Saturday, December 29, 2012

A new year... for me.

December 29th. My birthday, forty-four years of pumping blood and air. Rad.

Just spoke to my media-mogul friend who told me I should be doing these updates in video. Hmmm, maybe someday... could be a good time to try something new.

I took a different route down this time- following a friend who knows where the nooks and crannies with waves are found. I glad we did it this way, I saw places and waves I haven't surfed before. This right is a small but long wave- on a regular surfboard it would be a drive-by wave, on a 10'6 stando it's a playground.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Made it!

The most insanely hot, Mexican girl (who ever invented those tight yoga pants deserves a congressional commendation) just brought me the frostiest Negra Modelo I've had in four days. Jeez, what a trip it's been! Broken axle, side of the road campout, four hundred yard long right pointbreak waves and now the coldest beer ever served by one of the hottest girls I've seen in the last 1000 miles of dusty road. I'm in love... with this road trip! 

Busted axle... made for a great campsite. Beautiful desert, coolers packed with cold ones and a can-do attitude make situations like this a lot more fun- well, the alcohol really helps.

Just a sample of what we found- no you don't know where it is and you won't find it. This one is way out there and it will make you pay.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Paddle Surfing Texas/Tanker Surfing: Chris Koerner's Texas Paddle-Thru

First of all, I've got to apologize to my good buddy, DogPatch local Chris Koerner for taking so damn long to get his story up and posted. I totally blew it. Sorry bro. I had to muck about in the archives and find his piece- it's really cool and even better, it's got me fired up to get down to Texas and chase some barges! Check out his story:

Paddle-thru Texas

I had a fun trip to Texas last month for Team ULI. I flew into Houston and met up with my old compadre Ken Brah from South End Surf n’ Paddle in NJ, and we loaded up our race and demo boards and lit off for Austin for the Paddle for Humanity on Lady Bird Lake. The paddle clinics were just wrapping up and the pre-event party was just getting started as we arrived on Friday afternoon. I expected Lone Star and Texas BBQ but instead they had free Kona Lagers and Wahoos so it was all good. 

This was the last of the five-race series for PFH, and if you’ve never done one of their events they are real fun. This year they ran a couple different races at each event: a 5k, a 10k, a Distance Over Time – something for everyone. The real crowd pleaser was the Chuck Patterson Rally (CPR), which started out at the early season events as a serious paddle/beach obstacle course-type race. However, at the beach-less venues (DC & Austin) it morphed into a cross between a demolition derby & American Gladiators on inflatable SUPs complete with luche libre masked saboteurs in the final. Everybody was getting into the act and some of the heats were pure comedy. 

PFH is all about fundraising, and a portion the entry fee goes to charity of your choice like the Ocean of Hope, Navy Seal Foundation, Best Day, Love 146 and more. They always attract some cool sponsors with lots of swag and Ocean Minded even puts on a beach/river cleanup between events. Anyway, we had some good finishes on the ULI 14s and Austin was a beautiful venue with a great paddling community and lots of good food & live music. I believe out of all the PFH events this year the lowest turnout was in Dana Point – proof of how paddling is growing all around the USA.

Paddle for Humanity:

Next stop was Galveston where the wind was offshore and the surf was a clean two to three inches.
Lucky for us we had a booking in the morning with Capt. James Fulbright at Tanker Surf Charters. He called the night before to confirm and we planned a meet up at dark-thirty so we could get on the water early to catch a very large vessel due to come up the Houston ship’s channel. 

The channel has a series of shoals & small islands formed by years of dredging, and the plan is to catch the wave as it hits the shoal and ride it until you wipe out or when you or the wave poops out, at which point you hop in the chase boat and get in front of the tanker and do it all over again. This can go on for 20+ miles or so and if you’re lucky you can find a ship heading out to sea and ride the waves all the way back to the drop in spot. 

As the sun was coming up we watched a couple mid sized tankers round the Bolivar Peninsula as we sat in the channel but we let them pass. Finally we saw what looked to be a small city slowly moving towards the inlet and we knew that was our ship. I thought we were having a solar eclipse when the behemoth passed and the Capt. ordered us over the side to get ready for the wave. There was nothing but flat water as far as we could see then all of a sudden a chest high wall of whitewater is bearing down on us a hundred yards away. There was a left & a right although at times they’re a couple hundred yards apart but the waves aren’t very top-to-bottom so you can angle off pretty easily. However – they are fast! 

We had a little chop on the first couple rides so we decided to go for distance and a couple of them took us 4 to 5 miles. Later on things cleaned up a bit and one of the shorter waves (3 minutes or so) ran right next to an island peeling perfectly like a point break. This setup is the perfect test lab for board shapers/designers, or somebody that just wants to check out the characteristics of a couple different boards. We used an ULI Lopez and Steamroller model with the new Wikirails and they performed great. 

I was pretty amazed how well Capt. James has the whole place dialed-in as there’s not a whole lot in the way of landmarks out there and other than the depth finder I didn’t see him checking out any navigational aids. He did a great job describing each wave’s characteristics and really shared the stoke if we had a good ride. I’ve surfed a lot of places and paddled a lot of races but I can’t say I’ve ever experienced anything like tanker surfing before, of felt that beat-up after a five or six hour session. Lucky for us we had some of that free beer leftover from Austin. Special thanks to ULI for the great travel boards, Wavecation, Tanker Surf Charters, and Watermans Applied Science.

Check back and I'll pull up some of Chris's photos from the event and the tanker surfari.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Part I Hate: Getting the Tourist Card/Waiting in Line

If you're traveling deep into Baja, you're supposed to have the proper visa. In this case, since we'll be leaving the state of Northern Baja and will be in Baja for longer than 72 hours, we needed a tourist visa also known as a tourist card. Usually, you'll go through the hassle of getting the thing and then never get asked for it the whole time you're there. And then once in awhile, you'll roll up to a checkpoint and the officials will demand your papers. If you don't have them you'll get even more hassled and fined and then you'll be told that you have to get the visa at the next city and then pay for it at the nearest bank. The fine is about a hundred dollars making the whole visa-ordeal cost you about $125. It's not a crazy huge fine and jail time but it can be a stressful situation and you never one give the officials any legit reason to shake you down. 

