Cooling Water

My back’s been out since trying to move cinder blocks for the outdoor shower drainage.  I’d heard they were only 5 pounds, but they seemed more like 500.  When the back is out there’s still plenty to keep me in the game.  We walked the length of Linda Mar at low tide.  It was one evening away from the harvest moon that peeks out tonight.  Slipping and sloshing through the clear cool water, still wearing shorts, but with a light down vest to keep the body warm.  The water is cooler in late September, but there’s still a lot of talk about el nino’s warm, wet winter.

There were dozens of surfers, one stand up paddleboarder, and a large number of kids playing in the surf and wading at the water’s edge.  Jingling bells announced two ice cream carts strolling up and down the beach.

Donna and I walked hand in hand and from time to time I shot video with my spanking new iPhone 6s plus.  I am pleased with the new toy and tried out the iMovie app for the following recap.

Broken Golden Rules

This past weekend I was in the lineup with other surfers for the first time since I started SUP surfing.  It’s been two months, and I still won’t go out in a large lineup, but there were only 5 people in the water.  We’d put in at New Brighton and paddled toward Capitola.  It was stunning weather, with calm ocean and blue sky. On the paddle up the coast we were accompanied by otters, brown pelicans, caspian terns, murres, and the odd harbor seal. We even saw one humpback, but it was farther out to sea.

The waves at Sharks were small and there were only 5 people out.  Maybe 1-3 feet with the majority of the waves flowing through at about a foot or so.  To me it was perfect.  Two of the surfers were clearly not comfortable in the water and hung to the side not making eye contact.  The other two were friendly and we shared the waves.  I caught a couple of nice little waves before the Golden Rule got broken.  I didn’t break it, and I’m still not sure how to discuss this with the rule breakers.  It’s so difficult to give a critique, especially to a surfer in the water.

Four young men with rented boards paddled into the lineup.  They didn’t look right on the boards, like maybe this was their first time in the water.  They paddled inside the area where the wave broke and then tried to paddle into waves after another surfer was already on the wave. I took off on a nice little right only to look up to see one of the “inside gang” trying for the wave too. I hollered “NO.” I don’t know if the guy stopped paddling or if he just missed the wave.

I finished the wave inside only to look up to see all three of them on the next wave, heading in my general direction.  It looked like they might run over me and land on the rocks.  I dove to the side releasing my board and paddle. Fortunately, nobody was hurt.  I collected my board and paddle and headed back out, a tad shaken by the close call.

So how do you talk to others in the water without yelling, shouting obscenities, and the like. I mean, it was a beautiful day.

Twenty-Nine and Counting

What SUP?  29 years, that’s what.  We spent our anniversary in a quiet Aptos AirBnB retreat.  A stunning little jewel tucked away in the woods.  Cora’s of California.  Sunday morning we got to the ocean with our SUPs and energy to paddle.  The tide was high, so we paddled from New Brighton up toward the Hook.  Donna had enough enthusiasm to push us both forward.  Keeping us company were sea otters, dolphins, murres, caspian terns, brown pelicans, harbor seals, and kids on the Capitola shore who sounded like they were at an amusement park.

Donna dropped me off at Sharks and continued to Pleasure Point where she stayed well outside the surf zone.  She was a spec on the horizon when I lost track of her.  But hey.  I found waves.  Little bitty things.  Just right for a newbie riding his bright white F-One Manawa.

Tom and Donna 29th-0022

And about those waves.

Donna and Tom Celebrate Their 29th Anniversary from Tom Adams on Vimeo.

Whales Can Get Too Close

You remember Whale SUP?  Of course.  It was the last post.  Well, whales are wild, right?  You knew that.  From time to time it’s possible that humans get ever too close to a wild thing and pay a price.  Not that I blame them.  Who wouldn’t want to get close enough to hear them breathe?  To touch them.  To stare into their eyes and feel that primal connection.

Just down Hwy 1 in the Monterey Bay this encounter got a little too close.

Humpback SUP

Whales!  Oh My God, they’re every where.  All up and down the coast.  They’re out at sea, they’re in close.  My son saw them at Princeton Harbor Jetty in the surf zone.  That’s almost on shore.

