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*For those of you who don’t know of Kooky’s latest adventure in Tanzania check out “He’s alive” and “Good Bye Kooky“.  They should bring you up to speed.*

How is the food in Tanzania? It is dumbfounding to me that it hasn’t conquered the world like italian or chinese food. One word comes to mind, amazing.   The best part about Tanzanian cuisine is you can loose weight if you stick to the diet, even if you eat all you can. I have lost between five and ten pounds. Please note that this only applies to men and all the weight lost will be muscle, not fat.

The base of the food is ugali which is boiled corn flour. It has the consistency of play dough and tastes like what you would imagine. It is served for most meals aside from breakfast. To eat ugali you break a ball off with your RIGHT HAND.  This is very important cause your left is the hand you wipe your butt with, also they don’t use toilet paper and normally no soap… You then take this ball of vaguely corn flavored dough and  try to pick up beans and greens that have been cooked until they loose their ability to be solid. You might get lucky and have some additional protein for dinner which could be one of a few things:

I did a google image search for Ugali and every picture pretty much looked like this.  Looks like a giant ball of masa.  YUM!

I did a google image search for Ugali and every picture pretty much looked like this. Looks like a giant ball of masa. YUM!

First we have daga which are little dried fish that are salted. They are about the length of your pinky.  If you walk within 40 ft of a pile of daga at the market you will know recognize it quite steadily. Daga, as I have seen it are usually served in a tomato based sauce.  You could have fried fish. These aren’t battered and fried pieces of cod or other nice white fish, it is river fish that have been fried whole until the  thing is crispy, even the meat. Tanzanians eat the whole thing, scales, bones, fins, guts and all.

A pile of Daga at a Tanzania market.

A pile of Daga at a Tanzania market.

In the world of poultry we have the ever present chicken. It is as fresh as you can get it right out of the back yard. these are gnarly chickens they are not the fat happy ones you might see over the fence of your neighborhood hipster. These chickens are fighting each while sifting through cow shit in search of worms or running like hell to not get raped by a rooster. They are also fried until thoroughly crisped. The head and liver are usually reserved for guest.

Next we have red meat. I have had beef for the first time in my life over here and those of you who say I don’t know what I am missing, now I know, and I don’t regret not eating it for 25 years. Goat is delicious. Half the joy I get out of watching baby goats romp and play is knowing they are going to be dinner one day and it will be amazing. The cuts of meat Tanzanians like are the gristly ones. The other day I got the sirloin of a cow and the butcher looked at me like I was crazy. Ribs, joints, and gristle are the prime cuts over here. Karibu is choice meat. Goat and beef are usually stewed in a garlic and tomato broth and it is quite tasty, if not reminiscent of chewing on a tire with bits of bone it.

Breakfast usually is either vitambu which is rice cooked down until a paste and then fried. The other option is mandazi, which are like over cooked triangular doughnuts.   These are not really drained out of the fat very well and are very greasy. They are typically served with delicious piping hot tea that has enough sugar in it to make a donkey walk out of it’s hooves.

Mandazi

Mandazi

They also love soda. America might be the second fattest nation, (thanks mexico for taking that torch) but Tanzanians diets are about on par with an American fast food diet nutritionally speaking.

If you wish to try a delicacy from the Tanga region where I was living, I am giving you the recipe for tambi, their version of pasta.

you will need:
1 package spaghetti
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1/2 cup sugar.

boil the pasta until it is just past al dente.
then add the oil and sugar.

bon appetite

Tambi

Tambi

No blogs, just surf

No blogs, just surf

June came and went with not a piece of writing here on SurfingRuinedMyLife.net.  For that I must say I am sorry.  I thought I would take a moment to explain myself a little bit.  First off things have been a bit on the crazy side.  Alright, when isn’t my life on the crazy or hectic side?  Normally by July I have hit my stride of chilling on Uncle Sam’s nickel.  That was exactly where I saw myself by now.  Unfortunately my superiors at Westmont had other plans for my summer.  While I would usually find myself living on the dole of unemployment with a little hustle and flow on the side I found myself stuck in the kitchen four days a week.

The Westmont Grind

Back in April I had been asked if I wanted to work May term hours.  May term is a one month micro semester Westmont runs for it’s students.  Like any institution of higher learning this means they compress classes into a short time period but still charge students the same amount of money per credit for the normal semester.  The motherfucking business of education.  “Hey come spend all your money and go into debt, then graduate with a useless degree and have to go work for minimum wage for some idiot like me”.  The only difference is I too am a well educated idiot working way outside of my degree or education for way less money then I should.  I think I just summed up every American from 22-35 at the moment.  Ain’t this country grand.  America land of the free only if your rich while the rest of us have become the in debt slave laborer. Sorry for the rant but it has been a while.

I did the math and realized if I worked all of May and saved the bulk of that money I could kick it on unemployment for the remainder of the summer and still have my “extravagant” or lack there of life style with out any change, unlike my usual summers where by August I am eating out of the trash and basically sucking dick for crack.  Well maybe not that last part, but you get what I am saying.   The fuckers stuck me on the morning shift meaning I had to get up at pretty much 5:30 every morning and leaving me forced to surf windy blown out shit in the afternoons.  It was only temporary…or at least that is what I thought.

May term came and went and I began getting even more hours as an influx of camp and convention groups came in.  Apparently Westmont whores out its campus to anyone willing to pay for it all summer long.  This sort of makes me a prostitute for the institute I suppose.  Whatever, dollar bills!   I have been working about 25-40 hours a week, work depending since May.   My schedule changes week to week which is certainly a pain in the ass.  I still manage a surf everyday and am stacking some mean paper while flipping burgers.

Reaping the fruits of my labor.  Your looking at a bacon double cheese burger for yours truly.  You think I would feed the customer this well, as if.  Yes that is a plastic plate on top a 350 degree F flat top grill.  Safety as always is my number one concern.

Reaping the fruits of my labor. Your looking at a bacon double cheese burger for yours truly. You think I would feed the customer this well, as if. Yes that is a plastic plate on top of a 350 degree F flat top grill. Safety as always is my number one concern.

Also it looks like I may actually become the full blown sous chef this fall considering that our old sous chef and my fellow friend in suffering Geoffrey is taking off a few months for hand surgery due to old age.  The guy is like 62 and been a war horse in the kitchen for over 40 years.  I am bummed to see him go as I have been able to learn so much from him and he over the past  six months has become sort of a mentor to me not to mention a great friend.  Honestly I don’t really want his job.  If I get impressed into it I am looking at twice the head ache, three times the responsibility, 100% more bull shit for if I am lucky $2 more an hour.  Whooooooooooooooot!!!!!!!!!  I am actually going to have a sit down with my general manager this week to see what is going on with the fall semester.

Catering

This was close to 150 salads for a wedding at some Hollywood directors 30 million dollar estate in Montecito.

This was close to 150 salads for a wedding at some Hollywood directors 30 million dollar estate in Montecito.

Those of you who frequently read the surflog know all about most of everything I have written and will write in this blog.  Basically I may not write blogs everyday or even monthly these days, but I do however write in my surflog, my online journal, daily.  So if you have not discovered it yet give it a peruse every now and again.  My boy Trevor recently became Executive Chef for a local catering company here in Santa Barbara.   I will not disclose the company so as to not cause any problems that this blog so often does in my life when I name, names.

He asked me if I would help a brother out for a bit while he got on his feet there.  At the moment I am currently his sous chef.  I am a double sous.  Always a fucking a bridesmaid and never a bride!  On my days off I am stuck either at an event busting my ass or in his kitchen prepping for an event.  Its a good learning experience and even more paper to stack.  At this point I am doing the best I have monetarily in about eight years or so.  Last night I took Heather out to dinner, where I proceeded to get sloshed and told her “MONEY IS NO OBJECT”.  And you know what?  It wasn’t…

Here we are at the Palace toasting to Trevor's new found success

Here we are at the Palace toasting to Trevor’s new found success

And we cooked up a surf and turf feast for the occasion.  That is grilled tri tip, Grilled fresh local prawns, orzo and roasted vegetables, and goat cheese horse radish bruschetta

And we cooked up a surf and turf feast for the occasion. That is grilled tri tip, Grilled fresh local prawns, orzo and roasted vegetables, and goat cheese horse radish bruschetta

DING REPAIR

Look at the ghetto set up I have going here.  My board is propped up by a cooler in the ally way on the side of my building.  I like to call what I do no guerrilla surf board repair.

