Friday, November 30, 2007

Something to really worry about: When it rains... it sucks!

What if they were all gone- polluted like the filth pool at the terminus of a short-drop Baja shit-shack? Serge Dedina, Executive Director of WiLDCOAST sent me this letter- it got me thinking about what I should be really worried about.


Thanks for posting your wonderful and very well written description of our post Thanksgiving session. I loved Kelly's description of the bomb set and my son's reaction to it (he denies being concerned at all--typical 11 year old bravado).

As the author of one of the few published articles on the spot (Longboard 1994), I remember some of the criticism I received that somehow I publicized the spot by honoring the oral history of Dempsey and his friends. The irony is that a few months later I remember surfing the epic 1994 December Holiday season swells with only a few of us out--and then on Jan. 1, 95, Gary H. and I surfed the shorebreak as good as it gets for hours with no crowd. So much for publicity.

For those of you who haven't read Kem Nunn's amazing Tijuana Straits, please do so because he managed to really capture the place in one of the best books ever written on surfing.

I write this as rain is starting to fall. Which means our beloved spot will soon be subject to as much as 100 million gallons a day (!!!!!) of toxic sewage polluted water from Mexico.If the rains continue we'll have to make the choice about how much we value our health by choosing to surf there.

Am I worried about crowds at our spot? Well since our spot was closed 198 days in 2006 due to pollution, it seems that the real issue is not the threat of overcrowding, but closure from pollution. And when it is not polluted out there, 95% of the time the waves go unridden or are pretty empty. I say that having enjoyed the many smaller days over the past few months with my groms with no crowd in sight. Even last week we surfed it either alone. Kelly and I enjoyed one morning last week by ourselves. On the morning in question the crowd did not arrive until 9ish and when I returned in the early afternoon to surf again there were only a few us out.

What I learned from my wonderful experience back in 93 interviewing Dempsey and his colleagues from the 1930s-60s who surfed with him out there, is that when the surf came up--he used to call his friends all over the county to join him in the lineup. So surfers such as Miki Dora, Peter Cole, Walter Hoffman, Bob Simmons, Buzzy Trent, Don Oakey joined him and the Imperial Beach and Coronado regulars who would congregate around the old Palm Avenue lifeguard station before heading down in their jalopies to surf. Dempsey was a master of practicing the Aloha spirit.

Today, the reality is that in the lineup, 80% of the surfers in the water are longtime locals who practice giving waves and sharing the surf in a respectful manner. We are lucky that on the few days a year when the waves break we are able to share them with lifelong friends, our sons and daughters and our surfing brothers. I love it that longtime surfers are bringing their sons and daughters into the lineup and newcomers find their way into the lineup every time it breaks (most of them undergunned and wide-eyed at the sets).

But remember a few days of 4-6' waves is fun--but on those days when the waves break 3/4 a mile out and require a tremendous act of faith to bust through the lineup and then catch open ocean swells on 10' guns is really a very, very different story. On those days, a crowd is nowhere to be seen (I have no problem admitting there are a lot of days that I find an excuse to do anything but punch through that shorebreak and face my worst fears).

I welcome all surfers to feel free to comment on this--but please don't be anonymous--we should feel to express ourselves in a respectful manner, share our opinions. But I insist that it is imperative that we document the stories of the places that we love. Because we are in real danger of losing our beloved spot to pollution--forever.

Mahalo John for keeping the stoke alive.

Serge Dedina
Executive Director
Celebrating my fourth decade surfing in IB this year.

And now, what are you going to do about what really matters? Check out the good fight at

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Let the Magic Begin, Part I: Here Comes Something New

I love the new technology that's come to board building. The CAD programs, the cutting machines, the computers- they've brought a level of quantitative certainty to the design and build process. The advances are allowing shapers, and the surfers who go to them for custom boards, to track the evolution of a design idea and lock it down on the hard drive of a laptop. Work towards that magic shape and hit Save- that's cool!

This hasn't come without some due diligence on the side of the boardsmiths. Learning to effectively use a CAD program is a wee bit different then throwing in a brush rebuild kit on the ol' Skill 100. The programs are demanding- and the shapers that have retooled themselves to use them have worked hard to get there. The effort is one hundred percent worth it. The use of precision milling machines and the programs that drive them have changed the shaper-to-surfer dynamic. Ordering up a new ride just got really interesting.

