Sea Notes

Giving back to the lineup

So, there will be no surf contest at Swami’s. I, for one, am glad, but wish the best to those who want to hold the event elsewhere. And, like those who fought on either sides of this issue, I am tired — tired of fighting, tired of waging a war against my own tribe.
Yesterday the waves were small and windy and I stood with my board, wondering if I should paddle out. As I contemplated this, my friend Suellen McFerran rode a wave to shore with her usual grace and approached with her usual smile. We spoke about waves, mutual friends and her daughter, World Champion longboarder Schuyler McFerran.
I told her of my aforementioned thoughts, adding, “I’d like to do something to unite the surfing world for a change, rather than divide it.” Hearing that, she chuckled and said, “Schuyler was just talking about that,” She then explained Schuyler’s concept, which I gather involves riding waves and aiding the community. We parted company and agreed to stay in touch before I paddled out.
As I made my way toward the stairs after a particularly satisfying surf session, I passed all sorts of beach users — a man with his kids, several surfers with various types of surfboards, a fisherman, a couple looking down at the sand, in hopes, perhaps, of pocketing a treasure from the sea. They all had slightly different reasons for being there, but were united in their love of the beach and the ocean.
By the time I made the stairs I had a pocket full of plastic to deposit into the container, a reminder that we all have at least one common enemy: pollution. Yet we (and yes, I am guilty) spend far more time fighting one another than battling a foe that could make surfing impossible in coming decades.
I plead guilty of sounding litterers and wave hogs. I have sometimes yelled at those who kill small sea creatures and leave them to die in the sand. I have warned people not to paddle behind me time and again and think I won’t drop in on them. I have suggested that those on massive boards share the break with those on tiny boards. While I am unapologetic for this, there may be a better way.
Maybe we should all be required to earn the waves we ride. Everyone, regardless of surfing ability or years in the lineup, starts with zero. Picking up trash for 10 other people equals five points, which can be exchanged for five waves. Showing some kid where to sit in the lineup equals 10 empty waves. Letting others take a wave even when you are in position, equals any wave you want for an entire day. Of course this system would be impossible to enforce, but the point is that anyone should be welcome at any break, if they are not a danger to themselves or others in the lineup, wait their turn and pay the tariff of making North County better.
The waves belong to all of us and none of us. They are gifts that we can all share. Still, it is for each of us to put something back under the tree. I would be stoked to work with friends like Schuyler McFerran and Linda Benson and anyone wanting to make this a better place. The world is soft clay, waiting for us to shape it anyway we like.
Ocean art
Ocean Magazine’s Rob Wald’s classic photo collection “Dorymen of Cardiff” is at the Encinitas Library from now through 2011.
“Blue Realm” features local artists Ashley Francomb, Kevin Roche, Susan Wickstrand, Skye Walker and Kris Degrazio. The exhibit is at the Mabuno Gallery, 414 N. Cedros, Solana Beach and runs May 15 to June 12.