December 13-December 19, 2020

December 13, 2020

Calm again today after the brief flurry of trades. High tide was over 2 feet somewhere close to 2 a.m. with low tide around 10:45. I met M— down at Mahaʻulepu though I think we should have tried Anchors. I hesitate to suggest a drive to a spot that is so fickle, not wanting him to make the journey up here for nothing. The day was epically beautiful, no clouds, no wind, crystal blue waters and sky blue sky overhead. 

We headed down and paddled out around 7:40. The waves were smaller than I hoped, and the waits between sets were long. Even when the sets came, they were a bit gutless, half power, not uncommon for here, but I certainly wished I had brought my 7ʻ singlefin instead of the twinzer. We were visited by a few turtles, a small monk seal, and a pod of dolphins. No whales, though, after I spotted a few last week.

We talk a lot about music, the merits of seeing people play real instruments, feeling the way music feels, in your body, as it moves through the air around you. I thought about how there is a difference between enjoying a song and simply enjoying the experience of experiencing live music. Of course the virus came up, both of us dismayed by the state of things on Kauaʻi right now. R— texted yesterday that St. Catherineʻs is closing because of a student who tested positive, so she is getting tested and is quarantining. Of course all I can think about is Erinʻs cold last week, and Violetʻs random sore throat and headaches a few days earlier, and that student of mine who was on Hawaiʻi Island but then was in my classroom suddenly on Thursday. 

After our surf, sitting in the truck, watching the light on the water, I heard Roy Orbison singing with Tom Petty about the end of things. He said it is “alright, because every day is judgement day, and it is alright, at the end of the line.” And I stopped singing and just listened as the music filled up the truck and filled up my body.

December 14, 2020

I texted M—, C—, and S— that I planned to check Anchors around 7:00 this morning, hoping the wind was down again. The winds were light, maybe light enough to enjoy some surf out there, but there was almost no swell, so I checked Makaʻiwa in front of the restaurant on my way to work. The water here was cleaner, almost glassy, but the swell was not well organized. I decided to paddle out just to get salty before having to spend the day trying to learn with students behind computer screens.

The same nice, older local guy on the red longboard that was here at sunrise not long ago was out again. He asked me the same question he asked last time as I paddled over the shallow ledge, “See anything out there? Looking for waves!”

“Not much, just want to paddle before work,” was the same thing I had said last time. He laughed, talked about the dropping tide which leads to “morning sickness,” though I was hoping it would lead to at least a few hollow waves. He quickly caught a long left and headed in, leaving me alone.

The waves were small, maybe chest high at best, and there were long waits between rideable sets, though I was visited by a flurry of long fun rights. Those came in just a bit bigger and caught the reef so that I could drop in to the pocket, tuck under the lip, and then connect to the inside sections. I found a few bright close out barrels, the early sunlight illuminating the water around me, and then also one long left all the way to the rocks.

I ran up the beach and over to Lae Nani to rinse, worried about how late I might be for work. After rinsing, checking the time, and checking my emails, I changed under the tree, lingering for a moment, then headed for the classroom. I realized somewhere past the golf course that I had forgotten my surf shorts on the beach.

Sitting under the trees at Makaʻiwa

They were still there when I returned around 3:00 that afternoon.

December 18, 2020

I left school today at 11:20, after dealing with the Learning Hub and making sure some students had safe adults to talk to and were left alone. I messaged S— that I would meet him at the stables just before noon. He checked Waiohai and PKʻs but said both were pretty small. The trades were up back full force, steady and brisk, close to 20mph and the tide was dropping to .3 feet around 2:30. S— decided against fighting the wind and current and I headed down the hill, paddling out at the palindromic 12:21.

These are classic Mahaʻulepu conditions: steady trades, steady current, lots of water moving, salt spray in your eyes, nonstop paddling. I have been lucky this year, catching some east swells on glassy days, no wind, no current, and today I am lucky, catching Mahaʻulepu full of itself. The sets were easily overhead and all the rides were punchy, fast, and strong. The best waves hit the outside shelf just right, creating a nice drop and long rides. I took a few of these all the way into the last sections in the shallows, finding time and spots for three or four big snaps, sometimes a little cover up. I used the paddles back as a chance to slow my arms for a few minutes.

Eventually I was all paddled out, feeling good to feel my muscles so tired on this last day of the semester. I caught a left that closed out and then headed for the rock pile to see what I could find. After just a few minutes, a set came in, sucking the rocks dry. I paddled and popped up, happy to make it over the boils and out into the flats, then to the shore.

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