All posts by Tim Ryan

REVIEW: Patagonia R4 Wetsuit Exceeds Expectations

 

Patagonia's R4 frfont zip wetsuit
Patagonia’s R4 front zip wetsuit

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By Tim Ryan

After 13 days in California – many in the surf from San Francisco to San Diego – my final review of Patagonia’s state-of-the-art front zip R4 full wetsuit is ready.

I have to premise this first, however. I haven’t worn a full suit for more than 10 years since I live in Hawaii. And when I did it a decade ago it was a time worn O’Neil Animal Skin that did the trick for its time with seal tape, super snug neck, and back zip. But it did leak consistently – they all did – at the seams, back zip, even a bit down the neck. Hey, it was state of the art then too.

For my long anticipated and planned recent surf trip, I opted for the new Patagonia suit. I’m a believer in the company’s products, environmental consciousness, and lifetime guarantees.

 

Patagonia in Ventura, the Mother Ship
Patagonia in Ventura, the Mother Ship

 

I didn’t test other current wetsuit brands for this trip and for all I know they may be as good or better than Patagonia. But I doubt it.

Coming from Hawaii’s 76-degree water to SF’s 52 degrees was not something I looked forward too. It would be an adventure, I rationalized.

The R4 suit – Patagonia’s warmest – is comfort rated for 48 to 55 degrees.

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At Ocean Beach along with the full suit, I wore Patagonia’s hoodie, booties and gloves. All are lined with merino wool; more about that later.

The first thing I noticed when stepping into the chilly water at Ocean Beach was absolutely no water seeped into the lower submerged part of the suit. None.

As I paddled out and got slammed by a consistent 3-foot set, the same result. No water seepage; none.

I expected that would change as my session lengthened, and it did but very little. And that was my fault. I hadn’t tucked the booties’ tops under the legs of the suit but outside. What a dummy!

In Santa Cruz where the waves were larger and water a few degrees warmer, again there was no water seepage. In fact, after 2 hours of surfing my back and chest were still dry when I got out. Imagine that.

By the time we hit Santa Barbara and Ventura and the phenomenal waves of a 3-5-foot Rincon and later at a bit smaller California Street, I didn’t need to wear the wetsuit gloves or hood. That wasn’t just because the water was warmer. My body core – back and chest – remained dry and warmed by the merino wool and lack of water seepage through both sessions.

Merino wool lines the Patagonia wetsuits
Merino wool lines the Patagonia wetsuits

The front/torso/back and thighs are lined with heavyweight merino wool for core warmth, stretch and comfort. The sleeves, inner/outer thighs and lower legs are lined with mid-weight merino wool grid for warmth and flexibility

The only time my chest actually got wet was at beach break at Terra-Mar in Northern San Diego County when an overhead wave pitched directly on me. I got blasted off my board with whitewater rushing over me and a small stream of water slipped through the front chest zipper.

In no surf session be it an early, foggy morning or late afternoon did I ever even feel chilly.

Did I need a R4 rated wetsuit south of L.A. County? Probably not. But not too many surfers can afford a variety of rated Patagonia suits so I suggest if you’re going to buy one get the highest rating that you think you may need.

I haven’t even mentioned the suit’s flexibility. They may fit like a glove, but miraculously they don’t restrict your paddling motion, or surfing. My R4 really feels like a second skin.

The R4 has a one-piece front and back construction, an overlapped front yoke, and neoprene underarm panels with nylon jersey on both sides (instead of wool) for maximum stretch. There also are durable and flexible PVC-free kneepads and Supratex cuffs to reduce flushing. All critical seams and stress areas are secured with glue dots, 1cm bartacks and Melco reinforcements.

The suit contains soft chlorine-free merino wool/recycled polyester grid lining. Merino wool dries quickly and reduces odor for the garment. The overlapped front yoke makes for easy on/off. Well, easy is relative. But having a front zipper is the tradeoff for keeping water out.

There are what’s called 1cm bartacks, glue dots and Melco reinforcements secure wear points and critical seam locations; seams are single-needle blind stitched on the outside with nylon-bonded thread and triple glued for extra durability and strength; crotch seams are internally taped

The front and back torso, and seat are 5mm neoprene. Sleeves and legs: 4mm neoprene. Underarms, 3mm neoprene.

