Surfing Vancouver Island  

Foondroppings 10d  

When a Cap is not a Cap

05 August 1996

The Foon household was in a packing frenzy as we prepared to go our separate ways again, Mrs.Foon to Mexico City, me to Wrightsville Beach (YES!) I'd been trolling tire stores by phone to get new rubber for the truck and I had just about everything nailed down, except:

"Honey, have you seen my 'Surf Free' ball cap?"

"I put it downstairs to be washed." She said sweetly.


From a standing start I launched myself down the stairs not touching a step (Carl Lewis had nothing on me) and rescued the poor thing as it sat in a laundry basket, just seconds from oblivion. I walked back slowly to Mrs.Foon and held the cap out in front of me.

"Just what were you planning to do with this?" I tried to keep the edge off my voice.

"Well look at it, "She said, "It's sweatstained and filthy. You've been wearing it since you got it in Boston last June. How can you put that thing on your head. It's disgusting!"

"Right you are sweetheart, but this is not just a filthy cap as you put it. Read it. This is a statement, a symbol, a code of honor, a lifestyle and a solemn vow."

She fixed me with her "Here we go" look and smiled.

"When this cap first touches water it cannot just be thrown in a machine with soap and jiggled. NO - it must be baptized in sacred holy salt water that only Huey sends in the form of great waves generated from powerful storms. These waves are sent like messengers, to seek out and purify surfers and their gear." I stared deeply into Mrs.Foon's eyes to convey the seriousness of this thought.

"Have you finally found that stash box you've been looking for, for 25 years? And who's 'Whooey?'"

"That's Huey, dear." With a deep sigh of resignation I continued. "Look, I'll make this easy for you. For some reason men bond with stuff. We form attachments with things, whether they are valuable or not, that make us feel different from others. We need these things as touchstones of our identity. They bring us small comfort and assurance. God knows men are being blamed for everything that is wrong in this world. We're criticized for having too much power and for not being sensitive to everyone else's needs but our own. SO EXCUSE US FOR FORMING STRONG ATTACHMENTS WITH SMALL AND INSIGNIFICANT POSSESSIONS." (And why was I shouting?)

Mrs.Foon looked at me and said firmly, "Get a grip, Foonboy. It's just a cap."

"That's the point", I said, "To me it's not just a cap. Remember what happened when you washed (and gag, bleached) the Miami Hurricanes cap?"

"Oh that thing. It fell apart when it hit clean water. It was useless and you should have thrown it away years ago."

"To me that cap was a prized possession and by laundering it, you destroyed it's Karma. That cap was never the same after you washed it. Is that what you're going to do with me when I'm old and useless?"

"What, throw you in the washer? I wouldn't start worrying until you can no longer perform you most important and endearing function."

"You mean..." I started hopefully and she finished, "Yes, Backrubs." The sound of my shattering ego could be heard in the distance.

"You know" she said, "I worry about you when you go off on these surfing trips. I hope your college buds don't convince you to do something stupid like ride storm surf if any shows up." (She loves me!)

I started to head for the beach trying to avoid the inevitable "be careful" talk and said, "I'll be OK, I've got my cap and Huey to watch over me." But before I could escape she had to get me just once more.

"If baptizing the cap in big surf was so important, why didn't you hang around for Bertha?" she giggled. Now I love this woman with all my soul but sometimes she can push my buttons.......... As I got to the door she suddenly asked, "And WHO is Huey?"

"Why," I was thinking quickly, "He's just one of Donald Duck's nephews, silly."

"Well," she replied, seeing through the bluff, "I hope he takes good care of you. I'm gonna need you badly when I get back."

"You mean for a backrub?" I offered morosely.

"Yeah, that will be a good place to start, but then......"

Suddenly, I was feeling quite good. As I crested the dune I caught a glimpse of one of my friends getting covered on a good size headwhacker. I touched the brim of my cap and turned back for my gear. Come on Huey, this cap does need a cleaning.

Surf Free or Die, Foonboy.


"I Saved your What!?"

13 August 1996

I was cruisin down I95 on a sticky, hot afternoon, south of Gold Rock, windows open and Phil Collins pouring out of 9 fully amped speakers. Gradually I began to smell that sour, methaney stink of swamp rotting and cooking in the August sun. Ahhhhhh, this scent had always announced to me I was now in the Carolinas. I was heading for my favorite beach for a reunion with a couple of good surfing brahs who I hadn't seen in 25 years.

