Deep Thoughts on Surfing

Last week at the Pier, it was a fun, warm, glassy day of longboard waves, which, of course, brought out the spirit of Road Rage in everyone. Happy Freakin’ Holidays. Of course everyone’s stressed out. Maybe these dudes are finally getting some time off from work, so that justifies getting aggro, making everyone else’s day worse by jockeying for ALL the waves.

You win, Seabiscuit.

“More waves for me, more joy. Screw the other guy today, I’m stressed out- if I can get the Wave, I’m entitled!”

This mentality permeates the surfing culture. For a sport that is supposed to be so Zen-like, it sure does have its’ unwritten rules, protocols, and hierarchies and a rough enforcement of those policies at times. I’ve slowly learned that surfers do this as an initiation, while strangely claiming to be inclusive the entire time. Helps to keep the surfing lineup freshly culled as well as a bonus.

You’ll often hear words like “Aloha Spirit” or “laid-back” in association with surfers. The only Hawaiian spirit I notice a lot of surfers embrace these days is the Da’Hui. Yikes. I don’t remember that Fun Gang in Back to the Beach.

No wonder this sport is so intimidating and confusing for most to even attempt.

Towards the end of my surf sesh that day, I saw a college-aged guy getting a surf lesson from an instructor on the outside of the main pack of surfers (where I usually like to park it too). He was learning to sit upright on his board in the lineup. To me, that skill can be one of the hardest to master when learning. Most people don’t use those muscles until they try to surf, so it’s a surprise to even the most athletic people I know whom I’ve seen surf for the first time.

The newbie surfer noticed several of us “drifting surfers” moving away from the crowded lineup and towards him, and quickly became self-conscious and embarrassed. While still trying to get his balance, he said apologetically,

“Really, I can snowboard REALLY well, I’m just not USED to this, really…..I AM a great snowboarder back home….”

Being SOOOOO over all the aggro vibe that morning, I thought to myself,

“Dude, what’s with all the puffing? There are plenty of jealous people sitting up on that beach that wish they had the ability and courage to be a Kook- even for just one day.”

Time for a New Surfboard Leash

Last week, we had a few days of fun longboard swell, so I took out my heavier 9’0″ Dewey Weber Performer longboard. When I attached my usual longboard surf leash, I had noticed that the Velcro was beginning to fray badly and the attachment points had become far too supple, almost to the point of tearing. It was time for a new leash, and this one was finished….

Typically for my longboards- which have ranged between 8’6″ and 9’2″- I’ve used a standard 9′ long surf leash. Your leash needs to be about as long as the surfboard you plan to ride. I have a 9′ leash for my longboards, one for funshapes/shortboards that’s 7′ long, and a 5′ leash for my little 4’6″ Beater board.

Surfboard leashes have become an essential safety item to me, since the lineup here in Florida can become crowded quickly with surfers AND swimmers alike. I don’t want to take the chance of a wipeout potentially injuring someone else. I also consider it important in case I become too tired to swim if I lose my board, which was one of the main drivers behind the invention created in the late 1960’s in California (History of the Surfboard Leash).

Pat O’Neill (of O’Neill Surf Company fame, and the son of founder Jack O’Neill) gets the credit for making the “kook cord” popular. Ironically, he lost his eye when his board snapped back in his face due to the initial poor design of the surf leash. Today, better designs make this much less common, but there are some things I still do to prepare my leash before its’ first use.

Once either end of the leash attach points become frayed or loose, spend a little coin and get a new leash. It’s not worth taking the chance over spending $20-30 bucks at least once a year if you surf frequently. More if yer a gnarly ripper, brah. Lawsuits can get pricey. Same goes if the cord comes loose from either end- no gluegunnin’ it here- this is SAFETY equipment. Y’all feelin’ me?

Now, all brand new leashes have the same problem- they’re kinkier than Christian Grey.

Kinky.

Every one of my new leashes gets a turn on a sturdy palm tree to stretch it out a bit. I like having both my eyes, so getting it stretched out a bit keeps it from “snapping” back as much during initial surf sessions. Of course, future wipeouts will help stretch the leash as well. Yikes.

I’m finally getting some strength exercise in…..

Much better than before.

This particular leash I purchased is a “Regular” leash, meaning the cord thickness isn’t too thin, nor too thick for most recreational surf breaks. It’s what is typically found at most surf shops.

Comp” or “Competition” weight leashes have a thinner cord. The concept is that the thinner cord reduces drag when paddling, surfing, and doing tricks. Personally, I really like them because they are light, and more than enough cord thickness for our usual 2-3′ waves here in Cocoa Beach. Comp weight leashes are hard to find in 8’+ lengths at many stores, but I’ve seen them on occasion.

Big Wave” leashes have supa thicky-thick cord. Unless you’re planning on surfing huge Pe’ahi or Cloudbreak with your 10′ elephant gun, OR your name rhymes with “Blaird Blamilton,” you can probably pass on this type of leash. If you ever need it, trust me- you’ll already be in the know then.

Can’t wait to try out my spiffy new leash, but it’s gnar chop city for a few days, so I’ll have to find somewhere else to go…..

Atoll Boards Sticker Pack + Bracelet Giveaway

Giveaway has ended! Congrats, Scrappy Yogi!

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The dudes over at Atoll Stand Up Paddleboard Company sent me a pack of 15 stickers, so I figured I’d make it into a fun Monday giveaway for y’all who follow this crazy surfy goodness. I’m throwing in a Linhasita macrame Anchor bracelet I made as bonus surf cred. I’m really digging the buffalo on a surfboard logo. Isn’t it ironic? Don’tcha think?

15 ATOLL Board stickers, and a cool surfer bracelet duuuude


I’ve surfed on SUP’s a lot, but never an inflatable type like these Atoll’s. A friend of mine has one, but he travels around the world A LOT, so I could see where it could save on fees and hassle. You could even have your own bed with you when they cancel your flight. 

I see these used a lot for SUP yoga, and I think that’s smart for many reasons. There’s no way in hell I’m putting my ass over my head on top of an unanchored, free floating piece of hard fiberglass. Gimme the freakin’ NERF board.

Anywho, first person to answer in the comments WINS! I’ll announce the winner on this post, so check back! Thanks Atoll Boards, for da stickers!

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QUESTION: Where is Atoll Board Company located?

Answer in the comments below, first right answer wins! I’ll ship internationally, but not to prisons. Or clown colleges.

Don’t try this with an SUP, brah

The Latest Surfing Trends and Fads: Fall Edition

So I’ve dug up some more surfing trends and accessories you may or may not have heard about. Some are inventive, some are…..not ready for primetime. 

Did I get any of this stuff for free or at a discount? HELL nah. I wish. My opinions are definitely my own, and I tell it like it is, brah.

Gnarly wipeout, brah


*****
Grater Grip for Surfboard Wax

I bought one of these at their booth at a local surfboard factory sale. They were thirteen bucks back then- now they’re $9.99- which is still a little pricey. It’s essentially a flat plastic cheese grater to help put on your surfboard wax, and remove it. This could be a good idea if you like that type of traction on your board. I tried it, and hated the feel AND look of it, personally. Oh well.

Pros: Great for using up the tiniest bits of wax left in your surfmobile

Cons: Random people may walk up to you with plates of freshly cooked pasta




Stained Glass Fins by Rainbow Fin Company

I had to snag this fin!!!

 
I have bought two of these fins so far as gifts, and I have been pleased with them, as well as the recipients. I like giving something that’s beautiful AND useful. Since they are one-of-a-kind handmade surfboard fins, they can run 100 bucks and up, so it’s more of a collectible for the “more seasoned” (aka older) surfer crowd. 

Pros: Makes simple, functional artwork on your surfboard or on the wall.

Cons: At the price, it’s definitely an investment.




Wax Knuckles

This pic is from their website

I don’t own this, but it seems like an awfully good idea. It’s a wax scraper and wax comb that is ergonomically designed. If you like to change out your wax a lot, or resell a lot of surfboards, this scraper is kinda neato. It costs twice as much as a regular wax comb (these are $5.99), but if you do a lot of scraping, it might be worth it.

Pros: May save on some carpal tunnel surgery down the road

Cons: The HUGE handspan required to make the scraper comfortable to use may exclude other smaller surfer chicks like me. I’ll wait for the smaller Oompa Loompa Model to be launched 



Ventura Vientola Finger Surfboard

I thought this fad had passed, but it’s back for Boomers

When I first started surfing, I bought I tiny toy 3” plastic “….Lost” surfboard I sat on my nightstand for my own encouragement. I guess this is the upgraded model at seventy bucks, but it is handcrafted in California out of mahogany, comes with a tiny leash, carrying pouch, and a miniature bar of surf wax. This would look good next to your wine rack and humidor. Did I guess right???

Pros: That’s art to any surfer, and looks better on the wall than the Family Cat in a frame. Also good if you live in a tiny house and drive a Mini

Cons: You may start buying these to look at when your knees start hurting too much to use an actual surfboard




Hope I showed ya something new today!

Do ya EVER graduate in surfing?????






DIY Cork Display Ladder for Matau Carved Necklaces

I’ve become a collector of Maori-style carved pendants, mostly Hei Matau. I’ve even expanded my collection beyond the traditional fish hooks, and a local Cocoa Beach artist (Capt. Steve Bowman) has made me several sea life pieces that I adore.

My first Hei Matau (Left), my favorite carved pendant, Seadragon (right)


Problem is, I really have no good way to display them nor store them currently (I’m constantly wearing them and switching them out) and it’s been bugging me.
I was out at my local discount store and found this cork trivet that I thought would work perfectly as a necklace ladder. It would keep the pendants from banging against the wall, they could be easily accessible, and I can SEE them. Perfect. All for 4 bucks in the clearance bin. Score.

Craft cork can be expensive, so the Kitchen wares department is a great place to look

I cut the connecting jute cord and separated the cork tubes, which were already pre-drilled. Of course, I’ve seen these type of tubes at the craft store, so you could make your own with a small rotary drill.

Any leftovers can be used for leash loops on your surfboards!

Simple overhand stopper knots to make rings, spaced out about two inches

 
I re-threaded the tubes with doubled #90 paracord, with a simple overhand knot on each side of each “rung” as a stopper. I used about 2 lengths of 2 yards to make the ladder.

Adjust the knots to even up spacing

Make sure to burn and melt any ends or they’ll fray

 
Done! And it fits perfectly between the closet doors. I just used simple wooden tacks to hang up each necklace.

Done!

Much easier to get to….

Gotta take care of the surf cred like this since I don’t have surf tattoos, only the surfy jewelry. Yeah, I know I need to step up the surf cred game, but wetsuit season is coming. I can just PRETEND I’m covered in gnar surf tattoos, and no one can really know.

Psych out, brah.

This wins for most gnar surf tattoo

Surf Tee Patio Pillows

I just got a nice little molded plastic setup for my patio a few days ago. Although I like the Adirondack style chairs (very popular here in Florida), sometimes I don’t want to sit all the way back in the seat like I’m ridin’ dirty. A small back pillow would help once in a while when I need to reach the table easier.

I was given this t-shirt a while back (no, I was never part of any surf team, ha!). Stix by Dix is a classic local shaper around here who makes some beautiful boards I wish I could afford. But, at least I have the t-shirt.

Can’t really wear it, can I?

 

So, I made something fun with it with some crazy printed Sunbrella fabric I picked up on clearance that has some of the same colors. This fabric is excellent for outdoors, since it holds up to lots of sun, heat, and general outdoor wear.

Using Heat-N-Bond, I essentially turned the t-shirt’s logos into iron-on stickers. I even traced one of my fins on the rest of the blank area to make a big fin iron-on appliqué that I also embroidered with some crazy rainbow filament thread.

Love my Rotary Cutter and metal straight edge

 

After the Heat-N-Bond was fused to the logo’s back, I traced out where I was going to cut

Used my fin to trace out a shape on the blank t-shirt part

Ready to iron on


Even though most of these fusible are permanent (even in the wash), I always like to sew around the edges just to make sure.

Ready to sew the edges

 

Might as well use it

Front of the pillows

So I made these into envelope style pillow cases, with no zipper to fuss with on such a small pillow. I used washable pillow inserts too, so I can throw the things into the wash since they’ll need it, being outside.

Pinned the heck out of it, sewed the perimeter, then turned it inside out

 

Done!

I should work at freakin Rooms 2 Go

Nice thing too, these square little pillows should fit perfectly in my schweet new pimpin’ boat:

Don’t hate

My Recent Surf Lesson

So usually, I try to stick with surf-crafty things on here, but hey, it’s my blog, so I do what I want.

Damn right

 
So, lately, I’ve decided to take up surf lessons again. I feel I’ve hit a plateau (going on about 5 years now, sheesh), and I wanted to try and improve.

The difference this time is, it’s just for me. No particular goals. No contests, no sponsorships, no accumulating gnar gnar photos of me ripping. After all, I’ve reached middle age, and my need for others’ approval has greatly declined.

If there is a goal, I’d just like more of that momentary feeling of glide on a wave, more often, with a better understanding of how to get there again and again. One day, I won’t be able to surf anymore, so I want to have as many memories built up in my head to replay over and over, good and bad.

My new coach is an interesting guy to say the least . He’s well known in the surfing community, and he has earned his “cred” on massive Hawaiian waves I’d never dare to surf- and lived. If you’ve got the time, read his stories. They’ve definitely given me a new perspective.

In my first lesson this week, the waves were near flat, so he talked to me about mindfulness. This applies to anything you wish to learn, not just surfing. I tend to joke around and laugh a lot, because things are just NEVER as critical as people create them to be. However, I should resolve myself to focus more on learning than being silly and goofy when trying to improve my surfing skills.

Ok, I’ll still do a little of this

 

With the improvement in surfing, the fun naturally follows. He told me an example of a concert pianist at Carnegie Hall performing solemnly, intently, to his audience, yet to him, he is experiencing he height of enjoyment. He becomes fully immersed in his passion.

No, I’m not aiming for Carnegie Hall level mastery of surfing. Perhaps more of a regular late night soul jam session in the garage on the weekends, but I’m not quitting my day job.

In the second half of my lesson, he actually pushed me into waves so I could learn how to angle into a wave better- no paddling- just a focus on ONE cross step. It was a humbling experience to be pushed in, but did it ever work. When I popped up, I was able to crosstep easier than I had in my many attempts over the years. Wave after wave. Focused on the task. I’m beginning to see what he’s talking about. I’m already stoked for my next lesson.

Walking up the beach, some random guy on the beach walked up to me and said, “You surfed really good.”

Oh. Sorry, I didn’t even realize there was anyone there….

Keepin’ it real