For those of us who have ordered custom boards for decades, working with a CAD proficient shaper is a whole new ball game. Shapers may come to you with wire frame printouts (see graphic above) of ideas that you've communicated with them- files can be sent back and forth over the internet; a surfer in La Jolla could easily work with a shaper in Huntington exchanging ideas like email, refining a shape until it's ready to be cut. Take a look at the top graphic of a board designed for me by Tim Stamps, for this shape I was looking for a carve machine, something that'd handle a bit of speed and size. I didn't want to be submerged up to my ankles and I didn't want to worry about balancing too much on sloppy days. At my size, finding a board that'd come down a bit in each dimension while not getting ridiculously narrow, thin or lean is impossible. With a CAD build process you can see exactly what you're going to get. For example, I was really concerned with the volume number. If you check the new board design above you can see the overall volume will come in at just about 155L which is close to a 15L drop in volume from my previous board- an acceptable and predictable volume loss. I also like the width- I'm not afraid of a 29" belly, especially since I've got the gut to turn it (ah, the beauty of the custom board).
Shapers who will work with you through the CAD design process are the exception rather than the rule. The time required to work up your custom design, communicate changes and re-check for viability is considerable. I'm fortunate to work with a guy who loves this stuff. Tim Stamps sees where this is going and recognizes the benefit it brings to both shaper and rider- he's definitely worth contacting if you're considering a custom CAD stand up board. The guy knows his stuff.

There is one common theme when a new board is in the works. It's a gut feeling. Whether it's an emailed CAD workup or the first snap shots of the cut blank (see second photo) the new board magic has a visceral impact. Can you feel it? It's killing me!

Middle Photo: Fresh from the mill and ready to be finished out- lookin' really, really good!

Last Photo: Who da' guy? Stamps, taking a second away from scrubbin' one out to clown around- now get that thing done, I'm going nuts over here!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Grab this board!

Take it home.
Tim Stamps' personal Stand Up Board (and since he's got three others, used very little), 10'0 x 27.5" x 4".

I featured this board in an earlier piece, it's a sweet ride. Ten footers offer the perfect compromise between cruiseability and high performance surfing. The board was meant to be turned and driven down the line.

If I were a bit smaller I'd have already snagged this one. Stamps is looking for $1000 obo with pad and fins. An opportunity to get into a high-end, hand made board without hitting the 2k mark- save yourself at least $600. Normal wear and tear but in all honesty, as new condition. Don't drop the ball, jump on this one!

Make an offer!
Contact Tim Stamps here.

Board has been sold and will soon be prowling the lineups of North San Diego County!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

New SUBs: Aipa Stand Up and... the Gemini (Part 2)!

This Photo: An Aipa Stand Up Board on the beach at Cardiff. Something old becomes new again; I remember looking through surf-mags in the late 70's and seeing Ben Aipa's little stingers. Seem like they've grown up- anybody ridden one yet? Give us some feedback.

Middle and Bottom Photos: You asked for it, you got it: The Gemini Part 2!

There's been some interest in checking out the rest of this board so I scoured the archives to bring you the best I've got. Check out the nose scoop on this thing, some serious foam irrigation going on there. Capt. Neg9 told me that this allows for air flowing up the wave face to get under the board and create lift.

Got some questions for Capt. Neg9? Hit the comments button at the bottom of the post and fire away- we'll see if we can pull some good info out of him.

Middle and Bottom Photos: El Tigre

Monday, November 26, 2007

Caught Inside: A Swell Peaks in one Solid Set

Ever been caught inside?
A two hundred yard wide swath of double overhead, pissed off white wash rolling at you like a subterranean tsunami death surge? A pitching blue wall stalking you and holding, holding, holding... until it's locked on and singled you out for termination. Been there? Know that feeling?

Friday's swell peaked in one solid set that caught most of us with our pants down. Kelly Kraus sent me this:

"THAT set was epic. I had actually caught a wave just before the set came through and was far over inside, safe in the channel, paddling back along the shoulders of the whole batch with the best view possible.

There were so many good waves in that set I lost count. Maybe 6 or 7 beautiful rolling rights with no one anywhere near clear water. Mike G on a SU and Dave Lopez on an old windsurf board (being used as a prone gun) were the farthest out but on this set it made no difference. Both guys had no leashes and lost their boards. The rest of the prone pack were positioned well inside of them and all got mowed by healthy whitewater.

With no one for reference it was hard to gauge the size but it was probably close to double OH. I saw MGs board bouncing in doing those ten foot high leaps that SUs take. The set was so long I made it back out half way and tried to hook into a shoulder on one of the last ones but positioned a little too deep and got nailed by whitewater. Pop went the leash but the board only went about 50 feet.

The really classic thing was Serge Dedina’s son Israel after the set with big eyes and a strain in his voice saying something like “Kelly, do you see any more big ones coming?” He had that “oh man, I don’t need this” look going but as a testament to his grom courage he stayed out."

