July 12-July 18, 2020

July 12, 2020

The moon is half full today and the tides are similar to yesterday, low in the early morning than basically high tide all day. I met M— down at Mahaʻulepu and we were in the water by 8:00. Two of the doctors were out, but they didn’t stay long. A skinny lady on a rasta colored wavestorm paddled out from the new makeshift camp we had seen on shore. She got stuck on the other side of the current, catching little inside lefts over and over again. Once she headed in, her friend paddled out on a white wavestorm outfitted with a fishing pole. He sat just beyond us, jigging his line up a down, and was gone in a matter of minutes, having drifted with the current almost to the cliffs.

M— and I talked story about the mess that this world is, particularly as school is set to “open.” We talked about other messes too, in his typical dry fashion. We paddled against the current, as one does in life, and took turns finding extremely fun waves, also a feature of living. Most waves today were strong, bowling at the peak, and running all the way in to the shallows. I found a few that tipped just over my back as I popped up, a few that turned into ramps for airs at the ends. At one point, the skies opened, just after the winds picked up, and it rained hard for five or ten minutes. It was that kind of rain on the ocean that splashes up so much salt water, everything starts to smooth out. Waves look like hills in an OʻKeefe painting and everything is quieter behind the sound of the rain beating the ocean, the water that is being rain becoming the water that is being an ocean, a series of waves.

***

Raining at Lae Nani

In the afternoon, I took the girls down to Lae Nani to meet C— and his kids. We sat and talked, again about these fucked up plans to force us back to school buildings and classrooms, while the kids played in the saltwater river. A couple, a meathead and a skinny woman in a thong, walked by us with their huge pitbull loping behind. The dog not only was off leash but had on no collar. The couple went in the water to snorkel right next to where the kids were playing and off course the dog tried to follow them, scaring the kids. I asked the guy if the dog was his and he said “Yes, sheʻs fine.” I asked if he could tie her up and he said “What the fuck for? Why?” After explaining that he canʻt have a loose dog at the beach, he just stared at me. After saying the kids were scared (they had run away by this point), he said “Oh, really…?” The question of the narcissist.

They got out in a huff and walked themselves and their dog as close to me and C— as possible without saying anything. Shortly thereafter, the skies opened again and C— and I tried our best to hide towels and bags from the rain. The kids kept playing in the river.

Once the rain let up, we spent the rest of the time bodyboarding and body surfing the sweet little waves peeling across the sand bar, pitbull free now.

July 13, 2020

Today Erin and I had hours and hours of online workshops and meetings, my first at 7:00 a.m. The kids had their 1:00 online summer class and Erin still had two more hours of virtual meetings to attend to. I took the kids out of the house a little after 2:00, to go play at the river. I knew the water would be high with rain but I just needed to get us all out.

When we pulled across the bridge at the far end of Hauaʻala, I could see that the river was running high but it wasn’t muddy. When we got down the bank, through the 10ʻ high buffalo grass, I saw that the pebbly shore that usually allowed us to walk to the little falls was totally covered. I also immediately saw a little, perfect river wave where the water gets deep and narrow. 

The wave at Kapaʻa Stream

We were able to play and have fun, building dams and ponds and catching little fish. Eventually the girls floated around in the shallow eddies away from the swift water in the middle. I kept looking back at that little wave and eventually pulled off my shorts and took the beater board out there, in just my black boxer briefs. I had a hard time getting into the wave at first but eventually figured it out on the third attempt and body boarded for a while, drifting back and forth staying in the moving pocket. Shortly after I got out, the wave disintegrated. Maybe a rock shifted or the water level changed just enough, but it was fun while it lasted.

July 16, 2020

The moon is on its way to new, to renewal. I was talking to Erin about that word today. The connotation is one of returning to former newness, or former quality, but literally, to re new is to become new again, not the same. I like that the moon becomes new when it is not visible and that it is remaking itself into a different celestial light as it grows through the sky each month.

The low tide today was at 0.0 feet, just before 6:00 a.m. High tide was somewhere around 2:00 in the afternoon. The girls went to hang with M–, Erin went on a hike and then worked on her next essay for Merwin, and I headed back to Mahaʻulepu. There was almost no one there when I arrived. Just one spear fisherman headed up the cliff as I headed down. The morning sun, shielded by large white clouds, turned the water into silver and black. As the sun peaked out, the outside sets started to glow turquoise, like they were lit from inside. The waves were fine, topping out at chest or head high, and mostly slow and soft. A few bombs rolled through with nice ramp sections, and some of the smaller ones let me ride all the way in up onto the almost dry reef. Eventually a woman paddled out, getting in the water in front of the house and then paddling straight across the shallows. She sat way inside most of the time, near where M— or C— end their waves, but she found some decent insiders. We chatted eventually, about the day, the waves, the crowd, why Mahaʻulepu is special, and then I found one last wave and headed in.

