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

May 2-May 8, 2020

May 3, 2020

M– mentioned he might be able to surf this morning, so I headed for Mahaʻulepu, hoping the wind wouldn’t be too bad. The low tide bottomed out at -0.07 feet at 7:14 this morning, which meant a rising tide. I love catching Mahaʻulepu just after a really low tide. The skies were blue, dotted with the typical trade wind white clouds. The sun was still low enough when I parked, around 8:45, to make the waters sparkle grey and black, turning the clear blues and greens opaque. The wind rushing sideshore, almost offshore, textured the ocean, the sunlight low, blazing off of liquid, always in motion, broken glass. I texted M– a general rundown: “Little bit of a wave. Two people out. Headed down the hill.” And then I indeed headed down the hill.

By the time I had put my bag and towel on the tree and peed, M– was stepping up the bluff to join me under the iron woods, formerly Hale Nalu. We chatted a bit, waxed up, and then he headed his way and I headed for my favored walk across the reef. The water was perfect, cool under the warm sun, and the current wasn’t too bad. M– and I reconvened out at the break, chatting briefly with the two guys out; one a doctor from urgent care that M– knew and the other that guy I surfed with at Playgrounds who was planning his trip to Indo. I suppose that was canceled along with the rest of the world. They headed in shortly and we enjoyed the break to ourselves for the next hour.

The waves were pleasant, not super consistent but the waits weren’t too long either. We found many fun rides to salt and pepper our conversation which ranged from children to viruses to building boards and other ways to positively spend a life. Eventually we were visited by three spear fishermen, lazily drifting and diving through the lineup, an unusual occurrence. M– paddled in after an hour, shortly behind the divers, on the end of a decent left, and I stayed for another hour or so, alone. 

***

“All our waves are water.”
    -Jaimal Yogis

Even the waves of joy and pain and grief, the waves of interest and focus, of apathy or disgust, the waves of pleasure and mourning, the ones we ride, the ones we watch, all our waves are water, as are we.

***

Hoʻopiʻi Falls between surfs

May 8, 2020

The low tide was around 9:30 this morning, bottoming out just under -0.4 feet, one of the lowest tides of the year. The full moon, Mahealani, set at 7:09 this morning, dragging the tides along behind it. Today the trades continued to bless us with beautiful skies, blues and whites, helping the sun to shine through the salt thick air.

S– headed for Waiohai. M– headed to court. C– suggested Mahaʻulepu. Those winds though suggested that nowhere would be great. As I drove past Wailua, looked out at Makaʻiwa, I could see there was no real swell making it to shore. I still held out hope that there would be a mystery bump down at Mahaʻulepu but when I pulled up at about 11:45, Erinʻs Motherʻs Day Cake chilling in the cooler, I could tell there wasn’t much happening. The tide was still super low, which down here limits how much of the swell makes it in and changes where it breaks. I sat and watched for five minutes, ten, twenty, and was still not convinced anything was rideable. The wind was smoothing out the seas, holding up any swell that looked like it might break in time, and the waves were pushed way inside, breaking deeper than usual, across the entire shallow shelf, effectively a whole rideʻs length closer to shore.

I decided to head down and just paddle around, maybe head out past the outside reef to work my arms and back. C– arrived just after I made it to the adjusted lineup, his hoodie up, protecting his skull from the sun. Surfing any wave is fun, more fun than it looks. Despite the looks from shore, I found wave after wave and was surprised on each one by the novelty of a peak I know better than any showing me something different. Since the waves were pushed so deep, almost to the house, and the tide was so low, the rides were reeling off in unexpected ways. 

I found a few bowling sections, a few sections of face to hack at, and few times I could lay back and tuck under the lip, all with the wind blowing sea salt in my face. Over the two hours, C– and I talked about work, kids, the virus, always the virus, and even found a few mini-bombs rolling through. We did not talk about mother’s day, but I wished K–and L– a happy day as I drifted between waves.

“Was it good?” S– texted later. “It was fun,” is my response. “Lucky to be in the ocean.”