Look at the ghetto set up I have going here. My board is propped up by a cooler in the ally on the side of my building. I like to call what I do now guerrilla surf board repair.

It never fucking ends. Just when I think I am out I am always sucked back in.  I don’t even have a space to repair boards.  I literally glass boards in my bathroom and then sand them in the ally next to my building.  Its a fucking pain in the ass and I hate it.  Yet for some reason surf boards keep showing up at my house to be repaired.  It’s true that  I am always breaking my own boards and needing to fix those.  I have four spares meaning I only really need to fix boards a few times a year when I have destroyed all four.  Usually in that time period I end up getting a new one anyhow.  My quiver is in reality a bunch of destroyed boards with one or two good ones.

People still show up at my house with dings.  They hit me up on Facebook.  “Hey so my boy said you fix dings…ummm can you help me out bro?”  My own friends are constantly hitting me up to repair their boards.  “Please Chris, don’t make me go to a surf shop, your the man”.  I am the man who hates fixing surf boards.  I even get phone calls on occasion from people in New Jersey who need a board fixed.  WTF.  It will never end will it?

Just in case you thought I was exaggerating.  That is a surfboard about to be glassed IN MY MOTHER FUCKING BATHROOM!!!!!!

Just in case you thought I was exaggerating. That is a surfboard about to be glassed IN MY MOTHER FUCKING BATHROOM!!!!!!

Surfing

I have actually been surfing up a storm.  Jalama has been the best it has been in ten years.  The kelp is good, the sand is decent and there have been waves thus I have been staying wet.  A normal day for me goes like this.  I wake up a 5:30am, go to work and make food for about eight hours.  Then I get off at around 3 pm, meet whomever hit me up first at my apartment to go up north with me.  I only take one person and its first come first serve, no nepotism.  Read The Rule of Two blog for more on my philosophy on that.
Jalama7314-173

I change out of my work clothes, load up the car and shove off on the hour or so drive to Jalama.  When we get there its not over, oh no.  There is about another 25 minutes of walking on the beach to get to the spot, maybe further, swell and crowd depending.  Then we surf for two hours, make the walk back, followed by the drive.  If I am with Trevor we always stop at Denny’s in Goleta for a post surf dinner.  If it is a party night then my day is not over.  I come home, take shower, suit up and cruise to the Wild Cat.  As you can see by this account of my day to day there is not very much time for blogging.
SpringSurf14-524I managed a perfect month back in May surfing every single day of the month 31 sessions in 31 days and a few doubles as well.  I don’t think I have accomplished such a feat since I lived in New Zealand.  It was fucking exhausting and I surfed all sorts of garbage in all sorts of dumb crowds.  You can read the May surflog to find out all about that one.  Basically I have found a renewed love for surfing and my performance is off the charts. I may be surfing better right now then I have ever surfed in my life.  Maybe I will write something about the perfect month here if I ever find some time.
Jalama61214
I guess that pretty much should bring everyone up to speed on what has been happening in Lisanti Land.  Heather and I are still together.  Even I don’t understand how or why that is.  At the moment it is actually going along at steady calm.  Whether or not I am doing the right thing for me or her is yet to be seen.  Just as I felt at the beginning I still feel now completely uncertain and confused.  Then again who really gives a fuck anyway cause at least I am surfing every day.

My cooking partner in crime Calvin finally moved back out to Santa Barbara and is currently living on the couch here at the Palace.  Where would I be with out a guy on the couch?  Him and I are in the process of the early stages of planning that Italian restaurant I always talk about opening.  He moved here with the intention of getting this place off the ground with me.   With any luck our goal is the try and open it by July of next year.  Lets keep our fingers crossed.  Expect to hear more on this from time to time as it begins to consume my life.

Here is some homemade potato gnocchi in a meat sauce to get your mouth watering.  This is just a taste of what I will be serving up at my restaurant.

Here is some homemade potato gnocchi in a meat sauce to get your mouth watering. This is just a taste of what I will be serving up at my restaurant.

What can you look forward to here on SurfingRuinedMyLife.net?  Kooky actually wrote a Kooky’s Korner for me to publish.  Of course this happened about a month ago or so, but my lazy ass never got around to publish it.  Since I have not heard from him since he may be dead in Tanzania right now, though he will live on here on the blog.  Nick the Kook was nice enough to write some of his recent adventures in Chile.  He wrote these like two months ago and I never posted it.  I am sure at some point I will rant about some bull shit like how I got a pimple on my right ass cheek and now it hurts every time I sit down to take a shit (that has not happened).  There you have it,  the last 45 days or so in my life.  Glad you still decide to read the trash I put out here.  Bye bye for now…

Calvin, Mark and I doing some R & D for the restaurant at the Wild Cat.

Calvin, Mark and I doing some R & D for the restaurant at the Wild Cat.

Surffight

I find myself once again at a loss to completely grasp what happen at Indicator Left at Rincon this morning.  Lately when such occurrences go down I just feel so let down by my fellow man and then maybe a little bit by myself for feeding into it.  This morning being that I was off and there was a severe lack of surf according to the buoys I decided to sleep in a little bit.  Fuck I have been having to get up at 5:45 most days to go to work.  Working back on mornings is a real bitch, although I have found it actually may allow me to get a bit more water time then working the dinner shift.  On the down side I am fucking tired all of the time.

I got up around 9am and was about to figure out some breaky when I got a text from my boy Trevor that he was going to paddle Indy Left and that it looked better then the grovel we had there last night (you can visit the surflog for more about that session, the 5/13/14 pm session entry).  Whatever, my plan was to go have a look around Ventura Harbor in the distant hope of scoring small, fun off shore Santa Clara.  I wanted to go to Jalama, but I lost my debit card in the atm machine last week and still have not gotten my replacement.  With no more then $23 to my name I didn’t want to burn up all my gas, especially at an average of $4.15 a gallon.  WHY?!? When I look out my window all I see in the channel is a line of oil rigs and I am constantly picking tar out of everything I own and off my body.  Citizens of the 805 should get some kind of gas discount for the inconvenience.

I decided to cruise to Rincon to have a grovel with Trevor.  I really didn’t have anything to do and it was already hot as fuck out, over eighty, might as well go cool off in the ocean.  I needed to kill about two hours to get on the other side of the high tide.  Sure enough Indy looked fun and Trevor was out there all by himself.  I paddled.  While I was stretching this other guy came down with his dog and decided to bare back it.   I know the air may have been warm, but the ocean up here is still just pushing the high fifties and that is being generous on most mornings.

Trevor enjoying the short lived solace of his solo session.

Trevor enjoying the short lived solace of his solo session.

He paddled right to the peak and started hassling and even burning Trevor.  I was doing a slightly extended stretch feeling a bit more stiff then usual from helping my buddy Anton move the previous evening.  I jumped in and since there was three of us and not a ton of set waves coming through wanting to warm up I proceeded to scrap the insiders.  They were fun and punchy reminding me of the tiny surfs I used have in the summer time back in New Jersey.  About thirty minutes into the surf or less this set wave comes right to me and I am in the perfect position for it.

The left at backside Rincon is tricky to line up as it shifts all over the reef with little notice.  I found that my current position had me a little deeper then I wanted to be for the size of the wave thus I paddled a little for the shoulder.  While I was doing this the other dude out there  decided to use my current situation as leverage to paddle around me from the outside.  I was deeper first and he just had three set waves in a row.  Technically it was my turn.  Being that there were just three of us out we were following or at least I thought we were, the principles of low crowd surfing etiquette.  It was after all the “gentleman’s shift” in which most of the participants follow good surfing conduct.
If you are able to surf between 9am to noon then odds are you have  custom tailored your schedule for a surfing life style as Trevor and I and most of the people I surf with. Most of the time we are pretty mellow dudes out in the water stoked to be enjoying a surf with like minded surfing enthusiasts.  This guy was on a whole different program giving us attitude out there from the get go.  Not looking back I committed to the wave and I guess “Mr. Angry” (as I will refer to him for the rest of this peice) did too.

Rincon514

Rincon Left is the only real easy access wave in close proximity of Santa Barbara that breaks in the summer. With that in mind it gets crowded fast and only offers a few peaks and a tight take off zone.

