June 15, 2020
I spent my morning split between teaching the online literacy class and working on the chambered wooden surfboard I started a while ago. I am getting used to how learning might best happen in a virtual setting, figuring out what works, trying out some new ideas, seeing how I can achieve my signature mix of sarcasm, caring, and no nonsense honesty, all in anticipation of a strange return to school. Between sessions with the students, I finally chambered the last few pieces and got the whole board glued back together. I even had time to do a bit of sanding. Next up will be filling cracks and gaps then sanding everything smooth, before epoxy and fins. With luck, I may get to paddle it out before my birthday.
After lunch, and a bit more work on the board, I headed down to Kealia, just to paddle around and cool off, with no expectation of great waves. The wind has been up for a while and the NE swell has been rushing in. The tide was dropping to a relatively high low of 0.7 feet at around 5:50 pm and the moon is a small crescent, on its way to disappearing in a few days. The waters at Kealia were rough, as expected, with swell coming in all over the place. The ocean was mostly white wash from the river mouth all the way up to the landing with not much blue to be seen. The south side of the beach was brown, latte colored, fading to green up near the breakwater rock pile and the shore was almost solid with sticks, obscuring most of the dry sand. As I walked my way through the piles of stocks, towards the far north end of the beach, I passed other sundry debris: broken plastic floats, wads of paper, a sock, dead humuhumunukunukuapua’a, string, slippers that don’t match.
I jumped in and paddled through what seemed to be more sticks than salt water, but made it out to the line up eventually. After growing up surfing at Kealia, I have had enough of the washing machine spin cycle of paddling straight out from the parking lot. By now, I prefer the walk up almost to the rocks to avoid all the white wash. The crowd was light and spread out and the current was running north to south then out to sea. I noticed a sand bar set up closer to the lifeguard tower, its plumes of dirty sand giving it away. I spent about two hours paddling around and catching big walls of water, most breaking way outside. The waves were not shaped well, for the most part, and I was surprised by more than one large chop on a wave face. Nothing was really connecting to the inside and there was precious little in the way of clean sections or face to carve, mostly just hills of water moving towards a closeout. I made it to the inside once or twice, punching through the back of the closeout barrels. A few of the lefts worked nicely, steeper for more of the ride. The sets were head high but a handful of waves came in well above that, one breaking on my back as I tried to pop up, pushing me back down onto my belly. I bounced and floundered my way to the shoulder, hair in my face, looking a total fool. Oh well.
I did manage to find a few decent waves, a right off the sand bar that had a fun drop and the classic Kealia race track vibe. My last wave was also nice, taking me from way out side all the way into the shallows. I tiptoed through the sticks, up to the showers, with no sunbathers to glance at. I rinsed and headed home.
June 19, 2020
There is almost no moon tonight, or tonight I will be able to see only about 3% of the moon lighted up by the sun, but still pulling on the tides inside all of us. The tide was low this morning, negative around sunrise, and there is a building south swell mixed with a solid east wind swell, pushed ahead of the wind itself. The skies were grey most of the day today, raining as I drove Evora and Violet up to the pier at Hanalei Bay. We parked around 8:45, just as some blue sky began to make us hopeful. The bay was calm, as I expected but there was that perfect summertime, shin high wave, breaking off the sandbars on either side of the pier.
The girls and I unloaded the truck, set up the umbrella and started swimming. They do not come up here often, so the clear waters around the pier, and the pillow soft sands, and the waist deep sea for dozens of yards out, are mysterious joys for them to explore. We took out the 8’ wavestorm and the little 5’ sushi board to get the girls up on some waves. Evora was her typical self, explaining how she wanted to swim but wouldn’t surf, though I know how much her body and heart love the feeling of moving through water. Violet paddled the wavestorm out with me walking next to her, always ready to give something a try. I pushed her into a wave, not expecting much but she popped up right away and rode the little peeler all the way to shore. Even Evora jumped up and down and shouted her excitement for Violet’s ride and she was begging to go next before the board was even back out in the lineup. Violet took another one and then two for Evora, just as long and fun. Evora didn’t want to switch back but I talked her into getting the sushi board while Violet caught a few more. Back and forth we switched, Violet getting two, then Evora. Eventually, Violet just started paddling the sushi board into her own waves as I pushed Evora into hers.