Kelly once told me, "Guys get caught inside out there and just don't come back". I know that feeling, I'm the guy. A deep winter smack down courtesy of an icy, black Aleutian monster left a mark on me, changed me. When the place is really solid, it's creepy; you're the hunted. There's no set take off spot, and, for me, the fact that socks you right in the gut is this: there's no top end. On the right swell you could scratch over the top of what you think is the worst of it and face an absolute nightmare- and you are totally trapped. It could happen. The place can hold it. And that seed of possibility roots in your mind, it haunts you until you shake it free or you give up.

Really, it's one of surfing's purest moments. You're caught inside, what are you going to do? Some of us never come back, some laugh like maniacs as the axe falls and some put their heads down and paddle back out for more. Like Israel Dedina, eleven years old, shaking it free- and charging.

Top Photo: Kelly Kraus, at the tail end of a fun right- heading for the relative safety of the rivermouth.
Bottom Photo: Synched up: Serge in the background and Israel in the fore, pre-cleanup and ripping!
All Photos: Spidey

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Killing it In Baja Part II and... The Gemini!

I'm totally blowing it Blogger-wise. I should post really good stuff one photo at a time- really stretch it out. After all, you never know when the photo well might run dry or you might wake up in a totally vacuous state with absolutely nothing to say (my contingency plan is to revert to "board porn" you know- super close-ups of rails, fins and... tails! Ooh la la!). I can't help myself though- so here's some good stuff all at once.

You may remember Mike and Dan from the "Killing it in Baja..." piece earlier in the year. Mike just dropped me an email with these two killer photos from their trip to San Carlos in August. Mike says, " I swear we only photographed the in-between-set waves, because during the sets, whoever was photographing was too busy scrambling for the outside to take pictures!" I think it's safe to say that this trip will be logged as an A+ adventure for these guys for the remainder of their earthly years. Check the the dorsal color on the whitey in the top photo, that's fresh. How about the paddle floating in the background- I can just imagine the pandemonium that followed the gaffing... paddles askew, these guys laughing their asses off, barely able to hold steady enough to snap the photo. Michael, you gotta give us the full story!

Most Progressive Paddleboard in the water? Steve (aka Capt. Neg9) rides only Alexander Gemini shapes. Check out the stand up board he had done. How radical is this thing? There will need to be a serious question and answer forum for this shape- I know I've got mine. Check back for some shots of the bottom workings on this ride- pretty radical stuff.

Updates: Haven't forgotten about your questions regarding the board cutting process- working on my "sources". And...there may be a new Stamps Carve Machine in my future... Merry Christmas to me!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

No Waves/New Boards!

The surf left us just as quickly as it showed up.

Ran down to the beach this morning with all fingers and toes crossed, hoping that I'd get a repeat of Friday's super session. No luck. The swell began building on Thursday, peaked on Friday and was gone by Saturday. Still hopped in for a killer session in waist-high glassy peaks; fun is where you find it!

Check out these freshies:

Top Photo:
Mike Gillard with his 10'6" Marbella. Clean lines, pulled tail and a family set of footprints on the nose- what else do you really need? Maybe a 10'0?

Middle and Bottom Photos: Custom. What a sweet word when referring to a 10'0" Stamps, hand-made, ready and willing for some coastal wave-scalp collection sessions. Steve B. checking out his new magic ride.

For a Good Cause: Check out this strand at the Stand Up Zone- it's a paddle auction for a good cause- Save the Children.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Are you kidding me?: Good People/Good Surf

Sweet waves rolled into town. Good surf and good people out today. Mike Gillard was out on a clean Marbella 10'6" SUB. Stoked to see Mike back in the water, he rips and best of all the guy's always smiling and passing the on the stoke.

Chad Kavanaugh scored some outside bombs- using every inch of his 12'1" Laird to power all the way through into the shorebreak. Nobody turns that board like big Chad.

Here are four photos of Kelly K. on the C4 BK Pro. Kelly takes exception to Thanksgiving List #21 (Being born goofy foot) and from the side of the peak he keeps choosing, I bet you can guess why.

All Photos: Spidey

Tomorrow: I've obtained full clearance to do a little up the coast run. Swell is dying but there'll still be surf- we'll see what the super high tide does to it. Photos and report to follow!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Pushed Away from the Table- Posted this: Thanksgiving morning surf!

Holiday tradition! Thanksgiving morning surf with the boys, check 'em out and then go eat some more turkey or ham or down a beer for this (that's for you Surfways)!