When I first started wearing the R4 suit it took me more than 15 minutes to get it on. It was frustrating and took patience and practice. Perhaps a small victory but by San Diego it took me a mere 10 minutes plus time for the booties.

The suit isn’t cheap, about $589. But as I wrote earlier how much is warmth and comfort worth? For an old guy it’s priceless. The suit’s weight comes in at about 57 ounces.

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Big Sur Memories – Ranch Adventures

By Tim Ryan

The wave was a transparent green, shoulder high, and offshore winds holding up the face just enough for each of the surfers to get consistently sweet little barrels. One surfer wore just a wetsuit vest; the other guy just trunks. They shrivered in the 52-degree sea.

I saw these waves in Greg MacGillivary’s 1964, all California  film A Cool Wave of Color. (Admission $1.25 with MacGillivary doing live narration.)

The memory of those empty, playful tubes mesmerized and haunted me for years as I’m sure it did other surfers.

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The filmmaker never revealed where the spot was. He simply called it “Paradise.” He told the audience that perfect, empty California waves still exist, but you just have to search for them.

It would be 15 years before I found that wave and only after I had relocated to California’s Central Coast. It would be a year before I had the place figured out on what type of swell, wind and tide conditions made it “Paradise”.

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On my current 16-day journey from San Francisco to San Diego, I’d been talking about the place with my surfing buddy Steve, regaling him about those empty, playful tubes and the bone chilling offshores.

Big Sur Rivermouth is a fickle wave and the best swell direction is south. We’re here in April so the chances for that are slim.

BSR overview

Hiking out of Big Surf River mouth
Hiking out of Big Surf River mouth

Leaving Santa Cruz, we say aloha to the growing west-southwest swell and keep our fingers crossed that thee spot would show its beauty. We hurried by Moss Landing and the pounding shore break of Carmel Beach reaching Andrew Molera State Beach just before noon.

The mile-plus walk to the headland-protected beach greeted us with 2-foot ankle snappers. Shucks. Steve saw the potential, and after enjoying the scenery and quiet for 45 minutes we continued south under leaden skies and a brisk west wind hoping for surf. Sand Dollar Beach, 25 miles south, is overhead with few channels to escape so we called it a day. Instead,  I would bore Steve with my memories of living on the central Coast for six years.

I moved to Cambria from Los Angeles in 1978, excited about surfing new places with less crowds. It didn’t take long for me to discover several quality rideable waves between Morro Bay and Carmel to the north.

My now wife, Nancy, and I lived in a cozy, two bedroom cabin on a knoll with views of the ocean through the towering pine trees. I got work with a county road crew – well that lasted three days – lifeguarding at the Cambria Pines Lodge, then my first newspaper job at The Cambrian after I took photos of a drunk driver who had driven into – ironically – the town’s only liquor store.

 

Cambria cabin

Tim & Steve above in 1980 and below in 2014
Tim & Steve above in 1980 and below in 2014

When I wasn’t working I would usually set out mid morning with my dog to search for surf. South was always more crowded than north. I’d  hike over fields of tall grass, golden poppies, wild orchids, and around cypress pines  to wonderful beaches packed with giant driftwood, seals and the occasional foraging otter.

I loved the isolation, being alone with my thoughts, and, of course, having waves to myself.

I boasted to Steve, who was living in Southern California, about the untapped paradise I was enjoying. Finally, he visited me and I took him to one of my favorite seasonal spots: San Carpojo Creek in nearby Monterey County along Highway 1.

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The peaky break is formed after heavy winter rains flow out of the canyon to form a near perfect sandbar and deep channels on both sides.  It could hold double overhead sized waves peeling in both directions. There was a head high west swell running so I prodded Steve that we would surf it.

The area is physically intimidating. High cliffs surround the beach except where the winding creek flows into the ocean. No houses are visible. The only sound is wind and crashing waves.

We paddled out in the rip and were quickly swept to where consistent overhead peaks thundered through. Just to the north  were the Big Sur’s sea cliffs towering a 1,000 foot.

It was classic morning glass, green and clean and a bit mean; steep takeoffs followed by zippy sections for 100 yards. And it was getting bigger.

“What’s that!” Steve asked, pointing a few hundred yards outside.

“A dead gray whale,” I said. “Sharks have been feeding on it for a few days.”

Then Steve’s eyes swept north along the sea cliffs where he spotted a waterfall a hundred-feet high cascading directly into the ocean. When two otters and a harbor seal  popped up between us, Steve yelled “What the….!”