I blew into Wilmington, NC, dropped my stuff off at Moms Foondoggy's and went directly to the beachfront house my friends Stan and Big Ed have rented for the last 8 years for their family vacations. After handshakes and hugs all around we settled down on the beach for a few beers and to watch the many tourists get face planted in what was looking to be a promising and lively, high tide shorebreak. We all guessed that low tide the next day would bring the next rideable surf.

After an hour of good stories and laughter, Big Ed got dead serious and stood up to hug and thank me after all this time, for saving his life 25 years ago at Monster Hole, Sebastian Inlet! I was stunned. At first I thought this was a clever joke that only I was not in on, but one look at his teary-eyed wife and awestruck kids made me a believer. Ed's wife confirmed he had spoken of this event only a few times but at this point in his life, with a great career and family to be thankful for, he was genuinely grateful for what I did. I was truly touched.

It seems that during college one winter, Ed, Stan, Dropin Vin and I all went down to Florida on semester break. I remember hitting Sebastian on day really big - maybe 2xhead. We all went out on our long boards and attempted to tame the Monster with various degrees of success. Ed took off on the first wave of a big set, got hammered by both the wave and his board, and since this was before leashes, faced a long swim. Ed said he knew once the set got done hosing him, he did not have a chance to make it in. Then he said, "All of a sudden, out of nowhere, you come sliding by on the shoulder of the last wave, kicked out right next to me, and nonchalantly asked if I need a lift in to get my board." I then apparently paddled all the way in with Ed hanging on my tailblock. At the time Ed was too cool to mention it, but he claims if I hadn't come along, he would have drown. Ergo, I saved his life.

I do not remember this episode and I remember a lot of my past experiences. Ed's wife told me later he has always felt guilty about not thanking me. Cool. So Big Ed magnanimously says, "If there is anything I can ever do for you Foon, just ask me."

"As a matter of fact, there is. The next time you produce a Phil Collins concert (Ed's a big promoter), I'd like to have tickets with good seats."

"I'm producing one of his shows in October. You'll have the best seats in the house as my guest. Of course, you'll have to sit through Phish first"

"And I want back stage passes."


"And I want my picture taken with Phil."

"No problem, Phil's a good friend of mine, I'll personally take the picture."

"Ed, I don't know what to say but, thanks a lot."

"My pleasure Foon. Is there anything else?"

"Well Mrs.Foon is a big Micheal Bolton fan. Could she get an autographed picture with a nice message?"

"Micheal's another friend of mine, I play on his charity softball team. How would she like to have lunch with Micheal and I, as my guest?"

"Ohhh Big Ed, you're goood. We both thank you very much."

"You're not invited, Foon."

We all agreed to meet early the next morning for some waves. As I walked over the dune I could see someone who, judging by the style (which hadn't changed in 25 years) could only have been Stan, planting a casual five on the nose. I knew it was Stan because he always stares at his foot, not believing he's on the nose. I also knew he would never backpedal, he never did. Stan was a compulsive nosehog and once he went up, he never went back.

As I paddled out I got a ration of shit for not only body boarding, but also wearing a ball cap. Even in the shimmering early morning light, I knew it was going to be a Carolina Killer day in the sun. There we sat, 3 old friends trading insults about our apparent lack of surfing skill just like 25 years ago. Only this time Stan was wearing a knee brace, Ed was wearing earplugs for a chronic infection from seawater, and I had on a hat. Their sons, chip riding hotdoggers, laughed out loud and called us the geez squad.

Fortunately for us the surf was just perfect. Non threatening, but challenging, it ranged from knee to chest high, but not juicy enough for a serious working. The water was glassy, waves smoothfaced and the rising sun all but blinded you as we looked out into the ocean for our next wave. Water Temp - 82 degrees!

It started early. After two viscous snakings and a tripping as one of us went by, we declared a truce so for the next hour we could ride without incident. All of the other riders in the break gave us wide berth, 'cause we were tearing it up.

Eventually there comes a time when a wave does show up that posses a little more of a challenge and I happened to get it. It was a steep, long but thin walled beauty about head high that offered up a fast but barely makeable 40 foot section. My choice was going for the wave and probably running over Big Ed who was sitting inside, or cutting back and souping the wave in. Big Ed must have been reading my mind. Knowing I had already saved his life once, and was under no obligation to do it again, he immediately dove for the bottom as I went for the wave, catching just a hint of air as I bounced off the tail of his board that was left sticking out of the front of the wave.

