May 23, 2020
Low tide was at 7:51 this morning, at -0.22 feet. Last night there was no moon, a new moon. If the skies are clear, there will be the tiniest sliver of crescent tonight, like a fingernail scratch on the darkness of night. The surf forecast called for a mid-sized NW swell filling in overnight last night and a SSW swell filling in Sunday. I decided to believe the forecast and try Hideaways. C–, as usual, wanted to head out after 11:00; M– was looking to leave his place by 5:00; S– went south. I headed up on my own, parking around 8:00.
I havenʻt been here all winter. M–, C–, and I went out in late November, I think, and then I missed the entire North Shore winter season, busy with east swells and NW wraps. Before A– moved away, we were at Hideaways every Sunday, all winter long, and many Sundays through the summers, too. It felt nice to be back but I regret missing the winter swells. I saw a line of waves rolling in and two guys out as I drove past the look out, so I grabbed my stuff and headed down the trail without walking out to check.
The trail was overgrown, the mud under foot thick and cool, not quite sticky. I tried not to be too excited as I made my way down to the sand.
“Hi Mr. Medeiros!”
I turn and see R–l–, a former student and younger sister of another former student. I smiled and said my hellos.
“How’s life? Is it weird?”
“Isn’t it weird for everyone?”
Yes. I smile again and use the wax comb and a bit of fresh wax to prep my board. I take off my shirt, conscious of eyes on my back now. I put on my rash guard and sunblock, wave again, and head to the sea, finally admitting what I had noticed out of the corners of my mind: the swell wasn’t here yet; the tide was still too low; but the winds were light and the day was beautiful. I jumped in the water and began my paddle, dodging the coral heads as a light rain began to fall, typical of Hanalei. I looked up to find the rain cloud but all I could see was the giant, brilliant rainbow, stretching from water to water, just a few dozen yards away, or so the light made it seem. I couldn’t help but smile again as I paddled straight towards the arch, countless turtles popping out of the blue, into the blue beneath the separated sunlight of the rainbow.
J– was out, the ubiquitous Hideaways guy, talkative as ever. His friend was also out, on a cool little SUP. Soon someone else paddled out to swell the crowd to four. The vibe was friendly, chatty even, led by J– and the other guy, K– from L.A. but stuck here during the lockdowns. Conversation drifted from waves to boards to fins, from girls to jobs to finance, sub-prime mortgages to pornography to surf trips in Baja and Da Hui regulating the North Shore. In between words, waves passed through, most very small and mushy, but a handful of real Hideaways sets rolled by, with power and speed and that freaky curve and extra section down the line. I found a few close out barrels, got a few snaps in, and had one incredible lay back cut across the curving lip then down the oncoming section. Maybe four waves of note, the rest just mushy rollers.
Eventually the crowd thinned out one by one and I was alone again, floating in the quiet, watching the turtles, feeling the wind come up. I found a decent left and headed in then up the cliff to the truck, after waving goodbye to my students, still enjoying this day in this weird life of ours.
May 24, 2020
Evora has been asking for us to take her to Waiohai since she got back from a day down there with her friend. I havenʻt been to Waiohai in years, having effectively sworn it off. The crowds and the not quite right rights just make it not worth it, in my opinion. I admit the lefts out there can get great, but if I can choose to surf on the fringes, with fewer people, just around the corner, then I will. Anyway, today was my first time venturing back for a while.
We packed up the truck, brought the beater board, and some floaties. I also brought the Tudor twin fin, secretly hoping for time to paddle out to 1st Break, far enough out to sea to not suffer the same crowded fate of the main break on the inside reef. Plus, 1st Break is a weird monster wave sucking off a shelf, right up my alley these days. We found a spot of shade on the west end of the little pocket of sand in front of the hotel, the namesake of this break. Incidentally, Waiohai isnʻt a place name that appears in any books or moʻolelo that I can find. The name was given to the resort and then it usurped the ancient name of the place, erasing it from most peopleʻs tongues.
As soon as Violet was ready to get in the water, she grabbed the beater board off the sand and just paddled straight out, showing no signs of stopping anywhere close to shore. I jumped up and swam alongside her for a while, trying to ask her where she was going, but she just kept paddling, laughing. Later she said she just wanted to surf. M– and his family joined us soon after we got there and everyone had a great time chatting, floating, swimming, playing, paddling. His kids made him inflate a giant turtle which then became the center of entertainment for the next few hours. All four of the kids piled on top and floated just on the edge of the shore break, letting the waves tip them over and spill them up the sand. The laughed every time, shouting “Never! Abandon! Ship!”
Knowing I wasnʻt going to paddle out to 1st Break, I grabbed the beater and paddled around the shallow reef inside the lava bench, on the west end of the beach. I found a few sketchy runners to ride, inches over the craggy rocks. The wave ran out a lot faster than the board could handle, so I ended up spilling over the dry rocks and up the sand a few times but I did, like a miracle or a beautiful woman in a crowd, find one perfect little close out barrel.
