Cranking and Spanking -- 11/9/96

The North Shore was expecting a north swell of epic proportions on the weekend. The buoys were something like 7 meters and 20 seconds (that's 23 feet, boys and girls!). I decided to play it safe and head out west to catch the wrap, especially since the winds were forecast to be stiff out of the north.

I had just gotten my new bodyboard in the mail--a cherry Custom X board made to spec with the new Bat Tail 2 with channels design. Been dying to give it a test drive, but I wasn't about to take it out in questionable conditions. Left it at home.

Driving up in the predawn, there already was one car waiting in the darkness. In the water, several lines of whitewater stretched across Makaha Beach. Looked to be good sized.

As I was suiting up, I soon noticed that the surf became really small. Hope the north swell hadn't swung too far east, turning off the wave machine. My fears were put to rest about 20 minutes later as another set of waves poured through. Long lulls.

Not knowing what to expect, I brought both my old bodyboard and surfboard to the beach. Despite my limited surfboard-riding ability, I decided to chance 'um--Makaha is not as conducive to bodyboarding.

I broke the ice by paddling out near the condo. Had a clean shot out, even during the breaking sets. The waves were kinda funky, breaking at a couple of peaks with the lefts lining up better than the rights. Must've been because of how the swell was swinging in from around Kaena Point.

Played cat and mouse with the waves, paddling into the impact zone to catch the mid-sized sets, then scratching for the shoulder when the big ones came through. Did much more paddling than riding on this day. Got caught inside more than I'd like to remember, but fortunately, the waves were somewhat forgiving, not dumping top to bottom.

Recently, I've been surfing a lot of peaky breaks that taper off (eg Pipe). However, getting reacquainted with immense walls of water flooding the horizon was awe inspiring. The funny thing was, it wasn't terribly big by Hawaiian winter standards. The Surf News Network (SNN) called it 4-6'+. But it was more than enough to give me that nervous, tingly feeling of angst.

Met up with my friend Doug, resident Makaha Point bodysurfer. He was out there with only one fin, having been winged in the other leg. Still pulling into the big pits outside, though.

Some kids on bodyboards paddled out and were having a field day on the mid-sized lefts. I wish I could ride backside better.

However, I did manage to get several memorable waves of my own. On the inside, I paddled into a really nice head-high bowl that just stood up. I stepped to the front third of my funboard, and did the casual pose thing, with the concaving wall whizzing past my periphery. Stoked!

On another one, I took off as far outside as I've ever taken one out there, and rode it to the shorebreak--maybe 150 yards, maybe more. The wave backed off a lot throughout the ride, but it was still long and fun.

Of course, a good session needs to be punctuated by a good wipeout, and this was no exception. I took off a bit late on a good sized wave, and got unhinged right on the takeoff. For some reason, my first reaction was to completely relax since I knew I was in for a long tumble (characteristic of me to wipeout, uncharacteristic of me to relax). As I was getting doughnuts in the whitewater, my leash violently twirled around my legs twice. I was hogtied underwater, getting dragged by my surfboard!

However, due to my expertise in synchronized swimming, I managed to do a couple of underwater pirouettes and reoriented myself towards the surface. I wasn't pushed too deep, so I surfaced quickly, well before the rest of the set bore down.

The next day, I found a 2"x4" bruise behind my knee. During that wipeout, the leash must've whacked my calf as it snapped down from my thigh. It was a good conversation piece, but I also took it as a gentle reminder to always respect the ocean. Sometimes a light spanking is a good thing.

Aloha (and auwe) from Paradise,

P.S. The north swell continued to rage throughout the Veterans Day weekend, wreaking havoc on the northern and northeastern facing shoreline. There was lots of wave damage on the roadways on the northeast side of the island. Waimea was the only rideable spot, and even the Xcel (at Sunset) had to be postponed for a day.

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