“This isn’t Huntington Beach,” I said.

After an hour and several waves, Steve paddled to me: “This place is just too overwhelming. I’m going in.”

Honest sentiments from a good and smart surfer. By nightfall, the surf here would be in the 15-foot range. I failed to mention to him about the occasional great white shark cruising closer to shore for a meal. I  promised too find us a more subdued spot.

Back to reality of the now…

Now we were leaving Santa Cruz after getting reports that a swell was expected to hit the Santa Barbara coast within two days. We packed up as fast as we could.

As we approached Gaviota in northern Santa Barbara County, the primary entrance to the fabled Hollister Ranch surf,  memories of our stealthy Ranch surfing days became the primary topic of discussion.

The Ranch has some of the finest surf in California. It is also private and well guarded, not only by a security team but by residents who are fortunate enough to own parcels there. It’s nearly 15 miles of pristine coastline where the wind is consistently offshore. It’s dozens of point and reef breaks take northwest, west and south swells.

In the late 1960s, a real estate ad in Surfer magazine featured 100 acre parcels there for about $100,000. Here’s how sought after this property is. A popular singer recently purchased a one-twelfth share in a 100-acre parcel for $425,000.

Steve mentions our sneak-ins on foot into the Ranch in the late 1960s from the Jalama Beach side on the north, some six miles along  railroad tracks carrying surfboards, wetsuits and towels. So surf stoked on that first foray we walked out of Jalama Beach at 5 a.m. and neglected to bring water or food. We left well before sunrise.

“It was so foggy that when we got near a beach we couldn’t see a thing,” Steve recalls. “Then we heard waves close by and just headed in that direction and laid on the sand and slept until day light.”

Steve’s brother Dennis was with us. He was the first one awake sitting up staring toward the ocean. I was awakened by the sound of a single crashing wave. The fog hung 100 feet above the break.

Steve and his surfing buddy also were wakened by the sound.

“We couldn’t talk,” Steve said. “I couldn’t believe what we were seeing.”

A perfect, impossibly smooth, four-foot peak – morning glass – peeling flawlessly four 75 yards along the shale reef to a sandy beach. The wind was tickling offshore.

We moved so quickly too get out there it was as if someone had touched us with a cattle prod. Dennis caught the first wave knee paddling and I was next. Trimming and nose riding on long boards with no leashes; sharing waves, bonding  over surf and spills, adults giddy as children.

We surfed for nearly six hours then it was time to walk out with our gear. Sunburned, physically exhausted, hungry and thirsty.

“Remember my brother was so thirsty he drank water out of a cow trough,” Steve said.

“Yeah, he had to spread away the algae and hay floating on top.

We arrived back at the van at Jalama in darkness. The four of us sleeping impossibly soundly and happy.

In future trips to the Ranch, Steve and I – so tired of the walk – searched for another gate with a single lock rather than the several on the main Jalama gate.

The Bixby Ranch gate at Jalama Beach
The Bixby Ranch gate at Jalama Beach

We found a car-wide gate a mile inland with a single, commercial lock. We copied the serial number and when we got back to L.A. I had a locksmith make a duplicate key. A week later at 5 a.m. Steve and I stood at the “new” gate.  I held the key up in the moon light.

“For God’s sake see if it works,” Steve said.

I slid the key in the lock and turned it. Click! We were in.

The road was overgrown with tall grass and rocky. I essentially ordered the 17-year-old Steve to sit on the hood of my VW bug holding a flashlight out front since i didn’t want my headlights to attract attention.

“Yeah, it was down hill and I kept sliding off,” he said.

I wanted to get us on the main ranch road to Government Point as soon as possible.

“I remember hearing something big in the brush then saw this huge outline,” Steve said.

He leaned back against my windshield. I told him to keep the flashlight moving back and forth.

“There’s something out here,” he said.

“Don’t worry about it. You’re seeing things.”

“What I’m seeing is something big as this car.”

I locked my door just in case. When he scanned the grass in front of us with the light we both saw them.

“I nearly passed out,” Steve recalls.

About a dozen head of Angus cattle stood in our path staring back a few feet from the hood. They mooed in unison.

“Should I honk the horn,” I asked.

“Hell no, they may charge!” Steve yelled.

I eased the car toward the herd.

“Where the do you think you’re going!” he said.