So I bit the bullet and walked across the border and handled the paperwork. It's easy at the Otay Mesa crossing; you walk over and ten feet past the border is the white Immigracion office. Always bring your own pen- they detest loaning out their ballpoint. I filled the papers out and got my visa officially stamped but would have to pay the twenty five dollar fee at a later date. Here's the problem,  since the Otay crossing doesn't have a bank branch on hand like the much busier San Ysidro crossing I'd have to pay somewhere else (we used to handle this at San Ysidro but since they built a new crossing area, we've had mixed reports of being able to get the paperwork done there).  

In line to walk across the border back into the U.S. - halfway there... wishing I skipped that large cup of coffee.

How's this for a taste of Mexican logic: I was told that I can either pay the fee in Todos Santos when I get there or I could wait and just pay the fee once I got back to the border at any bank in Tijuana. Huh? Then why pay the thing at all? I don't quite understand it all but I'll pay the fee in Todos once I'm down there since it's a quiet, nice bank and I could probably withdraw some pesos there as well. We did learn something too. If you already have a visa and it will expire while you're traveling down there, just throw it away before you ask for another one. If you don't, they might just tell you to travel with it and then to find a place to re-apply for another one while you're down there. This might be a huge hassle if you can't find an Immigracion office or if you just don't want to deal with the hassle while you're on the move. My buddy Kiwi was told his whole family would have to travel on his soon to expire visas and that he would not be issued replacements at the moment. This would be an inconvenience for him- so we did some quick thinking, stepped outside of the office, tore up the visas and caught a cab to the airport. At the airport, Kiwi was able to easily get visas for his whole family, pay for them and be on his merry way in under a half an hour.

In all, it was a simple process. The biggest bummer was crossing back into the U.S., especially since it was a Sunday (I'm no rookie, I knew it would be nasty on a Sunday but we had no other free days to get the deed done). Even on foot, waiting in line it was an hour and a half wait to get to the other side. A couple of words of advice for that: 1. Hit the head before you hit the border, there are no bathrooms and it can be a long wait. 2. Apply for the Sentri card and it's a quick stroll to the front of the line. 

I'm out of here in a couple days, the preparations continue- check back for updates!

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Basic Idea: Southern Baja Stand Up Paddleboard Trip, 2013

Well, we've hashed out a basic plan for our trip this year. I've done the road warrior charge across the border so many times that I'm looking for something new this time. Usually, we cross at San Ysidro (Tijuana crossing) early in the morning and make a mad dash through Ensenada traffic, we don't stop until we hit San Quintin which is about five hours south of the border. The idea is to get the sketchiness of TJ into our rearview mirror as quickly as possible. If anything bad is going to happen, odds are it will happen driving through the border zone of TJ/Ensenada so that's why we form up into a caravan, top off our fuel tanks in San Diego and just book it through until we can take a breath of relief further south. 

Our fears are reasonable. It was a group of my friends who, after crossing the border at four in the morning, were boxed in by a two large SUVs, forced from their vehicles at gunpoint and completely robbed of everything they had. This is not one of those, "I know a guy, who knows a guy, who heard about some guys getting held up on the Playas road." This information I obtained straight from the source; talking it over with my friend who shivered as he told me about it two weeks later. He chillingly told me about being forced to walk into the darkness away from the highway by a guy hopped up on drugs, sporting a black mask and the largest handgun he's ever seen in his life. Kneeling in the dirt with his back to the gunman, my buddy thought it was over when the dark figure told him not to look back. He almost jumped out of his skin when a shot cracked in the night, luckily it was a shot fired into the air and when he finally looked back the guy was gone. The story was actually published in a surf mag a few years ago-the guys still won't go into Baja. 

But we will. So it will be, next Thursday night, when we cross over at Otay Mesa (the smaller of the two south San Diego crossings) late in the night (and bad things happen at night along the border) and jam up into the mountains beyond Tecate. Yes, the late night crossing has me nervous, especially since I'll be a particularly plush target with fancy, shiny 4x4, boards on top and cool looking dirtbike hanging off the bumper. But it's the plan we devised and life ain't nothing if not a grand adventure. We're taking a different route, bypassing the big cities and heading up along the Sea of Cortez. I'm looking forward to seeing some new Baja sights- even better, I'm looking forward to getting the hell out of TJ that first night. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Southern Baja Paddle Surf Trip: Watch Fish Die

Check this clip out- it's all about my friend's Southern Baja spearfish/kitesurf/fishing/paddlesurfing resort just outside of La Paz. I'm going to spend a little time here hoping to whack a wahoo with my Riffe (wanna see what that looks like check out 1:57 in the clip), blow up my 10m kite, drink mango magaritas and hopefully get a surf in with El Timbo while I'm there. Tim's actually got the whole stand up paddle surf thing dialed with boards, paddles, trucks and boats at his disposal. Wanna set up a trip? Talk to me! Check his place out:

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Southern Baja, New Contributor: Welcome Manny Vargas, Getting Ready for Southern Baja stand up paddle trip!

It's that time of year... my three week long Southern Baja stand up paddlesurf trip is on the horizon! If you've ever dreamed of driving the whole Baja peninsula with a quiver of standos, a DRZ400 dirtbike, kitesurf equipment and a cooler full of beer, you're going to enjoy the next couple of months.  Of course I'll be updating and posting photos and content about the trip the whole time I'm down south so be sure to check back. 

I call this one, "Even the Dog". This is the pointbreak just down the road from my place in Southern Baja... it can get kinda fun sometimes.
Also... Get ready for Manny Vargas to join me here on Manny is a guy you want to tune into- he's always got something going on whether it be a Baja paddlesurf excursion (he organizes and runs paddlesurf tours of both southern and northern Baja), snapping some insane surf photos (check out his site) or flying all around the world as a professional bodyboarder, Manny's always in the mix. And now he's killing it on his 9'4 Stamps stando. Look for a whole new take on the world of wave riding when Manny comes online this week.

