Surfing Vancouver Island  

Foondroppings 10f  

A Very Ugly Scene

24 September 1996

Two weeks ago, while enjoying the fine conditions brought to us courtesy of Hortense, I was very aware of just how many really young surfers were sharing the juice. Many had already acquired the skills (and some, the attitude) of competent riders. I wound up in the lineup near two young boys (maybe 9 and 12) who were getting into a serious conflict over snaking one another. The older and bigger of the two was consistently cutting off the younger preventing him from getting any waves to himself. The younger was protesting this treatment very vocally, using some choice language to punctuate his unhappiness.

All of a sudden, inside there erupted a very intense shouting slugfest as the two boys went at it in the shallows. Screams and solid punches could be heard all the way outside as the bigger of the two basically proceeded to beat the living crap out of the younger. The smaller boy was no match, but the kid could take a punch and when the opportunity came, landed a few of his own. This was no candyass slap fight, but no one seemed willing to step in and stop it.

Finally I caught a wave in and tried to separate the boys. The smaller boy was half crying and screaming about the older boy's snaking him on every wave; that and the fact that he was getting his ass kicked. I directed the older boy to paddle down a break and surf there and to leave the younger boy alone. The big kid lipped off and said, "What if I don't?" I said, "I'll follow you, find your parents and tell them you beat up a kid half your size even though you were the one snaking." He laughed and muttered as he walked away, "Yeah, sure you will." But he did take his board and started walking down the beach.

I turned to the smaller boy who was still sobbing and gasping for air. I said, "Are you all right, son?" Instead of acknowledging that I had just rescued him from a major whipping, he picked up his board and took off to follow the older boy. He looked back over his shoulder and snarled, "You leave my brother ALONE!"

What is it they say about blood and water. Go figure.


"All happy families resemble one another; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."
Leo Tolstoy

Five Days in the Valley

16 October 1996

Good weather - bad karma!

As I flew into Burbank Airport on a smoggy, sunny, warm afternoon, there should have been a sign saying, "Foondoggy GO HOME!" I was having grave misgivings about spending the next five days in the San Fernando Valley. What further bummed me was the fact I had arrived with the first symptoms of a viscous headcold that I would battle the whole time I was there. As I walked across the tarmac to the terminal, I could sense the pulse from across the mountains - there was surf in the Southland. But I could also feel a vibe of foreboding - Huey did not want me here.

I was in town to attend the party celebrating the 50th Wedding Anniversary of my in-laws, a couple who had fought tooth and nail for 30 of those year, yet remained married mainly because no one else would have them. My plan was to do the family gig then bolt for the coast to catch some much needed waves. Having spent my birthday in Denver the previous Sunday, I was stopped up and surf-thirsty for some good SoCal juice.

My tolerance for the Valley and the company of my in-laws was about 72 hours. This patience was completely destroyed by the events of my first evening in town. While I was driving back from an excellent Mexican dinner with the family, in my sister-in-laws Jeep Cherokee, the back window was shattered by a high-speed projectile. Like anyone in the same situation, I panicked and hit the brakes hard, causing the car to skid and swerve. I gained control, changed 2 lanes in seconds and bailed off the freeway. This situation was made all the worse by the fact I had my two young (11 and 6 year old) niece and nephew, strapped in the back seat and they just went berserk! Crying, screaming, yelling, like you can't believe! I quickly pulled into an apartment parking lot and leaped out of the car to check the kids. I saw a couple exiting a car and yelled to them to call for help, we'd just been shot at! Luckily the couple had a car phone and they called the police. Within three minutes I had 2 cruisers and a shift supervisor in the parking lot. I checked the kids over and told them they were all right. The police sergeant popped them into a cruiser with a young cop who had kids and he calmed them down.

The window, we found out, was shot out with a pellet gun. We had become victims of one of hundreds of freeways assaults that had been plaguing the LA highways. After a statement and info exchange the cops kindly offered to drive the kids home, since they were still freaked and were not about to get back in the Jeep. My nerves were also shot, so even though I was taking strong cold medications, when I got home I took three shots of Dr. Jack Daniels. But I did not sleep well that night.

