The Chicago Bull -- 7/8/99

Neal, Craig and Buddy, the posers!
Check out Buddy's story.

Hooking up with fellow alt.surfers is always exciting, but especially so this time. Buddy and I were about to host a surfer named Craig from Chicago! Yep, thatís right--Craig surfs and bodyboards Lake Superior pretty much all year round.

Buddy picked him up early at his Waikiki hotel and they went out to Diamond Head Lighthouse, where I was to meet them later. All I can say is that I love my wife sooo much!

Anyway, when I got there, I saw this guy paddling in. I meekly waved, and was relieved to find that it was indeed Craig. He was a bit weary after losing his board and getting dragged over the shallow reef (-0.2 ft tide), and had just come in to recoup.

So we talked for quite a while. I thought Hawaii conditions were tough--surfing up there requires that you have to be on it to catch the windows of surf opportunities, which may be only hours long. Then thereís the cold water, ice floes and pollution to deal with.

After about 45 minutes, we finally paddled out to some surprisingly decent surf. There was a new SSE swell that seemed to be showing up early, and that coupled with the dying SSW and some tradewind wrap made for some challenging conditions. It was about 2-3' (Haw'n) with not-quite overhead sets.

A leashless Buddy was caught off-guard by the conditions and was playing it a bit safe in the name of board preservation. Still, he surfed solidly, catching some good ones into the channel.

There were also a couple of other friends in the lineup from the good old days. Erik Barton was tearing it up backside--heís a semi-pro who charges big waves, and even got a Surfing mag cover (two seque shot at Fiji) to his credit. The other guy was none other than Mr. Local Motion, Tony Moniz, who still rips as hard as anyone with a heavy-footed Dane Kealoha style. Buddy had a classic talk with him.

Unfortunately, the conditions were a bit much for Craig, especially after burning out by logging over seven hours on a longboard the day before. He eventually paddled in while Buddy and I caught a few more.

My last wave was pretty solid. A head-high wave set up nicely and launched a good rollo right in front of Buddy. Isn't it always more satisfying doing it in front of your bro?

Buddy had to leave for work, but I still had some time, so I volunteered to take Craig to the Wall for some fierce sponge competition with the keikis and tourists. Of course, he was stoked and more than game.

Conditions were in sharp contrast to windy, peaky Lighthouse. The water was milky green and smooth. Sets would rear up from way outside and march in for all to share--and I do mean share. Waves were mostly waist-high, with some bigger ones.

We favored the Ewa side of the break, riding right over the shallow shelf towards the barrier wall. Craig was getting some whoop-dee-doo rides with the ensuing backwash. Me, I was making the most of it, trying hard not to act like the big old bully in the youngish lineup.

Craig kept repeating how lucky we have it, with the comfortable climate and beautiful "atmosphere". I nodded in complete agreement.

Finally, it was time for me to bail to work. We drove to his hotel and said our goodbyes. Craig welcomed me to the Great Lakes--hey, one day I might take him up on his offer. In the meantime, Craig will be busy trying to help get a Surfrider chapter going for Lake Michigan. Ya gotta love it.

Aloha from Paradise,