Monday, November 26, 2012

SUP Factory in Puerto Rico: MHL Shaping Warehouse

My good buddy and world traveling surf voyager Manny Vargas (check him out at just sent me this little clip of the MHL stand up paddle factory in Puerto Rico. I've always wanted to check out Puerto Rico, it's cool to see stand up paddle has taken root there in such a big way.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Back to racing: Winter Series

I hope you have a "Winter Series" where you live. Here in Southern California the Winter Series is a set of races each one hosted by a local outrigger canoe club. The races are really fun- there's still all the competitiveness but much less of the crazy hype. It's a chance to reconnect with racing friends and get out on the water. The cost to enter is usually low. This weekend, for example, the San Diego Outrigger Club is hosting the first race of the series. The price to race is $25 which includes lunch and a teeshirt. I'll be there- hope to see you as well.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

This has nothing to do with stand up paddling: Is College Worth It?

I'm a teacher and I get asked this all the time, the best (and admittedly lame) answer I could give is, "Yes. Why? Because it's fun." Well, I stumbled onto these guys and I'm blown away. I know, I know, you're going to tell me how lame they are or say something like, "Duh, everybody knows about the vlog brothers." I'm highly impressed, these guys are truly funny. Actually, it was meeting people like this that made college worth it for me- that and the hot chicks.

Here it is, "Is College Worth It?" check it out:

Monday, October 29, 2012

La Jolla Shores Sistas stand up paddlesurf Southern Baja!

Water photog and world class traveler Manny Vargas just got back from his Southern Baja stand up paddle trip with the La Jolla Shores standup paddle crew... the Sistas- check out their surf trip video:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Stand Up Paddle Tanker Surfing: Chris Koerner on an ULI

Okay- this wave is on the list. I've got to do this someday. Hopefully, more info coming on this little stand up paddle surf adventure:

If that's not enough to get you fired up to give it a shot, check out Chris's little video clip:

Surf Magic... ever heard of it?

Penned something about a little session I just had- surf magic. Check it out.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I'm enchanted by this place.

I've got a list of five waves I want to surf in the next ten years. I had this spot on the list but after checking out Surfline's spot check on it, I'm realizing it may be more of a mission than I'm ready for- the place is insane. Surfline did a great job getting audio commentary as well as stills- take your time and check it out it's worth it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Olas Escondidas

There's surf but you can't see it. Here's the deal, the water is warm so there's lots of water vapor in the air. It cools at night and forms fog. The land warms during the day and sucks the fog from offshore over the beach. Result: surf's hidden.... but it's there.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Get Ready for Winter Stand Up Paddle Racing

I remember my first race: Hennessey's one and only, river race from Laughlin to Needles (I think that was where we ended)... they said it was only 11 miles, it was actually 26... three quarters of the way through the thing I swore I'd never race again. 

Five frosty beers later, at the finish line, I was planning my next race. Racing's fun and if you haven't given it a go yet, the best way to get into it is in the Winter Racing series put on by SoCal Ocean Racing. See the piece I wrote about it here.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Alternative Lifestyle

Cheap gas is now $4.65 a gallon. Which means that filling up my truck now costs me $120 bucks and a round trip ride to the DogPatch will set me back $60- you'll be seeing a lot less of me at the 'Patch, boys. A normal week of twice daily surf checks (that's a ten block round trip), once a week grocery runs (4 miles round trip) and maybe three errands (15 miles each) will see me burn through three quarters of a tank or about $90. I'll fill the thing just about 3.5 times in a month which adds up to $315 not counting that up the coast run to the DogPatch. Damn, life just got expensive- and I don't even drive to work; I make my one block, daily commute by beach cruiser every morning! 


I could fill up my Suzuki DRZ400 once every two weeks (that thing get's 50 miles per gallon around town) for about $12 and do everything I described above, except go to the DogPatch. So in a month, on my street plated dirt bike, I'll spend $24 or I can cruise the 4x4 and spend $315. And let's not forget the cool factor... dirtbikes rule!

A quick side topic. I've got a minor problem: getting my 8'4 Stamps stando down to the beach on the dirtbike. I don't have far to go- just five blocks each way on quiet residential streets. I guess I could look into the ready made (but far to wimpy) bicycle surfboard rack options or, and this is what I'm really going to do, I could get a custom rack fabbed up in aluminum for the DRZ. I figure if I can keep the fabrication cost under $300 I'll already be ahead of the game. Standby for some cool, custom board rack photos!

I never thought it would happen (famous last words) but the plain economic realities of living here in Kalifornia are going to force me to live an alternative lifestyle. All you have to do is check out the milkcrate-grocery-box I ziptied to my moto-rack to see that I've made some changes.

Read 'em and weep...
I used to think that I'd always be able to fire up the Ramble Beast and charge up and down the coast at will. It seems, however, that the intersecting trajectories of gas prices (upwards) with earnings (somewhat static) have finally triggered a lifestyle tipping point. Don't worry, I'm not getting a Prius. But, there will be fewer spur-of-the-moment road trips up the coast. No more, "let's just take the truck" spontaneity and a lot less of me at your break. Maybe that's a good thing.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Paying Gig: 5 years, 573,00 hits and 1200 posts later....

Well, I finally did it- I cracked the glass ceiling, I'm being paid to write. Why am I telling you this? I'm letting you know because I've been sensing some tension in the interwebs, a trembling in the ether... a warble in the Force if you will. Or maybe that's just the digital rumblings of a bunch of faithful readers pissed off at me for not posting anything lately. Sorry guys and gals, I've been distracted chasing a little supplemental income. In an uncommon step away from what we both love (stand up paddling in all of its forms), let me take you into my personal life and explain a little bit of my situation.

I've got a great job, my real one that is; I'm a science teacher here in one of the coolest high schools in San Diego. Why is it so cool? Because, we've got great kids, with huge hearts and mostly empty pockets. The school that I teach at qualifies for what is known as 100% Free and Reduced Lunch- in short, it's not the type of place that I went to school at and, if you're buying your own standos and paddles, I'm betting it's not the type of place you attended either. I love it, for the community around it and for the kids who find a way to make it here every day. I also love it because it's five blocks from, what can sometimes be, the grindiest, gnarliest left hand zipper for miles around. In a weird twist of all that I've known about California beach property, homes here on the West Side (beach) are not as highly valued as those on the East Side (inland), so we're kind of the black sheep of San Diego which is perfect for me since it allowed me to buy a home walking distance to the beach. Even better, the school that I teach at is a two minute bike ride to work from my home- so I'm set up, $5 gas be damned. 