The next day, after follow-up calls from the police and some more wackiness from my in-laws, I decided, "THAT'S ENOUGH!!" I needed some surf!

Nurse (Mrs.) Foondoggy said, "Absolutely not!"

Since I was then in the grips of the worst part of my headcold. I stared her down and said, "I am going to the ocean, my love. With you or without you, but I am going."

With that she grabbed some medicine and we headed off in the family wagon.

Some of you may recall that I predicted my presence in SoCal would virtually guarantee the waves would be flat for the duration of my stay. What could I have been thinking?!! As though I am that important. Huey has never been reluctant to make kooks and posers like me look foolish, so he arranged to have me infected with a bad cold, then sent some fine surf conditions to my SoCal brothers. It was payback time for my arrogance.

As we charged down Decker Canyon Rd., Nurse Foondoggy said, "I suppose you think I didn't see that gear in the back?"

"That's just in case." I replied.

"In case of what, you imbecile?" she glared. "You are spiking a fever over 100 degrees, you're on some very strong cold drugs, and you're so stressed out your hands are shaking on the wheel! You don't actually think you can surf, do you?"

Actually, I had fooled myself into thinking I could, and the events of the previous night had convinced me I needed relief!

We reached the PCH and quickly pulled into a small State Beach since someone had come along side and pointed out our front brakes were smokin'! (Those of you who've driven Decker Canyon know why). I bolted from the car and ran out on the cliff to see one of the most lovely sights I'd seen in a long time. Three surfers idly waiting for and catching some beautiful headhigh waves. Ahhhhh, I could almost breath again, and the tension and stress just melted out of me.

We got back in the car, checked Leo Carrillo to the North (crowded), then headed South. Coming down off a hill on PCH I could see Zuma stretched out in the distance. I could also see some very hunky thumpers going off with some guys out riding. My nose started to run again. As I pulled up roadside at Zuma I was struck with two contrasting images; a temporarily empty ocean and some guy with a surfboard neatly snapped in half walking back to his car. Intuition told me Huey had a surprise for me at this beach and since I'm a beach break kinda guy, I opened the wagon lid to get my gear.

Mrs.Foon erupted from the car and screamed, "Not on your Fucking Life, My Friend!!"

"Please honey," I reasoned, "I have got to break this surfless curse that Huey has hung on me."

She looked at me with one of the hardest stares I'd ever seen.

"I love you more than life itself, Foonboy, but I swear to God, if you do not survive this go out I will have you stuffed, mounted and fitted with a plaque that says 'FOONDOGGY - Too stupid to accept his own human limitations."

That stung, and even though I knew she was right, I grabbed the springsuit, board and fins and headed for the break.

My rule is to always watch a break for at least 2 sets before I go in. This day I would break that rule in my haste to go in, and barely lived to regret it. As I waded in, with a head full of snot and my chest full of mucus, I detected movement outside, but decided to plunge ahead anyway. I was paddling for a group of surfers when Zuma (and Huey) decided to welcome me to the Left Coast by nailing and working me over with three headhigh pounders.


I got tumbled and bounced off the bottom, held down and squashed. I let the whitewater wash me back up on the sandy beach where I proceeded to lay on my back wheezing and gasping for air. Nurse Foon raced over to me and knelt down watching me regain my breath.

"What's it gonna be Foonboy, an ambulance or a taxidermist? You decide."

Her loving remarks were all it took to make me realize I was done. I raised myself on one elbow and looked longingly out to the break knowing full well I was not to ride this day.

Wistfully I said, "I think I'll walk down to Pt.Dume to see what all the excitement is."

Mrs. Foon saw right through this and was having none of it. She said as she got up to go, "Be sure you save enough energy to hitchhike back to the Valley pal, I won't be here."