I cracked my right big toe pretty bad on my way up the hill, the same toe I broke 15 years ago at Shipwrecks. I am certain it will just always be sore.

July 17, 2020

Calm Morning at Anchors

When I have something, a tool, a door hinge, a bolt, that is stuck, I have one method for fixing it. Spray it with lubricant and then open and close, open and close, by force, until everything moves smoothly again. Sometimes I use the same philosophy on weird noises in a vehicle or other gas powered devices…rev it it hard and then see if it works. Sometimes I use this thought process on bodily injuries, too, with a strained finger or twisted ankle, just move it through the pain to see if it goes better. Anyway, I decided to put my very sore toe to the test this morning. I had planned on not surfing for at least a few days, with how difficult it was to walk all day yesterday but the winds were just too perfect to ignore Anchors.

I paddled out around 7:30 in the morning, about an hour after the negative low tide, but the tide is always low at Anchors. I figured I would mostly paddle around, find a few small waves, and just test my foot. I ended up having a very fun session catching mostly rights. I was able to get in early, before the air drop, setting myself up for making the second section and ducking under the lip as the wave bowled and bent. I am now always prepared for this wave to be fast, powerful beyond its size, but I still marvel at the power and speed, these waves rushing in out of open ocean unslowed by any reef or sea floor until they hit the shallow reef outside the Kapaʻa Public Library.

Towards the end of the session, a light wind came up, so light I could barely sense it on my skin, but it changed the glassy, hollow rights into lightly folded swells that were much less predictable. The last two waves I caught started as rights but both urged me to cut back left after my bottom turn. My last wave was great, challenging, fun. I took the steep drop, bottom turned to take the right, ducking a bit as the wall tipped over my back and then I cut it back left, hard. I saw the left running out down the line, the bottom dropping out even as I made my turn. For a moment I thought I might not make it, but I pumped down the secondary drop and everything lined up for a brilliant, long, fast left, all the way to the edge of the slab on the inside, where the eponymous anchor lay half buried in the island.

I paddled in, tired and happy. As I hopped off my board in the shallows and my feet hit the sand, I saw something bright blue rolling in the shore break. I reached down and pulled up a cool little cobalt blue bottle that once held milk of magnesia, medicine for people long since dead. What will someone pull from the sand 90 years from now that we once used to heal ourselves?

Milk of Magnesia bottle from Anchors

July 5-July 11, 2020

July 7, 2020

The low tide is negative this morning, again. Yesterday at low tide, Erin and I walked Pilaʻa and saw turtle tracks in the sand.

Turtle tracks at Pilaʻa in the morning sand.

Today, the girls are sleeping over at their friendsʻ house in Kalāheo tonight, so we all headed down to Waiohai before sending them off. I decided to try my wooden board out as a twin fin, paddling out to Left Lefts first before heading over to the crowded main break on the reef. I talked story with J– and a former student, K–, in between waves, mostly about school and life. 

The waves were small and weak, but I was able to find a few fun ones anyway. The board definitely feels better as a twin fin, looser, easier to pump and do a real bottom turn, but I still couldn’t make a sharp cut back. The board feels slow and glidey, heavy, but fun. I want to get it on a wave with some power to really feel how it goes, but that may take a while. As I was putting the board into the truck, I heard a sloshing sound and then confirmed that the board had taken on water. While making that confirmation, I also noticed that I had lost a fin during my surf. I suspect that the screws were not quite tight enough and the weight of the board pulled the fin out.

Once I am home, I mentally trouble shoot how to get the water out and try to still feel successful in this board build. As I have told my students nonstop for years, we must celebrate failures, seek them out. Well, here is one.

July 11, 2020

High tide was at 9:37 this morning, topping out just under 1 foot. The moon is almost half full and the tides are basically flat between the morning high and the afternoon low of .71 ft.

We decided to head to Waiohai again with the whole family to see if we could find some sunshine. Thursday and Friday were full of huge, fast rain showers and gray skies, a nice change but not conducive to big outdoor adventures. C– met us an hour or so after we got there. A– and S– showed up a while after that, and M– and his blended crew arrived in the early afternoon.

