Wetter is Better

Clean Small Surf at Nine Palms

I surfed today for the first time in six days. It’s not like I’ve been sick or uninterested in surfing (ha! yeah, like that’s going to happen says the surf-obsessed pixie). I had considered cutting back a bit because I think I might be getting a bone spur on my rotator cuff and my super-duper life coach (see last post) thinks I need to reevaluate how much time I spend surfing at the expense of writing. But the real reason I didn’t surf all this past week was because there wasn’t any surf. None. It was flat. Barely a ripple on the water’s surface.

Normally when I make a Skype call I have to close the sliding glass doors in the living room so that the sound of the waves breaking on shore doesn’t interfere with the call. It’s loud enough that it transmits across the line and the person on the other end inevitably asks, “What’s that sound? Is that waves?” If it’s the first time they’ve talked to me this way, they are invariably blown away by how loud the surf is. It also blocks their audio from downloading to my computer because the program is busy uploading the sound of the waves. It’s a pain to have to close the doors, especially when it’s 95 degrees out and even a tiny breeze is like a little puff of heavenly breath on my hot, sweaty skin. But it’s been so small or non-existent for the past week that it hasn’t been a big problem

I actually started wishing I had a SUP board this past week. It’s definitely a record for the number of consecutive days not surfing while in Baja, not including times of illness.

Today when I rose, I noticed there were some actual waves coming through every ten minutes or so. That was all I needed to see. I quickly did my morning routine of letting the dogs out of their various enclosures, hanging upside-down to get my back to decompress and a quick meditation. Of course the sound of the waves seemed to get louder as I tried to concentrate, so I cut it short at 15 minutes and started to get ready.

I unloaded the fun and short boards from the rig, replacing them with a longboard, no debate necessary. The waves may have picked up, but it was still small out there.  I wondered if I was being overly optimistic even.

It occurs to me that I’ve never described the surf rig I use to get to the breaks. It’s a big red Honda ATV that has a side rack for the board that Tony skillfully designed and welded using pipes from his hotrod header manufacturing business.  Predictably, we call her “Big Red” (as compared to “Little Blue,” who is used for non-surf related local transportation). Tony also built a rack for the front of the bike to carry extra necessities. These include a small cooler, gallon jug of rinse/dog water, dog bowl, and a small duffel bag containing all the necessary gear a surfer can’t be without (wax, wax comb, rash guards, hats, extra bathing suit and boardshorts, shirt for sun protection, extra sunscreen, Benadryl to stave off a nasty reaction should there be a jellyfish run-in, extra leash in case one breaks, five year old granola bars, mini tide chart, notebook and pen in case the muse hits me, which she has a tendency to do while I’m surfing).

Here’s a picture of the rig.

Big Red at Nine Palms

So after loading some drinking water and the gallon jug of tap water (for post-surf rinse off and Peanut drinking water), changing into swimsuit and board shorts, applying copious amounts of sunscreen (three different kinds; one for my face, one for my chest and another for the rest of me), and warming up the ATV, we were finally on our way. All told about 20 minutes of preparation just to get out the door to surf. As I pulled out the gate to the property, I looked over my shoulder at Peanut standing behind me smiling into the wind. She loves to ride on the back of the ATV.

We traveled South four miles to one of our favorite surfbreaks – Nine Palms, known locally as Rancho Santa Elena. When the waves are small to head high, Nine Palms is a great beginner surf spot.  The waves here break slowly in a rolling fashion that makes it easier for a beginner to get to their feet before the wave breaks on their head. It’s the place I learned to surf. The only challenge with this spot can be the number of large rocks that are present along the path the waves take to the beach. At low tide, it’s a bit of an obstacle course out there and I’ve crashed into the big rocks on the inside of the bay several times. I described the scars my first surfboard sustained at the “hands” of those rocks in this post.

Today there were four people out in the waves when I pulled up. They are part of a group from Oahu who’ve been camped on the beach at Nine Palms for all of September. People come and people go, but there is one guy, Mike, who’s been here the whole time. When I paddled out he told me how stoked they were to see some waves today and how they’d been getting squirrely the last few days in the absence of any surf.

I paddled out not expecting much. When I pulled up it was pretty flat and everyone was just sitting there. As luck would have it, I paddled right into a decent set and caught one to the beach before I even got out to the usual take off spot. Then as I paddled back out, I saw what looked like a set. Sure enough, as I paddled harder I saw a set of waves approaching that looked at least head high. One of the other surfers caught the first wave, but I was in the perfect spot to catch the second, larger wave. It had a good shoulder and I was able to run to the nose and get some time up there before I had to get back to maneuver around the inside rocks. Managed to get all the way to the beach again and turned around just as my friend Tom pulled up on his sandrail.

Two of the other surfers went in and Tom paddled out. The four of us remaining shared the waves, the warm water and the stoke. It was a good session after so many days landlubbing.

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