Ed's wife said later it was a "breathtaking" ride as I crossed the face just over Ed's head and the crest fell over me like a veil. I sort of enjoyed it too. She said later she could hear Ed laughing all the way up the beach after he came up, yelling "Hey Foon, what are you trying to do, lose those tickets!?"

No Ed, I'm just so thrilled to still have friends my age who know and appreciate what it's like to have fun surfing.

-Foondoggy (What a good time we had) !;^)

the next Kelly or......worse

14 August 1996

Last week we're sitting around the beach at Wrightsville watching the high tide wreck a perfectly good outside sandbar break. A little boy, I'm talking maybe 4 yrs old and 36 inches tall, came over and very sweetly asked to use one of our boogie boards. The kids got colored zinc striped on his face like war paint and he seemed very self assured. We figured ok, what's the harm and we gave him one of the toy boards with no leash. At most we thought he'd play in the shorebreak and some of us got concerned when we saw him get pasted three times trying to get through the waves.

Suddenly we saw him paddling like hell for the outside, he got half way there whips around and caught some soup. Instantly he got up and made some turns and cutbacks, working the soup to stay in the reforming wave. On the inside he picked an angle, dropped a knee and blasted through the shorebreak until he got creamed and planted in the sand.

All of us on the beach were speechless! Who was this kid?! And where were his parents? We located his folks sitting close by and they told us he'd been doing this all summer, mimicking the surfers he'd seen. We figured it's a fluke, but damn if this kid didn't go on to do this for another hour, sometimes getting all the way outside (75 yards) when there was a lull.

Once he stood up, he rarely fell off until he got into shore. Each time he landed on shore, he picked himself up, put the board on his head and fearlessly headed for the ocean again. His little arms seemed very muscular for a kid but all he could do is arm paddle, cause I swear his feet didn't hang over the end.

One last thing, the kid wore little blue speedos and gave us a curt "no thanks" when we offered to put a leash on the board. When he returned the board later we asked him his name......"Peter"!!!!!!

Could it be that the evil spawn has worked its way East??!!

-Foondoggy (The kid also swam like a school of sardines!)

Well No, Ms Travis, it's Not like riding a bicycle

15 August 1996

I had not ridden standup in 239 days due to circumstances some of you might know (but don't care). The doctor had warned me to be careful when I did try it again. Last week, amidst the warm encouragement and acerbic kidding from some of my friends about my body boarding, I decided to give it a go.

So very early in the morning (before spectators could arrive) I leashed on a 9' DAVO trifin and entered the warm and tranquil waters at Wrightsville Beach. The small, easy rolling waves were perfect to reacquaint myself with what my friends call, "real surfing", and I eagerly launched myself into the waves.

Immediately I noticed how easy it was to paddle out, and just as immediately my arms, neck and shoulders declared, "What the F--K do you think you're doing, Foonboy??!" They usually don't do much work when I bodyboard. 3/4 of the way out to a not too distant break I had to (gulp) rest,

The sensations of paddling and straddling a 9' surfboard, having ridden nothing but a 43 inch sponge for 5 months, are striking. Simply sitting on the board without the stabilizing influence of fins was a challenge. I kept thinking, "What a frickin' log this is!! How am I ever going to ride it?" Unlike other beginners, I had a very clear notion of what I had to do, but the wakeup call came when I actually attempted to do it. Just turning that monster around from facing outside almost killed me. Thankfully, the instinct to size up and catch waves is identical and soon I was scratchin for my first wave... missed it!! and the 2nd, 3rd and 4th. WHAAAAAAAA!!!??? Rest Foonboy, you're using up your energy to fast and getting noodle arms.

After a 10 minute rest I finally caught a slow moving wave, and then reality hit me like a cross town bus. Where was my agility and strength? Not There! Where was my ability to pop up and not worry about dragging a leg, foot placement, balance, or slipping off? Not There! Where was my instinct to assess the gathering wave and maneuver the board using weight displacement and foot position? NOT THERE!! Where was my experience to sense the forward motion of the slide and compensate by executing an angle turn! NOT THERE!! Where was my ability to do nearly everything wrong and fall off like the greenest and biggest kook ever to climb on a surfboard? RIGHT THERE!! In a word, I was PATHETIC.

What could be wrong? It's the board! GOTTA BE! I went in and borrowed an 8'6" Surfers Union trifin, a great paddling board and easier to whip around but, no luck. I went in and got a 7'6" Shannon not as easy to paddle but damn it, I knew it had to be the size of the board, not me. I kept thinking I needed a smaller more maneuverable board and for one sickening moment I thought "What if all this time I've really been a shortboarder and didn't know it? GAG!"