April 25-May 1, 2020

April 26, 2020

The moon was new a few days ago, maybe yesterday, and the morning low tide has been negative. Today it bottomed out at 10:50 a.m. reaching down to -0.11 feet. I did not know this as I pulled up to Makaʻiwa, standing on the shore at 10:45. In my head was the 9:00 a.m. low of Friday and I assumed the tide would be well on its way up by the time I got to the beach. The negative tide was only one problem with paddling out at Makaʻiwa in front of Lava Lava. Another was the green and brown water. Yet another was the swell itself, messy due to the stiff trades and the mixed swell directions. Also, the sets were much bigger than I had anticipated, but none of these issues stopped me from a paddle. Just get wet, as they say.

The first half of the session was a wild mess of green water, sucking barrels with no bottoms, boils and fountains of white water exploding out the backs of the set waves. As soon as I made it out to the peak, a large a-frame came my way. I was in position for the left, so I turned, popped up and barely made the drop, fins releasing from the wave face momentarily. As I struggled to land the airdrop and I grabbed my rail, I could see that I was much deeper than I had hoped, the rest of the wave pitching over down the line. I managed to stay up and stay just in front of the crashing lip all the way out into the flat section near the heiau. I paddled back out to the peak, sufficiently creeped out now, as I understood the tide was way too low and the swell was way too wild.

Iʻll just find a few corners, paddle around, I thought, and stay safe.

That first hour was sketchy, dodging bombs, constantly feeling the rush of water up through the holes in the reef after the wave washed through, always worried my feet were going to drag on the rocks. I managed to find some fun waves, despite the craziness, though one did dump me over and hand me yet another injury, this one courtesy of a fin slicing across my left shin.

As the session wore on, and the wind lightened, and the tide finally started to come up, I noticed that the waves became more organized and predictable. In that second hour, I really found some great rides, one or two strange roller coasters with pits and sections, and even a few decent barrels. My last ride was a hefty head high wave that sucked off the reef again but let me in early enough to make it doable. I dropped right into the bowl and let the lip curl over my back for a few seconds. I stalled into another section before running it out to the last section of white wash, which I met with a decent little hack.

I rode the white wash the rest of the way in and headed up the incredibly steep shore to my bag under the ironwood. The angle of the sand down to the sea just right here, on the north side of Kukui Heiau, has always struck me. The land ends so abruptly here and runs steeply down to the sea. These are not the dunes of Polihale where hundreds of yards of sand separate vegetation from the sea, so far off you can never quite tell how big the waves are. This is just a matter of a few board lengths forward but a drop of ten to twenty feet down.

***
“For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
Itʻs always ourselves we find in the sea”
    e.e. cummings

May 1, 2020

Today is May Day across the country, Lei Day here in Hawaiʻi. A day invented by a white guy in the 1920s and so engrained in Hawaiian “culture” that I almost always forget the colonizer part. It is the last month of Spring, or the first month of Summer, depending on who you ask or when in time you ask it, and it is easy to guess why this month is named after Maia, the Roman earth goddess. I prefer the older word, Magya, she who is great.

***

Today I drove through the wind and sun to the south shore, hoping for a miraculous break in the breeze or for some random uncalled swell. I could tell as I drove that it was too windy for Mahaʻulepu, so I had decided to check my little spout under the Spouting Horn, across Kukuiʻula harbor. As PKs, Centers, Acid Drop, and Heroines came into view, I could see that the wind was mostly offshore, making the sea beautiful, if not full of waves. I watched Acids for a few minutes. There were some waves breaking there, but they foamed out into nothing almost immediately. I drove on and watched the water under the blowhole and watched the moʻo breathe. Again, beautiful but no waves.

Still thinking it was too windy for Mahaʻulepu and now worried about time, I headed for Keoneloa Bay. The parking lot was blocked off, so I parked on the side of the road, got my stuff, and walked down to the shore. There were maybe 7 people out; a mom pushing her son into waves, a guy with his sons, and a handful of others. The waves looked to be breaking pretty deep and a bit soft, a rarity for this spot.

I paddled in and could tell that the vibe was nice and mellow, to match the waves. I chatted, shared some wax, ran into the strange outer edges of that alterna-life of the other Jon Medeiros, and found plenty of fun little waves, most slower than I am used to here. Eventually, the swell shifted and started breaking a bit more like its typical self and I found one or two great head high bombs that allowed me to stall in the bowl as the lip peeled over my back.

