Sunday, June 28, 2009


I recently learned that a "friend" suggested that I'm not as into surfing as I used to be, and that I don't even do it that much anymore. This in itself is somewhat innocuous, but my interpretation is that friend was questioning my credibility (this is based on knowing friend for a long time and other comments made at the same time). The friend doesn't surf, barely ever sees me, and has no idea how often I do or don't ride waves. Friend was, in effect, calling me a hodad, even though they don't have a clue what a hodad is (my blog title is meant to be ironic). Now, I do have to admit that there was a time when everything I did was related to surfing, and that I would agonize over what to do when it was flat. I devoured the latest issues of my favorite surf mags and watched movies over and over again. I even participated in the forum on our local surf report website (I long ago decided that was stupid). I talked enthusiastically about lifestyle and being committed and all sorts of other pseudo-philosophical things related to surfing. Some opinions I still hold, and others I've outgrown. At first I was pretty pissed, and a little hurt, that this person would say those things, as they obviously indicate a lack of respect for me. But I've been thinking about it more, and I've come to a couple conclusions: it doesn't matter how often I get to hit the water, as long as it stokes me and I'm having a good time. I have gotten busier, it's true. The carefree days of college are over, and now I have to use my time more judiciously. I've got a great girlfriend who expects to hang out with me, and with whom I like spending time. And I've added kayaking and cycling to favored recreational pursuits. In the past I went surfing when it was big and blown out and shitty, when it was perfect, and when it was small and nearly unrideable. I went all the time. Now I've diversified. Surfing is still my number one, but if it's junky then why wouldn't I go do something else and have more fun doing it? I'll surf when I think it's good; otherwise I'll be riding my bike or paddling or training for triathlons, all great fun in themselves and good for me to boot. They all equal a fitter me, which benefits my surfing, and the swimming for triathlons and kayaking make me a better waterman. My love of surfing isn't diminished. If anything surfing is more part of my life because it fits better now. I'm not dominated by it all the time because I have the freedom to do other things too. As for the health of my surfing street cred, it's good enough for me. I check the surf multiple times everyday, talk about it with friends and coworkers, blog about it, published an article on it, went on a trip to do it, etc. I don't know to better incorporate surfing into my life right now unless I relinquish worldly possessions and any hope for a personal future and go live in a bungalow with a couple boards on a beach somewhere.

Lastly, it doesn't matter what ill-informed opinions this person holds anyway. I've got a great life, a fun job, a healthy relationship with a great girl, a family that loves me, (mostly) good friends who I get to share it with, and access to lots of things that I like to do. My quality of life is ridiculously high.

Still, I should be surfing more (you can never really get enough). Cheers.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Surf Trip!

I've just gotten settled back in from a long drive back from Hatteras. The trip was great. I crashed at P-funk's house on Tuesday night so that we could get an early start to make it to the Cedar Island ferry by 7:30. We got up a little before 3, loaded the boards, onto the road by 3:15. We both chose to take longboards. P took his Allison Birddog and I took my Odyssey 9'6". The forecast looked favorable for clean waist-high waves, but I wanted to be able to surf if it was smaller, and I know I can have a good time on the log in almost any conditions we were likely to encounter. It would have been nice to have taken my fish, but I didn't want to worry about the board cooking in the car while we were out surfing.

We made the ferry by 6:30 and bought coffee from the little concession at the ferry launch while we waited to load. The ferry crew milled around on the boat. It's obvious that the NC Ferry Div. doesn't have a PT program, cause some of those boys were pretty portly. On the ferry we watched some storms roll by, read, and napped in the car. We arrived at Ocracoke shortly after 10.

We got off on Ocracoke and made a beeline for the other end to take another ferry to Hatteras (with a brief stop for coffee and a biscuit). After the shorter, second ferry we were off to find some waves to ride. For the local scoop we stopped at Natural Art Surf Shop in Hatteras Village and the guys there suggested the lighthouse, right up the street. We drove up and parked in the lot and were surprised to see guys dropping into chest-head high waves. So we suited up (my first surf this year in just trunks and a t-shirt) and paddled out. The setup at Hatteras Light is really great. There are three groins (short jetties), the first almost adjacent to the old light foundation (it was moved a few years back to keep it from falling into the ocean), with the other two N of there at intervals of about 75 or 100 yards. There were perhaps 50 people in the water, but there were all spread out over the four obvious peaks which ran in a diagonal line from N to S. At first I surfed the inside-most break to observe and get a feel for the spot, but as I got comfortable with where to sit and how it was breaking I paddled into the main peak at first groin and started really catching some waves. The bigger sets were easily head high, and I would swear to having seen a few overhead waves plow through. The wind was side-off, not strong. Over the course of the session, which began at noon, it went from glassy with a little texture to a little bumpy and back to glassy; it never got bad at all. I kept slipping closer and closer to the groin and catching better and better waves. The lefts were fantastic, big clean drops and steep workable walls. Most of the time I just cranked a bottom turn and aimed for the shoulder, but on a few waves I got some decent turns and a noseride or two. It felt good to know that I can still surf in waves that size, because it's been a while. The log wasn't the best board for it, but it did mean I could get in early and I had the momentum and speed to make most of the sections. We stayed out for 4 hours, until my arms and lats and shoulders started cramping and quivering, and then paddled in. I'd guess I had 40 or 50 waves? It was very quality and we were thirsty, hungry, and tired. We loaded the car back up and drove into town to a local joint called Pop's, where I had a big juicy burger and fries, then went back to the National Park where the lighthouse is to find the camping provided there. We pulled up to an open gate with no guard. The sign said to go in and find a spot, and that the ranger would come around to collect the $20 fee, so in we went.