Yesterday the surf were gloriously small with a fresh offshore breeze that cleaned up the faces of the waves and brought smiles to the surfers.  It was overcast, and faintly smelled of fish that brought in the birds, that brought in the whales.

There were Humpback blows all over the bay.  Several at a time.  And humps showed by the minute, sometimes side by side.  Paddle boarders headed out for a closer look.  A colleague, Denise Crawford, was shooting with a 600mm telephoto lens right next to me and she had it dialed in.  Check out this image of a close encounters of the Humpback kind.

Linda Mar SUP up close and personal
photo by Denise Crawford

SUP San Francisco

Driving up 9th near Irving we passed a Muni bus stop where I could have sworn I saw a Standup Paddleboarder gracing a large ad on the side of the bus shelter.  I got tied up with errands and missed shooting it, so it rumbled around in my head overnight.  What would SUP and transit have in common.

So yesterday I got out in our first rain.  Yes, RAIN in the bay area.  Enough for wipers and a poncho.  There were a lot of wet pedestrians pounding the pavement to get out of the wet wind.  Wrapped in my poncho I shot a photo of the SUP poster.  It was an ad for Hawaiian Airlines.  Still, it was fun to find a paddleboarder in the Richmond on a rainy day.



WHAT SUP?  Well, my friend Jeremy is beating cancer and looks great. I met my wife at he and his wife’s place long before I’d heard about standup paddle boarding, back in my surfing days. But yesterday I found myself pitching SUP to his daughter who talked about leading adventure tours. I’m grateful for Jeremy. I’m grateful for the heroic efforts of his wife and children to support him through the crisis.  I’m grateful for my health. I’m grateful that I live at the ocean with all its unpredictable mood swings.

Standup in Iceland

While reviewing the October issue of STANDUP PADDLE MAGAZINE I came across an article that started out interesting and then stopped me dead in my tracks.  A European crew had taken surf boards, paddle boards, and kite boards to Iceland, along with VERY THICK wet suits, in search of cool places to paddle and surf.  Sort of a search for the endless winter.

I was familiar with the terrain having spent a year there with the Air Force in 1968.  I was stationed on the south east side of the island.  I worked in a power plant supplying the only power the site had.  We called the place, Hofn-by-the-sea.  Just before I returned state side, a surfer from California showed up with board and wet suit.  Both board and wet suit were locked up by the base administration so he’d still be alive for his year of duty.  Here’s a photo of the installation shot from one of the Air Force jets.


The STANDUP PADDLE MAGAZINE article was well written, and had photos of surfing and paddle boarding with icebergs in the water. One full-page spread showed a black and white image of a standup paddleboarder riding a left with an extremely rugged rocky backdrop. The caption read, “Franz does a bottom turn. Hofn gives the word ‘solitary’ and entirely new meaning.” I had the same experience there though I never put my toes in the water.

Iceland SUP-002

This shot below is from the north side of the air base where I worked. The base, as I knew it, closed in 1992. It’s now a civilian-run air traffic control station.
Iceland SUP-003

GoPro, Pelicans, & Paddling

The surf in Pacifica was Labor-Day-weekend crowded with a bit of west wind wandering our way. So we put in at Princeton Harbor for some exercise, after a solid breakfast at 3-Zero Cafe.  I spent a bit of time setting up my new GoPro Hero 4 Silver for its maiden SUP voyage.

The harbor was jammed with tourists, but the water was calm and bright blue. Boat flags flew, so the wind was a matter of minutes from getting us.  We paddled through the lovely calm in front of Half Moon Bay Kayak, then turned around a jetty toward the pier where the west wind hit.  It was just enough to chop up the surface, but not enough to thwart the scent of a few hundred Brown Pelicans lining the jetty.  During our trip to the pier we were visited by harbor seals, sea lions, and plenty of folks on paddle boards and kayaks.  We met a stand up catamaran guy who had paddled up to Moss Beach and back.  It’s pretty much into the wind all the way there.

We chatted up some folks visiting from the city who’d built tall slender rock sculptures.  We paddled back toward the pier and then down wind to our put in location.

The GoPro captured our journey and gave us feedback on our paddling form.