Two National Guardsmen, in full camo, boots, hats, gloves, face masks, parked their humvee and walked out to the sand, looking for unmasked sunbathers, I suppose. Finding none, they watched us surf for a while before awkwardly walking back up the sand to their vehicle. Is this life in May right now? Check points and military oversight of exercise?

National Guard Chain off Keoneloa Bay

April 18-April 24, 2020

April 18, 2020

Light trade winds again today and clear air. I made my way to Makaʻiwa, in front of Lava Lava, with my normal surf bag: water, coffee, one banana, sunblock, wax, wax comb, wallet, shades, wetsuit top, and towel. My board, of course. But now I’ve added the mask. I park, don my mask, grab my board and bag, and walk down the path to the shore. I see no one when normally I’d have to step aside at least twice to let others pass coming in the other direction. Similarly there is no one on the shore. Just piles of sticks, a few huge trees left over from the storms in March, and some birds.

It is 8:45, just after the 8:05 low tide of .09 feet. High tide is just after 2:00, topping out at a bit over 1 foot. Rising off a low tide with some east wind swell, or south east ground swell, is perfect for this bit of reef. Today the water is inexplicably green and the waves look smaller and messier than I had hoped. Mentally preparing for the simple pleasant feelings of paddling and duck diving, I made my way out to the line up.

Just as I reached the peak, a decent sized wave rolled through, sucking off that familiar slab of reef, the bottom dropping out as it peeled off to the right. I turned mid-paddle to take off on the next wave, slightly smaller, but still chest high, super fast and fun. I always marvel at how waves at Mahaʻulepu can be overhead and just mellow, slow, but the wave here is tense with speed and power, even those that come in at knee or waste high. The session ended up being much more fun than I anticipated, with no real lulls and some beautiful green barrels peeling just over my back. I even found one or two deeper barrels, green and bright in the morning sun, though I didn’t make it out of those. As time wore on, the sets picked up a bit, but they also got a little wilder, with steps and ledges all along the face, adding a bit of dirt bike fun to these later rides.

I paddled for what looked like a nice clean right but I got hung up on the take off and it closed down to mushy white water. I dropped in, turned into the fat mush and bailed over the top, not thinking anything of it. I felt my board hit my shin as I tumbled over the white wash and I quickly located the ding in the rail, some leg hair still in it. Not wanting more water to seep into the foam, I caught the next wave, about as clean and fun as I had hoped that other wave would be, then paddled in.

I dumped some cold water on my head to rinse the salt off, hung up my wetsuit top, and started drying off. I didn’t notice the cut on my leg until I was putting on my slippers. Ding and body repair are on the docket.

April 19, 2020

The winds were even lighter today. Erin and I started the day with a walk around the neighborhood, now almost as habitual as our after dinner walk. From the end of Lani Road, I could see out over the old buildings in Kapaʻa Town to the clear, clean ocean. The fact that Anchors would be perfect right now registered in my mind but I did not say anything. I canʻt remember now why I didn’t head right down to surf; someone had something to do. I waited until about 10:00 and as I was getting ready, Erin decided that we should all go down. The girls and Erin would ride their bikes from the library out to the grassy meadow past Paliku while I paddled out. Ok.

The winds were up just a bit and the parking lot was packed. I saw someone skittering across a left out at the break. No solo surfing today. When I made it past the eponymous anchor, I saw that there were three guys out there, two looking like first timers with a friendly guide. I paddled my patched up spitfire out past all of them and over to the take off spot to wait. I quickly found a decent left but dipped the nose in on the second drop, tumbling head over into the water. No injuries, though, and no one seemed to notice. I havenʻt surfed this board in a year maybe and I am not used to the speed and aggressiveness, especially on waves like this. Shaking off the spill, I paddled back out, found another left, and carefully made it to the inside section, though this was no wave to describe. Just water moving.

Next up, a huge wedge came through and I was set up for a right, not sure if they were even working today. I paddled, started to pop up but I felt my board get hung up. I stood and took the drop super late, tail escaping the face of the wave, then catching again, and then…down to the bottom, the actual bottom, the reef beneath the wave. Sometimes a great wipeout is as fun as a great wave. That drop was exhilarating and I made it back just fine, with a few extra ounces of salt in my sinuses.

