Green Light -- 2/24/01

Rod, on a clean one. Bud foto

After over three months of being drydocked while recovering from my ruptured achilles heel, I finally got the green light to take it easy and do some bodyboarding.

For the first time, the consensus was to look for small, manageable surf. Reason #1--Hopalong sponge (that's me) was still a weakling. Reason #2--"Broke-da-board" Buddy did not have a board of his own, so he was cautiously using his brother's ride. Reason #3--Rod Rodgers, an East Coast alt.surfing bellyboarder, was in town looking for some action. Reason #4--Surf was expected to rise big time along the North Shore on Saturday.

I woke up early, just amped to get in the water. Being out for so long made me jones big time for the surf, especially I have been missing what was arguably the best conditions on the North Shore in recent memory.

Because we were unsure as to whether the North Shore might be manageable, we decided to wait till 6:30 so that we could check the cams before making a final decision.

I drove out real early to Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki to pick up Rod. He doesn't know it, but I circled the parking lot for 15 minutes before seeing him (on time). Eager beaver!

It was nice to see Rod again. Although we do different jobs, we deal with the same bigshots. Always interesting getting insight from another point of view.

We went to my house and cruised for a while, waiting for the sun to come up. Finally, at 6:45, we saw that the surf was way too big on the North Shore for us. We hustled over to Buddy's house, checked out his newborn son Joey, then headed west for some surf.

Our worst fear seemed to be coming true. There's a point where the surf is just a bit too big on the North Shore, but won't wrap strong enough on the West Side. This looked like one of those swells. ,p> We drove all the way to the end of the road looking for surf, but were discouraged with what we saw. Finally, listening to Rod, we settled on this semi-secret spot that was small, but clean and empty.

At 8:30, we finally geared up and went out. I vividly recall certain sensations:

Feeling my back and body absorb the sun's rays (I usually wear a rashguard). Gingerly walking barefoot on the coarse coral and lava rock, testing my suspect ankle. Feeling the foam and water and sand swish through my toes. Having the cool water envelope my body as I hopped in for the first time in three months. Rinsing my mouth with salty ocean water and streaming it out through pursed lips. All those sensations felt awesome!

I motored out quickly beating Buddy and Rod out. Turned around real fast on a small one and rode it a short way, just to get my sea legs back. I couldn't help but just hoot in stoke as I finally partook the ocean again.

Rod was in 7th heaven, relishing the clean conditions. He was having a blast on his tiny bellyboard. He caught some long ones, racing across the shoulders towards the rocky shoreline.

Buddy was having a difficult time adjusting to his brother's fuller template board. He dug his rail more than a few times, but eventually got it wired, making some serious carves.

My ankle and leg was noticeably weak from my achilles injury, but it did not stop me from trying. In fact, I purposely pulled into a closeout to see how I would react (normal), and even got slammed by the lip just to get that ragdoll effect. Both misadventures built my confidence in a big way.

The one bummer of the day was on a nice right. I finally got the opportunity to launch and did a very small-kine aerial off a closeout. Felt so exhilarating! However, when I landed, I found that my disposable camera was gone!

Because I didn't use a rashguard (normally I pack it behind my neck under the shirt), I tucked my cam in my shorts pocket. Just couldn't handle the shock of re-entry, I guess.

I frantically tried looking for the camera on the inside section, especially since I got a decent shot of Rod on the new roll of film. I even went so far as to go right up against the dangerous lava/coral shoreline to look inside the nooks and crannies, to no avail. Because of my tender condition, this usual nonthreatening effort became a bit sketchy to pull off with the waves pushing towards the rocks. In the end, I think this really helped my overall confidence.

Although I lost the great shot of Rod, I decided to focus back on waveriding, something that I've been just jonesing for for too long. Rod jokingly wanted me to go look for it because he doesn't have many shots of himself. Sorry man, but I had my priorities that day. :-)

Funny thing was, later in the session, Rod also lost his camera in the wash. The place is just a camera-eating surf spot (akin to Charlie Brown's kite-eating tree).

We kept going for quite a while, with only a couple other low-keyed guys joining us later on. The surf stayed fairly inconsistent, but conditions were clean, if not small.

My ankle did ache a bit towards the end, so I decided to hit it to shore, in part to rest and in part to look for the cameras from shore. Went in with one of the locals and we talked story about the fun session we shared.

As Rod and Buddy came in, I walked the shoreline, peaking in the nooks and crannies in a desperate attempt at finding those darned cameras. I was tripping at how scary the shoreline looked, especially for someone not familiar with it. No luck.

Once the boys came in, we hit it back to Town, fairly content with a decent session. I gotta admit that I was disappointed and concerned with my weak go-out, and also was a bit bummed by the smallish conditions. Looking back, however, it was the perfect scenario to test my foot out and work myself way back into condition.

Dropped off the Budman, who finally made it through a session without killing a board. Then drove to the Hilton to release Rod. He was truly stoked to get some good waves with hardly a crowd and was very appreciative for the opportunity. Anytime, bro!

My first day back in the water was a positive, confidence-building experience. Green means go, and I'm definitely going to keep pushing myself.

Aloha from Paradise,