I decided to paddle out as soon as we arrived, just to get a few waves. I could see from the shore that the tide was too high and the waves were mostly mushing out, but it always feels good to paddle. I saw a few former students, T– and J–. T– was on a bright yellow bodyboard and gave me his typical nod hello that was so subtle and full of apathetic disdain that you wonder if he nodded at all. J–, on the other hand, talked my ear off for a long while, catching me up on his life and his sister. The line up was a bit crowded, especially for the quality of waves, but none of the typical characters were out there. One old uncle on a longboard kept snaking all the good waves from way outside and a young woman in a tiny black thong sat shivering in the wind. She managed to find a good looking right, pumping down the line, her body appearing and disappearing below the lip. She headed in after that one, perhaps wishing for more material.

Other than talking with J– and watching the bathing suits, the session was uneventful. I found a few set wave rights that closed out, a few that lined up, and one really fun left that took me from the main break all the way through to the inside bowling section in just inches of water. I spent the rest of the day talking story with family and friends on shore. C– took the bonzer out for a quick session.

June 28-July 4, 2020

June 28, 2020

The moon is half full today and I am surprised at how quickly that happened. The high tide was at 11:30ish, topping out over 1 foot, but the south swell was predicted to be filling in. I met M– back at Mahaʻulepu, both of us hoping to pick up some of the big south swell without the scene that happens at Acids. We didn’t see much of promise from up top, but we headed down anyway and were rewarded with some truly fun surf. The difference between yesterday and today is stark. The waves today stood up tall and fat, some pitching over at the peak and again on the inside, many easily over head. Though the wait between sets was long and unpredictable, there was still plenty of fun to be had. 

Between waves we chatted about dogs, boards, our children growing up, the virus. We talked about empathy, or the general lack thereof, that seems to be somehow stuck to people of privilege. M– also talked about when he worked for a newspaper in Sitka and the guy who took his job, who now works for Stanford and writes books about his life with his wife and kids traveling the world on a tugboat.

There were almost no people on the shore, no one in the water with us. A few couples walked by, with dogs or without. One stopped to watch us and seemed to wave, though we did not know them. A couple of young women did a photoshoot, taking turns being the subject and photographer, showing off their carefree lifestyle in thongs. When they finished, they changed into hiking clothes, one simply standing naked for a moment, spinning her bathing around in the air, to shake the water out I suppose, her body moving in time with the suit. The other laid down to change, a bit more modest I guess, but sandier for her modesty.

After a few hours, after the women walked off, a group of three surfers headed down the hill. M– was already late to make it home and I was not interested in waiting through the long lulls to then jostle for the one or two waves that showed up in the sets. He made it in on a decent left and I found one more fun right, winding all the way inside to a ramp that helped me boost high and fast. I landed in the flats and stayed up for just a second, then paddled back out. The crew of three paddled past, two women in that new vogue, a one piece thong, and a guy. They smiled and said hello. “That was a great wave you just caught,” the sun shining on her as she glided past me. “Thanks. Some fun ones out here.”

After a quick visit at M–ʻs house, and some lunch with Erin and V, I took Violet out for a surf. We headed down to Wailua Bay to check out the sandbar that had setup since the storms this March. The waves was breaking way out and were much bigger than what she has been riding at Hanalei, but she was stoked to get in the water. I paddled out with her on the front of the board, surprised at how difficult that was. We pearled on our first wave but Violet popped up laughing. From there, it was wave after wave, long rides, me steering from the back, Violet standing, crouching, touching the wave face with her hands. She caught a few on her own, proud that she was surfing with big kids and grown ups around, who all smiled and shouted at her rides.

I havenʻt surfed three days in a row for quite a while, twice today, once with an extra 50 pounds on my board. I am tired and happy.

June 29, 2020

Strike that. Four days in a row now. I ran down to Kealia around 9:30 for a quick one hour session while my students were working on Lexia. The shore down there is still covered in sticks, twigs, tree limbs, huge trunks, and tiny branches, but the water is clear now, blue and white and green. The large south swell was pushing into the bay, closing out across the middle sandbars, but a few lefts and rights were running at the north end, the landing.

This is the same ocean, the same beach. I have been in these waters for 40+ years, the waves are energy from somewhere, from a storm near New Zealand, from a tropical storm halfway to Mexico, from winds that swept across tundra, across mountains, across places with names I donʻt know, that are maybe lost to English. The water at Kealia has decided to be an ocean, to be a bay, wiikwegamaa. The water at Kealia was once a river, was once a rain storm, was once an ocean somewhere else, and the water there now has decided to be a wave, or a series of waves, crashing across the sands and sticks on the shores of Kealia Kai.

I paddled out, my muscles sore from the last few days of surfing. The waves, the water being a wave, rolled through fast and heavy, most not breaking until the inside shallows, the tide too high. I was lured over to the inside as I waited for my first wave and was then caught out of position when the set finally rolled in, twice as big and well over head, thicker than a building, breaking way outside. I missed that first set. I missed the next, as well. I was scratching around, trying to find the water being a wave I could ride. Eventually I found a rhythm and was able to get five or six fun rides in before my hour in the ocean was up. I took my last wave, a big clean right, all the way to shore, showered, and headed home to finish teaching, where my students were waiting to learn about and practice curiosity and kindness.