The leader of the crew started talking to me. His name is T-. He grew up on the east side, lived in Portland for a long time. His buddies had never been to Anchors, and that was obvious. Despite my initial frustration at having to surf around others, I enjoyed getting to bullshit with T- about waves, about Portland, Kauaʻi life, the swell today, tides, bending NW swells. He and I agreed that the rights just weren’t working today. His first words to me, in fact, were about my big airdrop, telling me there was no wave after that anyway.

We settled in, chatting, finding little rights, me trying to get used to the tightness of the spitfire after so long on my retro boards. After one pretty decent left, that I connected to the inside sections, stalling in the pocket, I paddled in to the other anchor. I saw Erin and the girls riding across the bridge just as I made it to shore. We spent a while swimming together, getting our state approved exercise in together. These last ten minutes were the first ten minutes we have been able to all swim together in months and it was nice. Cool, warm, fun.

April 20, 2020

One day later, and Anchors is a different place. No crowd. No cars anywhere near the library. The swell is solid, not breaking apart, but lining up frequently, draining all the way through from the outside and across both sections of the left. Maybe the swell direction shifted just enough. Maybe it filled in a bit. Maybe I just felt better on my spitfire after so long. But today, the lefts were firing and I felt good.

The water was blue today, no surprise, but like broken glass shining in the sun, with a little southeast wind blowing. Today was the first day in weeks that I saw a passenger plane fly over the coast. I hoped to myself that it was empty of actual passengers, or that its passengers were animals, or supplies. And then minutes later, a second plane flew in. I hate that now I donʻt just get annoyed when I see a plane, or too many people. Now I worry about disease, about carrying or passing the virus, like a horrible game of tag.

By the time the sun was high over my head, the wind had risen enough to start blowing the once decent waves apart, rendering the rides much shorter, disjointed. Before that though I had a blast, finding left after left. A few were pretty close to epic. Head high at the peak, chest high out the rest of the way. I stalled into the pocket on one, hit the top, made the connection to that second drop and bowling section, then a floater, and finally that creepy bend in the wave towards the anchor. There were few rights today. Just big, familiar, sicken drops, followed by nothing. Not much payoff for the risk on the rights today.

I managed to find one last decent left after the wind came up, but I botched the inside section, right at the bend. I managed to avoid the reef, but was rolled up in the barrel a few times, tumbling on rinse. I decided not to go out like that, so I found the edge of the inside slab to wait for another last wave. What I found looked fun, with a nice wall running out, but I again misread the drop. The bottom dropped out as the wave sucked all the water off the reef which I did not avoid this second time. I tumbled over once, and then again, and then smack on my ass. No blood, though, which was a nice change after my shin at Makaʻiwa and my nose out here a few weeks ago, and my board was fine. Back out to the edge of the slab…hunting, waiting, paddling. Finally, I found a decent one, made the drop, navigated the bend, and drifted in towards the anchor. Session over.

***

The moon makes the tide
And the tides mark the time
And the wind brings the waves.
I havenʻt seen the moon for a few days
But the stars
Spun around our heads
Violet in the corner, 
Evora next to her, scared,
Erin and I with our feet to them.
We watched the stars
And I thought about waves.

***

April 24, 2020

The trades crept back, as I knew they would, over night. S– had asked me to let him know the next time I was heading to Mahaʻulepu, so I texted that Iʻd be there around 9:45, just after the low tide of -0.01 feet. High tide was well past midday, giving me a perfect two hour window of a low to high rising tide with some decent swell. The large North was wrapping around and surging across the reef, along with the typical wind swell and a bit of a south swell. No shortage of waves today.

After giving S– a few pointers (he had never been out here) about the reef and the current and the take off spots, we tiptoed across the rocks and paddled out. It turned out to be a classic Mahaʻulepu day, brisk trade winds, a bit of current, and nonstop waves. Some sucking off that inside section a little deeper than most, some mush-bombs breaking outside, some closeouts peaking on the east side of the break, most with that nice bottom turn section and fat shoulder before flattening off.