Top: Chad K., first guy in the water this morning- putting the Laird in the right spot.
Photo: Igor Von Smiley

Bottom: A little open left hander and a new swell tomorrow. The wave cornucopia opening up on Thanksgiving Day 2007.
Photo: Spidey

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Board Glut: 2 New Lairds

The board-fest continues: Two new Ron House shaped SurfTech Lairds.

Once again, it's all about increased surfability.
The blue striped board is an 11'0 x 27" x 4 1/4" version of the original Laird. The second board with red stripes is a 10'0 x 27" x 4 7/8" micro-Laird.

Compared to the original Laird (12'1" x 31" x 5") these boards are a big step down in size. The new boards feature really pulled and foiled tails and extremely surfy looking rails. Contrary to the opinion of many paddlers, I've always thought the big Laird was a great board. The board truly delivered a legitimate stand up paddle surf experience; it had the legs to cover miles and the neutral template to surf anything that got in its way. But at 220lbs, turning that big boy wasn't as much of challenge for me as it might be for a surfer in the 150 - 160lb range. The new Lairds may be perfect for lighter paddlers looking for a well-rounded, proven template. The small Laird looks particularly good- even to a big guy like me. I'd love to give that one a shot some time.

This photo: Check the rail line on that 11'0- and the board's relatively thin. Looks fun.

Below: A really pulled tail, much narrower then the original Laird. At 27" wide this board is a full 5" narrower then the first Laird.

Penultimate Photo: Steppin' it down another foot to 10'0. Again, at 27" wide this board was made for surfing. It's going to be interesting to check the stability on this one as I tend to like boards no less then 28.5" wide.

Last Photo: I really want to ride this one too!

See all these boards at Emerald City Surf Shop (1118 Orange Ave Coronado 619-435-6677)

All Photos: Igor Von Smiley

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving: A Paddlesurfer's Special Thanks

Thanksgiving is a great time to stop and realize how good you've got it. We should all focus on appreciating what's most important in life; family, friends and the good health that we've been blessed with this year. There may be, for us paddlesurfers, a couple of additional things we're thankful for- here's my list:

This Paddlesurfer gives thanks for:
1. Surf shops with extensive fin inventories, and the employees who tolerate me fondling them (the fins, not the employees).
2. Carbon fiber paddles- light, strong, ugly- the workhorses of our sport.
3. My first stand up board, the venerable Sean Ordonez shaped Big Red. The double vacuum bagged, hammer blow resistant, armor plated, twelve foot battleship that absorbed my first clumsy paddle strikes with nary a whine, whimper or ding- the board that sent me on my way.
4. Five minute epoxy. Stick the handle on your paddle, seal a ding or encapsulate a dead scorpion- this stuff does it all.
5. Breakfast Burritos (preferably from Los Panchos but any Alberto's or its many derivatives will do)- especially with pickled carrots, bacon, eggs and potatos- for $2.65? What's not to be thankful for?
6. Custom welded, free standing, SUB racks- clean, efficient storage, loved by me and my boards.
7. The breakaway fin screw- without it, that submerged Baja land mine would've eaten my finbox alive.
8. Sunset Cliffs: Clean rights and lefts all protected by a high tide line that cannot be broached... a paddlesurfer's dream.
9. XM ClearGrip: Going waxless never felt or worked so good.
10. The Maui Crew, the Oahu Crew or those Peruvian fishermen who paddle the reed bundles- whoever the originators of this sport are- a huge thank you!
11. The hand shaped custom stand up board- and the craftsmen with the skills to shape them. Most, in the words of T. Stamps, "Make boards not money". Support these guys.
12. My hot water outdoor shower- no sand in the drain, no tar on the floor, no squee-geeing the glass enclosure and nobody telling me that I can't brush my teeth in it... a marriage saver.
13. Lilly, my dog, who never tells me that I have too many stand up boards.
14. Stardust Donuts. Location: Palm and 7th. Hours: Whenever they damn well feel like it. Calories: Millions. Satisfaction: Complete
15. My all aluminum, single speed, beach cruiser with custom order, extra large, front basket and MULE stand up board trailer. Fours sets of tires, two new chains, two new seats and one set of fenders- still going strong after five years of daily use. Gas $25/gallon? What, me worry?
16. Hard angle south swells, the sand bars they create and the lefts that rifle down 'em!
17. Daily light savings time: but only when we "Spring Forward"!
18. Spidey: Wisdom, experience and a cool digital camera- always happy to see that guy on the beach.
19. The PSJose Crew possessors of loyalty, humility, sense of humor and extra large, pliable, hyper-functional Livers, well maybe any three out of those four qualities.
20. The friends and surfers who tolerated me "playing through" on my giant board- thanks for the patience, smiles and kind words. When you're ready to cross over to the dark side, let me know!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Oh yeah,
21. Being Born Goofy Foot

Monday, November 19, 2007

New Boards: Bonga Perkins S-Rail/C4 BK Pro

The first wave of molded boards has come and gone. Many of us started on this first iteration of stand up boards. Our boards were typically wide (at least 28", unless you were one of the masochists who learned on the 26" wide Munoz) and long (touching and even surpassing the 12' mark).

