Sea Notes

Closing out 2012

‘Twas the day after New Year’sAnd all through the sand

Creatures were stirring Both woman and man

Pintails cruised on the reefs with such soul

Thrusters on beach breaks were carving the bowls.


The offshore winds had battered my screen door all night long. I awoke to one of those early winter mornings, deep and crisp and even, when you know the surf is good even before checking it. Instead of breaking out the thick rubber padding and paddling directly into the lineup, however, I decided to take a walk and check the state of things.

The lagoon was open and the dropping tide created a quick shuttle “ski lift” for those in the know. Others struggled, taking the restaurant tour, beating themselves onto the rocks after being swept south. It was no surprise that Joel Tudor was the standout at the Reef, as he floated over sections on his new rounded pin. Same as it ever was. Amen.

Do I dare question the wisdom of dumping sand on the beach just prior to the winter storms? After millions of our dollars spent catering to the omnipresent tourists, nature wins again; retrieving its precious grains and sending them back out to sea.

There are also some positive unintended consequences of the great sand robbery as the local beach breaks create a whole different game to what is being played on the reefs. Here waves peak up quickly, throw out even quicker and none but the skilled and the lucky are allowed access in pay-per-view moments, while those of lesser talent or fortune receive set waves on the head.

Shell hunters search among the seaweed and the garbage for treasures. Clumps of seaweed ripped by their roots litter the sand and I yank several deflated balloons, which as you know can be a deathtrap for ocean going mammals, from the rotting foliage.

Flies buzz, plovers prance and other seabirds lay dead in the sand. Body count for the morning: five cormorants and two pelicans. I wonder why I have only seen this many dead birds on the stretch between Cardiff Reef and Seaside? Have they been hit by speeding cars, and left to die within view of a safe landing?

There is not a bad surfer out at Seaside, but Rob Machado still rules the pack with his long, stylish turns and cutbacks, disappearing into one cavern for endless seconds and exiting as casually as a man waking from a Sunday nap.

Ryan Burch paddles out on one of his extreme asymmetrical boards, to a remote section of reef. All fluid drive, loose in the knees, style to burn, not unlike those who preceded him, Machado and Tudor, Burch is a true original.

I sit for a while and watch in amazement, realizing that Burch’s moves were beyond our imaginations when I was his age. Others, whose names I don’t know, are also carving blurry speed lines.

Kids no older than 8 prance plover style to the water and duck dive their way into the lineup. They will inherit their spots once Burch and his crew have moved on. I hope they don’t also inherit the trash, dead birds and foolish governmental programs that seem normal to this generation.

Happy 2013!



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