I found a few reelers that took me all the way in, a few with great shaped faces for hacks, a few with nice little ramps. A classic day out there. No crowd, just fun. The day was all blues and greens and puffs of white. Mahaʻulepu is rarely epic, though I have had some amazing days there, it is almost always able to provide a lot of fun waves. After surfing it as long as I have, I am able to find more little sections and bowls and take the waves farther than most casual visitors to this break.

After a “last wave left,” I paddled over to the rock pile for one of the sketchy little slabs and found one fairly quickly. Iʻm getting better at sitting close to the dry rock here without getting sucked over or past it. The wave isnʻt great yet, but the drop is fun, a bit scary. S– followed me over there but wisely decided against trying to find one of these waves, and we headed in.

April 11-April 17, 2020

April 11, 2020

We’ve been locked down for almost a month. Today I had to head in to Lihue for a bunch of errands, including supplies to build my chambered wooden surfboard, toilet paper, and some basics from Costco. I also needed to replenish our supply of lemons by visiting the tree near my classroom. Mrs. L– gave me the ok for that.

As I had these various things to do, I decided to jump in the water on my way. Makaʻiwa seemed to be the easiest, with the wind still down. Kealia probably would have worked well but I was hoping for another solo session and the crowds at Kealia have been too large for my comfort in these quarantine days. 

It was about 8:15 when I made it out to the shore at Makaʻiwa and I could tell that things had changed since yesterday. The sky was totally clear, no high thin clouds to obscure the sun. There were more sticks and logs floating through the lineup. The swell was down compared to yesterday, which meant knee high waves, maybe some waist high. And there were people here, to my surprise. I had seen R–, Ch–, and O– getting out of their car when I was pulling up, and out in the water was a guy I recognized with his two young daughters, one wearing water wings. To be honest, this was the perfect day out here for keiki, but to be even more honest, I did not relish the idea of surfing any where near people, even if one of those people was an attractive and magnetic woman I’ve never quite talked to.

I stayed out about an hour. Long enough to embarrass myself in front of R– and O–, feeling awkward and gangly in the water today. Long enough to talk story a bit with the other guy about surfing with little ones. Long enough to notice the same SUPs, flies buzzing around Flat Rock and even way out at the edge of the reef off Hukilau Lanai. I found some fun little peelers. Nothing amazing. Nothing even like yesterday. But fun, still.

I decided it was time to leave when I saw the surf lesson crew roll up with about 8 or 10 people. I canʻt understand why some are still not taking this seriously enough, but when I saw that crowd, I was out. I headed for my errands in Lihue, hoping to make it home with all that need to all that I need.

April 12, 2020

C– called this morning, when we were waiting for Jesus or the easter bunny or whatever this weekend is about. He decided to break quarantine and drop his kids with M– for a few hours and asked me to join him down at Anchors. The day was beautiful, again, but the trades were finally but barely back, extremely light today. High tide was about 6:35 this morning, though not very high at .5 feet, dropping to almost -.1 by noon, so as I paddled out behind C–, I could admire more of the anchor than I had ever seen.

The swell was small again, no surprise, but the session turned out to be super fun, bigger and more consistent than the last time Iʻd been out, just a few days ago. We both found plenty of fun lefts and rights. A few came in near chest high, with the bottom dropping way out, leaving a perfect face and wall to drive down. I even found a little barrel or two, and nearly found the reef on the inside section of a few rights.

That plane that buzzed me a few days ago flew over again, and we were also visited by a number of fishermen in kayaks and one or two solo canoe paddlers. After about two hours, I headed in, on two great lefts, to meet my family for our now near daily quarantine bike rides.

April 17, 2020

M– and I met at Mahaʻulepu at 9:10 this morning, about two hours after low tide. High tide peaked at 1:20 around .85 feet. The trades are back, moderately, coming in between 10 and 15 mph. With some south swell mixed in to the east wind swell, today promised to be a prime time for Mahaʻulepu.

The water was clear, the waves were solidly head-high, some sets coming in a bit extra, maybe. We walked down the hill and paddled out and I was on a wave in less than a minute; a nice, clean right with a decent drop and room for me to take it all the way to the inside. M– and I paddled against the current, chatted about distance learning pluses and mostly minuses, partners present and missing, children, boards, this crazy world we live in now, and in between, we surfed. 