The times, and dimensions, they are a changing. The boards are getting lean. Typical lengths are now 10' and below with widths reduced to the 26 - 28" range. The anemia is a result of the development of the sport's practitioners. As last years entry market paddlers climb the learning curve they are beginning to demand more performance from their boards. No longer content with point and shoot surfing; stand up surfers are now looking to drive their boards, find the hidden gears and generally just drop hacks and snaps like they were surfing their prone boards. The shapers have responded, producing boards that trade surfability for stability.

By the numbers. Here are a couple of hot looking boards Kelly just picked up at Emerald City Surf Shop stop by and check them out.

Top Photo: South Point Bonga Perkins Model with S-Rail. 10'0 by 27", 4 1/8" thick, 2+1 fin set-up. This is the board I'd be most interested in test riding. I like the clean, full template with the pulled tail. The board looks like it'd do well carving and nose riding. Additionally, the board possesses a stepped S-rail that may increase bite without sacrificing too much volume in the rest of the board. An interesting idea that I'd like to check out.

2nd Photo: C4 BK Pro 10'0 x 27" x 3 7/8" wing swallow, 4 + 1 fin setup. Kelly's riding one of these now and from what I could see, the thing is a rocket. I'm not sure how well it'd go for a guy my size (220lbs) since I declined his offer to try it out two days ago in good surf. Blame that on my wave tunnel vision, with nobody else around, I just wanted to nab a bunch of waves. I'm kind of kicking myself now- probably would've been fun.

Baja happening:
One of the great things about traveling is the people you meet. Tommy (never did catch his last name) was a firefighter off of a Hotshot crew- he rolled into our camp just after getting bucked off of his motorcycle on his way to the point. His bike's a classic, an air cooled BMW with Vermont plates that he planned to ride all the way down to the tip and back. He had a nifty Pope Bisect 6'10" egg in the case just behind his seat. Just a kid on a bike with a cool surfboard looking for some adventure on the road.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Back to Business: Surf/Tow-in teams/S-rails?

Whew! Good thing Sunday brought such fun surf, I was getting a little too uptight with Jason Smith's puff piece in Surfing Magazine. Final word on that: In the end he's right, this sport is no fun and it's lame- better if he never gives it a shot.

The head high swell predicted by many surf forecasters came in just as predicted- on time and as big as promised. Don't know how it was up the coast but here at home, it was lined up, head high, lefts and rights. A few new faces in the water including two unknown tow teams buzzing in and out of the lineup. One team featured a tow in boogey boarder. Five minutes before the law showed up, one of the guys bolted south- not really sure if he thought he had anywhere to hide down that way but he was going for it. Mike P. with the lifeguards told us that they are restricted from any surf break by a thousand feet- since they obviously broke the law and CF numbers were taken, somebody is going to get busted (Coast Guard was alerted). I'll keep you posted as details emerge.

Top Photo: Kelly Kraus Kills it Konsistently. Going right and going fast on his new BK Edition C4 10'0"
Check out the tow team in the background.
Photo: Spidey

Middle: Kraig Surplus looking happy on his new Stamps 10'0". Last saw Kraig dropping into an overhead right doing about Mach 10. The bigger guys (220 - 270, yup I said 270) are digging these boards. Stable, fast and carvey they are really a nice choice for a shorter board.
Photo: El Tigre

Bottom Photo: Emerald City Surf Shop in Coronado (619-435-6677) just added to their inventory of stand up boards. I'll post some of the stand outs later but for now, take a look at this: The S-Rail on South Point's Bonga Perkins model. In person, it looks really nicely done, would be great to try it out. More on this and others to come.
Photo: Igor Von Smiley

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Jason Smith's Ancient Code: Or why SUPing Sucks

Did anybody else get a chance to read the "At Random" piece in this month's Surfing Magazine? It's called "Death Before SUP" by Jason Smith. Jason's thesis is that we should follow an "ancient style code... surfers are to... well, keep it simple." The guy offers no support for this proclamation, just that we shouldn't have fun for fun's sake, because even though we think nobody cares, guess what? Jason's got it all figured out here, get ready- this is going to be heavy... here it comes..."Surfing cares". Good job, Jason- that's deep.