Jesus, she is a tough broad! But I know she loves me. I watched 2 more sets of SoCal fun entertain riders healthy enough to enjoy then trudged back to the car - defeated.

To placate the raging Mrs. I offered to buy her lunch in Malibu, our next destination. She accepted but warned me we would not be dining in surfer hangouts like the legendary "Jack in the Bu" or Malibu Chicken. No, she decided we'd be much better served in the touristy but pleasant "Coogies" in the Malibu Plaza.

After lunch and a quick visit to Beckers Surf Shop next door to Coogies, we headed South to view the "Bu". Some fog and haze obscured what was happening, but judging by the traffic and parking, someone was riding something this day. As we continued on approaching Topanga Canyon I glanced out the window and saw someone balancing a sweet, crouching, cheater five on a long mellow wall. I headed for the shoulder of the road to watch.

Mrs.Foon quietly said, "Why torture yourself Foonboy?"

I looked over at her nervously and adjusted the bill of my "Surf Free or Die" Ball cap. "I have to hon. If I can't go in, I must watch, learn, rejuvenate the stoke and resolve to come back someday and ride."

We sat and watched for about a half hour while some of the crew at Topanga showed me what it's like to soul surf again. Renewed and inspired, I pulled away from the curb and headed back to the Valley. I swore I would be back.

As I flew back to the Right Coast, I prayed Huey would forgive me for being so boastful. How could I, a mere mortal, pretend to have any influence on the surf of others. For this I humbly apologize. With great anticipation I look forward to my next session at my home break this weekend. Come on Rocktober. Forgive me Huey.

Oh, the Party? Actually it was pretty cool. Apparently I got drunk enough to lead 120 people in the Macarena, sit in for the drummer of the band, and play a passable version of "Wipeout". (Hey out there. I heard that!)


There's no place like Home (break)!!

Mon, 21 Oct 1996

Back from the Left Coast, still sick with a head cold and somewhat jetlagged, the week at work seemed like some cruel and unusual punishment for taking off to travel. My nightmare began when I found out that one of my biggest deadline jobs projects was grossly late and had remained idle while I was away. The result was I had to pull three consecutive, 12 hour days deep in the bowels of a printing plant in Baltimore, sucking press fumes and absorbing the deafening roar of a big 8 color press while baby-sitting the job. My only compensation was finding a genuine neighborhood Tavern called "Ned's" that opened at 9 am and served a great breakfast, and like "Cheers" everybody got to know my name. ("Your nickname is what, mister? Hey Norm, dis guy's name is Foondoggy!!! Whatta Pissa! Here Foon, dis one's on, me. You da one wit da problem.")

By Friday I was stretched as tight as a drumhead. The weather for the weekend looked bad as a classic Right Coast Nor'Easter gathered strength to paste the Coast with driving wind and rain (and cancel the first game of the World Series). It had been 3 weeks since my last session and I was as desperate for surf as a drowning man is for a life preserver. In spite of the bad forecast, we were scheduled to go to the Surf Palace for an annual homeowners association meeting. The drive to the shore was the worst I could remember with terrible wind, rain and standing puddles of water the whole way. By the time we arrived at 1 am, my brain was toast. Since the storm was predicted to rage throughout the weekend, I decided to sleep in Saturday, late. When was I ever gonna learn?

At 9:30 am one eye blinked open. I could no longer hear the driving, torrential rain that had woken me up several times during the night. Instead, I could hear:


Hey! I know that sound! It sounds just like.....!!!!!! Launched from the bed like I had a rocket in my pants,(Actually I do, but that's another newsgroup) I flung open the deck door blinds and said, "oh shitttttttttttt, Foonboy, now you've done it."

Out the window I could see chest to ohead plus sets pouring perfectly over the sandbar. The sets of 5 or more waves at short intervals (8 seconds) were visible almost to the horizon. The cold front associated with the Nor'Easter had come through overnight creating very good waves and an offshore wind of 10-15mph with higher gusts. I ran out to the dune path to see only about 8 guys getting fantastic Fall Classic caliber rides!