I felt him on my heels, but since paddling around is a dick move any time unless the spot is packed beyond maximum capacity (at which time I will bail or not even paddle out) or your in a contest where it is still a questionable action.  I have been in many of altercations when younger for paddling around. I did not pull out.  Indy Left is a short wave, three turns at the most and if someone drops in then you might as well just pull out the back cause even if they kick out the wave is pretty much over for you anyway.  With that in mind I up pumped and hit the lip.  Mr. Angry decided to kick his board out at me.  It hit me in my back leg though I was moving rather fast and it was not a hindrance to my riding the rest of the wave.

When I kicked out the back dude was paddling straight for me with an angry face.  I figured it was going to be the usual stare down, yelling and splashing match that can frequently happen in those situations.  More times then not the two guys involved have it out.  Paddle back out all mad at each other and two or three waves later realize how stupid the whole thing was and become friends or at the very least surf the session civilly.   As soon as he came paddling over to me he slapped me in the face and spit at me.  Immediately things took off to a very bad foot.  It appeared I was going to have to defend myself.

Keep in mind this guy may have been a tad taller then me and a solid 200 lbs and well built.  I was most likely going to get my ass kicked here.  He screamed something at me about how he was “born here in 1972 and that he remembers when I first moved out here and was a little Globe bitch and how I burned him at Rincon back then”.  Now what he is referring to with the “Globe bitch” thing is that when I started spending a ton of time out in SB around ’07 my main sponsor was Globe shoes and apparel.  By 2008 when I relocated out here full time Globe was attempting to take the surf industry by storm and had built a very solid team.

Here in Santa Barbara they picked up like six of us and we surfed together as group to make filming easier a good deal of the time.  It was not uncommon that if one of us paddled out we would be followed by at least two others if not the entire six and a camera.  Yes, that can get annoying to the regular surfing public.  At that time the surf biz was booming and half the guys in the line ups of California up and down the coast were sponsored so it was not like it was all that uncommon for a team to mob a break.  Ultimately the bottom fell out on the surf Industry by the summer of 2010 leaving 90% of us in the cold.

There is nothing like really good Rincon.

Me back in my Globe days at Rincon

Since I was not from Santa Barbara and always wore stupidly colored wet suits I seem to take the brunt of the negativity for the era of guys sponsored by Globe.  Whether I burned this guy at Rincon or not it was like 7 fucking years ago.  I have no recollection of the incident at all nor did recognize this neanderthal that was now attacking me in the water over a  shitty wave on a two foot day with three guys out at Indicator.   This is not the first time I was in such a circumstance.  I had a similar altercation with some crack head at Hollywood Beach back in October of 2010, which steadily got out of hand.  You can read about that one in the blog entry “Another Altercation in the Line Up“.

I blocked the next slap that came to my face and this time was knocked off my board.  Before I could come up Mr Angry was holding me under water in a futile attempt to drown me.  I bit his finger while he was in the process and broke free from the hold.  Gasping for air I surfaced a little disoriented in time to see Trevor paddling to my defense.  At the moment Trevor not being a small guy himself and currently rocking a scary beard got right in this dudes face.  I guess from what I was told he took a swing at Trevor.  The two of them started fighting and splashing water.  With the same “Your not from here”,  claimed Mr Angry; “I was born in Carp”, said Trevor.  This went on for bit till I tried to intervene with “lets just shut up and surf guys”.

There were some fun set waves coming in and we were missing them as a result of our tomfoolery.  This of course brought the wrath back to me where I was being berated with “where are your from”, over and over again.  Oh and I got slapped again.   At this point I was over it and called the dude out to the beach.  At that he splashed us, spitted at us and paddled  away.  Trevor and I paddled back to the peak and the whole thing started all over again.  Mr. Angry kept provoking Trevor calling him my lap dog and me his bitch.  Then he attacked Trevor again and at that point Trevor I called the guy out and we went into the beach to wait for him.  I picked up a solid rock that fit and was easily concealed by the palm of my hand.  This guy was obviously crazy and I was not about to take any chances.

We stood there at attention, arms folded across our chests waiting for Mr. Angry to come throw down with us.  A few sets went by and he didn’t.  I was temped to throw his stuff on the beach in the ocean in retaliation.  Trevor calmed me down.  After about 5 minutes I began yelling out to him to come in and fight.  There were a handful of Rincon regulars on the beach, whom I am in pretty well with.  They had seen the whole thing and asked what happened.  None of them really knew this supposed born and raised Rincon local.

He never came in and with added support from others we paddled back out.  It didn’t take long for it to heat up again.  He kept calling me a bitch.  I said “your the bitch, too afraid to come to the beach and fight two guys smaller then you and picking on a dude half your size over an incident that happened 7 years ago”.  He then told Trevor something incoherent on how “he was backing up his boy from New York on the slopes of Colorado” (Trevor lived in Colorado for a few years).  Finally an older guy I surf rather frequently with all over the area paddled and immediately got our backs helping refute the idiocy of Mr. Angry.  He started with the “1972 local since” crap again.  This older guy said to him “1968 bud, been surfing since you were in diapers”.

Then a handful other guys I also know who are also Rincon Regulars paddled out.  With no leg to stand on Mr. Angry bailed forewarning me that he was going to make a point to get me when I least expect it with out my friends to help me out.  Considering I have never seen the dude before in my life I am not too worried about it, though I am going to surf Indy for the rest of the summer armed and will cut this mother fucker if he tries anything on me again.  Quote of the session was “Maybe my dog should have fought his dog” from the older guy who paddled out pertaining to the whole incident.  The rest of the session I was a little worried the idiot was going to smash up my car in the lot or be waiting for us with reinforcements or god knows what.   The last thing I wanted was to have my car destroyed or be killed over knee to waist high Rincon Left.

Trevor and I made sure we left together back to the lot and were ready for anything.  Luckily Mr. Angry was gone and our cars were unscathed.  Unfortunately I am sure this is not the last I will have to deal with him.  What a bunch of bull shit.  All I wanted to do was grovel a few fun ones then go get some at Santa Clara River Mouth.  After he left I got a pretty cool little tube that I came out of.  Fuck negative people.  I feel sorry for their sad plight in life.

Was this really worth fighting about when it could have just as easily been shared?

Was this really worth fighting about when it could have just as easily been shared?

Untitled-1

 

***If you have just stumbled upon this piece and want to be brought up to speed before continuing on or need to refresh your memory on where we left off as a result of my lack of diligence and procrastination as a blogger check out Part 1: Big Sur, A Land of Endless Possibility and Part 2: Blind Exploration***

This wave definitely looked kill-able and from what I could tell although I was rather high up on a cliff.  I have learned many of time in my life that it always looks twice as inviting from a hundred feet up or so.  I eve had an idea on how I could get down to it involving an annoying but not terrible hike.  If I had a keen surf bud with me and not a girlfriend in tow I think I would have went for it.  Next time...

This wave definitely looked kill-able from what I could tell although I was rather high up on a cliff. I have learned many of times in my life that it always looks twice as inviting from a hundred feet up or so. I even had an idea on how I could get down to it involving an annoying but not terrible hike. If I had a keen surf bud with me and not a girlfriend in tow I think I would have went for it. Next time…

Finally after much traversing south down the Pacific Coast Highway 1 we came upon a small nondescript parking lot that by location appeared to maybe be Sand Dollar Beach.  I would also like to note that I had began to notice for the past few miles lots of areas that appeared to be surf-able while driving past.  Sand Dollar, being completely unmarked happened to be the first parking area I came to since I had started to see lots of surf.  I pulled up to a gate house that was closed, though the lot was open with an honor box for the $5 parking fee.  I was at a loss to understand what exactly I was paying five bucks for considering it was an unprotected beach, and unattended parking lot with no amenities other then a sketch ass water less prison style bathroom.

Its funny that in a place as remote as Big Sur there is still room to have your money taken from you around every corner.  I was surprised a fucking squirrel didn’t try and extort ten dollars from me to watch my car and “keep it safe”. Whatever, at this point my long search was over and surf was found.  Just to be sure I ran half way down the trail to the beach to make sure it was surf-able before donating my five smackers.  Yes, I am that fucking cheap.