Every thesis deserves examination. I wonder how "simple" Jason, the arbiter of all things surfing, keeps it? Since we're following an "ancient code", I think it'd be fair to assess where this guy's at. Let's see, got fins on that board? Tom Blake must've set off all kinds of "ancient code" alarms when he stuck one on- undoubtedly pushing surfing's evolution backward according to ol' Jason. Whoa there, is that one of those hot new quads you're on? Four fins, all glassed in too, right tough guy? That's not one of those new fangled wetsuits you're wearing is it? After all, keeping it simple means bareback or wool sweater doesn't it? Did you just bust an air over that section or was that a floater? Don't you know? They're watching, better just keep it simple dude- point A to point B, nothing complex here. Speaking of your board, let me check that out. That's not a down rail is it? The "code" demands 50/50s on those sticks, right?

In his piece, Jason's got no point. He's just pissed- that's it. Invoking Darwin once again (the guy's a big fan- read his piece), Jason's just another grumbling surfer sitting static instead of adapting to fit the habitat. Pathetically, he's a guy who sees us as the defilers of his personal holy temple of surfing, subsequently passing off his knee jerk reaction as, "Surfing cares". The best part is while Jason sits and worries about defining what real surfing is, we'll just go out and ride some waves; as paddle surfers... or whatever we are.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Blogs, Boards and Babes: Well, more or less

Popped into the Stamps Boardworks about a week ago to check out a couple of new stand ups Tim's got in the works, here's what I saw: A solid wood plank being carved a pass at a time with a Skill 100 planer. Now that's cool stuff! Wall hanger or not that thing's going to look cool when it's done.

Here's a couple of blogs I think are worth supporting. I support blogs with original content, people with their own creativity. My picks:

Jim Brewer up in Santa Barbara is just hatching his blog which chronicles the stand up community on that beautiful stretch of coastline. His photos are great- check out the one with the sheet glass wave- it's
driving me nuts!

Definitely check out Dwight and Jacky's NC Paddle Surf Blog, another excellent source of original content in the paddlesurf blogisphere.

A must check is the original, the first and still the most informative and eclectic: Billb's Pono House blog. The guy's funny, informed and fired up to provide useful paddlesurf information.

Middle Photo: So you think you're a shaper? Then you'd know your way around these: A couple of Skill 100s, some planes and a hand saw; tools of the trade reserved for those who've paid their dues.

Giapetto Report: Got this photo (last photo) from our intrepid NorCal boardmaker late last night. The guy's focused like a GBU Bunker Buster- laser guided none-the-less. Here's a rough fit, preliminary look at the internals of the board. Now squint your eyes, take a pull off that Bloody Mary and imagine it planked up. It's starting to look like a board. Keep us posted Giapetto!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Baja Surf Trip Dissected: Details for the detail minded.

The drive in is really straightforward. We're up and over the border by daybreak. In three hours we're setting up camp at the point and cracking our first beer.

There was a time when we'd cross the line earlier, usually around 3 or 4 am and we'd be at the point for a morning surf. We don't do that anymore. On that road, bad things most often happen at night. You may have heard the story of the three southbound surfers who were carjacked and pistol whipped just ten minutes over the border; they lost everything. These guys are friends of mine, I heard their story first hand. Walking into the darkness with a pistol to the head while begging for your life? Sorry, you can have the early session- I only cross in daylight now.

Driving in Mexico can get exciting.
It doesn't have to be dangerous though. One of the most important things is to slow down. Once you're off the TJ to Ensenada toll road, you're running a route designed in the 70's for utility not speed. Mex 1 was meant to be trucking route for moving cargo from Point A to Point B. Check out the roadside crosses marking the spots where wannabe Formula 1 drivers have burned in; sobering reminders of were your speed thrills might ultimately lead you.

Here's an interesting observation: In Baja, you can drive 55 mph or 85 mph and you'll end up there at the same time. Many times I've been passed by guys blazing down to the tip only to pull into a taco stand down the road and find the same guys sitting there. It only takes one gas stop or a roadside tire sprinkling to eat up all the extra minutes your lead foot has bought you. Call it a wrinkle in the space-time continuum or just Baja weirdness but it's happened enough times to convince me that the danger increments that accumulate with added speed aren't worth it. Especially if you're like me and you know where the good taco stands are.

Top: Does it look fun and empty? It is and was... and it's there right now breaking all by itself. Kraig Surplus heading north.

Bottom: The stand up paddle board- the answer to the flat day Baja blues. Matteo W. finding a little right to jam along with.

