, parked their humvee and walked out to the sand, looking for unmasked sunbathers, I suppose. Finding none, they watched us surf for a while before awkwardly walking back up the sand to their vehicle. Is this life in May right now? Check points and military oversight of exercise?