Sand Dollar  Beach Big Sur

The $5 view. Certainly far from epic, but it was clean and surf-able. I was on it.

By this time it was early afternoon and a rather splendid one at that, especially for central California.  The sun was still out and the temperature warm.  Heather and I were stoked to spend a chill afternoon on the beach.  I pulled both my boards, my 5’10 and my 6’1 step up.  With no one out and nothing around except for huge cliffs and rock formations I had no way of gauging how big it was out there.  I don’t know what it is about once one gets above Point Conception, but all scale for actual wave size and power are out the window for me.  I guess I am and always will be a pampered Southern California surfer.

I love when I am about to paddle out at a surf spot and am greeted with a warm sign like this...

I love when I am about to paddle out at a surf spot and am greeted with a warm sign like this…

We loaded up and headed down a trail about 200 yards or so down to the beach.  As we descended down to the beach  I was able to get a better lay of the land.  As far as wave height, I still had no idea.  Could be head high, could be double overhead.  I would find out soon enough.  After coming down a few flights of stairs we found ourselves standing in the middle of a large beach closed in by a massive cliff headland to the north corner and a series of copious rock formations to the south end. The sand was of an almost dark green pigment.

I pulled out my step up since now at beach level the surf was with out a doubt a bit more size able then I had initially intended.  I did not know for certain, yet estimated that it was surely over head on the outside.  In a futile attempt to get the lay of the land I took a walk to the south side of the beach to see if there was anything with more shape then what the break had to offer.  Maybe I would find some tucked away reef or wedge between or even inside of the rock formations.  I found nothing of the sort, but between two of these enormous rocks was a deep water channel that looked as though it could provide an easy paddle to the outside.

Unsure of the potential hazards of taking that route I decided against it.  I really had no idea what was under the water there and to be honest did not want to find out.  The paddle out from the middle of the beach where we laid camp looked annoying and long, but seemed to me to be the safest way to go.  Also I have a saying I have always lived by my entire surfing life by: “if you cant make the paddle out through the impact zone then you have no business being out there”.  This mantra I especially try and hold to in places where clear channels exist.  The last thing any one who surfs should do is put himself/herself in a situation that is beyond said surfer’s skill or fitness level.  If you can’t handle the beating it takes to make it from the beach then you probably should not be out there in the first place.  I have seen and even saved one kook too many that got in over his head as a result of an easy channel access.

Sand Dollar Beach looking toward the north side.

Sand Dollar Beach looking toward the north side.

Keep in mind that the place was pretty deserted aside from one or two other couples on the beach.  The one dude that did have a board with him, had a long board and was bailing.  Judging from the conditions I assume he had a look and decided to not paddle.  Ironically the place is pretty much written up as the most user friendly beach for surfing in all of Big Sur, maybe with a jet ski.  It looked far from friendly, cold and a lot of work for little reward seemed more like it.  While exploring the beach I found all these pale greenish little rocks rounded and smooth from the ocean that looked like jade.   I am pretty sure it wasn’t although I read later on some where that Sand Dollar Beach is also called Jade cove because of the green stones that litter the beach.  People do on occasion actually find pieces of jade down there.  Whether the few I took with me are jade or not is beyond me.  They looked cool and fancied by them I slipped the little green rocks into my pocket and walked back to where Heather was chilling.

By this point I didn’t know what to do.  As I was watching it the surf conditions were steadily becoming more rough by the minute even though the wind was dead still.  Literally ten minutes prior it was glassy.  Big Sur, go figure.  The sensible part of me was ready to bag it.  I didn’t come up to Big Sur to surf anyhow and at least I tried.  It had been a fun a day.  Why not just hang out and enjoy the beach with my girl?  Unfortunately the obsessive compulsive side got the best of me and I found myself suiting up for no other reason then the fact that I was there and the initial objective was to get wet and that was exactly what was going to happen. I for whatever reason decided to put my step up away and pull my 5’10.

An unexpected yet exactly what I expected of the Big Sur surfing experience.  Big, windy, scary conditions with no one out but me.

Making the most out of the mess that it was out there.

I walked to the water’s edge all suited up hood and all.  I figured the water had to be cold and with nothing but white water as far as the eye could see I knew I was going to be spending more time under the water then on top of it.  The waves were breaking way out side as I began to work my way through the first inner bar.  Then I moved on to the second.  By the time I cleared this I had no idea where I was.  The current was all over the place.  From that vantage I had a good look at what the outside had on offer.  Overall it looked like a bunch of giant close outs that I did not have enough board under me to even deal with.  Meanwhile the second bar I was sitting on was offering some head to over head reform that was pretty sick looking and way cleaner then the outside.  It was a bit hard to line up with all the turbulence and current, but I made the most of what there was to surf.  I figured at the very least it was worth a twenty count.   Heather had the camera out and somehow managed to get a few shots despite all the mess.
BigSurfSeq2Believe it or not it was not as cold out there as it looked.  After an hour or so of working my arms in search of kill-able reform and figuring I pushed the shark attack envelope enough for one day I opted to call it quits.  I accomplished my goal and found a few waves.  I also learned a bit about the erratic and volatile conditions of Big Sur.  In particular an age old lesson I get constantly schooled on whenever I am north of Santa Barbara is that the surf is always way bigger, way meaner, way trickier, way more powerful then it looks from the beach.  You think by now after all  my travels, trials and tribulations this would have hit home by now.  It never does though proving Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over again and expecting different results.  I sort of feel like that is exactly what surfing is all about.  Sometimes we do get different results.  Maybe surfing is insanity?

A glimpse of what is to come...

A brief moment of victory in a session that was for the most part filled with defeat.

I floated in stoked to have gotten wet and ready to make the most out of what was left of the day with Heather.  To her credit she took all of the surf photos of that I have used in this piece.  Who would have thought a chick from Ohio with no beach or surf background could manage to snag some decent pics?  Go figure.  I came in and shed off my neoprene.  It was still warm and sunny on the beach.  Since I never have to time to actually hang out and relax on the beach at home this mini vacation was the perfect time.

I thought I left the hood behind along with New Jersey.  Cold water is still cold water.

I thought I left the hood behind along with New Jersey. Cold water is still cold water.

My plans of a nice sunny afternoon on the beach were quickly thwarted by a crazy dense fog that rolled in with the blink of an eye.  With this fog came a very eerie bone chilling cold air.  That was it for us, we were done.  Heather and I packed up and headed back to the car.  Both our tummies were rumbling for a repast back at the cabin in front of the fire place.  Of course we had absolutely no food and no idea where we could buy the antipasto spread we were looking to enjoy with our wine.  Our first stop was this chill bakery/restaurant ironically called “The Big Sur Bakery and Restaurant, where we procured a cup full of fresh local olives and two specialty croissants.    I figured just in case we find nothing else at the very least we could make a meal out of that.  I must say from the little I saw and ate from there I would highly recommend and I will with out a doubt stop there my next time through.

The warm fire we couldn't  wait to get in front of.  Unlike the broken hot tub that let us down.

The warm fire we couldn’t wait to get in front of. Unlike the broken hot tub that let us down.

Then we came across a bull shit deli/market that was technically hardly one or the other.  One thing I will tell you about Big Sur the scenery may be free, but everything else is far from it.  Be prepared to pay top dollar for everything.  Even though its only 30 miles from Carmel one  would think it was on the fucking moon with how over priced everything is.  Long story short (ha, that’s a laugh with anything I tell) we spent a combined $70 on olives, croissants, a cucumber, two tomatoes, cheese, salami, prosciutto, bread sticks and a bottle of syrah(which was one of the cheaper purchases).  That being said I made a pretty bad ass antipasto platter that paired great with the wine.  It was excellent way to end a fun day of adventuring.
bigsurplatter

 

Day two of our fun tilled Big Sur adventure was over.  Tune in next time for part 4 of this epic saga of a romantic getaway gone wild!  Well as romantic as a trip with a surfer can possibly be.  I promise more great pictures and maybe even some tamer surf?  We will have to wait and see…

A glimpse of what is to come...a northern Emma Wood?

A glimpse of what is to come…a northern Emma Wood?

Empty perfection can still be found in one of the most crowded corners of the earth.  The question is are you willing to pay the price of admission?

Empty perfection can still be found in one of the most crowded corners of the earth. The question is are you willing to pay the price of admission?