All Photos: Senor Goofball

By the Way:
Be sure to check out the additional Unwritten Baja Rules posted by SRFNFF and MichealF. Some funny and insightful observations by a couple of guys who've obviously been there.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Stand Up Paddle Surfing Baja: Punta Mysteriosa

Our timing was perfect. We'd barely miss one of the year's best late season south swells. Peaking two days before our arrival was the post-firestorm south that lit up every point and reef from San Diego to Santa Cruz. We'd be nowhere in site when that hard south would swing into our little spot and snap its reefs and points back to life. Best of all, nobody would be there. It would've been perfect.

But our trip has always been more about friends than waves. We make it a point to regroup and return year after year. It's a commitment that we've come to value- a ritual of friendship for all of us down here. You know that no matter how small the waves, violent the wind or miserable the hangover, you're coming back next year. It's what you do when you're one of us.

So next November we'll load up the trucks, stock the campers and roll out for that dusty little point. The place that never works in November. We'll hit the dirt road laughing and stretch last year's small stories into tall tales. And all of us will harbor, deep inside, the hope that this year, we've finally timed it right.

Top Photo: The road to Punta Mysteriosa. Marcos in his element; dirt road under foot, hand in an ice cold cooler... searching for something special.

Next: We're just visitors. The local fleet - no pleasure craft here, working boats all.

Penultimo: Campo Dirtbag. A sweet Baja surf camp for a bunch of scoundrels.

Last: Overview of the set-up. We did score some south swell remnants, enough waist high fun for our little pack of stand up surfers.

All Photos: Senor Goofball

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Feeding the Blog: Original Content and Homegrown Photography

I'm back! The dust washed clean, the camping gear stowed and the boards racked. Check back for a full report of our Baja surf trip.

The surfing continues: Kiwi scored fun left handers while I was off dodging the Chupacabra (the "Goat Sucker"- Mexico's blood sucking Big Foot-like mystery creature). This photo and reports of fun November surf in town did spark a mild case of Greener Pasture-itis, in me. Oh, the human condition- can we ever be satisfied?
Photo: Spidey

Punta Mysteriosa wasn't exactly flat either. For the rabid stand up wave slider, fun could be had almost all day long. Usually, the smell of sizzling rib-eyes and the promise of an ice cold ration of Mexico's finest lager would do the trick for clearing the line up.
Photo: Senor Goofball

The Giapetto Report: The Santa Cruz Boardsmith continues to chip away at his all wood, hollow stand up board. The board's starting to take shape- looks like Andy's getting rib placement figured out- can planking it be that far away? Can't get enough of Giapetto's project? Be sure to check out SRFNFF's blog for thoughtful, well written reports of Andy's build.

Friday, November 9, 2007

That's it! I'm out of here.

Hitting the road tomorrow at 6 a.m., we should make the point by 9 or so. Who cares. I made it.

We're not really expecting any major surf, we just missed this last big south- I bet it was firing down there. We'll do some coast exploring on the paddle boards and work on decompressing.

I'll shoot some photos and write it all up once I'm back- look for another post sometime around Monday night or so. My video camera is still at Sanyo's fix-it shop; who knows when it'll be back.

'Til then... get out, get paddling and get smiling- you're only passing this way once!

Top and Bottom Photos: Wish it were still here!

All Photos: Spidey

Thursday, November 8, 2007

One Track Mind: Unwritten Rules of Baja Travel or How to Get Invited Back Down

This is going to piss some people off. On the other hand, some old hands will undoubtedly be shaking their heads in agreement and maybe even passing the cactus juice one extra time in my honor. Since I'm short timing for a Baja run I figured I'd share some of my observations regarding successful Baja travel. Here goes:

The Unwritten Rules of Baja Travel

1. Person who supplies the vehicle and drives never pays toll for the pay road.
2. Driver's responsible for filling vehicle with gas and buying insurance before everyone meets up for departure.
3. This isn't the city bus- all travellers meet at Driver's house for load up.
4. Passengers should offer gas and insurance money- driver should never have to ask.
5. Never claim "shotgun". Always concede the seat to anyone older then you, more experienced then you, meaner then you.
6. Organize all of your stuff into one container (size dependent on trip length) your gear shouldn't be strewn all over the vehicle.
7. Don't be a food troll- if it's offered then go for it, if not- make something of your own.
8. If you're making some food- make enough to share, if you can't- be discrete.
9. If you're a kitesurfer, Driver never self launches.
10. If you're a passenger, don't tell the driver how to drive or where to go- unless asked.
11. Drivers, no sketch passes- I've never had a passenger who was mad because I drove too slow (well, there was one).
12. Passengers cover all parking fees.
13. Lunch is on the passengers.
14. A surf trip is to and from a discussed spot, don't drop a sudden side trip to your Uncle Barney's house in the TJ suburbs on the crew.
15. Don't decide to buy a large clay pot, surfing monkey or Elvis statue that in any way takes up space in the vehicle.
16. Driver picks music (if you don't like Bluegrass hillbilly music, don't ride with me).
17. If you're new to the crew, don't talk too much. Listen more then you talk.
18. Don't eat the last sandwich (sorry Kiwi).
19. A chair that was brought into Baja is the sovereign nation of its owner. It doesn't matter if it's left unattended for hours, in a Baja camp, it is still the rightful property of its owner- and is reserved exclusively for his ass.
20. Bring contraband into Mexico...with me? Are you sure your in the right blog? Jah won't mind if you don't commune with him for one surf trip- get stoned at home.
21. When it's time to load up- start grabbing stuff and moving it- even if it's not yours, move fast and snappy- don't linger.
22. Coming back, at the border- don't start cracking jokes or flirting with the border patrol agent- after jockeying in the line for two hours the last thing I want to do is go to secondary because you were being cute.
23. Drivers- before you volunteer your vehicle it's up to you to make damn sure its reliable- not reliable, forget it!
24. Never invite yourself on a Baja trip- if guys are discussing a trip and you want to go, try this approach, "What time are you guys leaving? Is it okay if I follow you down?".
25. Bring your own beer or pitch in for the beer run- if you don't, DO NOT even asked for a beer and if offered one refuse-at least the first time.
26. Be the guy who always just grabs the pots and pans and goes down to wash them- without waiting or asking. This will get you back in the truck for sure.
27. Back in the States, at the drop off point, it's always a nice gesture to offer to help clean up the vehicle or move the drivers gear.
28. If you're the passenger in a truck with a camper on it, do not assume you'll be sleeping in the truck unless it's been discussed previously- be self sufficient.
29. If there's more then two guys in one vehicle, do not bring more then two boards.
30. Bring extra wax.
31. Practice Beer Managment: Take one out put one in- simple.
32. And for goodness sake, close the cooler!

These rules are, of course, flexible depending on how well you know the guys you're traveling with. In retrospect, they seem to be a variation of the all important Golden Rule: Be the guy you'd like to travel with- if you follow that rule, I don't see how you can go wrong.

Got any of your own travel rules? I'd love to hear them and they don't have to be for Baja travel, for example- what are the sacred rules of the boat trip?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Baja Dreaming: Seems like it's a million miles away

You ever been here before? Wondering how you'll ever get it all done? How am I going to mow through this pile of little aggravations laid out in front of me so I can just get out of here? Baja may as well be a million miles away.

Three more days. It'll get done; I'll take care of business and find time to pull together the Baja kit. The cooler will get hosed out (the big white one- marine grade, guaranteed to put a three day chill on a Mexican beer box), the grub bag stuffed (only the essentials: canned tamales -a la Kem Nunn, some chili con carnage for the hotdogs, a round of peanut butter and a brick of Bimbo- world's only mold resistant bread- stuffed into my old blackened boiler, the perfect pot for a cup of tar thick cowboy coffee, cap it with the Hornitos and you're done- a week's provisions), the AstroTurf will get a shake out and the snails evicted from my brown poly tarp (got to sleep under something). Shoot, suddenly I'm feeling optimistic. This is do-able!

Put a Baja surftrip on your "must do" list. You may not score the best waves of your life (then again, you may...) but sitting in that Baja desert, watching satellites zip around while laughing it up with your best buddies makes you realize that it's more about friends then waves. That Hornitos will get you Baja dreaming- you melt into your aluminum lawn chair... you're a million miles away.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Get Up, Stand Up (Paddle): Doing something for our Oceans

Go check out Tom Jones': website
go to the gallery section and have a look at some of the photos there. You'll probably linger on the photo of the turtle, that image was a gut punch to me- I'm betting you'll feel the same. You might even be moved to do something about it- Tom Jones is hoping you will.

San Diego and South Bay Paddlers: Tom's epic state-long paddle will wrap up this Sunday at the Mexican Border- why not jump in the water and show your support by paddling along?

Here's Tom and WildCoast Director Serge Dedina. I can't think of an organization that does more for our immediate coastal resources then WildCoast. Take a look a their website, it may be an eye opener for you. For example: Did you know that your days of surf camping in the shady olive groves of Salsipuedes were over? Click through and learn about the destruction of some of the most pristine coastline in Baja. And then find out what is being done about it. It may be your turn to stand up for something.