The herd scattered, Steve survived, and and we surfed the perfect rights of Government Point alone for six hours before company arrived.

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“How is it? It was legendary waterman Mike Doyle.

“Uh, perfect as usual,” I said.

Thirty minutes later eccentric and innovative surfer George Greenough paddled out on his spoon kneeboard. It was a great show.

Back to reality.

Approaching Santa Barbara, Steve suggests we drive up the Hollister Ranch road to the main guarded gate.

“I want to talk too the guy; he’s probably a surfer,” he says.

We pass through one open gate by a sign that says “Private property. No trespassing.”

There it is! Gateway to Nirvanna
There it is! Gateway to Nirvanna

Steve drops me off 75 yards from the main security gate so I can take photos of his “discussion” with the surfer guard.  Then he parks our garishly painted van 25 feet from the electronic gate.

Self explanatory
Self explanatory

He takes a slow, deliberate stroll toward the  sunglassed guard who steps out of his post, arms crossed on his chest. He’s not smiling and trying too stand tall.

Duel at noon at Hollister Ranch
Duel at noon at Hollister Ranch
Hi I'm Jimmy Buffett's buddy!
Hi I’m Jimmy Buffett’s buddy!
Steve charms the guard
Steve charms the guard

I don’t know what Steve or the guard are saying, but the guy keeps shaking his head. Steve talks to the guard for several minutes while the guy says little. Then Steve walks back to the van.

“We’re not getting in,” Steve laughs. “He also said you weren’t allowed to take photos. He’s heard all the stories before from guys who made the Ranch walk. All he said was ‘You do know you’re trespassing already?'”

“Gee, I was wondering about that,” Steve told the guard “Guess we should be leaving.”

California Street and Rincon here we come!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MORNING GLASS ARRIVES!

Pleasure Point, one of  Surf City's premier breaks
Pleasure Point, one of Surf City’s premier breaks
Waves roll through at Santa Cruz's Pleasure Point
Waves roll through at Santa Cruz’s Pleasure Point

By Tim Ryan

Pleasure Point is breaking 3-4 feet with the occasional 5-foot peak. It’s ridiculously smooth…classic California green glass. Wave faces sparkle with little diamonds rising and falling. Nature’s art. A surfer’s dream.

Gliding through morning glass
Gliding through morning glass

My dreaming is broken.

“Are we going out or not?” Steve, my companion barks at me in our camper van.

“I’m enjoying the moment do you mind?”

I’m remembering 1966 when Steve’s brother (Dennis) and I drove into Pleasure Point from L.A. at 2 p.m. and saw dead glass, 5 and 6-foot peeling south swells from Sewer Peak to Wild Hook, three-quarters of a mile away. Glassy at 2 p.m. We rarely saw anything like that at L.A. county beaches.

“O.K. already! Are we going out?” Steve is relentless, hyping on coffee and surf stoke.

“Uh, Yes.”

Do I have everything? It’s 52 degrees, water 54 and overcast skies.

Spring time in Santa Cruz with 54 degree water
Bikini time in Santa Cruz in 54-degree water
Santa Cruz is unique in many ways including its surf community.
Santa Cruz is unique in many ways including its surf community.

My wetsuit gear is still wet from yesterday’s go out and my neck aches.

“Oh God,” Steve says.

O.K., let’s see: Booties, check; gloves, check; hoodie, check; full body Lycra surf suit, check; Lycra surf socks, check; heated Lycra top, check; full wetsuit, check; Celebrex, check. I’m good to go. This is so complicated.

“Hold it!” Steve says. “You have Celebrex? I’m out.”

“Well, Mr. Impatience, would you like one?”

He sneers. The teasing game is something we’ve played for years. I hold up the nearly full bottle of Celebrex and a bottle of high dosage Ibuprofen. I rattle both of them in front of his face.

“First one’s free, junkie.”

“Idiot,” he says. He’s called me that for years and I him. I hand him the Celebrex and we both indulge hoping our joints will feel the affect quickly. Then he – not me – heads down the cement steps to the Pleasure Point beach below and the paddle out.

I just can’t do it today. I’m tired, stiff, feeling down. But I need to rest, recover from the day before. Not here to prove anything.

You can still be alone surfing in Santa Cruz
You can still be alone surfing in Santa Cruz

It’s the cleanest swell of the last three days. Sigh. I’ll watch from the cliff.