Let me start by explaining the fact that I have a few screws loose when it comes to conventional thinking.  I also have the drive, determination and retard reasoning to allow for my stupid whims to be seen through to fruition. As a result a  day as I am about to describe to you is a normal occurrence in the life of  Chris Lisanti.  If you happen to be friends with me and have a sense of adventure you may find yourself biting off more then you can chew as my boy Mike found out the hard way.

My morning started out  as any other day of waves does except a little earlier.  I had noticed with the current Santa Anna Winds and solid combo swell that it may be a perfect Jalama day.  My friend Mike was fresh off a Bali surf excursion and was pumped to keep the surf ball rolling.  On board for a sick day of surfing the plan was to meet at my place at 7 am a cruise from there.  I was even awoken from my slumber by a Jalama dream.

In the dream I was checking out where I wanted to surf from the usual cliff above the camp ground where I can see for miles in either direction with my binoculars.  The scene was just perfect.  Lefts marching down the beach in graceful harmony as glassy as could be.  The sun was rising thus lighting up everything in beautiful reds, yellows, purples and orange.  It was surreal.  Then all of a sudden I slipped and fell off the cliff.  I caught myself with my feet at the edge and was dangling upside down. Luckily my dad was there to rescue me (my dad lives in Jersey).  That’s when I woke up conveniently at 6:30 am.  Crazy huh?

I’m not one to analyze dreams or anything, but I am sure there is all kinds of hidden meanings in that one.   I would also like to note that it is rare that I have a dream I remember.  It’s a good thing for it though cause I forgot to set an alarm on my phone and would have totally over slept.  I fed my cats among other morning pre-surf chores just as Mike showed up.  We loaded up the Civic and were off.

Jalama11514

When Jalama is on it can be a pure surfing bliss!

Whenever I head up to Jalama I always stop at the Market Bagel Cafe for some bagels up on the Mesa.  It may be the best bagel in Santa Barbara.  Just don’t get scrambled eggs there.  The cook always lets them oxidize in the holding pan and are almost always green.  I have been cooking and holding large quantities of scrabbled eggs for years and have never ending up with them turning green. To each their own.  Maybe they are just really big Dr. Seuss fans.

Whenever I go with a bud whoever is not driving buys the bagels.  Mike ponied up to the counter and paid.  As we were leaving another customer stopped him and handed him a dollar off the floor that he claimed Mike had dropped.  Mike took it and said “This is our lucky dollar today”.  I am not really a superstitious person by any means though the dollar did change the routine and may have been ultimately the jinx.

We had an easy and uneventful drive up to the  Jalama turn off at the PCH 1 while Mike told me of all his Bali stories from the past month.  Not even a mile into the Jalama road taped over the camping  status sign was “Jalama Beach CLOSED”!  CLOSED!!! WTF!!!.  I slammed on the breaks and threw it into reverse to have a better look.  Sure enough there was an orange construction sign explaining that the park was closed till May 3rd for renovation.  Normally with most parks this is not an issue.  The majority of the time I park outside the park area and walk in to avoid paying the parking fees.  At Jalama that is not an option since all the possible spots to park are tow away zones and you do not want to even deal with that situation in such a remote area.

This is what pretty much the entire coast line north of Point Conception looks like for 100 miles at least. One word: Remote...

This is what pretty much the entire coast line north of Point Conception looks like for 100 miles at least. One word: Remote…

Pissed the gears in my head start turning on what our next move should be.  Truthfully around Point Conception there are not many options.  Either access is near to impossible due to private property or worse military, or its a gnarly closed out sharky beach break or both.  The winds were off shore and I really did not want to drive all the way back to Ventura and surf the same old crowded spots I always surf.  Then I thought, what about the Guadaloupe Dunes, between the dunes themselves and the river mouth there is always alright banks up and down the beach.  There was plenty of swell, too much even.

The large sandy area in the distance is the southern most end of the Guadalupe Dunes.

The large sandy area in the distance is the southern most end of the Guadalupe Dunes.

We agreed to give it a go and make lemonade out of lemons. On the way up, not having been there since 2012 with Pat I made a wrong turn and got a bit lost (check out the blog I wrote about the session in 2012 “Lemonade out of Lemons” Here.).  Mike pulled up our GPS on Google Maps and it appeared I was a few miles off on my judgement of where the westerly road to the Dunes was.  As we were looking at the map on his phone I noticed that there was a Point Sal State Park.  I have been staring at Point Sal on the map for years wondering about its surf-ability and access.  I always thought it was part of Vandenberg and there for inaccessible from land.  If a state park did exist then there must be access to it some where or what would be the point of having a park there.

The Google Earth Map of Point Sal that had my interest peaked.

The Google Earth Map of Point Sal that had my interest peaked. Notice the lack of roads leading to it…Also take note of the rugged terrain.

Keen on finding a new spot and some surf adventure we set out in search of this magical place.  All the roads we hit that should take us to the park were closed.  Mostly because they ran through Vandenberg.  Others because they had sustained too much damage to be worth repair for lack of use.  Despite our efforts we constantly found ourselves back at a golf course.  Mike wanted to ask around the pro shop if anyone knew how to get there.  It has been my experienced when looking for a surf spot asking directions is near to impossible.  If you happen to come across a surfer the odds of him telling you how to get to a secret spot are slim and if the person is a non-surfer unless they fish odds are they have no idea what or where it is you are looking for.  Sure enough just as I thought we lost about 15 minutes learning nothing new.

PointSal5

Mike and I about to make the “7 hour” loop…

Once again we resolved to go back for the dunes and again I made another wrong turn.  This time the road led us to a dead end with a marked trail head sign reading “Point Sal Trail…10 mile round trip”.  Now the debate ensued on what to do.  Keep in mind the majority of the surf spots I frequent are at least a half mile or more to get to.  Some of my favorites in the 2-3 mile hike range.  I figured what was two more miles give or take?  Mike looking for adventure and feeling in the mood for a walk in the bush concurred.  We still had our doubts about the whole thing as we were gearing up for the hike when a jogger came out of the entrance of the trail.  We asked him about the trail and he said it was not too bad and should only take about 2 hrs or so to the beach maybe an 1 hour or so if we took a short cut across private property he described to us.

Just like that it was on Mike and I had signed on to a retard mission into the complete unknown.  If there was ever a moment to reconsider it was with in the first 500 feet of trail or “short cut” as it climbed a brisk 15% grade on very uneven ground.  Let me mention the fact that it was in the 80′s, a hot day by Santa Barbara standards and Mike was wearing nothing but a pair of board shorts and sandals.  Determined we made the climb.  At the top maybe around 200 feet up or so we could see in the very faint distance the ocean.  This gave us the hope we needed to press on.  It also helped that it was currently offshore.

The initial ascent

The initial ascent.  That green pasture at the bottom is where we began…

After crawling under a barbed wire fence that clearly stated “No Trespassing” on it we continued now on a steady trek down hill towards the ocean.  Of course we knew it was not going to be that easy considering we saw more hills to climb between us and the ocean.  It looked a distance away, but when your in a situation where everything is so vast it is very hard to figure scale.  I always find the best way to proceed is to just follow your course and see how fast the target destination begins to come up.  If one finds he has walked an hour and his destination still looks as far as it did when he began then its a bit further then anticipated.  With this in mind onward we trekked.

The long road ahead.

The long road ahead.

Our spirits were high being that it was still early in the voyage and we had a good trail to follow.  Before long we were led into a wide open vale where the trail tapered off.  It was open ground and we continued our heading towards the beach.  We soon realized we were on course to the dunes and not the point.  A vigorous redirect took place through sharp thickets, poison oak, which I am at the moment beginning to see the effects of on my extremities, and a bit of a climb.  As it turns out we were were following a cow pack trail and no longer one made by humans.  At this point we were pretty much out in the wilderness.  There were deer running around to the south of us, cows to the north and most likely both mountain lions and coyotes stalking us in the bushes.

Not knowing what direction to take I left my stuff and scurried up a hill like a mother fucking jackal to get my barrings. At the top I was about 100 feet above all of the surrounding area in front of me.  I could see that there was a dirt road of some sort in the distance and what looked to be a rather decent cow path to it.  The plan was to head for the road as it appeared to head in the direction of the point.  I figured we had maybe a mile and a half to go.  Mike and I talked it over and decided at this point we had already come so far and it was shorter to keep going then to turn around.  Of course this decision was made not considering the hike back after surfing with wet gear.