Now, I think I may be an anomaly among educators (I know I'm going to piss somebody off here- sorry) but I'm the guy who never complains about our salary. In fact, I hate it when I hear my colleagues complaining about what they make- for two reasons: One, I've always felt that this was the choice I made and if it was not working out for me, I should find another way to make my living (the beauty of living in these here United States). And, two, dude- we only work 180 days per year! I'm afraid the second that fact is widely known, the gig is going to be up and our sweet deal will be gone. Don't get me wrong, we need the time off. By the time summer rolls around, I'm cooked; working with kids all days (who come with different abilities to act like good citizens- that's code for "act like a human") takes it out of you and a break to recharge the batteries and get fired up to do it all over again is a necessity if you want good teaching to happen. That being said, it's expensive to live here in San Diego and (I promise I'm not getting into politics here but I don't think our school funds are  managed very skillfully... just sayin') this year, our pay was cut by 7% and the school year cut short by 14 day! I know, that means more surf trips- I get it, but really that's not so great for kids and learning. As far as the paycut, I wish I could say I'd skip a latte now and then to make up for it but if you know me, then you know the coffee I drink comes from the bottom of the coffee food chain. 

So what have I done? Well, of course, I've been out hustlin'... which I believe is the American way. And it's been fun. I do have advertisers on this site who have been great (with the exception of one deadbeat company who has stiffed me completely and whose tile shall soon disappear from this site): Stamps has made me excellent boards and kept me in them for years, Boga - these guys have become good friends and their boards and customer service are top notch, Isle - my longest running sponsors have made it possible for me to teach stand up paddle lessons by giving me equipment, Bic and their SUP exec Jimmy Blakeny are a class act based on integrity and professionalism with good equipment that's just getting better and finally, the new kid on the block, Creed SUP and owner Randy who have believed enough in me to give me a full time writing job (I write their blog, here's an example of what I'm up to click here). Which brings me completely full circle as to why the hell there hasn't been as much new content this year: I'm fucking busy teaching during the day and writing at night! 

This site is my baby, however, and this baby needs to be fed (new bloggers would always ask me for advice and I'd say: Feed the blog- it's always hungry). And I shall feed it because it's been a life changer for me. Seriously, committing to this thing has changed me for the better, forced me to develop a writer's discipline, allowed me to meet some of you guys and, damn, finally allowed to develop some type of writing clarity (Miss Oakes, wherever you are, thank you!). Writing, I've found, is a passion and it's here that I get a chance to practice it, on you guys who've stuck with me all these years. So Thanks folks- I'm still here, I'm still contributing and I'm still stoked. Talk more soon.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Paddle Surfing San Francisco: Fort Point

Stand Up Paddling Fort Point in San Francisco: These shots were sent to me by a friend in the city.

Photo: Yep, that's the Golden Gate in the background.

Photo: I hope the stand up paddlers were acting reasonably, it looks like one of them may have shoulder hopped a prone guy.

Photo: It's good practice to consider that your actions as a stand up paddler affect all who come after you- don't ruin it for the rest of us!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Dependable: 8 to take to the bank

 Like a 22R, here are some things you can count on:

1. There will be a swell on Labor Day... but it won't get good until Tuesday; when you're back in your cubicle.

2. Your brand new, custom shaped, stand up paddleboard ripstick will be delayed... and the shaper will blame the glassers.

Ain't gonna let you down.
3. There will always be toilet paper in the DogPatch bathrooms.

4. If you thought your 8'6 stando was short enough, you'll be ordering an 8'2" in a couple of months.

5. In a pre-surf session frenzy, you will someday forget to tighten the FCS/Futures set screw and your $100 carbon fiber side fin will find a new home on the bottom.

6. The person serving your breakfast at Pipe's Cafe will be at least a 9.5, most likely a 10.

7. There will be a stingray in that last two inches of water.

8. The amount of people surfing and the water temperature will continue to be directly related.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

South swells, cutbacks and kite surfing.

What a weekend here in Southern California (ps. if you are a California native, you never call our state Cali). Right now, outside my door it's so hot, humid and mosquito infested that it feels like mainland Mex. It's been that way all weekend. Alright, let me point this verbal ship in some sort of direction and knock off the items in the title: 

South Swells: Well, I can say with confidence that it mostly went right past southern San Diego. Too steep of an angle to really smack us. Day 1, Saturday, I checked it every three hours from day break to noon. I was not inspired. It was crossed up, chopped up and mostly closed out. Water was warm though. I did surf on Sunday and Monday but it was nothing to get excited about. Today, Tuesday was much better, I surfed DogPatch and had a good time- glassy, hot and about three foot.

Cutbacks: Damn, my favorite turn in stand up paddle surfing! I got a chance to speed out on the flats and wrap 'em all the way around right back into the whitewash. Anybody can speed down the line, not too many know how to whip these barges back around. 

Kitesurfing: Kited for the first time in four years. I need to get my skills back up to speed for my extended stay down south this winter. Starting to think about putting a kite quiver back together again- more toys!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Something's heading our way!!!

Rumor has it... Put it this way, I'm getting up early tomorrow!

My hometown... come on baby!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Can you tell it's been FLAT!!!!!

When I start breaking out the random prose.... watch out! Lengthy ramblings and goofy stories just mean that we're pulling our frickin' hair out here because it has been sooooo tiny. Supposedly something is coming this weekend but watch out the poop monster from the south is in the water. Last night, 2 a.m., I let the beast out so she can sniff the grass, but what do I sniff? Wafting on the night on-shore breeze is the meaty stench of southern borne sewage. Thanks Mexico for your little gift. This morning what do I spy? The sewage flower (contaminated water signs) popping just in time for the Labor Day swell... so it's a race against time. Who will win? The poop monster or the Labor Day swell? Tune back in to find out. Until then, here's a cool surf shot I took a long time ago when there was surf. Sigh.



