October 26-October 31, 2020

October 26, 2020

Sunrise from the deck

I took the girls to school today and checked Unreals, down in Anahola, planning to be late to work. The wind was still light, the tide lower this morning than yesterday or the day before, the moon larger. I had a hope to find the large NW swell sneaking in here, but there wasn’t much happening, so I headed towards Lihue. I checked Anchors, then Makaʻiwa, and then pulled in at Playgrounds. I had basically given up hope of a surf this morning, wishing I had time to head north instead of poking around for east side waves, but I was pleasantly surprised by what I found at Playgrounds. No wind and I immediately saw enough swell out on the reef to know I would be paddling out. The waves were not huge, nor were they well organized. Normally, there is an A-frame straight out from the bathrooms, with a left a bit north and a right off the shallow southern edge of the reef. Today these distinct peaks were lost in the swell. 

As I stood watching the water for a minute, I noticed an older guy sitting in his SUV, watching the waves, with his windows down. I casually asked “Paddling out?” which prompted him to jump out of his car and give me a detailed rundown of the winds, the tides, the swell, and yesterday and how fun it all was, and “Yes, but I’m waiting for my friend…I’m a tourist, so what do I know, though.” My smile flickered and I thought his admission to be strangely brave, particularly in this isolated parking lot.

I paddled out alone, leaving the virus vector behind me, and headed to the shallow southern end, assuming the most consistent break would be there. I found a few fun shoulder to head high peelers, glassy and quiet, before the crowd grew to include three stand ups, a long board or two and a few people on various other fun looking boards. I recognized most of them as regulars out here and though Iʻd rather be alone, the vibe was fun. As the old guy on the red twinzer said, “Every once in a while, an absolute gem rolls through.”

A cliche, sure, but truth hides in cliche and I found some great waves, a few connecting to that race track section on the inside. No real barrels today but I found the pocket a few times, leaning back and into the face of each wave, letting the lip curl just over my head. And I managed to boost three or four big airs, landing one proper.

As the sun rose up higher, I reluctantly caught my last wave and headed on to work.

October 28, 2020

No wind again this morning. I stopped at Makaʻiwa on my way to work again and paddled out at 7:15, about 30 minutes before low tide. There were two guys out on longboards, but they headed in shortly after I got out, leaving me to surf alone for the next hour or so.

The swell wasnʻt big, maybe chest high, but the conditions were nearly perfect, smooth as glass water, low tide, each wave hollow and clear. I dropped into a few behind the peak and tried to duck into the barrel back door, but both times the lip hit me in the small of my back. I eventually found some big empty pits, one or two that didnʻt close out, but mostly I just enjoyed the quiet, smooth rides before sitting at work for the rest of the day.

As I was walking to shower off, I ran into an older guy in surf shorts, no shirt, silver mullet, and his stained kitchen coffee cup in hand. He stopped me and said “I saw you at Playgrounds the other day. How is it out here?” I eventually realized he was the stand up paddler who came out with his wife while I was skipping work Monday morning. We talked about the amazing conditions lately and he mentioned Lunch Meat and Flo in his stories about Bowling Alleys and Playgrounds. 

“Too fast out there for me,” he said again before we headed on to the rest of our lives, separate but interconnected.

October 30, 2020

Today is the day before the second full moon of October. The full moon after that will mark the closing weeks of fall. Today is also the penultimate day of October. Dr. Orr taught me that word, penultimate, second to last, a uselessly perfect word, and here we are on Friday evening.

Erin is walking on the path and I am with the girls down at Kealia, at 5:00 p.m., enjoying the glassy waters and clear skies one more time. I expected completely flat conditions but decent sized sets rolled in, showing a few yards from shore but mostly just jacking up and slamming hollow barrels onto the sand. Evora, Violet, and I swam and played and ducked under the waves before we turned our attention to body surfing. I took out the beater board and caught a few bombs that exploded me onto the shore. I managed to duck into one or two clean barrels but mostly found a lot of sand.

As the sun set behind the mountains, the air chilled and we met Erin, back from her walk, and went home for dinner.

October 31, 2020

I finally talked M— into trying Anchors. We met at the parking lot at 6:45 this morning, three minutes after sunrise, about four hours before a low tide of .51 feet. Once again (what a string of beautiful conditions), the wind is light or nonexistent and the water is pure silvery glass. I can tell that M— is not convinced as we stand on the rock and I point and remind him that “It’s always better than it looks” and “Even waist high out here is powerful and fun.” He looked at me dubiously when I suggested that to me, it looked like maybe chest to shoulder high, but he got his board and we made the long paddle out.

I almost never see animals out here but today a huge turtle popped its head up next to me as soon as I made it out. Minutes later I noticed a large pod of dark grey dolphins playing nearby. The turtle never came back but the dolphins stayed with us for the next two and half hours, splashing, jumping, spinning, swarming in and out of the channel, coming fairly close a few times. And on top of this, the waves were fun, as I predicted.

The sets were rolling in chest to shoulder high, reeling off beautiful, long, powerful lefts mostly. I managed to find a few rights worth riding, one was a little peeler with a small tube for me to duck under, and the other was one of the larger waves of the day. The bottom dropped out as the top jacked up, I dropped in, made my bottom turn and pumped up the face, leaning in tight to the wave when suddenly all the light around me turned green as I was enveloped in a perfect barrel lit up from behind by the early morning sun. I couldn’t help but holler as I shot out of the barrel and off the back of the wave, a smile plastered on my face.

M— was finding left after left, snapping the tops off of more than a few waves. We chatted, paddled, bullshitted, and enjoyed the clean and quiet swell. On the paddle in, the tide had dropped enough to expose a large portion of the anchor. “There it is!” I shouted gleefully as M— rolled his eyes again.

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