***

The wind and the surfer are in a complicated relationship.
The wind is necessary, sought after, studied, followed.
It brings the waves. It sweeps the water up into water that is being a wave, water that is being a wave crashing across a reef.
The wind is air, molecules, persuaded to move from high to low pressure, running across the sea, from somewhere else, until it reaches me.
But the wind also crosses up those waves, pushes them down into white wash, into disorganized piles of sound and energy.

The wind and the surfer are in a complicated relationship.

***

“It is July and I have hope in who I am becoming.”

“…never seemed so strange…”

Looking over pali in July.

July 2, 2020

Originally the 5th month, quintilis, renamed to honor Julius in the later Roman calendar, replacing the old english “later mildness,” as opposed to the earlier mildness of June.

Today is my birthday, 42 years ago. After teaching my last class of the summer, and a great breakfast and presents, and a foot scrub of coffee grounds and olive oil, we packed up and headed to Mahaʻulepu. The moon is well past half, nearing three quarters full and the tide is exceptionally high, topping out at 2.23 feet around 2:45 this afternoon.

We made it down to the beach by 11:00, me with a body board for the girls, my backpack with water and a book, and my just finished wooden board under my aching arm. 18 pounds seems fine walking around the yard, but 18 pounds is heavy under the arm on a walk down the hill and across the stream and over rocks and down the shore. I paddled that new board out for the first time into an already high tide and decent swell, hoping for the best. It paddles well, floats perfectly, and surfs alright. On a wave, it feels different, heavy, slow maybe, very tight in the tail, and the inside rail wants to dip under the water, but I eventually found a fun rhythm with it and enjoyed the strange, heavy, glidey feel of it under my feet over the water.

I only stayed out for about an hour, just wanting to try it out, to see if all that work was worth it or folly. After a number of fun, head high waves, I floated straight in over the reef to join my family under the trees. We snacked and headed up the shore to swim. The girls decided it would be more fun to bodysurf naked (who can argue). The waves were pounding up where we were swimming, pitching up and barreling across the sand then running high up the shore to the naupaka and iron wood. The water was crystal clear, light blue, and wonderful. We all had fun, Erin floating and letting some waves push her, the girls diving under big sets, body surfing up the sand, and flipping over so their butts popped out of the water, and me riding the red bodyboard into some super fun shore break. Eventually, I joined the girls in some skinny dipping, before we all headed back to our stuff.

It is always ourselves we find in the sea. That is what it says on the underside of the board I built. I donʻt feel like I am looking, but I think it is a true fact.

June 21-June 27, 2020

June 21, 2020

Father’s Day. 

Today was wonderful. Slow. Quiet, mostly. We got up, had coffee, eggs, and cinnamon rolls, courtesy of Erin. The girls gave me cards and presents, poems, surf shorts, an enameled dutch oven in the shape of a loaf of bread, and sunglasses. We left for Hanalei Bay around 8:30, Erin having planned and packed everything. 

We spent most of the day, 9:15ish until well past 2:30 or 3:00, hanging out at the pier, surfing, swimming, flying a kite, jumping off the pier, marveling at the hundreds of tiny oama washed up on shore. The waves were smaller than the last time I took the girls up here, but we walked down to a little sandbar closer to the pavilion and found some sweet little waves. Later we surfed the sandbar on the river side of the pier, but by then the water was crowded. Violet and Evora both did well, surfing through the crowds and still having fun.

Evora paddling back out at Hanalei.

Before the third rain squall came in, we packed up and headed home. 

June 26, 2020

The moon is waxing now, but still a while away from half full. High tide topped out at 0.66 feet just after 8:30 this morning and a south swell is supposed to be filling in. Our family surf day at Hanalei got scrapped at the last minute because Erin has found a mini Aussie for us to buy and we need to meet the puppy and mama in Kalaheo at 11:30. I decided to leave early to get in a surf before the meeting of the dog, but then Erin and the girls decided to make it a Waiohai day, so we all hurried to eat breakfast and load up the truck.

I drop them off at Poʻipū beach park and head towards Mahaʻulepu, knowing from my glimpse of the east side and south side that the swells arenʻt really here yet. At the last second, I decide to check Keoneloa Bay instead. The water is beautiful, blues and greens, and the breeze is almost off shore. The crowd is light, just one bodyboarder, a big guy on a small soft top, and a woman on a shortboard. I can tell that the swell isnʻt here either, but I know Mahaʻulepu will not be better, so I paddle out into the morning water.

