May 9-May 15, 2020

May 14, 2020

I headed out for Anchors around 11:00, after working on my National Board renewals all morning, and helping Violet with her virtual school. We sit together on the bench at the table, shoulder to shoulder. Today the tide was low early then basically flat all day. The winds were light and the sky was clear; the east swell was nearly nonexistent. As is usually the case, the waves at Anchors proved to be powerful and fun even when the rest of the east side was flat.

I made the long paddle out, anticipating that moment when the sound of the waves finally hits my ears. The water was crystal clear, warm on top, but cold just a few feet under the surface. Jets of cold water swirled up and around me as I paddled or waited for waves.

The sets came in chest high, maybe, and I was able to find a few super fast rights. One dropped out in front of me so drastically that I worried I wouldn’t make it. I went flying down the face, through a super steep curving bowl, just inches above that shallow section on the rights, narrowly ducking the lip, and then I made it out the other side, eyes wide open now. The rest of my session was mostly spent exploring the lefts, as they were longer and more consistently fun. I spent many waves stalling into the bowling section of lefts, looking for the bending barrel. I found one that closed out on me and a few that peeled just behind my back.

After a few hours, I made the long paddle in to rinse and head home. A homeless woman walked up to me, after she bothered a local family fishing off the break water, to ask me for 50 cents. She kept babbling on as I found some coins to give her. She asked if I surfed here and I said I was paddling around. I didn’t follow everything else she said but she seemed to want to talk about how a surf break was setting up under the pedestrian bridge in the canal and how we should take all the sand from Wailua and dump it at Brennecke’s to bring that legendary surf spot back from the dead. I nodded a few yesʻs and kept drying off and packing up my board while she continued what by now was either half of a Dylan song or a chapter from Ulysses.

May 15, 2020

Today is the day of the first real south swell. It filled in last night and is set to hang around through Monday. Low tide was at 6:15 this morning, at .15 feet and the first high tide was at 12:23 at .8 feet. I decided to check Sidewalks on my way south, just in case the swell was big enough to sneak in there, but all of Kalapaki was flat, like a big green pool. I headed for Poʻipū.

I pulled past Prince Kuhioʻs birth place at about 9:00, anticipating a good swell. As I drove between the hotels, PKs came into view, then Centers, with Acid Drop and Heroins behind. I drove the length of exposed road slowly since there was no place to park. I saw just a few people out at PKs but there were solid crowds at Centers and Acids. When a set rolled in, each spot was picking up the swell a bit differently. It was biggest at Acids but maybe breaking the best at Centers. I had a different spot in the back of my mind and I drove on to Kukuiʻula Harbor.

The left out side the harbor wall was firing, hollow and scary, as usual. I surfed it once years ago with A– and M– and though we had fun, I have never been back. That wave drops like an elevator shaft and has a wicked bend on it with waves usually pushing through fast and thick. I sat and hoped to see what I came looking for, on the far west side of the harbor. I donʻt have a name for that wave. It probably has no modern name, since it isnʻt on anyoneʻs surf map. The break is under Spouting Horn, off a bench of lava rock, and the wave pushes into a shallow, rocky cove with a tiny pocket of sand, today the resting spot of a giant honu.

After seeing a set roll through, I made the long paddle across, not wanting to trespass through the million dollar yards that block the easier access. I stayed out for over 2 hours, enjoying this weird and lonely wave. Every time I surf here, I am struck by the huge houses that greedily block the shore, interlopers screaming “mine!” and casting long shadows across what is certainly not anyone’s. The houses all seem empty, no surprise right now during the pandemic, but they have never seemed to hold any resident. They are just shells of vacations for rich people from somewhere else.

Anyway, today the swell was inconsistent, with long lulls, but the sets were large and fun. The section nearest to the lava bench sucks up fast and is difficult to handle. I paddled into one set wave, against the accelerating current. The bottom dropped out as I popped up. I made the drop but then the lip smacked me in the side and I went down, tumbling over two or three times in tight somersaults, with my arms over my head, just in case. Other than that spill, and a turtle I had to hop over as I came out of a bottom turn, no problems.

I love the size of the faces on this wave. I canʻt quite explain it, but when the wave is right, it looks like I will be too deep on the take off, but the top of the section down the line never quite tips all the way over, allowing me to bottom turn and pump past the falling lip. Then I get to what I always want to see: a huge, open, sloping, curling face of water with no imposing lip or white wash in my way. I love making this approach and heading all the way up the huge open face before snapping back into the white wash behind me then doing it all again. The trick is to see how close to the inside lava bench I can make it.

Though the swell wasn’t consistently making it in, the sets were nice and big and fun. A good day for the first south swell this year.

Looking west at Kukui’ula

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