This place is wonderful without the tourists. It was like hanging out at the town square at sunset, running into all the people you know. I havenʻt hugged anyone not in my family for well over two months but today I got a few hugs from former students and currently awesome people. Luna, Callie, Marlena, Halia, and Cinzia all stopped by our strip of shade or water to catch up, to smile and laugh, to talk about when they were our students, and that was lovely.
We headed home close to 3:00, sunburned and tired, and stopped for Lapperts, of course.
May 25, 2020
The winds were even lighter today, and the sun just as sparkling bright as yesterday. Erin took the girls up to Hanaʻkapiʻai early, to hike with some friends, so I had the day to myself. Low tide was at about 10:30 and the depth of its low, -0.25 feet, made me worry about my target for today. I wanted to work on my NBCT renewal and my chambered surfboard, taking advantage of the family being out, so I didnʻt have time to find the NW or SSW swells. I chose Anchors, of course, because of the light winds, but as I said, I worried about the tide.
I took the tiny beat up TOMO Vanguard today, hoping to try it out on some fun glassy swell. The board floats me just enough, but it isnʻt the easiest thing to paddle. I was able to find my first wave very easily, but thereafter, paddling into the right spot was a challenge, made worse by the warbly, shifty weirdness of the swell out there today. I felt like a beetle marooned on a cork. I remember a tiny piece of driftwood floating past me once, out at Mahaʻulepu. It was maybe the size of a sharpie, black, green, slick, and it kept spinning in a herky jerky motion. As the piece of wood moved closely past me, I saw a tiny red crab, clearly out of its element, accidentally borrowing this home, clinging to the piece of wood. Each time the driftwood spun over, the crab scurried back up to the dry side, then back over, the crawled back up, over and over, never finding its balance, always on the edge of tipping back under the next ripple or swell. I thought about that little crab as I bobbed up and down today on my tiny board, the water line at my chest then at my chin, up and down, just barely able to see the horizon.
The sea was in constant disorganized motion today. Maybe the swells were getting crossed up. Maybe the low tide was making it all worse. Regardless, I was able to find some amazing waves in all that water and light. One was a perfect right with a long sloping take off into an easy bottom turn, allowing me to go high over the hollow section, then back down. When I saw the next section tipping in front of me, I instinctively rose up to find my line into the lip for a hack, and it felt perfect: smooth and fast and powerful. I usually bail after hitting the lip like this but somehow I snapped back and then exited the wave smoothly. The other fun ride I recall was a left that sucked up weirdly, doubling in size in a second, but with a hug step instead of a smooth face. I pumped and hopped over the lip of the step, landing the air drop down in the pit, perfectly positioned to ride the wave out into the shallows.
I also got my ass handed to me a few times, washing machine style, but those were also fun. Long paddle in, tired arms, rested brain, back to work.
I spent the next four hours working words across a page and then working sandpaper across wood.
May 29, 2020
The last day of school, for what ever that is worth. Time has always seemed strange, stretching, slowing down and speeding up, even folding back on itself, but these past few months, time is what you make of it.
Low tide today was at 2:28, dropping to 0.35 feet, a nice tide for Makaʻiwa, but for the missing swell. We decided to head down to the beach in front of Lae Nani, one of our old standbys but a spot we haven’t visited since early winter. The floods in March wrecked all of Wailua Bay, loading the shores with countless branches, twigs, limbs, and whole giant trees along with tons of muck and mud. The water didn’t clear up for weeks and the hundreds of thousands of sticks and trees branches and tree trunks still line the sands from Playgrounds all the way to Kauaʻi Sands. Erin does not like the east side after rains, so she has been hesitant to venture back even after two months. Nonetheless, we decided on Lae Nani, or the beach in front of the Lae Nani condos, another development erasing the real name of a place.
We each did our parts taking stuff out to the beach; Evora taking the floaty, Violet the body board, Erin the Beater, and me the Tudor, the waters, and the snacks. As we made our way to the grassy area near the picnic table, we saw B– and Little L–, who came running over to greet Violet. The girls spent the next few hours in the water, though Erin did not love the fact that, despite my promises, the water was a bit turbid, greenish, the shore break foaming with twigs, and most of the sand gone. Still, a basically pleasant day.
I took the beater board out for a paddle, deep behind the kiddy pond, through the shallow reef there. There were no real waves today but I needed to just mess around. I found a few little runners, though my fins clipped the reef shelf once or twice. I then paddled over the middle and found a few fat, knee high rights. Just enough face for me to get up, pump once or twice, and hack the top. I have yet to be proven wrong, that it is fun to surf, regardless of conditions.