I want to set up deep, over in front of the lava rock point, but the three people already out are floating in my way. The waves are slow in coming through, and when a set does show up, a few waves close out across the middle, one breaks deep by the rocks, and maybe one comes in just right. Eventually, I find a rhythm, and I think the waves improved over the two hours I was out. I found a series of three waves in a row, all head high and hollow, one with a strange bending section on the end. I ducked under the lip of another, made it out, then pulled into a beautiful and bright close out barrel, all the water around me lit up blue and white, silent in that one second, blinding. 

There were a few other fun waves today, many barrels of incandescent colors, and one sketchy late drop. I was set up deep in front of the rocks, finally the others out of the way, and a perfect set wave came in. I scratched to the edge and got slightly hung up in the lip as the bottom sucked up. I felt too far forward over my front leg as I dropped in, my fins releasing from the face, but somehow I made it and sped off down the line, too surprised to do much of anything except smile. 

There was almost no one on the beach today, either, an ongoing side effect of this virus. One older guy was sitting in the middle of the beach, two young women were sunbathing down near the cliffs, and two other young women walked out and sat right in front of the surf break. The older guy was actually alternating between watching the water and swimming out to body surf. The two girls closest to us were a bit of an odd couple, one in a lavender thong, the other in a baggy black t-shirt and jean shorts. As I walked up the steep sandy shore, I noticed that girl laughing and then I recognized her as was my student, S–. I waved and said “Hi, S–,” without pausing or veering towards them, not wanting to be that creepy teacher that invades the lives of students out in the world. But also, was she laughing at a joke, at seeing me, at realizing the surfer in the water was her teacher?

Later, I put the fin plugs in my wooden board while the kids played with a friend and Erin was writing.

“itʻs always ourselves we find in the sea…” My chambered board with the fins installed.

June 27, 2020

M– had to reschedule, so I ended up at Mahaʻulepu alone this morning. The waters were clear and green and the waves were mushy, soft, and a weird backwash was rushing across the reef out into the inside sections. The tide was high by the time I made it to the water, somewhere after 8:00, but I still found some fun rides, like dirt bike tracks unfolding on the fly.

Today, I was surrounded by fish, blues and silvers and greens. At one point, the huge shadow of a turtle or seal floated through the face of the wave in front of me, surprising in size and also its subsequent disappearance. I hoped to see the little head of a turtle pop up for breath, to convince me that I did not see a shark, but all I saw were triangles of light across the tops of the swell.

I headed in after a few hours, and made my way home, after a stop at the hardware store for lumber.

June 14-June 20, 2020

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.

Glueing the chambered board together

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

Ev and V paddling out at the pier

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.

June 7-June 13, 2020

June 7, 2020

Yesterday, the moon was Kulua, or Kulu, to drop or pass, as time does. Today the moon is one day closer to new and the tides are still swinging from below zero in the morning to almost 2.5 feet in the afternoon.

I met M– on the road in front of Acids around 8:15 this morning. The south swell was gone and what waves were coming through were crumbly, so we headed for Maha’ulepu, where I hoped the east swell I saw on the buoys would finally give us a proper session out there. We were not disappointed.

Two of the Wilcox Hospital crew were out when we got to the line up, around 8:40. They chatted amiably for a bit about how fun the waves were, and then they headed to work. M– and I spent the next few hours talking and surfing. The current was brisk but not overwhelming, the wind was steady but not too strong, the water was clear, blue green, and the waves were consistent, no lulls. Most of the sets were head high but a few came in overhead. This was not a day of weaving from pocket to pocket all the way across the last section of inches deep water; no barrels or ramps today. Just big faces for big turns.

At one point, I took off late on a big set wave. I made the drop but just couldn’t get my balance right to make the bottom turn. I faded, crouched, the whole way down the face, and finally bailed at the bottom, only to be sucked back up and over as the wave passed. I climbed my leash up to the surface and had a split second to breathe before the next one came down on me. This time my feet hit the bottom as I felt my leash snap. Luckily my board popped out of the foam a few feet away as I broke the surface. No damage done, except the broken leash strap, but I did take a slow and wide paddle back to the line up, catching my breath.

M– headed in at that point and I carefully caught a few more rights, leashless now, before finding a nice left and heading for the shore as well.

What do we talk about in the water? Kids, school, fences, dogs, partners, all conversation colored now by the virus. An ʻiwa bird flew over, a perfect silhouette across the blue and white sky. I think about K– and L– randomly, when I am at the river, or the ocean, or see a bird like that and my heart drops and waves pass, as time does.