All this talk of VW's reminded me of this one:


 I bought it in the parking lot of the swap meet.
The guy took my money and gave me two things: a key and a lament, "Lo siento, amigo, I'm sorry my friend". I would have thought the apology was odd but I was too excited to consider what it might mean.

Inside, the van was moist. It smelled kind of like a locker room but more like dog puke, beef jerky and farts. There was nothing beyond the driver's front bench seat. The Mexican had replaced everything back there with pieces of shag carpet, pressed and matted, cemented to the floor by some type of canine body fluid. The thing was infested with fleas. Las pulgas had taken over the carpet, using it as a command center, launching non-covert ops, assaulting my calves and entrenching along my shin bone. The windows were spray painted black, the paint sealing them closed. We named her "Misery".

Misery... with way cool rims.

The tranny was sketchy, it popped out of fourth gear. A bent coat hanger looping from the gear shift to the passenger seat solved that problem. When the wire broke, Ralph redefined the meaning of "manual" transmission by holding it in gear for five hundred miles. When the vibration up the stick put his arm to sleep, he wrapped his toes around it, gripping it like an orangutan, holding it between the fat toe and the long one next to it. It worked but it wasn't a nice thing to look at.

The VW ate gas and oil simultaneously so we traveled with a case of 10w-30 we stole from Ralph's dad. The starter jammed so often there was a hammer taped to it to whack it free. The fuel gauge was consistent, it always said "Full". There were no wipers and only one headlight but there was a hole cut into the floor with a funnel and tube. And that was a plus because we weren't stopping until we hit Scorpion Bay.

At Guerrero Negro an empty beer bottle flying out of an approaching truck detonated the passenger side windscreen like a frickin' grenade. On the East road in, Ralph destroyed a front tire on someone's cast off fender. A drunken llantero fixed it for twenty bucks, fifteen beers and five precious hours of daylight.

Deep in the midnight desert and heavy into the cervezas, I drank cloudy melted ice water sloshing around in the cooler. It looked nice and cold; I was right about the cold. We hit the point at 3 am. Ralph slept in the dirt wrapped in a beach towel. I squatted in Misery like a contortionist, knees to cheeks, jittering, sweating and cursing as I hovered over two plastic garbage bags simultaneously blowing into both. Mercifully, I passed out an hour before sunrise, blissfully incoherent while the fleas joyfully stuffed themselves at the feeding trough of my naked body. I woke up with one eye swollen closed, a back full of flea bites and paper towels stuffed into the parts of a human body capable of clamping down on them. It was hellish.  

But, ask me what I really remember about that trip and I'll tell you this: I remember an empty Baja point firing like an overripe habanero, I recall laughing endlessly with a good friend and I'll never forget Misery, my first bad ass Baja rig.

Surfing makes your life better- it eases the Misery.

Stand up paddleboard lessons in sunny San Diego- get 'em while they're hot! The water's warming up, the surf is rolling in... get yourself on a stand up board now and learn the skills you'll need to be part of the hottest water sport around. Click here for more information. To book a lesson email

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Don't laugh, your daughter might be in here.

If you're a dude then you built forts. For me, it started with pulling the cushions off of the couch, stacking them up into walls and a roof and crawling inside. Refrigerator boxes were great too. You could cut some holes into them, windows with flaps and doors- instant fort. 

When I started surfing, I went for the old VW split window. These things were the original surf van, bed in the back, cot above the drivers seat. Basically, a rolling fort. I had one of those until I was twenty five years old. Boy, did that thing piss off my girl friend's dad. He was pretty well heeled- I was a nobody UCSB grad with just enough brown in me to piss him off real good, which is exactly what she wanted out of the deal. When I'd come rolling up in that primered gray cargo van, his systolic bump was like hitting the hot button on a Titan booster- next stop was the moon. I'd slide my foot off the brake pedal (remember how it would go thunk against the floor boards?), give the gear box the ol' second to first synchromesh assist and haul ass out of there before his martini-soaked frontal lobe got warmed up enough to really f#%& me up. 

Tools of the trade: Quart of rum, couple of boards, a beat hibachi, flannel double sleeping bag, some paddles... what else do you really need?

My latest creation is the Ramble Machine, it's a little more reliable and a bit more capable then the VW but at heart it's all fort. On the day I bought it, I proved my eighth grade math teacher wasn't a liar; finally getting my chance to use geometry in everyday life. The Pythagorean theorem verified that a 9'3 stando would indeed fit diagonally in the bed, allowing me to store it securely within the camper shell I planned to install. To you it may look like another dirty 4x4 but under that shell I've got all the necessary accoutrement of a full-blown Baja expedition vehicle.

I get lots of head shaking and coy smiles when those my age see what I've got going on in the back, "Aren't you a little bit old for sleeping in back of your truck?" they say.  I'm okay with their little chuckles- just don't laugh too hard, because like my girlfriend's dad from so long ago, you just never know who might be laying a pretty little head on the pillow of the bed that I've so cleverly crafted. Chicks dig forts.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Friday Ramble.

The Friday Ramble, my every-so-often day to ramble about whatever I want. Tune in or tune out- up to you.

Fired up for this weekend. I'm not sure how many of you know this but I'm not an actual, professional writer or blog-billionaire. I'm actually a high school science teacher and that line of work is what pays the bills. You could say I'm sponsored by the State of California, since they (you if you live here) are the only ones who've footed the bill for my trips, my boards and my paddles (well, almost- thanks SurfCraft International and Creed SUP). I love teaching, I've been a teacher for almost seventeen years and I take it very seriously. 

This week, I kicked some serious teaching ass: I set up and ran a chemistry lab (try pulling all the stuff together to do something like this and you'll know there's more to it than you think), conducted two sand crab sampling sessions, put together a nifty digital lecture using my laptop and projector, set up a three day field trip (bureaucratic paper nightmare- but I ain't afraid), wrote a test, administered a make up exam, inventoried my chemical storeroom, completed a State Expenditure report for a Marine Science program that I administer (finished it a week early too) and held two after-school sessions of robot construction. I'm new to the robotics game but I'll tell you- watching the kids get so excited is a real stoke-fest. That's a lot of teaching stuff. 