All of a sudden it struck me - an Epiphany (A moment of enlightenment for those of you Dictionarily impaired) What I really wanted was my Body Board! The Ultimate Shortboard!! With it I didn't think about paddling, catching waves, falling off, slipping, trimming, foot placement or any of those complicated things. Surfing on a sponge seemed - automatic! My only thoughts were of riding a wave with my face just inches from the rushing surface. The concept was life altering - I was a Body Boarder.

I raced in and got my trusty Toobs, BC, effortlessly paddled out into the break, dropped into a small, glassy tube and happily stuck my face in the lip for the sheer joy of surfing on my own terms.

While I'm espousing this aberrant philosophy, let me take it one permutation further. (Watch it Foonboy, you are on very thin ice here). It just might be that the purest form of surfing is body surfing (real surfing) Your body on Huey's waves with nothing in between (You boys at the Wedge can send those checks to Foondoggy, c/o alt surfing) The use of bigger and more sophisticated surfcraft removes you that much more from this purity. Using this logic, body boarding is not that far removed from "real surfing" while Windsurfers might just as well give it up and call their sport what it is -Sailboarding. Anyone care to comment?

The boys who'd witnessed my awkward failures with the succession of surfboards were amazed at my agility on the B-board. I came charging down every wave with a major take-no-prisoners 'tude, taking every risk that came along and cackling merrily after every ride. One came over and asked me, "Hey mister, how long you been bodyboarding?" I replied as I whipped the little board around and plunged ahead for another ride, "I just started today!"

Am I banished from the group?


"Knowledge of what is possible is the beginning of Happiness"
George Santayana

"Remember that happiness is a way of travel - not a destination"
Roy Goodman


A "Speed Bumps" Revenge

23 Aug 1996

Normally our local break is very laid back. Nearly everyone except a handful of locals is a tourist or visitor to our town. The aggrotude quotient is very low and wave sharing is the practice of the day.

I've been surfing and watching this street for 9 years and on any given day can tell you exactly what conditions will produce surf, and where the best line-up point is. One is directly in front of the Foondoggy Surf Palace and it's my favorite spot.

During the last decent swell a crew of Joisey boys were on their way back from a trip to the Outer Banks and they stopped to check our waves. Conditions were good for the summer and they soon joined a few of us out in the line-up. Immediately the vibe became one of competition and wave hogging. Now I can understand if you've made a long trip and gotten skunked the whole time, that the first time you find waves you want to ride 'em all. But being rude and selfish when there are plenty of waves (if you're patient) to share is just "Kookesque".

The boys all rode moderately sized thrusters and they all eyeballed me like I was some circus side-show when they paddled out. I am a curiosity I know - 46 year old man (freckled and burned) riding a big black bodyboard and wearing a ball cap. Who wouldn't look? Eventually they had snaked nearly everyone and had succeeded in ruining our friendly line-up. After two blatant snakings I decided one of the worst of them needed to be visited by the Foondoggy Welcome Wagon.

Since I've got the break wired, I'm usually in position farthest toward the peak. Anyone going for a wave who looks back toward the peak will see if I'm going for it - I'm not a small guy and I let people know if I am. A set wave comes along and it's obvious to everyone I'm in the best position to get it. One of the Joisey boys decides to shoulder-hop even though I yell, "COMIN!!" I'm well into the drop on the headhigh wave when he starts to go for it and begin his popup and turn. I can ram him or.....

With just a little pressure on my inside rail my drop speed sends me up to the top of the wave just as I'm passing in back of him and over his left shoulder. At this point he still hasn't seen me yet figuring I probably straightened out (I hate when they assume by snaking me I'm no longer going for the wave). Just as I'm even with his head I bellow, "DUCK ASSHOLE!!!!" in his ear, and for good measure let my outside fin slap him on his shoulder.

He collapses like a house of cards and I get a pretty good ride. As I paddle out he's waiting for me and says, "Next time watch where you're goin', Pops." (I hate when they call me PoPs.) He's assuming here I have no control over where I'm going. I reply as I paddle by "If there is a next time, my friend, I won't be goin' around you. And Hey, on this beach that's 'Mr.Pops' to you." I can hear him mutter as I continue on "Fuck you old man."

All of a sudden, I'm feeling pretty good. There was no more snaking that day.

Foondoggy (No I'm not the surf police but every once in a while I like to be sure everyone plays nice.)

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