Not long into the session, three doctors paddled out, two on rasta red gold and green soft tops, making my face itch and my quarantine-self bristle. They turned out to be fine, staying to themselves mostly but I still was bummed about the crowd.

What went well today: I hit some good, hard turns, some nice snaps, boosted a few airs, even landed one, and I found a nice little close out barrel on the end of a long wave. 

After M– left, I stayed a while longer as the swell continued to pour in, maybe even picking up. As I left, I paddled over to the rock pile in front of the house to check out the sketchy slabs I saw running through. I tested out a small one, found a few medium ones, then got sucked across the dry front of the dry rock at the outside edge. Nervous with the adrenaline from that close call, I paddled around, waiting for one more, trying to get on a decent size slab, sitting somewhat deep. A set came through, the first wave exploding off the dry rocks. The second coming in a bit wider. I paddled, made the drop, made it around the boil and the second section into the nothingness of the shoulder and then drifted off to calm waters.

M– left me two hands of bananas, from trees started from the keiki I gave him a few years ago. I stopped on my way home to pick 23 lemons from the tree behind my class. The sky is blue and white, like the waves.

A bowl of lemons

April 4-April 10, 2020

April 5, 2020

I have already surfed in April as many times as all of March. The moon as we know is never still and it is still waxing, almost full. The wind has been down all day, the skies clear, so I decided to head to Anchors. I wish I knew the Hawaiian name for this wave, this stretch of reef, but I wonder if the break itself did not exist prior to the dredging of the channels for the small boat harbor and Kapaʻa Ditch.

C– headed to Hanalei around 10:00 but I have no interest in places where people might be congregating. So, today I surfed alone; not unusual for me, even before the quarantine.

Despite the nice weather for almost a week, the eastside has still not cleaned up completely. Wailua is still full of mud and sticks. Even Anchors isnʻt clear blue.

The water is emerald and teal today,
Green tea, matcha, opaque.
The rains have washed the colors of the forest 
Out to the sea.
I paddle through fields of tidal greens and browns,
The water viridescent today
And the ocean is nothing like the sky, today, 
Itself clear blue and still.
I turn to watch a wave break:
Clouds rolling across Makaleha.

I am not usually worried about sharks but today they were on my mind. Maybe because I couldn’t see the reef beneath me as I bobbed around the takeoff zone way out past the channel markers. As I had hoped, the waves were glassy, superbly clean. I spent about two hours enjoying the smooth, powerful rides that always surprise me out there. The break is usually twice as big and three times as powerful as it looks from shore and today was no different.

Shoulder high swells kept rolling through. Some of the rights were wide open, offering big faces and long walls for more than a few turns. Some bent towards shore sharply, like a V, closing down the second section but offering a ramp or lip to hack at, if one wasn’t too worried about the reef below. Some bent the other way, out to sea, like a Y, the wave disappearing at the fulcrum. I found a few fun lefts, too, with nice steep rides across the shallows, pushing directly towards the eponymous anchor. And though today wasn’t a day primed for barrels, I did find one small on, eventually.

Just in time for my arms to be tired, the wind came up from the South, only a puff of air, really, but enough to blow rifles across the glass and shut the whole place down. I found one last left, paddled for the other anchor on the inside reef, and finally made it to shore, neck and arms burning. 

After a quick rinse, I found my mask and headed for the store, much scarier than the notion of sharks beneath green waters.

April 7, 2020

Today, I headed back to Anchors. The winds are forecast to be light all week and there was still a bit of swell hanging around. I paddled out through perfect glassy waters, surprised as usual when I hit that spot in the paddle when the sounds of the waves suddenly roar to life, just as the anchor comes into view. The tide was low this morning, still dropping a bit, and the moon will be full when it rises just after sunset.

I anticipated that the waves would be on the small side, so I paddled my 7’ single fin today. Just as I made it to the line up, a wave rolled through, maybe waste high. I was not quite in position and the bottom dropped out as the lip hit my back and I somersaulted over the nose and into the green sea. No problem, but in retrospect, an omen maybe. Do I believe in those? 

