The Coast News Group
Sea Notes

Essential accessories for the journey

There must be a better name for surf stuff than accessories. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings but “accessories” usually refer to those brown handbags that cost more than my last trip to Baja that some women carry, either because they want to get robbed or hope that others in the function-follows-form tribe will notice them and think they own lots of things.
In surfing, accessories can mean stuff that nobody needs: paddle gloves, leashes (at breaks where there are no rocks), booties in summertime and helmets with radios in them. What I want to focus on, however, are not those items that alienate us from the ocean, but those few that help move us deeper into the experience.
The actual essentials for surfing is nothing but a body that swims into a wave. Beyond that there is a surfboard and the Adam and Eve covering, which can give you a place to store your wax. That will get you there. In order of necessity, here’s what comes next on my list:
1: Some sort of wetsuit. For me, it goes directly from a two-thirds fullsuit in winter to a top with sleeves and trunks once the water passes the mid 60s.
2. While I carry my boards inside of my car, that doesn’t always work, so some kind of hard or soft surf rack, or, more commonly used these days, a strap and a towel, will get the boards onto the roof.
3. Backpack.
4. Sunscreen and hat.
5. Ear plugs. Known as “surfer’s ear,” most surfers who surf in moderate and cold climates to Southern California most of the year, will have bony growth in their ears after about five years. When this gets bad enough, an operation is necessary. Apparently, it’s not the water, but the cold wind moving over the surface of the ear that can eventually seal off the canal. This can be slowed by the use of any number of earplugs — the best being those custom ones from the ear doctor. I personally like Doc Scott’s Pro Plugs, which allow you to hear while keeping the ears warm. Since I tend to lose those, however, I usually buy silicone, waterproof plugs, found in the medical isles of most any drug store.
6: Hat and sunscreen: With vitamin D deficiency a big topic these days, there is some talk about not using as much sunscreen as we once thought necessary. However, if you are a mad dog or an Englishman, or simply insist on going into the mid-day sun, please cover up. The rubber visor in the photo cost a dollar at Michael’s in Encinitas. It is waterproof, floats and does the trick.
7. Sunglasses.
8. Towel. You can do without it.
9. Board bag. I am usually in a hurry to go surfing, so don’t often use a board bag, but transporting my boards to the surf has cost me more dings than actually riding waves. A must for travel.
10. Bodyboard and fins. It’s humbling walking to the beach with a bodyboard, but when the surf is choppy or closed out, bodyboards are a great tool to get you out there. Also, bodyboarders tend to be far less territorial and don’t take riding waves so darned seriously.
11. Bessell Ear Saver. Helps dry water in ears.
12. Power Balance Bracelet. I think it really works, offering better balance, strength and flexibility. (When was Shaq ever wrong about anything?)
That’s about all I can think of for now, and even that’s a lot more than when I was a sand eating gremmie with nothing but a pair of trunks and a thumb to get me to the water. Beach chairs, hibachis, binoculars, chrome coffee cups, coolers, umbrellas, motorized vehicles, paddle gloves, booties, floppy hats and paddles are accessories that, like fancy handbags, do nothing for me, but slow down the daily migration to the sand.
Keep it simple and surf.