June 12, 2020

The rain last night was hard and the skies were still wet as the sun woke us up. The plan today was a family beach day at Waiohai, or more accurately, the strip of sand in front of the Waiohai Resort. The tide today was mostly flat, rising from a low of .25 feet at 4:28 a.m. to a high of .7 feet at almost 11:00 and then to the second low of .6 feet at 2:15 p.m. The moon today is just a bit over half full, waning, and the winds were brisk.

We made it to the beach around 8:45, maybe 9:00. The sands were mostly empty, as was the lineup. I immediately saw the large east swell wrapping in around the rocky point off the former tombolo, lighting up the rights out on the reef, with Left Lefts also working. There was one person at the main break and a family pack of bodyboarders headed out to Left Lefts. I haven’t seen the wave at Waiohai this empty…ever, maybe. I quickly got ready and paddled out, into the blues. I paddled over a turtle, over the sand, the reef, noticing that what I once thought was a long haul, seemed short, after all my days at Anchors and Honus.

I spent about two hours surfing and the crowd never got over five, unheard of here. There was the woman we passed in the parking lot, in her purple and black shorty wetsuit, her face painted white with sunblock, reminiscent of Dylan in the Rolling Thunder Review but without the hat. The bald white guy trying to catch lefts, closer to Sheratons, stayed mostly over there. An older local guy covered in tattoos joined us, with his strange pop up style. Every wave, he had a hitch in his pop up, with his feet close together, one arm up and bent, knees almost meeting, until he shifted into a more traditional stance. He looked like a study in retro surf, but somehow here on a modern shortboard. Eventually he told me he was feeling off and he couldn’t get his feet right when he popped up today. So, not style, just not feeling it. A couple of longboarders rounded out the crowded at it largest, one of them that guy with the sides of his head shaved and his sun blond hair on top hanging over, Zach Morris style, except this guy is huge, with a hulking, hairy, somewhat hunched back, and tiny lavender professional wrestling shorts. Everyone was friendly and chatty, normal for out here, as I remember, and every one was sharing waves, not so normal.

I found plenty of fun rides today. The sets were large, well over head, some coming in too close to Left Lefts and closing out, but many were setting up perfectly, with open faces and long rides down the line to the shallow inside sections. I took off late on one set wave, under the lip, and surprised myself with an unexpected, though brief, barrel ride. Another wave set me up to try boosting a little air, like I do at Mahaʻulepu. I carried way more speed into it than I anticipated and found myself well above the lip, possibly with an assist from the wind. I landed it, another surprise.

The wind never bothered the waves but did bring some rain. I saw the black clouds headed our way and thought about heading in to help Erin and the girls find a dry place to hide from the sprinkles, but before I could make up my mind, the rain arrived, not a sprinkle, but huge, fat, heavy rain. Nothing to do but get rained on. The shower passed as quickly as it arrived and the rest of our day was breezy and sunny. 

I paddled with Violet across the bay to the little island, a long way for a 7 year old. We found some cool tide pools with rushing water from one to the next. She found some shells and rocks and on our way to cross back to shore, we found a huge sleeping honu, right there with us on the sand. Later, when we were exploring the little tide pools by the chlorinated one, we found lots of tiny fish and a beautiful baby eel. It opened its mouth and sneered, I think, curled itself, and slitherswam away.

May 30-June 6, 2020

May 31, 2020

The moon was inching past half full and the low tide was just below 0 at about 5:50 this morning. High tide topped out at 1.17 feet at 12:39 p.m. The trades were blowing, moderately, cooling the day. We all went down to Mahaʻulepu, with a stop at Konohiki for musubi and chi chi dango and then Walmart for a honu floaty. I dropped the girls and Erin off at Keoneloa Bay so they could hike in and I parked over near the stables. I hauled my 7’ single fin down the hill, along with the Beater board, the waterbottle, and the snacks.

The waves were a bit warbly, the tide already high enough to send a backwash out across the reef, but I had fun anyway, as usual. The first few waves were decent in size, but soft and slow. It felt like surfing in mud compared to that tiny Vanguard out at Anchors the other day. As the swell shifted and the tide continued its rise, the waves began breaking closer in, causing them to bowl up and speed up down the line. The bottom dropped out of a few, letting me drop down into the hollow section, with one arm on the face of the wave as it peeled over me, and the other grabbing the rail. I remember the tail releasing on one wave as I grabbed rail on the inside and then feeling it catch again as the lip covered me and I glided out the back.