Back on the board, I headed to the proper take off spot to wait for a proper wave. In almost no time, a perfect shoulder high right came through, sparkling in the morning sun. I paddle, pop up, take the drop smoothly and head down the line. I have time to notice that the power of the wave is not a perfect fit for the single fin, but I make a nice bottom turn, pump a few times over the green reef and I set up to hit the lip and drop back to the second section. This is where things turn as I donʻt make the second drop. No problem, usually.

Then sharp confusion, an impact and searing pain in my skull before I even make it back to the surface. I think I realize my board has been turned into a missile by the wave and has slammed me in the face just as I also worried about checking my teeth. I make my way back onto my board, dazed, lucky to be conscious, lucky my teeth are intact. Now the pain of the impact is more localized and I can tell my nose is broken and maybe I have a cut above my right eye. As I spit out gobs of blood, I wonder if I can or should paddle in. The surfer in me hates to abandon a session after one wave, especially when the day is otherwise so perfect. I decide to see if I can get the bleeding to stop and finish my session, as I think about sharks again. Can they really smell one drop of blood? Do they sniff around for human blood verses that of the creatures of the sea and can they tell the difference? It can’t be that mine is the only blood clouding the waters today. I don’t know what else I think as I tilt my head back and squint and somehow try to keep an eye on the swells.

I eventually stop spitting out blood but my nose never quite stops dripping. I manage to stay out for a full two hours, finding some truly beautiful waves, but my head is foggy and my knees are weak. The dull pain hangs over the session, over the whole day, really. I canʻt find my keys and glasses after I set them down at home later that day before or after I take a nap, try to work, respond to students.

After the board to the face.

This is two hours later, after cleaning myself up. 

April 8, 2020

After a fitful night of sleep made worse because I couldnʻt breathe through my broken nose, I decided that the day was too still to ignore. With the winds still down, the sun still shining, and the seas still as glassy as I have ever seen, I decide to try Anchors again. Maybe for a bit of redemption. My departure is delayed because, as I mentioned, I have no idea where my shades and keys are hiding. Eventually I find them on the bookshelf; a place I have never left them and that I have no memory of being near yesterday, testament to my foggy, post impact mind.

I make it to the lineup around 8:15, tide low and dropping, moon just past full when it reappears later this evening. The water is perfect, clear now and still green, like an emerald today instead of the mountains of the weekend. The swell had dropped a bit further, coming in at knee to chest high, maybe, but this wave is so strong and fast, even these waves proved to be a blast.

For the first half of the session, after seeing a hammer skin fish, I focused on the rights, some short wedgey peaks with nothing but a drop, a few long beautiful runners with a few sections for snaps and turns. I saw some big green barrels and found a head dunker or two, but nothing special.

Eventually the swell shifted, maybe as the tide dropped, and I spent the second half of the session hunting those lefts that bend and then hollow out and run out to the channel all while hurtling toward the anchor. These waves proved to be the best of the day, longer, steeper, hollower. I found a little close out barrel on one wave and on another just had fun rushing down the line while watching the reef fly by below.

What do I think while I surf? Yesterday Erin asked the girls what they think about when they bike. Nothing. Everything but with no words. How to describe what is in my mind while I ride a wave?

Water over rocks.

April 10, 2020

Winds are still light and it feels like the whole world is still. I left before 7:30 this morning, while the air was still crisp and cool. Low tide was just before 11:00, bottoming out at -0.29 feet and the swell was way down, maybe just knee to waist high. There is a NW swell coming in over head and Hideaways is probably epic today, but I just donʻt want to be around crowds right now, so I decide on trying Makaʻiwa, in front of Lava Lava Lounge, hoping that the clean conditions and shallow reef would provide some sweet little rides.

High, thin clouds were still hiding the sun in the eastern sky as I paddled out, keeping the world cool and the water colorless. Not blue or green today. Just clear, almost invisible. My first wave was a nearly perfect stomach high right that peeled through two sections, allowing me to find a little barrel, just over my back. This turned out to be the best wave of the session, but I had fun finding little runners, lefts and rights, some sucking off the reef enough to give me some beautiful closeout barrels. Wave after wave of invisible water, like sliding, like hovering over the reef rushing past my fin.

Waiʻaleʻale was clear today, its long arms visible, and it is hugging Kālepa and Nounou. The horizon across Wailua Bay was cluttered with eight or ten sweepers in black, standing on the water, buzzing around each other, like flies on rotted fruit. Their hoots and hollers carried across the water reassuring me in my aloneness.

