Bye Bye Boston

Blog post

We started and ended our New England adventure at Logan where water surrounds the greater Boston area. It was odd to have the ocean so near yet not be aware of its presence, it’s scent. But the leaves left me longing for more.
The stately yellow tree on Letti and Dan’s quiet little Cambridge street was my favorite. It must have peaked the week we arrived. In the early morning light it simply glowed.

One windy afternoon we returned to find the street littered bright yellow. The stairs to our neighbor’s porch wore a fresh dressing from the fallen leaves.

Returning from a week in Maine where I found flannel-lined jeans and an extra thick beanie my best friends we found our tree quite barren. The wind and chill had shaken the color right out of the hood.

 The final image hints at winter with blues and cool pastels.

  We’re headed for warmth and paddle boarding in the Florida Mangroves.

My Brother

My brother, Allen, and I hadn’t surfed together in maybe 15 years until day before yesterday.  We got wet at Ventura Point. Me on my SUP, Allen on his Walden long board. The wind-blown waves were barely rideable but we both caught a few. My brother, at 66, is still fluid on his longboard.

We celebrated our dad’s 95th birthday for three days. We saw whales from Mugu Rock. I think they were humpbacks but they were way off shore toward the Channel Island chain.  We ate out. We watched TV game shows. We got him a new phone. We spent time just catching up.

Bev and Allen put out the big birthday spread with fresh corn on the cob, enchiladas, tri-tip, salad, carrot cake and ice cream. Cousin Jon and wife Jamie joined in the celebration.

I look forward to tomorrow’s ride north along the Santa Barbara coast. Hope there’s energy to finish the drive along the Santa Cruz coast

Happy Birthday Poppie.

And of course there’s a highlight video.


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.

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.

They Paddle They Pedal

Some days we paddle and others we pedal.  Saturday we paddled into a stiff Santa Cruz west wind from New Brighton toward Capitola.  Well, to be clear, which the water and the sky were, Donna paddled all the way to the Capitola pier.  It’s simply work paddling into that wind.  I sat on my F-One Manawa and paddled like a kayak.  I even bent forward at the waist, stuck my paddle in the water, and used my stomach to pull back.

I was more out of the wind than Donna and got to my destination more quickly, but I wanted to save energy to ride some waves at a little reef between New Brighton and Capitola.  A place where I could lose my board and not worry about it hitting anyone.  The tide was on the rise so I knew my time was limited.

It took maybe 20 minutes of pretty steady paddling to get out to the reef, and another 15 or so to catch the first wave.  It was hard to know where the wave was going to break, so I guessed. Another friendly SUPer paddled out. While chatting it up I discovered that he and his wife had just had a baby; a nine week old girl named Lucy.

Donna was returning from the pier at a pretty good pace. I bid Lucy’s father farewell and headed in.  That’s when the beauty of down-wind paddling got to me.  It was a different ocean, no work, just stroke and cruise.  It seemed that the wind kind of disappeared. We saw Otters and Harbor Seals on the easy ride back to New Brighton.

Sunday we stopped into Mavericks Paddlesports to check out some gear, and to try out my new GoPro Hero 4 Silver on a short bike trip with Donna.  We saw humpback whales, thousands of Shearwaters, and a fair number of folks out enjoying the warm sunny coastside.  Check it out.

First GoPro-HD 720p from Tom Adams on Vimeo.

Happy Birthday Donna

Yesterday was Donna’s birthday.  Donna is my wife of almost 29 years.  We’d gotten her a VESL 11 foot SUP, carbon paddle, and a leash for her birthday.  I mean, she was the one who got this ball rolling.  Seemed only fitting to get her a board.  And she loves to paddle.  She looks great on the VESL.  Color and all.  It’s so Donna.

We wanted to paddle in the sun, so we headed to Marin.  There was wind on the water in Sausalito so we continued to San Rafael where we’d heard about 101 Surf Sports.  We stopped at a cool little diner for breakfast.  Our boards were on my RAV4 roof.  Donna’s was in the VESL bag but my new F-One Manawa was getting hot in direct sun and I worried that it could delaminate or explode.  I’d heard these horror stories about boards overheating.  So I called 101 Surf Sports and a friendly voice told me I’d be ok at this temperature for a while but that I should consider a board bag to protect my precious Manawa.

So after breakfast we showed up at 101 Surf Sports.  I’d expected a small kiosk with a few rental boards, maybe a dozen or so flatwater boards and some T shirts.  If I’d visited their web site I’d have been more prepared for the football field sized facility with dock, more boards than I’d ever seen in one place, and a staff of informed, friendly folks that wanted to make life more enjoyable.

By the end of an hour paddle through the marina to the bay and back they had installed a new set of lockable Thule racks on the RAV4.  I dried my Manawa, stuffed it into my new FCS board bag, and Cort Larned showed us the ins and outs of loading the boards and locking them down.

It was a great afternoon.  We will return.


It’s a full life, a good life. We live at the beach. We ride bikes, take hikes, but with warm ocean summer comes the longing to do more than drag my toes in the water. In early summer 2015 I saw a stand up paddle boarder ride a long right, carve graceful turns, and make quick snappy cutbacks. It looked easy but I’d been told that when things go wrong, they go really wrong. The ocean, the board, the paddle, other surfers. Too many moving parts I thought. Too many thoughts is more like it.

Donna was the first to try it. Who but Donna would see Mother’s Day as the day to try standup paddle boarding in the harbor? It was chilly.  I felt low, so I brought the camera and stayed wrapped up at the shore. Donna went straight out on a 10-6 inch Riviera Stand up Paddle Board (SUP) from Jeff Clark’s Mavericks Paddleboards and didn’t look back.

SUP mother's day 2015-16

Matthew was upside down with his dog Zeus thrashing in the water in a matter of minutes. But he still came back with Zeus mounted on the nose both of them smiling.

Matthew and Zeus

A few weeks later I walked the beach at medium low tide in my shorts, in bare feet. I saw another paddle boarder catching waves and it kind of got under my skin. Could I manage it? Would my back hold up? Would my left shoulder survive? Only one way to find out.

We booked an outing from Jeff Clark’s Mavericks Paddle Board shop and showed up on a perfect Princeton Harbor day. Warm air, no wind, cloudless sky. Birds welcomed us. Jeff’s shop is like a little slice of the tropics complete with grass inside and out (AstroTurf.) Beach balls were piled in bins outside the changing rooms that were set off by bright striped curtains. I got a 10-6 inch board that was about 33 inches wide. It looked like a wide, stable platform but on the water I was shaking as I paddled away from shore. I didn’t fall but used every muscle in my legs to stay upright. My feet hurt after an hour. I discovered muscles that I didn’t know existed. But I didn’t fall and wanted more.