Steve heads out at Pleasure Point
Steve heads out at Pleasure Point

Nearly five decades ago – 1966 – Dennis, Steve’s brother – and I, made the trek for the first time from L.A to Santa Cruz for the mythical waves and few crowds the city offered then. Our home would be a blue VW van with a self-made twin bed. Inside was  Dennis’ custom Yater with three layers of 10-oz cloth – Renny required Dennis to put down half the price because no one else would buy it if he didn’t – my 10-2 Hobie Phil Edwards model, and two O’Neil Short John wetsuits. No leashes.

Driving down 41st Avenue in Santa Cruz our eyes widened when we passed the actual O’Neill shop, the largest we’d ever seen.

“Let’s go back after surfing and see if he’s there,” Dennis said. Yes we were a bit kookish.

It was August. When we arrived at Pleasure Point, the horizon was filled with lines of clean, glassy overhead south swells. The kelp was gyrating and shimmering in the afternoon sun; a delicious prediction of clean waves.

“Jeeeeesus,” Dennis said.

I was speechless, giddy, and smiling. I had seen Rincon and Malibu perfection, but there were actually quality waves outside of southern California! (Yes, I know, how ignorant.)

We geared up and scrambled down the sandstone cliff side rushing into the chilly water. We did double sessions for three days. Afterward we found a local colleges where we could shower secretly in the gymnasium facility. At nights we would open our sleeping bags on the VW’s mattress, hang our wetsuits outside the van on hangars, prepare our next day’s clothes, then find a neighborhood close to Steamer’s or Pleasures or Stockton to crash for the night.

Each night we fell asleep talking about our best and worse waves, feeble nose riding attempts, wipeouts, swim ins, waves we missed, the feeling of finding such a city with such incredible waves. It was Oz to us and we were the tin man and the lion.

Back to the future.

After two days in San Francisco surfing Ocean Beach las week, Steve and I pack up to head to Half Moon Bay where we will camp for the night. If there’s surf maybe we’ll hit it. We’re both a bit beat from Ocean Beach’s rips and currents and annoying shore break. This may end up a day of rest with some imbibing.

Pillar Point in Half Moon Bay, home of Mavericks
Pillar Point in Half Moon Bay, home of Mavericks

Half Moon Bay State Park is beautiful, on the ocean, and crowded. The adjoining beach break is glassy and about three feet peeling along a sandbar and into a channel. It’s cold – low 50s – so we agree that we rest.

Hale Moon Bay sand beaches usually have some decent shape
Half Moon Bay’s sand beaches usually have some decent shape

 

Steve enjoying a campfire after a day off from surfing at Half Moon Bay
Steve enjoying a campfire after a day of from surfing at Half Moon Bay

Tomorrow will be Santa Cruz, but tonight we talk story.

Steve reminds me of the his first Santa Cruz trip. His brother Dennis decided after three days with me in SC he wants to give Steve a birthday surprise.

“I want to drive back to L.A to get Steve and bring him up here for his birthday,” he says.

I’m shocked.

“Uh, this is a perfect overhead swell,” I argue. “Let’s wait until it drops.”

Dennis is insistent so we leave at sunset arriving in L.A. at dawn. Dennis drives all the way; I fall asleep in the back of the van listening to the radio where Beachboys’ sing “Wouldn’t it be nice…”

Two days later we leave L.A. again with Steve and his friend Terry and their boards, an 8-6 Greg Noll and 9-foot Harbor banana model, respectively. We hype the SC waves throughout the drive. And when we arrive in the city the surf doesn’t disappoint.

“I remember how glassy it was,” says Steve who was 16 back then. “I was psyched but nervous.”

That next morning, Steve, wearing a wetsuit vest he bought for $2, Terry with no wetsuit, Dennis and I in O’Neil Short Johns hit Pleasure Point for four hours.

Steve laughs.

“I remember you took off on this overhead wave and Terry and I caught it inside and proned it in front of you,” he says.

“Why hell the didn’t you stand up? I asked.

“We were terrified. New place, new wave, cold water, kelp. I nearly passed out,” he says.

In the van  Dennis and I share the top mattress when we sleep; Steve sleeps on the uneven VW floor below us and Terry is on the front bench seat. Every night we slept like the dead; surfed out, sunburned faces – sunblock had not been invented yet – salt caked hair. Pure joy.

Current reality check….No mas hombre.