After a while, they wanted a break, so we explored the pier and jumped off the lower step. Then we had some snacks under the umbrella in the rain. That peak of sun never melted into clear skies, but the morning was still quite nice. I somehow managed to talk the girls out of wanting to leave and we headed back to the pier, to jump off the high wall. Some boys and two young girls had been showing off their skills and Ev and V were tempted to give it a try. I held Violet’s hand and we all three jumped at the same time, then swam under the pier, another first for them, to climb up the slippery ladder. Back to the edge for another jump. This time Violet went on her own.
Still not wanting to leave, we all piled onto the wavestorm, Violet on my back and Evora hanging on to the end of the leash, and I paddled all of us over to the rivermouth side of the pier for a few more waves. An amorphous patch of greyblack, that I assumed was dirt or sticks and leaves from the river, turned out to be alive, a mass of pinky sized fish, hundreds or thousands, swirling around us, making the water a living thing, more nervey scales than salt. Once again, Violet and Evora rode some awesome peelers all the way to shore, 30-45 second rides each time. A woman jogging by stopped to shout and clap and give Violet a thumbs up on one of her waves. I was able to find a few rides myself, crouching down the line of the glassy little wave.s No real swell, but as I have said, surfing is fun, and today was no exception.
As the rains came back stronger, we ran to pack up, shower off, and head to the truck.
June 20, 2020
The moon is almost new tonight, just a sliver hanging in the black skies. The tide swings are more extreme when the moon is full or empty. I think I know that.
The new south swell filled in overnight, mixing with the east swells. I met M– on the south side just before 8:00 a.m., near the low tide of -0.25 feet. M– checked Waiohai as I parked at Acid Drop. I drove on to Honus, across Kukuiula Harbor, which is where we ended up. He said the swell looked wrong for Waiohai; I thought the crowd at Acids was too big; neither of felt like driving down to Mahaʻulepu this morning.
I locked my key in the truck as I was distracted by talking about and looking at a set roll through, exploding on the lava bench. After a quick call to Erin, on M–’s phone, to let her know about my mistake, we paddled out and across the harbor. I could tell that the sets were breaking farther out than the last few times and the current was strong, sucking us way out the back in just a few seconds of sitting in the lineup. We chatted and mostly paddled against the current. Catching waves was slow at first. Eventually, I found my spots, and found some beautiful rides, with huge faces and lots of sections and turns. M– found a few good ones himself, but the current was definitely keeping him off the right spots.
The breezes blew the clouds in, obscuring the blue sky, then piling up huge black clouds over Poʻipū, then pushing the rain across us. I have always enjoyed the feeling of surfing in a heavy rain, especially that kind of rain that paradoxically seems to calm things down. The air around me fills up with mist, scattered droplets of salt and rain water exploding all around, softening the light, the curves of the waves, even the sounds. As the rains passed, M– caught his last wave and headed in, leaving me with the returning sun, the sets, the current, and the low, breathy grumble of the mo’o in the lava tube, sounding like the whole ocean breathing, or sounding like just my breath.
Every moment you take the time to notice is the moment that is meaningful. Every wave you ride is the wave that makes the day worth it. The tide is just the water being pulled by the moon, the sun, the turning of the earth. Every wave is just a collection of ripples pushed in front of wind. Every breeze is just the air moving from one place to another. None of this means anything. I think I know that. But each wave, each moment, each tide, help us make meaning. I think I know that, too.
After my last wave, close to an hour after M– headed in, my arms tired from paddling against the current, my body happy, I head to shore, back across the hundreds of yards of water, over the rocks and reef. I paused at that shallow spot, in the middle, close to the anchored boat, and waited to catch one of those fat waves into the rocks. Erin and the girls had not yet made their way to the south side, interrupting their plans for their day, to unlock my truck, so I laid my board across the bed of the truck and took a nap under the shadows, listening to the sounds of the day, Saturday, June 20, 2020.