March 28-April 3, 2020

“Lifeless in appearance, sluggish
dazed spring approaches-
They enter the new world naked,
cold, uncertain of all
save that they enter. All about them
the cold, familiar wind-”
“...breeding
lilacs out of dead land, mixing
memory and desire, stirring
dull roots with spring rain.”

Aperilis, the following, the next. Formerly the second month. This April, this spring, seems like it has been here for a while, like we have all been paused in that space of time described by Williams and Elliot; we are all once again frightened, naked children, uncertain about everything except that we are here in this world together hoping for the roots to stir and the world to bloom again as we think it should.

April 1, 2020

The second half of March was filled with quarantine, lockdowns, travel bans, and floods like we havenʻt seen in years. Twice in less than 10 days the skies opened and turned the rivers upside down and the oceans red and brown. I managed to sneak in one surf between the rains and today made it out again, on the foolʻs day.

I stopped at Longʻs for toilet paper, which they did not have. I was careful not to touch anything, least of all my face, which all of a sudden itches in an unfamiliar way every time I think about not touching my face. I left the store and made my way to Mahaʻulepu, looking for some spot of ocean that wasn’t still muddy from the rains. The south shore is the best bet as there are fewer rivers that empty that way.

As I pulled up to the spot on the hill overlooking the break, a set rolled through and I knew immediately that things were going to be fun. The winds were light, variable, the tide was low, rising to .89 feet by 12:30. The sun lit up the swells, turquoise and blue, like a honu. Not a hint of brown anywhere except the river. 

I walk-ran down the hill, waxed up, peed, watched another set, applied sunscreen, and was out in the lineup by 9:50. No one was at the house; no one was on the beach; the winds were light, the current was light, the waves were consistent and I decided to get in one shortsless ride before anyone walked down the sands.

Thereafter, pants up, the session was mostly sublime. The water was still cool with a hint of the heavy rains of March, the sun was shining, the winds blowing almost offshore (rare for Mahaʻulepu), and the waves were fun sized, coming in shoulder to head high over and over. I noticed too that most of the waves rolled through with extremely wide shoulders, resulting in lots of face and long rides down the line. I took many into that inside section where the water is just inches away from reef. I even snuck five over the edge on one wave and made it out the back safely.

No one joined me in the line up, except a little sea turtle and a butterfly. After nearly two hours of surfing (Iʻd have stayed longer but my legs are still sore from doing PE with Joe, the now pandemic famous phys-ed teacher to the world), I paddled in, rinsed off, had a bit of a snack and a walk in the woods.

I am hoping April is more like today than March. 

April 3, 2020

C– and S– both texted to try to meet up for a session. S– was checking out Kahili and Kealia, I suggested Anchors, and Caleb’s original call was Mahaʻulepu. By the time I checked Anchors, around 10:00, the wind was too strong and the waters were still a bit brown. S– wasn’t interested in driving to the South side, so he stuck around close to home. I pulled up to the edge of the cliff at Mahaʻulepu about 10 minutes before C–. 

There was no wind, but the water was bumpier than Wednesday, with a weird chop on the surface. The tide was rising to a .7 foot high tide at 11:40, but the swell was smaller and less consistent than the other day. The sky was tall today, light gray, and there was a halo around the sun. It occurred to me that the size of the circle the halo of light etched around the sun probably depended on the elevation of the water vapor making up those thin, gray clouds. I suppose there is a math problem there to solve, if only I knew the equations. As I sat in the line up, I noticed the water was clear, mostly, but all shades of black, today, not green or blue. This too could be connected to the clouds obscuring the bright blues of the sky.

The waves were slower, smaller, a bit gutless, but a few fun ones still made it through. After being out of the water so much in March, and now being locked away from everyone, just paddling around was enough. I remember a large black fish turning under me as I found the inside section over the last, shallowest portion of reef. There were few colors anywhere in the ocean today, but talking, even from a distance, with an old friend, was a nice change.

We stayed out for a few hours, C– leaving before me, to relieve his babysitter. He told me about L–ʻs board again, that she wasn’t able to ride anymore and then will never ride anymore; we talked about school a bit, but most just about these strange times.