Today Steve and I have a tricked out camper van. At Half Moon Bay State Park our dinner is leftovers from a Mexican/Peruvian restaurant in Pacifica where we had a lunch of chicken enchiladas and a Hawaiian burrito. To that we had some red wine, chocolate chop cookies, a perfect campfire, and memories.

We use the heat from the van's engine to help dry our wetsuit gear.
We use the heat from the van’s engine to help dry our wetsuit gear.

Two old guys reminiscing. Joyous mostly, quite nostalgic about those wonderful days of our youth. We miss Dennis, of course. I miss being a bit more innocent and stoked, the classic glide of surfing, the ease of putting on a back zip wetsuit. I have a front zip now which is much warmer.

 

"Friar" Steve warding off the morning chill at Half Moon Bay
“Friar” Steve warding off the morning chill at Half Moon Bay

 

What was then can’t be the same again. Nor should it be. Life changes. Around the blazing camp fire, Steve remembers during that that first SC trip that a guy at the Doug Hout surf shop at Pleasure Point asked us if we wanted to borrow this new board called a Hobie noserider.

“We had it for four days, riding the tip like we never had before,” Steve said.

Hmmm. A board specifically designed for riding the nose. Imagine that.

That first trip also included a surprise midnight visit around while we snoozed in a Pleasure Point neighborhood. We’re awakened by a not so gentle tap on the van’s side doors.

Dennis sits up; Steve opens the side door.

“What are you doing here gentlemen?” a Santa Cruz police officer says. He flashes his light around the van.

Before anyone answers, Dennis says “Good evening gendarme!” That was classic Dennis. We figure we’re going to have to move.

Then the amazing happens. The two officers stare at our four boards, sunburned faces, droopy eyes, and uncombed hair. They start laughing.

“You guys are way to tired to cause trouble,” one officer said smiling. “You can stay tonight but don’t come back to this spot tomorrow. By the way how was the surf?”

“Those days are gone,” Steve says.

He’s right of course. Santa Cruz has grown exponentially like most California surf towns. And with that growth and exclusivity there are more rules all strictly enforced.

“It’s the most popular surf town in California,” says Todd, a teacher at a nearby New Brighton school. “There’s no going back. Everyone knows this is an incredible place to live and surf.”

This day I watch Steve in the water gliding through green sections with the other classic style riders. I’m happy to see the return of the glide, long boarding surfers being one with the waves, respectful moves for the sake of the sport and not an audience. Old school I know. Steve is a respected example of the style.

A third of the surfers in the Pleasure Point surf are female. Twenty percent of all of the surfers here are post 50. And everyone pretty much is friendly with aloha. They make us feel comfortable and welcomed.

While sitting at our Half Moon Bay campfire I sense that Steve is upset. I’ve known him – and him me – for more than half a century. He’s my best friend – and I’m a selfish guy – but he still hangs with me.

“What did I do?” I ask. (I need to prod him at times.) It’s been a long day of dealing with various logistics of travel with lots of luggage and gear and a cold climate. Drying wetsuits; bagging surfboards. Nerves are frayed. The trip is still another two weeks.

Like a marriage you can’t just let emotions simmer.

“I’ve done something to piss you off,” I say. “I’m tired and not happy about my, you know, go out at Ocean Beach. How did I fuck up?”

Steve’s shoulders relax only slightly. He’s the guy on this trip who makes sure all the van’s doors are locked, all valuables are hidden, we both have car keys, parking spaces are legal, food packed appropriately, and which oncoming cars are likely to crash into us. The guy is always working.

“Uh, well,” he says softly, “when you were strapping your two boards on the van in SF I thought (because your straps were so long) you were also going to let me share yours. You finished yours so I had to get my own out.”

Ouch, he’s right. I was tired and forgetful and just being Tim. I’m not the model of selflessness.

“I’m sorry,” I say. “I thought you wanted to use your own straps. I’ll ask next time. I was really tired.”

Disappointment over. We open a bottle of cheap red wine and we laugh about friendship, Hawaii, other surf trips, and what tomorrow will bring.

“Dennis would have loved this,” Steve says as we click glasses.

Aloha to our hanai brother.

Contest time: Can you guess what Steve is holding in the bag? The winner receives…our thanks. Aloha!

What's in the bag?
What’s in the bag?

 

Seeking Glass by P.F. Bentley

48 Years Later in Santa Cruz

Pleasure Point!
Pleasure Point!