I paddled in when Erin and the girls walked up to the trees, Evora waving and Violet yelling “Hi! Dad!” As is usual now, especially with Violet, they immediately needed everything: a snack, the ants off the banana, some water, the floaty blown up, dad to swim with, the Beater in water. Somehow we weathered the storm of requests and enjoyed a beautiful day at the beach, swimming, floating, bodyboarding with Violet on my back, catching waves on the honu, dodging rocks.

As everyone was wrapping up their last swim, I paddled the Beater out across the reef and over to the main break, just to mess around. By this time, the tide was so high, the waves were breaking well up on the main ledge. I had a surprising amount of fun catching these hollow little runners in inches of water, no wax, no leash, no problem.

***

The month of June might be named for the Roman goddess Juno, the wife of Jupiter. Or it might be a variant of the Latin word iuniores, meaning younger ones, as opposed to May’s nod to the older ones, maiores. The Old English word for this month, a word I can’t pronounce or seem to replicate on the keyboard, means “earlier mildness.” Perfect for the time of year that holds the coming of summer not yet here and the later mildness, or extremes, before summer actually arrives, just hinting at the way the year might age. This month is the inverse of December, carrying the longest day to oppose December’s shortest. 

“Pegging clothing on the line
Training jasmine how to vine
Up the arbor to your door
And more”
“The truth is I've been dreaming of some tired tranquil place
Where the weather won't get trapped inside my bones
And if all the years of searching find one sympathetic face
Then it's there I will plant these seeds and make my home”

My daughter and my grandmother and the month before summer.

June 1, 2020

No surfing today. We left early to take the family to Lumahai. Ke Hala Hala, actually, just around the corner from Waikoko’s. We got to the beach by 8:15 and had it almost to ourselves. I haven’t been here for 17 years, when Erin and I made a brief visit during the spring we spent here before grad school. Today we, Erin, me, Violet, and Evora, spent the day swimming, bodysurfing, and cliff jumping. Not a bad way to welcome in the earlier mildness.

June 2, 2020

The moon is waxing, approaching full, and the high tide is over 2 feet today, in early afternoon, just when I have a few hours to run down to the water. The south swell is rising to advisory heights but I only have time for an east side surf. The winds are light enough, so I head to Anchors again, this time with Tudor twin fin.

The combination of the high tide and the large south swell makes the break a bit of a mess. Waves are coming in at all angles, across each other, splitting apart into two or three different waves, or even one large wave breaking on top as another wave sucks up and breaks half way down the face. Each weird wave was still sucking off and exploding back on to that ledge that makes the wave so fun, when it works. I managed to find a few fun lefts amidst all the cross swell. 

My last wave came in around head high and then the bottom dropped out, as I expected, adding a few feet to the face. I made the drop and only had time to pump down the line, away from the lip, so I could make the section. Then the whole wave bent to the north, at almost a right angle. I made a huge, long top turn as the wave curved quickly, perpendicular to the shore, like making the turn at the top of a skate pool. With that strange ride behind me, I paddled home.

June 3, 2020

The moon is closer to full, the tide even higher, again exactly when we decide to head to the beach, right after lunch. Erin and I meet C– down at Lae Nani around 1:00, mostly to hang out for the first time since before quarantine. I brought the twin fin and the Beater board, mostly for Violet. There was a decent wave at Makaʻiwa, in front of the restaurant, but I didn’t paddle out. I just enjoyed talking story, sitting in the shade, and swimming with the kids.

Once Violet had abandoned the Beater board, I paddled out to the edge of the kiddy pool and waited for a set, more of that south energy surging in. I found two fun little runners, one had enough face for me to make the bottom turn and a small cut back, before gliding me all the way in to shore, just along the rock wall. Some girl gasped as I went by, “Oh, surfing” and I didn’t know what to think about that.

June 5, 2020

Low tide was at 8:31 this morning, at -0.42 feet, rising all day to a high of 2.29 feet at 4:13 this afternoon. The south swell was still maxing out, through the day, coming in consistently at 6-8 feet, occasionally 10 feet. Today is the first day of the full moon, called Akua. Tomorrow is Hoku. The final day is Mahealani. If the full moon is still in the sky tomorrow morning, it will be called Hoku ili, the stranded moon.

M– was working today. C– had the kids. S– never responded. Erin took the girls to meet some friends at Tunnels. I headed south to see if I could finally get into some decent south swell. As I rolled down the road towards NTBG, Smokeys came into view, then the condos and the restaurant block my sight line, then PKs, and Centers, and Acid Drops, with Heroins and Kukuiʻula in the distance. The road was covered with sand and gravel from the swell pushing yesterday’s high tide up over the wall. I watched Acids for a few minutes. Two people were out, a sure sign that it wasn’t really working. When the sets rolled in, they were way up toward the reef at Centers, almost across the channel, which is another sure sign that the wave isn’t working. Acids breaks deep, off a ledge in the middle of deep water, the wave drops and peels and pitches over, usually spitting as the barrel reaches the bend before the last section runs out into the inside lagoon. Today, it looked wrong, sideways, closing out. I moved on.