But that's not all, I also fit in a 5 - 7pm paddle club session with 10 fired up women paddlers, got in a couple surfs for myself and mowed, weedwacked and edged my 12,000 square foot lot. I posted content on this and another blog that I contribute to and messed around with my new Ion WiFi camera. Dude, I killed it this week- so if you see me... buy me a beer, I deserve it!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Invincible Paddle Boards?

I just wrote a little piece for the Creed SUP blog. If you get a chance check it out- indestructible stand up boards made of advanced lay-ups pulled from battle field materials- fact or fiction? Check it out:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ion Air Pro Wifi: Wow- Can't wait to start shooting with this thing!

Look what just came in the mail courtesy of the folks at Ion.

I literally have just pulled this out of the packing box and have to say, the thing looks slick. I'm really excited about the wifi upload capabilities. The camera is going into the water this weekend- stand by for a full product review.

Dog Days

Summer decided to kick our asses. It's been brutally hot and humid. I can barely sleep at night and I live only a couple blocks from the beach. I can imagine the suffering going on East of I5. Fortunately, there's a silver lining to all this- the ocean water temps have also been nice and high.

Lilly, making the most of it.

It's been warm enough to trunk it on the dawn patrol and mid-day paddles up the beach are sublimely comfortable. It's like the feeling of the tropics where you don't even flinch when you jump into the water, you just go. And when the water gets this warm our jellyfish friends start showing up again. One thing missing: waves. It's gone kind of quiet again and my daily window workday of surfing opportunity is now synchronized with low tide- so I'm pretty much shut down. Summer dog days, rolling into Fall. 

Wednesday night paddle club: Want to stand up paddle after work (we paddle from 5 - 7pm)? I'm offering 4, two hour stand up paddle sessions for $45 total! Boards and paddles provided and delivered to our workout beach in Southern San Diego for the next four consecutive Wednesdays. If you live in San Diego and want to get in some painless, stand up paddling- drop me an email today we've only got 4 spaces left and we start tonight (8/22/12) so act fast! Full paddleboard lesson page here: We're also building a class for September, if you're interested email me for info. we only have space for ten so do it now!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Paddle SURF shot of the day: Kiwi Krankin' it

Here's one more from last weekend's photo session. Kiwi cruised over and snagged a pretty meaty one. What you should know is that Manny is shooting with a wide angle lens in a water housing and that the lens is only effective at about three feet- so think about how close Kiwi is to Manny on this one. Given the fact that stand up paddle blades and fins are nice and scalpel sharp, you start to understand why Manny always wears a helmet when he's shooting. 

Kind of cool checking out the nastiness rumbling right behind him. Photo:
Stand Up Paddle Lessons: I've been teaching folks how to get out and paddle for almost six years now. Every summer my calender starts getting booked with first-time and returning friends who all want to get out and learn how to stand up paddle safely and effectively. If you'd like to give it a shot click this link to my lesson and testimonial page and read about what I've been doing down here. I'm really happy with the lesson I've developed over those six years and the techniques that I've applied from my sixteen year teaching background. Sure you can find some kid who took a "certification class" and got a cool patch from one of the freshly minted qualifying agencies but it will take them years to ever figure out how to become an effective educator. Why wait? Let's get out and paddle now!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Paddle Board Surf Attack: Kiwi getting in to a fun one!

It pretty much all came together this weekend- sunshine, fun south swell in the water and Kiwi there on his paddleboard to snag a few- and, oh yeah, Manny Vargas there to snap it from water. Check this one out:

What would you do to that section just down the line?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Paddleboard Shaper: This is the guy who makes my boards, Part III

Listen closely, kids, about craftsmanship.

Custom Paddleboard/Custom Paint Job = Rad.

Check the spray on Jon Kinley's custom Infinity paddlesurf board- even matches his Vans. Nice work!

Order a custom board and you get to have it painted any way that you like...
And have it configured any way that you'd like- check out the absence of a screw type fin box in the middle- Jon's riding smaller fins as a thruster. Interesting!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

San Diego's Premier SUP Race: To Benefit the Wounded Warrior Project

I was just sent this by my friends at Isle Surfboards. The guys are organizing and hosting a major race here in San Diego, September 22nd. The race will be called America's Finest Paddle Race and it's being held to benefit a truly noble cause, The Wounded Warrior Project. Since this is my home town and I'd love to meet all 153 of you who have become FOLLOWERS of this humble blog I am inviting you to join me for the race.

Click here for more information about the race.

Look for me at either the first buoy turn where I will be bringing up the tail end of the pack (to ensure that everybody is wearing SUP approved PFDs and that proper "Mast to Beam" right of way calls are being made at the turn around point) or at the beer garden where I will be hosting a seminar titled, "Fact or Phallus: My stando is smaller than yours which automatically makes me rad". If all else fails, bring a cup for a covert cocktail (not a red solo cup, duh!), tell me what your sign in name is as a FOLLOWER of the blog and I will personally mix up my infamous Kraken7 for you on the shores of Liberty Station.

I have information for any of you out there who might want to become involved as a sponsor for this event. Email me: and I'll hook you up.

Look forward to seeing you there and please do let me know if you are coming for the race:

Monday, August 13, 2012

Stand Up Paddle Racing: Smile, you've just become irrelevant!

Just got back from the premier, stand up paddle, lake race- the Tahoe Nalu and there is one giant take-away message for me and all of the SUP racing world: You don't matter anymore. Now just wait a minute. I can just hear all the crying and whining from all you 5% bodyfat, acai-eating, coconut water drinking, protein huffing, gluten free, serious athletes out there- don't get your compression leggings in a bunch. What I'm talking about will actually make you smile. You are irrelevant because, from what I witnessed first hand, it's the kids- and I'm talking the little, below grade 3 grommets out there that are going to really put this sport on the map. 

Stand Up Paddling's Future: It's looking bright.