The campground was practically empty and there were tons of spots to choose from in the big open field with bathroom/shower houses spaced every ~50 yards. There was a light rain when we arrived, so we decided to wait for that to pass to set up camp, as there was plenty of daylight left. I took a cold shower (the only kind available) which I was very grateful for. The rain cleared out and we threw the tent up and then relaxed behind the truck sipping Jack Daniel's from P's flask and discussing our good luck at picking what one local called "the best day of the summer so far" to take our trip. It was idyllic. The temperature was very comfortable, almost cool as dark approached. There were no biting bugs and very few other sorts. We were tired and full from dinner and there was light breeze and the sun was setting and lighting all the clouds up pink and purple and orange. At dark we turned in and I fell immediately to sleep. We were within sight of the historic Hatteras Light, which periodically flashed its steady warning to mariners into the tent on the nearly moonless night.

We woke at dawn, brushed teeth, and packed up. The ranger never came to visit, which means that we got to camp for free. We drove out of the campground towards the main road, stopping at the burial sight of British sailors who washed up on the island during WWII, victims of German U-boat attacks. We also drove over to the light and did a surf check before driving out of the park to hunt down some breakfast. There were some people out, but the size diminished greatly overnight and we decided to look elsewhere. We found a great little diner called Island Perks, where we got an excellent cup of strong coffee (the Hatteras Harbor blend, the strongest they had) and a standard breakfast of eggs, bacon, home fries and biscuit. Sated, we headed N to find some waves. The first spot we checked is known as S-turns. There's a big beautiful house about to fall into the ocean. It's apparently where the recent Richard Gere film Nights in Rodanthe was filmed, but I'll never know for sure because I won't be watching it. The main peak breaks close to the beach and right in front of the house, which the shorebreak literally washes right under as it rushes up the beach. There were a pack of about 8 guys out, all on shortboards, and after watching for a bit we could see that it wasn't good for our logs, so I grabbed the swim fins and my lunch tray and swam out to bodysurf for a bit. The wave was very clean (no wind) and thick, about stomach high. It was punchy and perfect for bodysurfing and reminded me of my old days at Makapu'u in Oahu. I stayed out for 30 mins while P ambled about on the beach taking photos and picking up trash (he's really good about always picking up other peoples junk).

At about ten we stuck off to find a better wave. We stopped at Boilers, which wasn't working at all. Then up to Nags Head, where we looked at the Nags Head Pier and several CAMA beach accesses until we found a wave that looked worthwhile (Admiral St.). The waves were still very glassy and clean, but smaller than the day before at waist-stomach. Still, they were pretty fast and steep, with rights and lefts, and we had another good session. I was sore and a little burned from yesterday. I wore a t-shirt and a hat for sun protection (and sunscreen of course) and we surfed about 2 hours. We had it nearly to ourselves, aside from the numerous folks on the beach, some of whom occasionally floated like so much flotsam in the shorebreak and needed to be carefully avoided when surfing in close. Once again, we couldn't believe our good luck to find fun uncrowded surf. We got out of the water sometime after one, cleaned up, and then drove up to The Pit for lunch, which is a combination bar and grill/surf shop. Lunch was great, bought a t-shirt from the shop, and then started the drive home around 3. We opted to drive out through Manteo rather than be dependent on ferry schedules. I got home tonight around 8:30, threw a frozen pizza in the oven, took a shower, and ate. Now I'm about to go to bed, which is going to feel really good. It was an awesome trip. I'll post more photos when P sends them to me. Oblige me and pardon any poor grammar, as I'm exhausted and not thinking completely clearly. Cheers.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


I got in one decent session this week; about 2 hours on Friday morning in clean knee-waist waves on my log. The tide was too full at first, but as it dropped it improved considerably and I ended up being glad I paddled out rather than stayed in bed or driven back home. Still, there haven't been enough waves in my life lately (when are there ever?), so on Wednesday I'm heading to the Outer Banks with my boy P-funk for a long overdue surf trip. We started our waveriding together on a trip to St. Augustine, FL, so it's fitting that we'll be taking this trip just before my upcoming move to Tallahassee. Right now the prediction on Magic Seaweed looks favorable for clean little waves, so hopefully that will hold up and we'll have a good trip and surf a bunch of waves in the two day whirlwind we've got planned. I'll try to take lots of pictures to post. Hasta.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Local Sessions

One of my previous posts for this blog has been modified for publication in our hometown surf rag, Local Sessions. Check it out:

Cover (not me)

My Story, and photo of me by my best surfing buddy Peter Fritzler

How cool is that?! I finally got my picture in a surf magazine. So what if it's a little local pub; I've got street cred. Thanks to Pete for telling me to send it in, and Chris at the mag for including it. This makes my second article published to date, the first being "My Parents Shopped at Walmart and All I Got Was this Lousy Mullet" in The Neely Chronicle about 5 years ago. That one was funnier, but this one is a little cooler. Send your own photos and observations to the mag at

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


The fellow in the center above is my friend and coworker, Bill Curry. Billy is an excellent surfer, East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame inductee, bicycle mechanic extraordinaire, philosopher, humorist, Ironman, father, and husband, among other things. The photo, he tells me, was taken in about 1965 at Wrightsville Beach. The boards are 5' Malibu popout belly boards, with a center skeg. When I asked if they stood up on them, he replied something like, "Hell yeah!" I thought that was pretty cool. These kids were sliding down the line on their feet on 5' boards in southeastern NC in 1965, before the shortboard craze had begun. Hopefully he won't mind me posting his photo. For Bill's always unique perspective, view his blog at: