Brown Pelican

I found the most beautiful Brown Pelican yesterday.  It was posing patiently in front of the Chit Chat Cafe at the base of the Pacifica Pier.  I’d gone there to scope out the storm damage.  Sure enough, a chuck of the sidewalk was missing.  The waves blasted rock through the sea wall and sucked out the material under the sidewalk, which promptly collapsed.  Our public works group was jolly on the spot.

I posted the Pelican on Facebook and got a comment that this bird was famous.  It had it’s own web site.  It’s a rehabilitated bird banded K-15.  I reported it this morning.  Hope to see it again.  Such a stunning sight.

If you see K-15 or any blue-banded bird please report here.

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Soft Top Taco Bell

We have surf right in front of our world famous Taco Bell.  It might be the only Taco Bell on the planet built on the beach. It has stunning views, and at high tide, during a large swell, the surf might flow under the building.  But let’s discuss soft top boards, not soft shell tacos.

I saw this guy heading out to surf with a soft top board, like those pictured above, but his was white with blue stripes.  Soft tops are the board of choice for most surf schools, since they soften the inevitable fall.  I assumed, therefore, that the guy was a beginner.

During the next half hour I put my new camera through its paces.  This is the camera that got drenched during my close encounter with large waves at the pier this past Thursday.  It seems to be functioning quite well.

There were close ups of gulls posing beside the terminus of San Pedro Valley Creek and surf scoters gliding effortlessly over the low tide swell. The guy on the white and blue board, who was hardly a beginner, gave me a handfull of fun waves.

Wild Ocean

The ocean is big today.  It was bigger yesterday.  The water is a good 10 degrees colder than it was in September.  Fall is here.  Winter is coming.  I’ve been fighting a bug which has kept me from the water.  But I still need a fix to overcome my hopeless addiction to the ocean’s charm.  Whether it’s a walk on the beach or making a short video of the current conditions, it’s all about the ocean, its size, its smell, its moods.

 

New Name II

Last night I told my wife, Donna, about the name change and she reminded me that I would lose a fairly wide spectrum of readers if I limit WHAT SUP to Surf.  While I love to surf, I’ve also loved paddling through the South Florida mangroves; around the harbor by Jeff Clark’s Paddle Surfthrough the Marina at 101 Surf Sports, along the kelp beds off New Brighton Beach, and down a river in search of Manatees.

From a relationship point of view, paddling promotes connection.  We strap the boards on the roof and hit the road.  We plan a day around getting in the water, exploring new locations, getting great gobs of time out in nature, and after exercising all those muscles we get a nice meal out.  It’s been pretty romantic at times.

Plus there’s such a huge variety of topics to discuss like board selection, sites to SUP, fitness, diet, technique and SUP shops.  I did a whole post on SOPOSUP, a cool little shop in Portland, Maine.  We never got in the water, but being with the owner, reviewing his blog, and checking out the local surf, which was flat, was just fabulous.

I remember the first blog post like it was yesterday.  It was from this past mother’s day when I sat on the sidelines with a bit of a cold.  It was Donna who wanted to paddleboard.  It was Donna to get in the water first.  It was Donna who inspired me to give it a try.

She’s even asked about paddling at night.  Here’s what it might look like from a pin I found.

Stand Up Paddleboarding for Life will still include SUP Surfing, where my little wave passion ignites in cool water.

The Manatees of Weeki Wachee!!!

We’d heard about paddle boarding in waters where Manatees live and took a tour with Anik Clemens from Anik’s Perspectives.  She’s lived in St. Petersburg, Florida the past 9 years and knows the SUP shops and venues for paddling.  She took us to the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park where we put in for the 6 mile down-river paddle.  She’d set us up with boards from the Kayak Shack that sat right on the water at end of the trip. We parked at the shack and got ferried, with our boards, to the put-in point at Weeki Wachee Springs.

The water was cool and clear.  The surrounding jungle close.  The river was teaming with small schools of Mullet and a smattering of Sheepshead thrown in for fun.  Needlefish slipped in and out of sight while Anhinga and Kingfishers punctuated the trees.

We shared the river with a few tour boats, and some fun-loving folks who climbed a tree to a diving platform.  As it turned out, Anik and our very own Donna were not afraid to take the plunge.  Check out the video for a two minute look at our trip.

We’d found six Manatees by the end of the trip.  The first one glided under my board like a ghost.  Down river a pup scratched its back under a submerged log.  My GoPro Hero 4 Silver captured most of the footage.  Super Slow Mo thanks to iPhone 6S Plus.

The little one is Kyra, Anik’s lovely 4 year old daughter.  Donna, Kyra, and Anik took a stab at singing Nimo’s song “Planting Seeds and Nothing More,” in front of one of the Weeki Wachee Springs mermaids.

If you like this post you’re sure to like our tour through the mangroves.

Sarasota Mangroves

The weather in St. Pete cooled for us which is a good thing given the 60 degree swing between the lows in Maine and the temperate Florida gulf coast.  We’re here to visit our niece and her daughter.  They’re cuter than cute and they love St. Pete.

Yesterday we drove to Sarasota where we shot video for a Chakra Meditation with Anik Clemens, Janice Baxter, and Donna Blethen.  Janice and Anik then guided us through the mangrove tunnels on SUPs provided by Surfit USA.

South Lido beach is a serious wild life area full of White Ibis, Belted Kingfisher, Great Blue Heron, Common Egret, Horseshoe Crabs, Little Blue Heron, Mullet, and more.  We had to lie low paddling through the close cover of matted mangroves that squeaked in the wind.  The overhead sky leaked through to shallow clear water then came blasting out in full fall blue once we exited a grove tunnel.

If only there was more time we’d surely do it in the early morning light.

Walden Pond

I tried to like Thoreau. I admire his sparseness. I almost bought a Simplicity Tshirt from the store. But would Thoreau approve?  How many shirts did he have for his two years two months and two days at Walden Pond?  And the winters in a one-room house. How much work did it take to stay warm during the long, low-light, bitter-cold season.

It’s only 1.8 miles to Concord where he lived as a child. Did the two hour hike through snow and ice test his resolve. I think the book has the answer. If only I had the patience to sit through it.

And would he laugh or cry at this photo?  Or would he even care?

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.

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.