Too Late, Too Early -- 9/20/00

That Stewart bloke on a sweeet one

Due to a miscommunication, I was not able to partake in the winter season opener on Sunday. Of course, the surf was roping in at a solid six foot Haw'n (double overhead), with good conditions. Heard that the crowds were insane, but that's still no consolation to missing a good swell.

Anyway, a larger boost was expected on Wednesday, so I decided to clear my calendar and take the morning off. In fact, initial forecast called for 12' surf--way beyond my measly capabilities. I reasoned that at least I could get some water photography in, shooting from the channel.

The night before, the buoys were slow in picking up. But it was coming, with 4 AM readings at 10 ft, 14 sec. Out there!

Had a heavy case of the s#!ts in the morn (must be nerves), played road warrior with some psycho driver, and eventually pulled into my regular parking spot at Ehukai Beach Park.

Incredulously, I found the North Shore virtually flat at dawn. It wasn't even chest high at most spots. Pipeline was lapping onto the beach towards the large, steep berm of sand built up from the summer. Oh well, I was there. Might as well at least get wet and hope for the swell to rise rapidly.

Caught a few gutless micro-rollers on my bodyboard, then got freaked by a huge ripple in the lineup. Being alone in the dark was not very comforting, so I promptly rode one to shore and plopped my butt on the sand.

Fifteen minutes later, with dawn near, I saw a three wave set (chest-high) with maybe a 14-17 second period. I smiled, and jumped back in. I reasoned that the ripple was actually a surge off the funky contours of the bottom--that's what I told myself, anyway.

Surf was quite inconsistent, and seemed to be rising painfully slow. However, water time is always better than being at work.

Caught some neat ones early on, including a couple of clean airs at mini-Backdoor. Launched into the flats on the first one. However, on the second one, I landed just short of the whitewater, and proceeded to fold my lower back in half, nearly touching my swimfins to my head.

I was still ailing from a wrenched back and the violent shock sent shivers down my spine as my lower back suddenly felt a flood of warmth from the trauma. Surprisingly, miraculously, my back actually felt better after that, as I seemed to regain full mobility. How you figga?

Talked story with this really friendly guy, and immediately picked up that he was from England. His name was Stewart Monk from Plymouth, and he was embarking on a round the world surf tour, eventually going to New Zealand, Australia and Indo.

Since I was fortunate enough to make it to his neck of the woods, our conversation bubbled easily. I got a chance to snap a few photos of Stewart, and he even returned the favor, catching me in action on a small wave with my disposable cam.

The rest of the morn was a lesson in frustration, once again looking over the horizon, waiting for the big swell to hit. Unfortunately, nothing came in over 4 ft Haw'n.

I did manage to snag a very long, snug Backdoor barrel that shut down just before reaching shore. The backwash from the berm was doing a number on the takeoff, but at least the waves provided some level of excitement with freefall launches on head-high faces.

After five hours in the water, I was itching for one to go in--still had to punch in at work at noon. Miraculously, a nice peak swung around from Off-the-Wall and headed my way. I took off deep and got a dry tube, with the misty spit the only water touching my body.

I was a bit too late for the winter season opener on Sunday, and a bit too early for the subsequent boost. But at least I got a few under my belt. Winter is finally here!

Aloha from Paradise,