Maili Chocolate Shake -- 11/17/96

For the past two weeks, heavy rains pounded Oahu, causing massive flooding and erosion. Those two weeks saw more rain (19 in) than we had in all of 1995 (17 in). One of the hardest hit areas was along the Waianae coast, where a huge landslide at the Makaha Valley Towers demolished cars and property. It was pretty bad. (Hope all is well, Doug)

As far as surf, we had just gotten over a huge north that nailed the northeastern coast earlier in the week. Waves were pushing over the roadways, and they had to close several beaches. Water, water, everywhere!

A new swell was forecast to come up on Sunday, so we decided to head out west and try our luck. Buoy #1 was already at 16 ft, 14 seconds. The light SE winds were giving way to strong northerlies, so we knew it would be pretty good, wind-wise.

The same crew met up at my house at 5:00 am: bodyboarders Jerry and Blake, and surfer Jimmy.

I decided to give my new bodyboard a test drive: a Custom X board with the new Bat Tail 2 design. The specs came out almost exactly as I had requested except for the color. I asked for a blue deck, but when I opened the box, I found a dark-caramel brown board.

Because of the unusual color, I decided to give the board a name (a bit juvenile, but fun). I settled on Chocolate-T: chocolate for the color, and T for the nickname I've given my daughter Taryn. Turned out to be a very aptly-named board, given its maiden voyage.

First stop, Tracks. The small lines of whitewater showed that there was little action there. At least the sky was clearing up as we tried to locate various star constellations. Pushed on.

Drove all the way to Makaha. It looked decent size, but was breaking really weird. The peak was much further east than normal, and there was a long sandbar that made the wave dump 20 yards offshore. The runoff must've did a number on the ocean bottom contour. Although the waves seemed to be peeling nicely on the outside, the occasional outside sets told us things could change drastically with the rising swell.

We took a really long look, trying to decide whether to go out there. As we were contemplating the go out, a shooting star (?) zig-zagged downward, then lit the sky in a silent explosion. I actually missed it, but saw a wavering, transparent tendril left in its path, some sort of remnant from sizzling through the stratosphere, I guess. It was a sign. We got in the car and left!

Drove back east to Pokai Bay, but it wasn't picking up the swell very well, so we headed to Maili Point.

I've never been too keen about Maili Point. It's a left point break that warps around the reef. Sometimes the wave backs off, other times it bowls. You have to really be on it to ride this baby. Of course, there are stories of the big tiger that lurks there, and with all the water runoff... well, you get the picture.

However, from the moment we pulled up on the sand dune, I knew that Maili would be the call. A nice set barreled outside, just beckoning us to challenge it. Out there!

There were some lulls, but the surf was really good--in the 3-5' range with a bit of W and NW swells crossing together. I was a bit concerned for everyone because of the size, especially since Jerry and Blake weren't used to size and had never surfed the spot before.

My fears were somewhat eased when I saw how enthused they were. Jerry took off on this awesome wave that bowled up on takeoff. Blake stayed a bit inside and took off on some nice walls, getting cleaned out a few times. Jimmy was having a field day, having the inside break all to himself.

I caught some good ones, but had one standout wave: stalled on the takeoff on the 4-5 footer before taking the drop, did three carving cutbacks back into the foam, tried stalling in the hook on the inside section, then skimmed out. My board rocked! Afterwards, I gave a little hoot out to no one in particular.

A beautiful sunrise soon greeted us with the morning. There is a conical-shaped mountain that sits right on the point, and it was a lush green from all the recent rain. The sun's rays backlit the mountain in an absurdly beautiful manner, with wisps of pink and yellow clouds overlapping a baby blue backdrop. Only a surfer or fisherman could ever have gotten that view.

Sunlight, however, also brought an ominous reminder of our recent weather plight. The ocean was painted a light brown from all the rains, totally different from the tropical paradise most people relate the Islands with. The water was pretty ugly, and, as Jerry aptly described it, " had an extra taste to it."

Then came the lull. The three of us were out there waiting and waiting. Finally, I told them to paddle in a bit, where we could catch some smaller sets.

All of a sudden, I saw something on the horizon. A huge set loomed outside and was heading our way. I yelled at Blake and Jerry to start paddling for the shoulder.

The first wave of the set wasn't too bad, so I barked at them to catch it. They must've gotten confused and didn't want to drop in on each other, so they both went for it, then backed off.

In front of us was this wall of water, with at least a 12 foot face, just rumbling in and already pitching. I made a futile attempt to duck-dive, but was caught in the turbulence and bounced up and down like a little cork stuck in a wine bottle. I surfaced pretty quickly, and turned to look for the other two guys.

After a few anxious moments, they popped up to the surface simultaneously. The rest of the set was relatively smaller, but we all took doughnuts.

Being a bit rattled, we decided we had enough of the point and paddled over to Jimmy. He was at the other reef on the inside, west of Maili proper. By that time, conditions were deteriorating, with the winds picking up.

After getting knocked up a bit more, Jerry and Blake started paddling in. I decided to paddle out to the point, then catch one in, and told Jimmy to catch a couple, then go in.

It was still breaking good, but a crowd (maybe six guys) had finally come out. After about ten minutes of trying, I finally snagged a peak for myself and went in.

When I got there, I expected to find everyone dried up and ready to go. They were nowhere in sight. Believe me, I feared the worse. Found out later that Jerry and Blake were playing in the shorebreak down the beach. Meanwhile, Jimmy was still waiting for one more wave. After about 20 minutes, he ended up paddling in.

We all piled back into my car and made it back home by 10 am.

Later that morning, I got the meanest of stomachaches that doubled me over in pain. Was it from the bad water we were surfing in? Knew I shouldn't have had that chocolate shake for breakfast.

Aloha from Paradise,
"a very saturated" sponge

P.S. The Pineapple Express from that system is now wreaking a bit of havoc in the Pacific Northwest. Just remember, water is life.