Picture this: the big-show, ten mile race commences with certified racing superstars all blasting off into the big blue of lake Tahoe. You've got some of the nation's fastest stand up paddle racers out there- and one crazed Aussie paddler, Jamie Mitchell, who just happens to be a legend in the sport of prone paddle racing- a legitimate world celebrity among watermen; all of them churning away, leaving us behind, racing off to some distant, unseen buoy. Yawn. It didn't get exciting until the end of the race when Mitchell outsmarted the other guy (see what I mean?) and high legged it through the shallows like some hyperkinetic bronzed aussie lifeguard clubbie- taking the win. Again.

Contrast that to the below-8 grom race. The shore? Packed with soccer, er- I mean paddle, moms and dads all hooting and hollering like a Nascar mob storming the Budweiser tent. The crowd was three deep as the mini-paddlers fought it out for their one lap of glory. And this was no "fun" race either- these kids came to win, shaking and baking and showing some surprisingly enviable paddle form as they fought it out. You think you've got skills busting a buoy pivot turn on your stock racer? Try it when you're only four feet tall- and these kids were doing it! You want to talk about smiles? You want to talk about engagement? This was it! This was the excitement that I was looking for up there. 

Buoy pivot turn, smiling all the way.

And it also left me with one conclusion: Stand Up paddle in all of it's forms, surfing, racing, cruising, river, pool, mudhole, whatever- it is really here to stay. Because when you see kids paddling the way that I did and realize that they will grow up with stand up paddling, that surfing a stand up board may be their first taste of wave riding ever and thus seem as natural a way to ride a wave as coasting in on a boogie board, you realize that current biases toward our sport are doomed. It's not if stand up paddle will make it to the Olympics but when, it's not if stand up paddle surfers will carve out a place in the lineup but how far and in what new and fresh way will they push surfing's limits. 

And all of this means that we are irrelevant. We may have paved the way but we won't be the ones to develop stando to it's full potential. Except for Jamie Mitchell but he's a freak.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The nail that stands up...

You stand up, you stand out. No two ways about it, if you paddle out on a stando, you're going to cause controversy. There will be a buzz in the lineup and you will be at the epicenter of it. 

Yesterday I paddled out to surf a really good left freight training through our pier from the south. I guess little Miss Summer must have read yesterday's post and decided she'd hike her skirt up a little and see if she could win me back (it worked, I'm so fickle). Predictably, the spot was packed with every conceivable type of wave rider, old barnacle to bearded hand-plane hippy, all of us wanted a spot out there and even more, all of us were crazy to get a wave. 

Standing out among the giants.

It definitely wasn't harmonious. There were cut-off, cut-outs, hack-jobs and just plain thievery going down out there. The sponger riders were hovering on the inside like a horde of jackals at a Serengeti potluck, slurping up every little scrap of a wave and leaving nothing to the bodysurf vultures  hovering around the perimeter. It was like watching sailfish go through a sardine bait ball, where the only thing that drifts into the deep are scales; there was not a single wave that made it to the shore unmolested.

Desperation makes you do weird things and with a summer that's left me wave starved, I thought it made perfect sense to insert my flesh and foam into that swirling mosh pit of a take off spot. All the chimpanzee-like jibber-jabbering came to a halt as I did the worst thing a paddlesurfer can do at a crowded spot- I went straight through the crowd right to the top of the peak. Basically, I cut the line. Eyes swung up at me from way down below, boogy boarders stopped scrabbling and went into a hover mode, placidly kicking their fins like ducks waiting for a wad of wonder bread, the group collectively inhaled. And then it came, one loud clear heckle from the alpha male, the head hyena, "Hey, John, did you bring your dust pan with that broom?". Man, that shook loose a tirade of comments, some barely audible, some loud enough for even the sunburned Arizona heat-refugees on the pier to hear just fine. My favorite was a nice, clear, succinct, "Get the f$#k out of here!". It was like a perfect Hemingway sentence, nothing more, nothing less needed- just one clean thought. 

There's nothing like a well aimed vulgarity to clear the senses. And there was no hiding because like the Chinese say, "The nail that stands up gets hammered down". Your existence comes to one point, the way you react says a lot about who you really are, all of your trials and tribulations, the life lessons you've endured, how happy you are with your place in the cosmos. And man, it's all about to blow up on the world stage with that vicious, little wave riding mob, sitting front row.

I flipped around, paddled right up to the big dog, the alpha male and said loud and clear for everyone to hear, "Dave, when you say things like that to me, it really hurts my feelings.". Jaws dropped, eyes went wide, body board ducklings stopped kicking and another deep, collective inhale was taken. It was silent. WTF did he just say?

Which gave me just enough of a diversion to bag that little southern-hemi, pier sucker and ride straight to the beach. After all, if you are going to stand out, a little well-timed stand up never hurts.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Breaking up.

I'm done with you summer. What a liar you were. You came in all fired up and calling for endless south swell peelers and what did we get? One solid, albeit classic, south swell that lasted for what? Two days? You were a one shot wonder. Summer you are fired- I'm over you. Where's Fall? Now that's a season that understands my needs.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

How to stand up paddle surf: Bottom Turn II - projection.

If you've ever watched a good surfer in really bad conditions, you've probably been impressed with the speed they are able to make in what looks like mushy nothingness. These guys (and gals) have mastered the art of projecting out of their bottom turns and are using every little cup of a wave surface to bounce out of. If you learn how to load and unload your springs (legs) and push off of the bottom, you'll find your surfing improving significantly as you develop the ability to generate speed. And, as we all know, speed is life!

Want to see good projection? Check out Kelly Slater, look at the wave at about .49 and see how Slater zooms right by the guy ripping him off. The Snake muddles through a couple of turns, no projection. The 11x Champ, weighting and unweighting out of his turns, easily passes him by- lots of projection.

I'm assuming in this piece that you already know how to read a wave and make the decision to turn left or right on it. I'm also assuming that you've got the basics of actually redirecting the board figured out. I'm thinking that what you are looking for is a way to add some vitality to your riding- you want to go from slow cruiser to dynamic ripper, bouncing from section to section, carving with speed and flow. Sounds good right? Well, the key then is projection. 