By Steve Casar

OH YES!!! GOT THAT MORNING GLASS FEELING BACK!!!

PLEASURE POINT, SANTA CRUZ WITH SOME FUN PLAYFUL WAVES.

AND MORE GREAT MEXICAN FOOD FOR US VAQUEROS DE LAS OLAS. BEAUTIFUL CALIFORNIA COASTAL VIEWS WITH COVES, HEADLANDS, BEACHES AND BRIGHT ORANGE POPIES.

LOTS OF CHANGES IN SOME AREAS TOO.

SOME MAY SAY EVEN THE WAVES HAVE CHANGED, BUT PADDLING OUT IN GLASSY WATER AND SEEING THE KELP BEDS BOUNCING AND KNOWING A SET IS LOOMING BRINGS IT ALL BACK AS IF IT WERE YESTERDAY.

YES, CROWDED CONDITIONS AT THE MORE QUALITY SURF SPOTS TO BE SURE, BUT THAT’S TO BE EXPECTED.

TAKE A LOOK AT SOME OF THE SURF PHOTOS FROM THE 60’S. THERE WERE CROWDS BACK THEN AT CERTAIN TIMES AND EVERYONE RODE A LONG, HEAVIER BOARD AND SHORT WETSUITS….

OH YEAH, NO LEASHES TOO…WATCH OUT, A FIBERGLASS SANDWICH MAY BE COMING YOUR WAY WITH A LOOSE BOARD. DINGS TOO………..

IT WAS 1966, THE LAST TIME I SURFED SANTA CRUZ…

IT WAS AUGUST AND MY BROTHER – FIVE YEARS OLDER THAN ME – BROUGHT ME THERE FOR MY 16TH BIRTHDAY. WHAT A GIFT, TAKEN FOR GRANTED AT THE TIME AND WHY WOULD HE DO THIS?….. BRING A FRIEND HE SAYS…… HOLY CRAP, SOMEONE MY AGE TO HELP SHARE THE YOUNGER DUTIES OF THE WANNA BE SURF GUYS….. HOW SOON CAN WE LEAVE ? TOMORROW ? NOT SOON ENOUGH, BUT I’LL TAKE IT !!! SO HERE I AM 48 YEARS LATER, WAXING MY BOARD AND RELIVING THESE THOUGHTS, RIDING SOME WAVES WITH HIM IN MIND.

THANKS AGAIN BROTHER. I LOVE YOU…….

PADDLING OUT TO THE TAKE OFF AREA WONDERING IF I’M CROSSING AN IMAGINARY LINE WITH THE LOCAL PACK. LOOKING FOR THE OFF CHANCE TO SEE A FAMILIAR FACE. THEN SEEING ONE I PADDLE TO HIM, SAYING FEW WORDS.

HE RESPOND WITH A WIDE SMILE, “DID YOUR MOM DRESS YOU THIS MORNING?”

THANK YOU ROBERT “WINGNUT” WEAVER. I WAS IN A FULL SUIT, BOOTIES, GLOVES, AND HOOD. HE WAS IN A FULL SUIT, NO BOOTIES, NO GLOVES OR HOOD.

OK, HE’S  USED TO THIS COLD AIR AND WATER WHERE I WAS IN 75-DEGREE WATER JUST A FEW DAYS AGO. SO I ROLLED DOWN MY HOOD.] TO TALK…

“LAST TIME I SAW YOU, YOU WERE SHOWING OFF IN THE DUKE’S OCEAN FEST LEGEND’S SURF MEET,” I SAY.

GRINNING, WINGNUT SAYS, ‘THAT’S WHY I WAS THERE!”

ALL KIDDING ASIDE, WE HAD A NICE CHAT. HEY WINGNUT, THANKS FOR THAT HAND JESTER TIP ON WHERE TO SIT TO TAKE OFF WITH THE SWELL DIRECTION. I OWE YOU A DRINK AT DUKE’S…

SO ON MY NEXT GO OUT AT PLEASURE POINT I LEAVE THE HOOD AND GLOVES IN THE CAMPER VAN WEARING THE FULL SUIT AND BOOTIES…MOM DIDN’T RAISE NO DUMMY, IT’S STILL DAMN COLD UP HERE.

THE CAMPER VAN IS STILL ATTRACTING ATTENTION AND IS A GREAT ICE BREAKER FOR CONVERSATION. EVERYONE SMILES WHEN THEY SEE IT .