I parked at Kukuiʻula harbor at about 9:25 to watch my little unnamed wave underneath Spouting Horn. I could see the sets rolling in, breaking off the lava bench, so I suited up and paddled out, after one more sip of coffee. The low tide was causing the water to boil with every swell and the deep waves, breaking close to the bench, were dropping out in sickening barrels. Not for me. I briefly thought about paddling back and heading to Mahaʻulepu, but I stayed out. And I am glad that I did.

I soon found that the sets were breaking a bit away from the rock, east towards the boat harbor. These waves, the best of them, were pleasingly large and powerful, some with great bowling sections and huge swaths of face to glide across. I surfed for three hours, constantly paddling due to the current, but also constantly catching waves. A few were lackluster, most were great, and a few were nearly epic, providing a perfect combination of size and face. The twin fin was the right call for this wave today, giving me plenty of paddle and plenty of speed and many fun fish tail slides and cutbacks. Before heading in, I tried to get in close enough to the lava bench to paddle into one of the barreling trains that were cutting across the shallows. I got into a smallish one, just chest or head high, and took off in the barrel, the lip immediately curling over me as I felt that escalator lift that M– talks about before I sped off into the flats to safety.

On the paddle back, I stayed close to the rocky shore, avoiding the worst of the current. I caught a little right into the tiny bay on the east side, just before the rock pile that sticks out. Then I continued to the point of that center reef and caught one more weird little wave, mostly just an assist towards the distant shore.

Two huge turtles were hauled up on the pocket beach the whole time I surfed. A few more had visited me in the water. The wave here is big and sloping, with nooks and pockets and bowls that come and go as the swell rolls from shallow spot to shallow spot separated by deep. I think of this wave as Honus.

May 23-May 29, 2020

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.

Pali Ke Kua (Hideaways)

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.

May 16-May 22, 2020

May 17, 2020

Low tide was just before 7:00, at nearly 0.0 feet and high tide was around 1:40, topping out at 1.22 feet, a decent swing by Kauaʻi standards. The NW and SSW swells are still going strong; the winds are still light but trending up. 

I met M– in front of Acid Drop, getting there 10 minutes before he arrived at 8:00 this morning. The crowds were much lighter than Friday, with just four guys out at Acids and six over at Centers. I watched the waves roll through while I waited. The sets looked fun enough and the crowd was small enough to make me want to take my first paddle out at Acids this season. M– wasn’t feeling it. He was worried the crowd would grow exponentially, which is definitely possible down here, and the wave looked a bit warbly, not its clean normal self. I think the swell direction was causing a weird close out section in front of the peak. We opted to check out Mahaʻulepu, though I knew the south swell wouldn’t be there.

We saw a few waves roll through and thought there would be enough for a fun session, so we headed down the hill. I checked in with the local guy who had his fishing line out right where I like to walk across the reef. No problems. M– went around the long way, paddling his new 6ʻ baby blue single fin through the sandy section. Those few waves we saw from up the hill were a bit of a mirage as the truth was much slower and smaller. We mostly talked and paddled around, finding a handful of waves over the two hours. One or two came in at chest high, but there were many more turtles near us than waves today. As I have said before, it is fun to surf, to be in the water, to paddle, to feel the current, the wind, to catch whatever comes by and to surf the wave we are on, not the wave we wish for.

After a miscommunication with Erin about meeting up or coming home or something else, the girls, Erin, and I headed out to spend the afternoon at North Aliomanu. We found a little mini cove tucked away on the north side of the beach. From the main stretch of sand, it looks like just giant black boulders, but one step over the first boulder, and all we see is a beautiful mix of yellow sand and perfect sitting and lounging rocks, with a few wonderful trees sharing ample shade with the shore.

The water out front of this little spot is deep, with large pockets of sand and awesome coral heads and canyons and caverns in a vibrant reef. We all enjoyed being able to swim, the girls especially. They put their goggles on and went diving and swimming and exploring, letting the currents take them way out. Erin and I followed them on body boards and we all wound our way back to nearshore.

While Erin, Evora, and Violet took a break to read and snack, I paddled way out and to the north, exploring the shallow outside reef and the sketchy wave I had seen. I quickly discovered that the spot was too shallow for riding, not even deep enough for my bodyboard, but I caught a little mini swell back in to the deep section. I also found a tiny peeler that pulled right across the inside shallows into the boulders and sand.

North Aliomanu

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