The Basics: First, as you drop down a wave face, bend your knees so that you are compressing your body like a coiled spring. Your legs are going to pump like two pistons, firing in unison when you lay your board over off the bottom. Get those legs primed and ready to explode- the only way for them to do this is to have them bent. Straight legs can't pump. The second part takes a lot of practice, you've got to develop your timing and you've got to know your board and how it turns. Basically, in one fluid move, as you hit maximum velocity on your way down the face, simultaneously extend your legs and un-compress your body out of the turn. Imagine yourself jumping forward, pushing off the surface of the board. Your body, the spring, has uncoiled and you are unweighting yourself and the board- allowing it to bounce out of the turn. This is what we call projecting.

Basically, you are weighting (compressing as you drop in) and un-weighting (uncoiling off the bottom) the board through your bottom turn. If you've ever watched skaters or snowboarders in a half-pipe, you can see them doing the same thing; compacting their body as they drop down the half pipe then driving their legs and unweighting as they project up the opposite side. 

A couple of tips. Turn your head and look to where you want to go, your body will go where the eyes are looking- so look far down the line and you will get there. Work on your timing. The better you get at synchronizing the driving pistons of your legs with the smooth lean and swoop of your bottom turn, the smoother the turn will look and the more projection you'll get out of the bottom turn. 

And finally, if you're doing it right, your legs should be worn out at the end of a long ride. If they ain't burnin' chances are you're not projecting.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Paddle Surf Trip: Mainland Mexico... Wave Farm!

Okay, of the stand up paddle vids that I've made, this might be my favorite of all time. It's the cast of characters that gets it on this one. There's Farmer Dave, Tim Stamps, Big Chad, Mark Wraight, Matt Wilson- shoot even my brother Mike makes a cameo in it. Best of all is the vibe you get from the flick- I can feel the mainland's heat right now. Check it out:

Find more videos like this on Stand Up Paddle Surfing

Thursday, August 2, 2012

How to stand up paddle surf: Bottom Turn, an introduction.

The bottom turn is the most important turn in surfing. That single turn sets up the whole rest of the wave. The move not only redirects you down the line but, when done correctly, sling-shots you into the next section with enough speed to crank a turn, outrun a closeout section (and make the wave) or set up for the tube. As with most things in surfing, there a million variations and approaches to take when you're coming off the bottom, it all depends on what your intentions are and what groove you're looking for that day. Feeling a little pissed off? Sink that rail and jam it through. Got a little rhythm and flow going? Nothing like extending a little soul arch arc out of the flats. There is, despite all this variation, a common component that all bottom turns possess- projection. If you can spring out of the turn and project down the line, your bottom turn, regardless of it's use and intention will look clean and dynamic.

Rail down, fins in and eyes looking tens of yards down the line- projection, the key to bouncing off the bottom!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Snapped in half: Surf Eats SUP

I'll let Kiwi explain in his own words:

"Don't really know what happened. Paddling out,surfer coming right at me, double wave( wind swell) shoulder to head high, waiting for surfer to see me knowing wave is coming. Brace and try and paddle up BIG white wash. Feel board hit me in the chest. Knocks wind out of me. Come up and unnamed surfer says dude your board snapped. I look around and sure enough it's done. He keeps talking to me but all I'm trying to do is breathe. Make it in only to get a glancing wack from a stingray. Never caught a wave. Went home got the other board and went back out and caught a couple. Sunday north side. Super fun waves. Shit happens. Will order a new one when my shaper is done with the U S Open. Life is good!!!!"

They don't live forever...

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

This has nothing to do with stand up paddle- but it's gnarly!

As some of you know, I'm a new dirtbike moto rider. I suck, I'm boring but I'm safe. Sometimes, however, it's not about you- someday, your number just comes up. Check out this moto rally racer and what he runs into- or what runs into him on his way to the finish line.... gnarly!!!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Southern Baja Paddle Surf Video: Tubes, turns, dogs and sand surfing...

This is one of my favorite paddle surf vids. I made this one back in 2009 on a three week trip down to the southern tip. That's me on the lime green board and my good buddy Matt Wilson on the big red board. We got some great waves that trip. I had to run into Cabo to pick up a buddy at the airport on the day that it turned into tube riding perfection. Still, if you look closely at the opening clip you can see that I just about almost get into a nice little one.

Find more videos like this on Stand Up Paddle Surfing

Tim Stamps: Custom SUP shaper in the Surfer's Journal

You know what's cool? Tim's paid his dues. He became a board maker the old school way, from grom to man; first sweeping the floor of a legendary shaper's shop (Rich Harbour, Seal Beach's Harbour Surf Boards), fixing dings, sanding boards, painting boards, and then finally getting to shape a few of his own. That's decades of experience. I'm honored and lucky to be on his boards- get this issue and read all about him- better yet, get on the horn and order one up before it becomes almost impossible. 

Excellent boards from a great guy.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Fat Ass: Stand up paddle boards aren't made for the tube.

Stand up boards are wide. Even the narrowest ones (26" is a really narrow stand up board) are whales compared to modern surfboards. That's why it's so difficult to tube ride a stand up board. The wide tail and fat hips generate so much speed that our boards won't hang easily in the really steep, powerful cup that forms the opening of the tube. Time and again, when faced with a good barrel section, I've had to "hang out the laundry" (check out the photo to see what hanging out the laundry means!) to slow myself down to even get the smallest cover up. Barrel riding a stando is tough. I've come to the conclusion that it's more about anticipating the section, stalling a bottom turn to punch yourself into the hook, than simply pulling up and in as you fly down the line. And more often than not, if you're jamming down the line to make sections, you'll miss the tube. Unlike J-Lo, a stando's fat ass is sometimes a pain in one.

Photo: Manny Vargas,

Friday, July 27, 2012

Stand Up Paddle Surfing: Southern Baja

Baja dreaming! My photog buddy Wally snapped this of me from two years ago. I love this photo, the color of the water, the fun little wave - stuff like this get's me itching to jam back down there right now. This winter, I've got three whole weeks- if I can pull together the gas money, the boards and my favorite people, I'm gonna charge it. I'm thinking a low budget surf mission: camp out on my land (I've got half a football field of desert a few miles up the road), sleep in the back of the truck- cook my own meals, buy my Pacificos in the returnable bottles.... like old times- all over again.

A fun, southern Baja runner... only 1200 miles away and worth every hour on the road!