We kept walking and walking.  I began to notice a few vultures circling above our heads to my dismay.  One thing was for sure I was not going furnish a repast for one of them. Maybe a shark, but certainly not a vulture.  How many fucking human predators are in this area?  I should have just stuck to Rincon.  As we drew nearer to the road I noticed a strange red thing in the distance and two big steers.  I took my binoculars out of my pack and had a look.  The red thing was some type of ATV.  Weary of being chased down by an angry rancher I took a scan of the vicinity, but saw no signs of people.  Thinking the rancher may have left it there we continued on making sure to by pass the cows from a distance as to avoid a charging.

Finally we got to the road and were heading down it at a good pace when I stopped dead in my tracks.  There was someone working in the tress near the small stream through the vale. I began having horrid thoughts of “Deliverance” and was a bit nervous since I do have a “real pretty mouth”.   Mike looked back at me and I was like dude “Deliverance”!  “If they we can see him then he can see us.  When you are trespassing on private property the best case scenario is that the cops are called.  In such a remote area you never know what some crazy redneck rancher is going to do.  I was calculating an alternate route around.  Mike was pretty dead set on continuing on.  We could always just play dumb that we lost the trail and with the surf boards it was believable.  Its not like it was far from a lie since we were fucking lost and had deviated from the trail.

Our best don't fuck with us faces

Our best don’t fuck with us faces

We approach the work area and there is not just one dude but three.  On their truck it said “The Land Conservatory of San Luis Obispo County”.  My first thought was what was this the fucking twilight zone? Did we walk through a fold in the universe and end up in SLO?  I damn well know we did not walk the 30 miles or so it was to the county line.  My next thought was these dudes should probably be chill if they are tree huggers.   Mike approached them on one side of the truck while I hung back ready to strike if need be. At first they were hesitant to let us pass saying we were on private property.  Then they saw we had boards, two of the guys being surfers themselves became steadily stoked and thus sympathetic to our plight.

Turns out they were hired by the Land Conservatory to fence off a portion of property that had recently been donated to them before transferring it to Santa Barbara County.  Mike later asked them what their first thought when we came upon of them was and they said “I can’t believe that guy (Mike) isn’t wearing shoes”.   By the time we came across the group we had already walked about three miles and had been on it for over 2 hours.  They let us pass and told us the best way to go if we wanted to get to the beach.  Apparently they had brought boards when they first started working on the site, but were always too tired to make the 300 ft decent and subsequent climb back up after to surf.

After such commitment we had to get to the beach if not for any other reason then the accomplishment of seeing it.  We walked another 100 yards or so when we came upon a shaded clearing where the Conservation guys had made camp. Taking a sit down on a downed fence post we split a grape fruit and some water.  We had three bottles to us and strict rationing had commenced.  Behind us we heard someone yell out “You guys want some peanuts?”.  We looked back and the workers had decided to break for lunch.  We headed over to the their camp where one of them was nice enough to offer us a ride to the beach in the ATV.  Jumping at the chance we loaded up and were off.

The view from the top of the bluffs of the beach just south of Point Sal.

The view from the top of the bluffs of the beach just south of Point Sal.

A short albeit bumpy ride we pulled up to the edge of this giant sand bluff over looking a pristine crescent beach about a mile long.  There was surf! Clean surf no less.  We were about 300 ft above it according to the dude who gave us a ride and since he built a fence up it I trusted his insight.  From our vantage I could tell it was big, definitely bigger then what I had in my bag.  Even my step up would have been a stretch on the sets.  At this point we had to go for it.  Dude gave us a ride and was pumped for us to get a surf.  Plus we had worked so hard for so long to get there.  A surf was eminent.  It looked pretty ride-able from my vantage.

The Conservation guy said if we wanted he would come pick us up at 3 pm when they were getting ready to quit and they would give us ride out to the car.  “Go have yourselves a session and just make sure your back by three” he said.  I looked at Mike, we were both a little unsure on how to proceed and then I gave our driver a shakka and began the decent down.  The sand was so loose it was like skiing and kind of fun.  I was not thinking about what a bitch climbing back up would be.

The long way down and even longer up!

The long way down and even longer up!

The decent went rather fast and could not have taken more then about ten minutes.  On the way down I took in the surfing situation.  It seemed the largest peaks were breaking along serious rips in the center of the beach.  To the north end near a rocky head land it seemed the most user friendly and surf-able on my 5’10.  The sets were solid double over head with some even larger clean ups.  The waves were breaking hard. It looked like an unruly Hawaiian beach break as the trades begin to pick up. Powerful was the word.

We also so a group of humpback whales playing in one of the rips.  They were breaching and sticking their heads up out of  the water, flapping their tails.  It was like fucking Animal Planet out there.  To think lazy people pay money to go out on a whale watching excursion. All they had to do was embark on a strenuous hike through the bush for three hours and they could have seen it for free.  The whales and beauty of the beach were enough to make all the suffering worth it for me.

This wave is way bigger, way heavier and way faster then it looks...

This wave is way bigger, way heavier and way faster then it looks…

With no human scale and the vastness of everything around it was hard to judge size, but I knew it was  going to be no picnic out there.  I was considering bailing on the session when I turned around and saw that Mike had already suited up.  I guess it was on!  We shot for the north corner of the beach cause like I said it seemed the most manageable. Of course everything on the central coast is deceiving and I soon found myself in a whirlpool of rips, meanwhile getting pounded by nonstop sets.  The water was freezing and what was coming in was very fast or closed out and riddled with a strange back wash.  That being said there were a few gems to be had.  If you had a ski and were doing step offs I think there would have been some amazing barrels to be had.

In our case it was nothing but a beating.  Mike took tons on the head in the impact zone before heading in.  I picked off a few small corners from insiders before deeming it not worth the risk of injury or board breakage.  Although if I did break my board then I would not have to carry it back up with me.  Damn right I was leaving it there.  After our defeat, though like I said it was far from do-able with our current equipment and means we chilled out on the beach and ate the last of our food.  I could have made a session out of the conditions, but if I were to get hurt the resulting rescue would have been a real hassle.  One thing I have gotten a handle on in my older age is the risk to reward ratio.

Resting up before the long climb up that sand hill you see behind me.

Resting up before the long climb up that sand hill you see behind me.

Later thanks to some internet research we would find out that the spot was called Magics and is rarely surfed. The few first hand accounts we could find about the place seemed similar to ours, a long hike for very difficult waves and hardly worth the effort.  I would agree and it is rather unlikely I will ever find myself back at Magic’s anytime soon.  I guess the point itself is Vandenburg property making access illegal except from the water.  After a short break I checked my phone and it was 2pm.  If we were going to catch our ride back we needed to get a move on.  The last thing I wanted was to be left stranded and have to walk about five miles back.

We started to climb back up the dunes and soon found that between the steep incline, heat coming off the fiery sand and the sand avalanche the climb was causing that it was going to be a very challenging 300 foot ascent. I was on point with Mike close behind.  He soon found it to be even more difficult being in sandals and having all that burning hot sand falling over his feet.  The end result was severe lag on his part.  I looked at my phone and it was nearly 2:20.  Worried for a loss of our ride I began picking up my pace into high gear leaving Mike behind.  I went back into jackal mode and all spastic like climbed to the top.

About 3/4′s of the way up it became heart break hill.  Each time I thought I was at the top there was another top to get above.  This went on for about three tops till I made it to where the ATV tracks from our drop off and current RV point for pick up.  I put my gear down and relaxed waiting for Mike.  About twenty minutes passed and I didn’t see him.  Unfortunately due to the three extra tops and the steepness of the bluff I was unable to see him for some time.  When he finally did get with in eye shot he was in bad shape.  Falling down every few steps and making really tough progress.  He had put on his booties for the majority of the climb to prevent the burning.  Still he was pretty torn up.

