San Francisco’s Ocean beach can be a beast. Even when it’s small and the tide is out, thin waves lay corduroy to the horizon. The place looks harmless, until you paddle out to find a little four foot face that pounds you down and holds you gasping. Now add size, say 15-20 feet, and an incoming tide, that moves water like converging rivers. The rip tide runs parallel to the shore, and has enough teeth to take you south, in a hurry. Toss in twenty-one of the finest Stand Up Paddle Board athletes and what a visual feast for the men, women, and children, all snug and warm on the beach watching. What a feast for the ocean. I’ll take these guys and grind them into so much sand. I’ll swallow them whole and spit them into a sand bar down the coast.
It was a water start, along side two US Coast Guard rescue craft, practicing their skills in thick, lumpy water. The Red Bull horn blew the paddle boarders into action. They road rolling waves on 11-12 foot boards, hit the shore running around two flags stuck in the sand, and turned to challenge the ocean. They were supposed to paddle back out, around a set of buoys, and back to shore. They were supposed to do this twice, then paddle around lands end, under the gate, and into St. Francis Yacht club. Not all of them made it past the ocean’s big fist.
Denmark’s Casper Steinfath, not only made it through, but ran away with first place and made it look pretty darn easy. Check out the video.
Donna and I celebrated on the eve of our 30th. We paddled around Hanalei Bay on the north shore of Kauai. We rented 10-6 Laird Hamilton SUPS. They are big and heavy, but I caught my share of waves at the reef and Donna paddled to the end of the Hanalei River. I took a little break, ate a cookie, then paddled up the river to find her. That’s what I do. Find Donna.
There were fish, turtles, herons, egrets, flowers, rain, and DONNA. I found her just below the bridge. We paddled back in the rain to another stunning sunset. Even caught a few outrigger canoe teams working their stuff. Check out the scene with this 1 minute video.
The waves have been small in the dog days. Fires burn the state and cast a faint filter on coastal light bringing fall into focus a shade early. Our street is strewn with red and yellow leaves. I’m betting on an early winter but I have been wrong the past three years.
It’s summer and the living is easy. At least it got that way once I got all my video production jobs out the door. The past few days have had plenty of shapely, little waves to wipe away the woes of work. Not that I mind the work, but this year, for whatever reason, it got a bit overwhelming. Now it’s time to play a bit, and, of course, continue to write.
In the mean time, check out the little surf, set to some street beats, and filtered with a bit of cartoonish fun.
My son, Matthew, and I surfed into sunset on summer solstice. We used to do this every year, but I wasn’t surfing last year, or the seven preceding years for that matter. But then I got into SUP. Then SUP surfing. So Matthew and I planned an outing for Tuesday evening, not realizing that the actual solstice was Monday, but hey, we were close.
We got in the water about 7:30, and got out just before 9. The sun had set, and we had wide grins. My wife, Donna, was there to greet her lads. Matthew, by the way, had never surfed a SUP, but he’s a fitness trainer at Empowered Fitness, has great balance, used to surf a long board with grace and agility, and boy did he take to SUP Surfing like a duck to water. Check it out.
We were packed for a Bolinas outing. We’d planned to paddle the lagoon, check in on the nesting herons and egrets, maybe snag a few waves at one of the surf spots.
The sleepy little town of Stinson Beach is set against the steep western flank of Mount Tamalpais. It’s really quite the treat just standing at the shore looking out to sea, or up the coast toward Bolinas, or over your shoulder to the massive mountain that holds this little town so carefully.
We had a great breakfast at Parkside Cafe, scouted the surf for long enough to know that there might be waves at Bolinas, then hit the road for the last stretch. But by the time we got there the beach was packed, the town was heading toward bumper-to-bumper traffic and it was already 75 degrees.
We paid a short visit to Audubon Canyon Ranch. At least we could see the heron and egret rookeries. But there were none this year. There’s speculation that an increased population of bald eagles may be the culprit.
Onward to Point Reyes Station where we put in to paddle up a creek. Lagunitas creek to be precise. What we found was quite stunning. Maybe a half mile of water just deep enough to paddle. There were cormorants, turtles, and the odd cow in the rolling meadows beside the water. A few fish jumped along the way.
If only I’d brought along the GoPro. But we did visit Spirit Matters, the lovely little shop in Inverness Park that hosts so many treats for the spirit. Donna found a Kwan Yin seated on a turtle, just like the ones we saw in the creek.
The next day, back in Pacifica, I snagged a few little waves right out my own front door. Check it out, all set to some nifty little jazz. Hey, it’s only a minute.
I’m shopping for a new Stand Up Paddle board. My current SUP was fantastic when I got it last summer. But now I have a bit of experience and am ready for an upgrade.
I’ve tried a few and have found that what looks good on paper, or even looks good on the rack or on the floor, isn’t always the one to get. Trying before buying appears to be a pretty good bet, unless you’re willing to grow into the board while flailing and falling and I’m really not.
I thank my friend Eric for giving me the chance to try aKings SUP. The boards are magnificent, and light, and if you check out the two minute video below you’ll see that in the right hands the boards are simply delicious.
I’ll keep you posted on what I end up with, at which point I’ll have a near new F-One Manawa for sale along with it’s expensive FCS board bag.
Now sit back and check out Kings SUP at Santa Cruz’s Indicators surf spot.