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

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