I helped him with the final leg grabbing his board for him.  We sat and waited for our pick up and consumed the last of our water just hoping the boys didn’t decide to leave us for dead.  As we were about to lose hope we heard the distant sound of a motor and then saw “Big Red” (the ATV) and let out a sigh of relief.  We were spared the grueling walk back to the car.  How much easier it was to just ride the distance out.  What took hour of arduous hiking now was wrapped up in a matter of twenty minutes.  Back at the car we looked at each other and could not help but feel a bit accomplishes though exhausted.   There you have it, an hour and half of driving, three hours of walking and fifteen minutes of surfing and not one good wave to show for it.  That is why the whole day can be summed up as a retard mission.  Whooooot!

 

AussieSheepRoot

The above photo was pretty much more exciting then all three of the Australian ASP WCT Contests.  Each year professional competition surf fans’ attention is drawn to Australia for the start of the new season of the Association of Surfing Professions World Championship Tour.  In previous years the Aussie leg included two comps, The Quicksilver Pro at Snapper Rocks on the Gold Coast and The Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach, Victoria, Australia.  The latter one of the longest running events in the history of the sport.  This year The Drug Aware Margret River Pro in Western Australia was added into the mix.

I was rather excited going into this leg.  I love Oz, its one of my favorite places to surf and visit in the world.  Having spent plenty of time on both the Gold Coast and Torquay I always welcome the chance to watch the top surfers in the world go head to head at these locations.  Adding a West Oz event only sweetened the deal for me.  The best thing about Australia contests for the American viewer is that the time difference puts the live stream in the evening/night so one does not have to give up surf time or sneak a watch at work to enjoy it.  Then there was all the new hype about the redesigned tour courtesy of Zosea media and their plans to re-invent the pro surfing wheel.

Let me say I was highly disappointed all around this year.  Most of the time watching the webcast was like watching paint dry and on the occasional good heat it was like watching glue dry.  The difference being at least when glue drys one can get high off the fumes.  Instead it was more of my favorite surfers riding some of the best wave venues at it’s most average, surfing conservative as fuck the better part of the time.  All I keep hearing is this constant talk of “progression”.   Yet the majority of the scores came from “safety surfing”.   Just when you thought the webcasts couldn’t get any more cheesy and lame Zosea made it looked like some ESPN knock off broadcast.  You just can’t take surfing and package it like any other sport cause it is not like any other sport.  I will commend the addition back of the women to the circuit.  I am not really a big fan of female professional surfing.  Sorry girls but when the average WQS men’s competitor could beat your best if he had a sex  change and donned a bikini I can’t give you any more seriousness then a side show to the men.  That being said I missed the side show the last few years with the women stand alone tour.

Snapper Rocks
SnapperComp
Snapper is one of my favorite events on tour.  Here you have one of the worlds best high performance waves in one of the most surf crazed areas.  The energy around the contest is nuts.  Last year the final day was held a near epic Kirra where all the last few heats were stand on your feet nail biters to the final where Slater came out on top.  A few years back we saw a very inform Dan Reynolds go nuts against Parko completely redefining the performance level in a heat.  This year however we saw average conditions at best for the majority of the event along with relatively boring surfing.

All these guys fucking rip and have video segments that make the everyday surfer wet his bed.  Yet, when they throw on a jersey its safety turn central.  The only time the bar is raised is when they are backed into a corner.  There are exceptions to the rule of course.  Brazilian Gabriel Medina took the win, who with out a doubt was one of the most inform guys of the event.  He may just be the best surfer to ever come out of Brazil.   I think everyone would have liked to see Dane flair up, but that never really happened.
gabriel-medinaThe Drug Aware Margret River Pro
yadin

There are some really crazy waves in West Oz, is Margret River really one of them?  In the case of the this event not at all.  With the exception of Yadin Nicol’s huge air reverse in the earlier rounds there was little for me to get excited about.  It was mostly an event composed of watching great surfers do their best to make the most out of head to overhead mushy surf.  Yes there were a few heats ran at the Box.  I hate to say it, but as sick at that wave is to watch in a surf video, in a contest it gets really boring really fast.  I love a good slab as much as the next, but unless the competitors lives’ are in jeopardy watching the same barrel ride over and over again becomes very tiresome.  Ultimately Michel Bourez took the win doing the same old fashioned rail to rail surfing that has been winning heats since the 80′s sans progression.  Whoooot!  Glad I had to work late and missed the actual live stream of the final day opting for the highlight real instead, which still bored the hell out of.  It was like masturbating to a Sears bra ad.

Bells
Bells
I find it Ironic that at a venue known best for power surfing Bells was the spot where some of the more innovative surfing was found.  Up until the end rounds there were a few guys who were going for broke.  John John’s 10 in Round 5 against Medina and Slater was fucking insane.  That heat in general was nuts.   In the end it was “White Lightning” and defending world champion Mick Fanning who rung the bell with nothing but power carves and floaters all event long.  Its a good thing my boys and I didn’t play one of those surf commentator drinkings games every time the phrase “fastest surfer in the world” pertaining to Fanning was thrown out or I might have died of alcohol poisoning.   Mick did surf incredible in the event, but minus solid surfing he did nothing innovative the entire event.  He threw up safety move after safety move and was awarded 9′s for it.  I am sorry but four big hits and floater in a WCT final should never garnish a high 9.

Should Jordy have got a ten

This was the big debate at bells and I am at a loss to understand why.  It was a great wave and ride, but far from ten worthy.  Its true he rode the wave well, but the low nine he was rewarded for it seemed fair to me.  If you compare it to John John’s Ten in round five its not even close or Slater’s one move ten from 2012.  Its a bummer the guy didn’t get the score to move on and I am stoked that Jordy is one of the few guys on tour who pushes the envelope performance wise, but it was not a ten.  Compare the following videos and then really consider if he should have got the ten.  I think you will agree.
Jordy’s Wave in Question

He has some big turns out the back, then milks it to the reform before landing a very average front side air reverse.

John John’s 10

Meanwhile John John throws up a huge full rotation 360 air, sticks it, comes around a difficult white water section, finishing up with a giant lay back that most thought he fell on till he finally stood back up.

Slater’s 10 from 2012

Slater got a ten off of one huge maneuver, a no grab big full rotation 360 air, landed in the flats with hard offshore winds in his face.  The odds of anyone pulling that off in a free surf in such conditions let alone a contest is slim.  That is what a ten should reflect, a feat so uncommon it would be hard to repeat, the impossible made possible.

What happened to Kelly Slater?

Slater

I know Slater is getting old and all but his combined performances at all the past three events have been a disappointment.   He looks awkward and miss timed on everything.  I think it might be all of the experimental equipment he has been messing around with.  Maybe its its time to go back to more traditional equipment especially in harder heats.  He is got twenty years on a good portion of the guys on tour.  He needs to regroup and get back into that competitive animal of years past.  Of course a two quarter finals and one semi final finish is nothing to shake a stick at.  Going into Brazil, a place Slater seems to constantly find a lack of motivation for, one begins to wonder what result may take shape for the 11 time world champ.

Brazil

Next stop the tour heads to Rio Brazil for the Billabong Pro where we are sure to see more average waves and heavy frustration as the world’s best slog it out for points and dollars.  We get to watch more paint dry.  I guess we need to keep our fingers crossed for Fiji, J-bay and Tahiti.  I for one am not going to be holding my breath for another amazing to go down in shitty Rio beach break.

Sorry, but this is about the only thing worth getting excited about Brazil...

Sorry, but this is about the only thing worth getting excited about Brazil…

 

BigSurFeb14-050

Just another spot with surf potential on the right day.

I poked my head out from under the covers to sounds of sinking birds and the wind rustling through the trees.  It was freezing in the cabin post fire going out sometime in the night.  I got a breath of the fresh crisp air before snuggling back under the covers with my baby. Fuck it was cold.  Santa Barbara has some cold to it in the early morning, but this felt like straight up winter time.  In no rush why not sleep in a bit.  I spend and have spent nearly every single morning for the last 23 years of my surfing life getting up early for waves.  When I have an opportunity I relish in the luxury of being able to kick back, relax and not worry about rushing off to the next surf session.

That being said the call of the ocean to a surfer within a reasonable distance to the ocean is likened to the drums from the game in the movie “Jumanji”.  Just knowing that rumble is out there is enough to give no rest to the keen.  Despite being all warm and happy next to my girl half my mind was thinking about what surf potential was out there.  By ten I had us up and ready to get on the road for a look about.  My thoughts on the whole day was it was a vast amount of coastline to be scoured for both sightseeing and surf.  So why not just pick a direction and wander about and see what turns up.

