A New “How To” Year is Here

7 01 2016

So far for 2016 I’ve gone surfing twice. Saturday with the crew and Monday with a buddy in Carpinteria. After all, I had an appointment in Santa Barbara. For the most part, I’ve left the GoPro and Sony Camcorders at home, especially at the beginning of this year. It’s not so much a resolution to stop the madness (a movie every time I surf?), but a commitment to just surf and not have more surfing to do when I get home.

Those movies take a lot of time to put together. So based on a suggestion from one of my surf buddies I’ve decided to make them more of a “How To” vlog. He actually used the word podcast, but I think I’ll just stick to showing other surfers how to do certain things. Of course, not with the “this is the only way to do it” mentality. I know there are multiple ways to probably do some of the things I’ll show, but I’ll show what works for me.

So the first one I did I actually uploaded Dec 30th, 2015, but that’s because I didn’t put my movie on my newest surfboard together yet. It’s done, but I still have to narrate it.

So sit back and enjoy my first entry of 2016 on putting the rope through the center fin box leash hole. It’s intriguing. 😉

Again, I’m sure there are other ways to do this, but always remember to keep that rope short.

Thank you and God bless,

Surfer Yoda

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Old Habits Die Hard, Bad Habits Need to be Murdered

14 10 2015

I got a new board, again. A 6’6″ Parole rounded pin tail, similar to a Lopez Lightning Bolt of the 70’s, but updated and with a 2+1 set up. I sold my 6’6″ Bonzer Egg and my 9’0″ Walden Magic Model 3 in order to pay for it, but after this weekend’s maiden voyage, and yesterday’s extra shot at it, I made the right choice.

The waves on Saturday were forecast to be overhead and I figured it would be a great opportunity to try it out. The tide was on the high side and the swell was more powerful than normal making for bad rips at my favorite secret spot. Rips like I’ve never seen in many years. I’m blaming that one on El Nino, but then, we’ve had some great waves so far this Fall.

With the larger consistent surf, a couple of feet over head on sets, I had to do a lot more paddling and duck diving than I normally would, which always leads to a little apprehension on my part. That apprehension is there because when it gets bigger I always seem to be out of breath, held under longer than I want, and feeling close to drowning. I know the “close to drowning” is a bit dramatic. However, when you wipe out and don’t know how much longer you can be held under only to think “what happens if I pop up and don’t have time to catch a breath before another one hits me?”, it makes for energy loss and fatigue. So yeah, it feels like I could drown.

I’m always confident I could save myself as I’ve done in the past, but still, it turns what should be a 2 hour session into a 1 hour session, or less. And I discovered the problem after I surfed that morning.

As a kid, I hated water going up my nose when I’d swim. I also hated holding my nose with my fingers as I felt that wasn’t something men should do, so I just sucked it up until a friend told me I should slowly blow air out my nose and that would help keep water out, and keep me from the necessary plugging of nose with my finger and thumb. Not bad advice, but it turned into a very bad habit that I realized is a problem, and one of the reasons I might not like waves over 8 feet after 34 years of surfing, which makes the bad habit that much older and harder to break.

It turned into blowing air out my nose every time I’m under water. Swimming, surfing, whatever. I paddle out, duck dive and blow air out my nose and when I pop up I need a breath. I wipe out and blow air out my nose only to be out of breath when I finally surface. That is a terrible habit I developed and didn’t even realize it until this last weekend’s swell.

My eureka moment made me realize that I needed to murder that habit for good, if I expect to surf some of the larger waves expected this winter. I’m still all about surfing, not surviving, so it will have to be good for me to paddle out, but coming to the realization that if I just stopped blowing air out my nose when I go under water will help me relax more when I’m under, will save my energy. I will have more air when I surface in case I can’t take a breath.

It might seem elementary to you, but really, that’s why it’s a “habit”. I made it that way and it’s not just old, but bad.

I got to put my theory to the test on Tuesday Morning. Though the waves dropped a bit, it was still overhead on the sets and I made sure to not let a lick of air out when I duck dived. It was a little harder to remember when I would wipe out, but I still even managed that and after surfing an hour, catching all kinds of waves, I still had energy after my hour was up. I know it wasn’t the same test as putting that into practice last Saturday, but it was a good test none the less.

As I surf more, big or small, I’m going to do my best to remember not to blow the air out. I never had a problem yesterday with water going up my nose, so that helped make it easier to handle. Hopefully I’ll remember that every time I go surfing. Or am in the water for any reason, for that matter.

I don’t know if you have a bad habit you need to murder, but remember, they may die hard, but you can be the killer of it.

Take care and God bless,

Surfer Yoda





They Say #ElNino is Coming

5 09 2015

I surfed a couple of times this week. Wednesday with Uncle Chris and yesterday with Gooch. Both days the forecast was 2 to 3 foot. Not stellar, but with the talk of El Nino I can see there’s something different in the water.

First, though the water felt warmer longer last year, the water temps at my favorite spot finally topped 70. I’ve been trunking it, or at the most a spring suit. Both days were way better than the forecast. There were set waves easily topping 6 or 7 foot faces. And that’s what the 2 to 3 foot forecast is, for face height.

That said, Gooch and I had it to ourselves from 6:30 to 8 yesterday. All alone. Mostly chest high waves, the two of us. It’s a huge reason we call it our “secret spot”. We know it’s no secret, but I know the typical places were already filling out yesterday and we had great, southern hemi waves to ride. With warm water!

It got us talking about the things El Nino was doing. One funny thing we saw were two seals swimming side by side. They looked like buddies. We never see two at the same time, so we blamed it on El Nino. Another was the tropical cloud cover we had which made it look like it was going to rain. We even saw a funnel cloud off in the south western distance. Definitely blaming El Nino for that one, too.

Anyway, we then talked about the stand up barrels we were going to get and that got me thinking more: risk vs. reward. I’m all about risk if the reward is there, but where surfing is concerned, I’m kind of happy with chest high to a foot or so over head. Heck! I’m fine with waist high to a foot or so overhead. So why do I care about a stand up barrel, that needs to be about 8 foot in the face for someone my size to be in a full stand up position? I’m not sure I do!

Anyway, I guess I’d paddle out to any size I could get out to and still be able to ride the waves. I don’t know exactly what that limit is, but I have a feeling I know what it is at my local breaks because there’s no way I’m paddling through double overhead waves to get out and surf closeouts. That’s the most likely scenario if El Nino plays out. The reward just isn’t there at a lot of the spots I surf.

Now, when I was a much younger man it mattered to me to say I paddled out in double overhead surf whether I caught anything or not. Today, though, I just want to surf. I want to catch the wave and ride it. Do turns. Sure, get barreled if its their, but I don’t want to be in survivalist mode. That’s when it’s just not fun anymore.

In 1982/83 I did surf at 16 and that El Nino I even caught great waves. I wrote about a near death experience a few years ago you can read about if you Click Here.

Anyway, El Nino is on the horizon and that’s good for our water situation in So Cal, as long as the snow pack in the Sierras breaks records. It’s also good for the surf situation because not all spots will be closeouts. It could be an epic time to be in Southern California. It’s also bad because we can expect flooding if the rains they say are coming, do come, which of course they will because of El Nino.

Anyway, if it all pans out, I guess the only surprise we’ll have is if it doesn’t happen at all. Then all that hype will be for naught.

Hope your favorite surf spot gets epic this winter and that it’s not survivalist conditions. Thank you and God bless.

Surfer Yoda





Just the Two of Us (For a little bit, anyway)

13 07 2015

Friday I had appointments set in Camarillo. It was an opportunity to surf, since there was swell in the water. Surfline’s forecast for my N. LA County area was 3 to 5′ with bigger sets, so how could I pass that up?

I got to the coast at my usual 5 am time and turned north on PCH from Malibu Canyon. There’s no reason to look at Malibu Point on a swell. I doubt at that time I would have found parking.

In the back I had both of my Campbell Bros. Bonzer’s. the 6’6″ Egg just in case, and the 5’10” Bumblebee. I didn’t really care which one I rode, I just wanted to make sure to check Zero’s, as you probably guessed from my last post.

Driving by Zuma Beach it was still dark. Heck, it was 5:15, but when I was turning off Malibu Canyon I could see the lights of Palos Verdes so clear. No fog this morning at all. Zuma wasn’t looking as big as the forecast, but I also didn’t stop to look. I had 3 spots in mind: Zero’s, Leo Carrillo, and my Secret Spot.

As I was seeing where Zero’s is on PCH I was quite surprised to see no cars parked near the gate. It meant the waves weren’t that good, or possibly the gate was open early, which is an anomaly there. However, the latter was true and as I pulled in the gate there were only two cars in the lot.

The waves weren’t bad. About chest high or bigger. One guy was out. The down side is it was really sectiony. That’s where the wave breaks in front of itself so your ride can be shorter if you don’t make it around the section. The guy out wasn’t and I didn’t really think I could, but it would be on my list.

I pulled out of Zero’s and headed to Leo. Of course, there were 12 cars on PCH already when I got up to it. About 4 guys in the water and many more getting ready. With the campground nearby I could only picture it being worse when the sun was up so I kept going.

As I pulled up to my Secret Spot there was one guy getting ready: Powder. It was good to see someone there I know and the waves were looking pretty good. I told him I’d meet him out in the water and since he was riding his 5’3″ I felt comfortable going on on the Bumblebee.

I set up the Beach Cam and though I could have done a better job of it, you can see the waves were pretty good and we were by ourselves. The Secret Spot isn’t really a Secret Spot, but because of mornings like this it always feels that way.

We were stoked to have all these waves to ourselves! The camera only lasted 29 minutes, so it missed the next 30 minutes, but eventually it got crowded. I’m sure it was the least crowded spot along there, though. As I drove by County Line on my way to my appointments there were cars lined up on both sides of PCH. It was looking like Malibu Point. So I felt pretty good that only 10 more surfers paddled out when Powder and I were nearing the end of our session.

It was a great morning to get wet. Great waves. Powder and I caught up on life. And I was ready to tackle the world.

Thank you and God bless,

Surfer Yoda





Being Friendly in the Water

29 06 2015

I hit the surf at 5:30 this morning. With appointments slated in the Ventura/Santa Barbara area it was an easy decision.

I first looked at Leo Carrillo. There was one other guy looking at it and honestly, it just didn’t look that great. Apparently I was only looking at it in between some of the better waves because that’s where I ended up, but not after going and checking in on my favorite secret spot.

The secret spot was working. However, no one else was there. I have promised my better half that I would not surf alone if at all possible so I headed back to Leo Carrillo.

As I pulled up there were two guys in the water and 2 more getting ready to head down. I really didn’t know at this point if it was going to support everyone. Admittedly, I am one of those that gets their game face on and lets the other guy be the first to say a friendly hello. Surfing is a selfish sport and one has to compete to get waves.

Today I told myself not to do that, but to start out saying hello to people right off the bat and not care whether they say hi back or not. One of the reasons I stopped saying it first in the first place.

I had my GoPro and my beach camera with me. My Campbell Bros. Bumblebee and my Ray Lucke Lucky Lucke. The Bumblebee has a GoPro mount, but the Lucky Lucke doesn’t and setting up the beach cam just didn’t sound appealing. I really wanted to just get back to the “essence of the stoke” that I had recently written about and all of that extra gear just takes it out of me, for some reason. Don’t get me wrong, I love the editing and putting together of the footage and will definitely keep making movies with my buds, but on my own I just wanted to start something new today.

So I changed into my wetsuit and jogged on down to the entry spot where I wanted to get into the water and along the way said hello to a guy waiting to go out. It was funny. He said hi back, but I could tell he didn’t really want to.

As I paddled out I made sure to say hello to the other guys as I went by. I wanted to hoot for them, even, as they were taking off on nice waves. After all, the surf was way better than that initial quick check I had made earlier.

After catching a few, I managed to get a nice one on the Lucky Lucke and had to put myself in a “cheater five” position. That’s just half a “hang ten”, but since the board is only 5’5″, there’s no way I’m hanging ten toes over. So a “cheater five” is getting those 5 toes out over the nose while keeping a foot back so the board doesn’t pearl. One of the guys paddling back out after his wave hooted for me while I was in that position. I guess coming at him it looked pretty cool, but I don’t know for sure.

When I got back out we started talking about his board as I was genuinely interested. I had already seen it wasn’t a typical thruster and he asked about my board. The next thing you know, we’re all talking about boards and hooting for each other’s waves, just having a great time sharing in the stoke of the morning.

I surfed for an hour because I had appointments to get to, but I sure had fun today. It helps to start out friendly. I’m going to try my best to stop the game face and just put on a goofy attitude. The best surfer is the one having the most fun, anyway. That would have been all 6 of us. Even the guy who didn’t seem like he wanted to say hi earlier was caught up in the friendliness.

Anyway, I hope you get to surf more and make it a time to share the Aloha in the lineup. It’s much easier when everyone gets along.

Thank you and God bless,

Surfer Yoda





Drainpipes on the Bonzer Egg

18 03 2015

Last Saturday, 3/14/15, Pi day, I guess, I surfed with that buddy I’ve been mentioning that got me hooked on different boards. It was a normal Saturday to surf with the rest of the crew: Gooch, Gorilla, Uncle Chris, Spock, Ranger, Forest, etc. However, Cletus finally had a Saturday his oldest didn’t have Rugby and he asked me to go surf with him. I let the rest of the crew know my intentions and planned a day with Cletus.

His original thoughts were somewhere in Ventura County, like Port Hueneme, but it quickly turned to Drainpipes in the Malibu area because of the swell direction and previous day’s reports.

I hadn’t surfed that part of Zuma Beach in years. Multiple years going into possibly passing a decade. When I surf Zuma with or without the crew it’s usually around Tower 12. That’s more at the northern end close to Trancas and shy of Broad Beach, if you even know where I’m talking about. Drainpipes is at the southern end and is right out front of the entrance to Westward Beach. They call it Drainpipes for good reason and I had so many good sessions there when I was younger riding the typical Thrusters of the time.

The wave can suck out off the shallow sandbar and make a nice hollow wave on the right swell and tide.

This day I had my newest additions with me: a 6’6″ Bonzer Egg and a 5’10” Bonzer Bumblebee, both from the Kings of Bonzer’s Malcolm Campbell. Inventor of said board, and artist of the progression still today.

Cletus likes to go a little later than I do and though the rest of my crew was meeting up at our favorite secret spot around 6:30, that’s what time I was heading out with Cletus. He drove and brought two of his own boards. A 6’1″ T. Patterson Thruster and a 6’2″ Bonzer Octafish. That Octafish is also a Malcolm Campbell masterpiece.

As we pulled up to that southern part of Zuma we used to call “Free Zuma” you could tell there were going to be some fun little nuggets. Just in front of the bathroom were little A Frame peaks hitting waist to chest high. But you could see Drainpipes farther south a little bit bigger and with fewer to no people out. So we headed down that direction.

You can see from the vid it doesn’t seem to look as big as it really was, but the sets were pretty far apart, which meant we didn’t get very many of them when we were surfing more inside. I only put the waves we caught, and didn’t put in some we did just because we were out of frame coming into frame at the end, but we sure had a lot of fun. I rode my 6’6″ Bonzer the whole time and really felt like I caught some good waves. Cletus rode the T. Patterson and also had some really nice waves as you can see.

I most definitely want to throw Drainpipes back on the list of places to check. It’s so steep and fast compared to even Tower 12. More opportunities to get barrels. It’s no secret spot, but if I got there earlier on the right tide I’m sure there’d be no other place I’d rather be. And next time I’m taking the Bee out.

I hope to surf there again sooner rather than later, but until my next post, take care and God bless.

Surfer Yoda

PS – I did have the GoPro so here’s a shorter movie with my favorites.





How Do I Even Start Back?

8 03 2015

That is the question. Every hiatus I’ve started with “it’s been awhile since my last post,” or something to that nature. However, it really has been awhile. The last post was about a board I had made for me. My first custom board in 30 years. A 5’5″ Lucky Lucke by shaper Ray Lucke. I wrote that back in September 2014.

Since then, I’ve done some other experimentation of boards that I thought I’d never ride.

One was a 7’2″ Campbell Brothers Bonzer E-Wing Egg. Technically it was a Bonzer5 because it had the Bonzer 5 fin set up. If you’ve never seen the Bonzer 3 fin or 5 fin set up, here’s a link to their website, Bonzer5.com.

Malcolm and Duncan Campbell grew up in Oxnard and first shaped one of those boards with that 3 fin set up in 1972 when the shortboard era was in full swing. You can read on their site their cool story, so I won’t get into it here, but when I started surfing in 1981, I had seen some Bonzer’s. I went the typical route of the time, my first real surfboard being an MR inspired Twin Fin shaped by Greg Liddle (all the Malibu surfers know that name), then moving to the typical tri-fin thruster of the day, inspired by Simon Anderson. I was always afraid of that Bonzer. It just didn’t look like it would be easy to surf.

So here I am in 2015, 48 years old, doing the longboard only thing from about 30 years old to 40 years old, and I’m experimenting, with input from my buddy Cletus (He’s been the reason I’ve even looked at other than Fish alternates and I’m really stoked for his input. Here’s New Year’s Eve morning with me on the 7’2″ Egg and him riding a 6’2″ Octafish Bonzer5).

That Bonzer Egg was really quite loose for 7’2″. But it was 7’2″ and so I had to think about moving down in size.

Next up is one of the shapes they did for themselves between 1973 and 1978 called the Bumblebee. I picked it up from a guy in Orange County. It’s 5’10” and the 3 fin version. It was so similar in dimensions to one of my 6’0″ Fish that I sold that Fish.

The first time I rode it was at waist to head high Rincon. Wow! So loose like my Fish, but it held so much better! I liked sliding the tail on the Fish, but seriously, I just thought I had to live with that. After riding the Bumblebee and feeling the looseness without the slide I was so stoked on it. I even took it out on a knee to waist high day at Leo Carrillo just to see how it could handle the small stuff and it was loose! It was a day the Lucky Lucke would have been better, but I was not at all disappointed in the performance of the Bee.
This is a bigger day on the Bee and before work, so only a few waves. Also in here is a 6’6″ Egg I found for cheap. After selling the 7’2″ Egg and the 6’0″ Fish I had enough to pay back my savings account, and buy two boards!

I don’t know why I got so blessed, but I’m so stoked to have them in my quiver. I’ve had 5 boards in my quiver since I got the Lucky Lucke and with the bartering and selling and buying I’ve done I still have 5. All different. And in the future if I’m in the market, another Campbell Bros Bonzer is in the mix.

I probably will have less and less video of my surfs as I move away from that addiction, but I am also hoping to not start these posts out with “it’s been awhile”. (That reminds me of the band Staind.)

Anyway, take care and God bless,

Surfer Yoda