WE TALKED TO A COUPLE GUYS RICH AND TODD ON THE BLUFF AFTER EXITING THE WATER.  (See below) BOTH ARE TEACHERS ARE PLAYING HOOKY FROM THE SCHOOL DAY TO SURF. TODD RIDES A SUPER COOL COKE BOTTLE GREEN 9’6″ JACOBS AND RICH ON A 6’4″ FAT ARSE WOMBAT. (YES MEIKO, JUST LIKE YOURS THAT WAS STOLEN). THANKS FOR THE TIME GUYS AND KEEP SLIDING…

Redding High School teacher Rich with the Fat Arse Wombat
Redding High School teacher Rich with the Fat Arse Wombat

 

Todd (r), a high school teacher in nearby New Brighton, laments a deep ding after being run over at Pleasure Point.
Todd (r), a high school teacher in nearby New Brighton, laments a deep ding after being run over at Pleasure Point.

AFTER LEAVING SANTA CRUZ WE PICKED UP FRESH PRODUCE NEAR WATSONVILLE AND HEAD TO THE BIG SUR COAST…

Three oranges, five artichokes, and three avocados: $5
Three oranges, five artichokes, and three avocados: $5

LATER ALL, AND THANKS FOR CHECKING IN ……..

Steve hiking to PP

 

Van Camping Ain’t What It Used To Be!

By Steve Casar

THIS MOTHER’S BIG ROOMY INTERIOR AND POWER MAKES ME THINK BACK ON HOW DID WE DO THIS IN OUR 1960’S VW BUSES WITH UP TO SEVEN (YES, SEVEN) OF US WITH SURFBOARDS. MUCHO ROOM NOW WITH JUST TWO OF US HOMBRES .

PEOPLE JUST GET PULLED INTO THE WHAT, WHY AND WHEREFORE OF OUR TRIP IN THIS COLORFUL THING. ESPECIALLY SURFERS.

DAVE AND ROB AT WISE SURFBOARDS IN THE OCEAN BEACH AREA OF SAN FRANCISCO ARE A GREAT COUPLE GUYS WE TALKED  TO ABOUT OUR TRIP.

 

Steve Casar (center) with Wise Surf Shop salesman Dave Alexander (l) and Rob Aschero (r).
Steve Casar (center) with Wise Surf Shop salesman Dave Alexander (l) and Rob Aschero (r).

 

I TOLD DAVE ABOUT HOW I USED TO HAVE TO WAX, FIX DINGS, AND WATCH THE SURFBOARDS AS MY BROTHER, TIM AND THE OLDER GUYS WOULD CRUISE THE BEACH FOR CHICKS JUST SO I COULD GO ON THESE TRIPS. THEN DAVE SAYS, “TIM OVER THERE SAID THEY PAID YOU 25 CENTS EACH!”

YEAH, BULLSHIT TO THAT I SAY! BUT MORE ON THAT LATER.

Steve busts a move at the Wise Surfboards with salesmen/surfer Dave A;alexander
Steve busts a move at Wise Surfboards with salesmen/surfer Dave Alexander

WETSUITS ?  THESE NEW ONES ARE MORE LIKE IT!  MY HEAD ALMOST POPPED FROM TOO MUCH WARMTH.  HMMMM. MAYBE THAT WAS BECAUSE OF ALL THE PADDLING I WAS DOING AT OCEAN BEACH, CHASING WAVES, AND AVOIDING OTHERS. YES, AND I CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF IT.

LOVING THIS COLD WEATHER THOUGH. YES, I COMPLAIN ALL THE TIME ABOUT WORKING IN THE SUN IN HAWAII. BUT PADDLING OUT ALL THE TIME WITHOUT ALL THIS RUBBER ON IS A TRUE BLESSING.

THIS CRUISE DOWN THE CALIFORNIA COAST WAS A LONG TIME COMING. WE ARE HERE NOW RELIVING OUR YOUNGER PAST AND HOPING OUR OLDER BODIES CAN TAKE IT. I KNOW OUR MINDS CAN.

AND NO, I’M NOT JUST TALKING BOOZE. ALTHOUGH A BIT OF IT SEEMS TO HELP THOSE TIRED OUT BODIES AT NIGHT OVER A GOOD TASTING CAMP MEAL AND FIRE.