BigSurFeb14-103

A random spot I came across with near  to impossible access.

As I stated earlier in Part I I had absolutely nothing to go on besides a bad surf guide written by Surfer Magazine that my boy Mark left at my pad like 4 years ago.  If you ever see Surfer Magazine’s Guide to Northern and Central California Surf Spots don’t buy it, accept it as a gift or if you happen to find it in the trash leave it there.  If a buddy leaves it at your place mail it back to him or use it as kindling as I should have.  In the end it’s my own damn fault for not taking the time to research it better.  I literally own three California surf guides and had a central California AAA guide my dad left at my place this past fall. Some how I failed to take anything with me besides the aforementioned bull shit surf guide.  The only map I had was the entire state of California Map I keep in my car, on which the Big Sur area is about the size of a fucking nickel.

Don't even open this piece of shit.  Surfer Mag should be ashamed of themselves for putting out such a piece of trash.

Don’t even open this piece of shit. Surfer Mag should be ashamed of themselves for putting out such a piece of trash.

With a lack of any real plan or guidance I decided to go about things the old fashioned way.  I figured Heather and I could meander about the PCH looking for the few spots the surf guide happened to mention.  The closest spot to where I was staying was the Big Sur River Mouth inside of Andrew Molera State Park.  From what I read there may have been a decent river mouth bar and a few possible reef breaks with in the vicinity.  We pulled into the park entrance and it was $10 to get in.  I asked the guy if it was worth it and he said he had no idea, but that the only foot bridge over the estuary to get to the beach had been washed out.  To even check the surf I would have had to paddle across about a 100 yard creek with god knows what kind of sea life in it.  Not feeling that situation I declined.  The ranger referred me to Pfeiffer State Beach further south of there.

BigSurFeb_2

This reef break was a perfect A-frame. The left looked a bit more hallow though fast while the right peeled for easily 50 yards before meeting up with a close out end section. I will say this much it is way bigger then it looks. I was pretty far away when I took this photo. Even with no one out it had to be at least 8-10 ft solid. Access to it was just about impossible. I talked to some guy about it later on and he said in order to surf the spot you have to have someone drop you off, hop the fence then hike a mile and a half to it .

Rather then go by some obviously surf clueless ranger’s suggestion I got back on the road and headed north.  The guide had mentioned another beach that was considered the first surf-able spot in the northern end of Big Sur, Garrapatta State Park.  I knew that we would at least pass Point Sur on the way and countless other sites of interest.  Yes I was technically scouring the coastline for a wave to ride, but we were also doing a bit of exploration in general.  Sometimes the best way to take in a place is by just ambling about.  Point Sur was a bit of a let down considering that access is restricted on the south side and the actual point to military and government personnel only and the north side is private property with plenty of no trespassing signs and barbed wire.  I read in a leaflet about Point Sur back at the cabin that tours are given of the light house only on Saturdays from like 10 am to like 3 pm  and a reservation had to be made a week in advance.  For this trips purposes it was no meant to be.  Once again that is alright thus giving me an excuse to make another trip, not that I would need one.

Point Sur, one of the more unique points I have visited.

Point Sur, one of the more unique points I have visited.

In a lot of ways Point Sur was a bit like Morro Rock except connected to land.  It was shame access to it was beat.  None the less it was still a nice vista.  As far as cool stuff to see on the way north the sights were endless and almost too much to take in.  We passed over historical bridges, saw a cool looking sea cave, and overall just something rather incredible for the senses around every turn.  Everything is just so amazing down to the opaque blue color of the ocean.  If not for the thick jacket covering my body I would have thought I was in a tropical locale.

If I didn't know better I would say this picture was shot a lot closer to the equator then it was.

If I didn’t know better I would say this picture was shot a lot closer to the equator then it was.

We pulled up at Garrapatta and I could see the waves rolling in from the side of the road.  One thing was for sure the waves were pretty solid.  It was also rather clean and throwing from what I could tell.  I literally ran down the trail in excitement thinking I was about to score a solo barrel fest.  Not that the idea of surfing by myself in very sharky waters was a settling thought.   Fuck it, if it was really as good as I thought, it was worth the risk.  When it comes to sharks I always go back to this crazy Aussie body boarder I used to chill with motto: “mate I reckon if you get taken and survive you will never have to pay for a beer for the rest of your life  and if you don’t, then no worries”.  I have had a good run in this life anyhow. If my number was drawn so be it.  There are far worse ways to die then doing what you love.  Becoming part of the food chain is a useful death after all.

My first view of Garrapatta State Beach from the road.  It looked like some epic West Australian Beach Break.

My first view of Garrapatta State Beach from the road. It looked like some epic West Australian Beach Break.

I literally ran down the trail to the cliffs edge and right away I was gripped with the harsh reality that what I was face to face with was more of a gnarly shore dump then a sick barrel.  If I were a sponger I would have been all over it or if I felt like getting my ass handed to me for a sicky or two.  In water just around 50F I was not about to go for a beating.  The place definitely had real potential.  Maybe on a different swell angle, tide, throw in some offshore wind and it could be a solid break.  That may as well be the greatest mind fuck to surfing out in Big Sur the endless potential and the question “what if….?”.   Either way it was another beautiful site to take in and totally worth the drive.  I bet one could spend a life time surfing this coast and never even scratch the surface.

This was a cove I found some found in a nook of the coast  that was closed out when I came upon but on its day could be all time?

This was a cove I found, some in a nook of the coast that was closed out when I came upon it but on its day could be all time?  Look how glass it was being almost completely sheltered from wind.

What little understanding I had of the geography of Big Sur I figured there was not much more to see if we continued north thus we cruised back south and got a little lunch and re-grouped.  At this point I really wanted to get wet.  If you seriously surf then you totally understand that after a certain period of time passes where you are completely surrounded by waves and water and have not paddled the itch becomes uncontrollable.  My book and other pre-trip research mentioned something about a Sand Dollar Beach.   Actually, I surfed with some random guys at New Jetty who were from up that way and had said a bit about a Mill Creek also.  Later I would find out that was considered one of the better waves in the area although I never made it there myself.  The plan was set to head for this Sand Dollar beach.

BigSurFeb14-071

More hard to get to set ups with potential

South we drove, and drove and drove.  I really can have absolutely no understanding of distance at times especially when I don’t have a map.  About half way there we managed to stumble upon this sick waterfall that literally dropped down onto this picture perfect crescent beach into the ocean.  It was one of those sights you would see in a magazine or a poster on a wall.  The funny thing was I only pulled over cause I saw a few cars parked on the side of the road and my surf instincts told me there might be something worth a look.  Whenever I am in a location where there is surf I always check out a few cars parked near a nondescript beach access.  Its how  I have managed to stumble upon some of the best spots in my life.  Plus the lay of the land looked like it could be a cove of sorts.

 

This was the view from the car when I parked.  I mean c'mon where can you just happen to come upon a scene like this?

This was the view from the car when I parked. I mean c’mon where can you just happen to come upon a scene like this?

We got out of the car after having to wait for Heather to change back out of her heels and into her hiking shoes.  The swap initially made for lunch so she would look her best at the tiny tourist/country bumpkin/camping general store near our cabin.  Absurd, maybe, but it is also one of the reasons I love her.  Would you expect anything less from me?  We followed this little path a ways before coming out into a clearing in full view of this breath taking cove.  There right in front of us was this picturesque waterfall.  Ironically my buddy Diego had shown me a picture of this spot when I told him I was coming up to Big Surf.  Now here I was staring right at it.  If not for a little dumb luck and blind fate I could have missed out completely.  I think the way we found the fall made it that much more special to us.

BigSurFeb14-093

Mc Way Falls

At this point I must say it had been a rather complete day for most.   For me, well, my hair was still dry and I was jonesin’ for a surf.  I found a little map near the falls that showed we were not far off of Sand Dollar Beach and a chance to ride a wave or two in some capacity.  Tune in next time for Part III, the sketch that is surfing in Big Sur.  Sorry for the horrible delay between segments, but I have been super busy, lazy and what not.  This shit takes time to compose as weak ass as it is.  I hope you have enjoyed it thus far.  If you missed Part I check it out here.  For Part III click here.

A glimpse of what is to come...

A glimpse of what is to come…

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