As I came crashing back into the house, Mrs.Foon reminded me of the homeowners meeting we had to attend since she is the Secy/Treasurer, and I wanted to propose and vote on several important items. I was already cursing my luck as we left for the meeting. I found a good place to sit and watch the surf in the president's living room. Bob brought the meeting to order and I immediately moved that due to the fantastic surf conditions that everyone could see out Bob's window, we take up new business first. But noooooooooo, since Bob is a control freak and loved to see me squirm with each breaking wave, he decided to prolong the meeting with organizational stuff like budget and old business. Finally my long dormant and suppressed, native Nu Yawker personality could no longer take the delay (a 4 wave set of unequaled quality and form had just broken UNRIDDEN!!!) I interrupted Bob mid sentence, "Frankly Bob, no one here gives a shit about what a good rental season you had. Maybe we should move on to new business and you can save your gas gag speech 'til the end for that one person who may give a damn! All in Favor???? The ayes have it!! I would like to propose and simultaneously post my vote on these new items:"

  1. New Roofs and paint jobs on all the community buildings.
  2. Replace and expand the hurricane fencing around the dune and dune paths to keep those damn tourists off our sand dune.
  3. A no vote for paving the dune parking lot. Don't people come to the beach to get sand on their feet anyway?
  4. A no vote for providing hot water at the community beach side showers. Let 'em freeze their tits off for all I care!

"OK, with that said, you know how I feel - gotta go." Bam, I was outta there. Later Mrs.Foon said there was a stunned silence and someone said, "What the hell got into HIM?" She reported that she explained, "Sorry folks, he went all the way to the West Coast to surf, but couldn't and now....... well, you can see out the window." Everybody nodded in agreement, "Yeh, he's a nutcase all right!"

In five minutes I was paddling out. The water was a toasty 65 degrees. I could have done it in a springsuit, but I wanted to test out again the 3/2 Mrs.Foon had bought me last year. Actually, with the airtemp at 52 and the wind whipping in straight from the West at 10-15mph, the water felt like a bath tub. God, I love when this happens!!!

Though rusty and weak from my layoff, I scooted outside in a lucky lull and wondered why there weren't 3 dozen surfers out? Too eager to surf, I chose waves that were way too challenging for my startup rides and ate it big. In each of the workings I could hear Huey say, "Welcome back, Foonboy. We've missed stomping your flabby, freckled body into mush while you were gone. Take it easy friend, there's plenty to go around." And there was. It was one of those deliriously wonderful all day sessions that actually got better as the wind and tide did their thing. Everyone was scoring once in a season waves which were not as big as Edouard, but better formed and stronger than Hortense! Tube, lip, and pocket stunts could easily be done as the waves formed up as big peaks from the North, then angled into long left breaking walls with rides up to 75 yards!

The biggest trick was figuring the wind. You couldn't let up when you first felt the slide. You had to continue on down the face helping gravity give you extra speed so that when you reached the bottom, your vertical drop speed would be converted into horizontal speed. You really had to bounce out of your turn and get moving because once these lips started to come over, you really didn't want to meet up with them. At one point the Foondoggy II memorial sandbar became the break of choice as it created 40 foot wide horseshoe shaped peaks, that tailed off into screaming cover-up walls. Lots of fun, if you dared to pay the price.

By mid-afternoon my battery was dead. I let myself be washed up on shore and I recalled the disappointment of my journey West. I could hear Huey admonish me, "That'll teach you to abandon your homebreak Foonboy, not to mention your birthday tradition." In 20 years I had been in or near the Ocean on my birthday, until this year. I regretted breaking the tradition and resolved never to do it again. My experiences on the Left Coast could have been punishment for not honoring that commitment but I thanked Huey anyway for welcoming me back to my home break.

-Foondoggy ;^)

"Home is not where you live, but where they understand you."
Christian Morgenstern

Have a Seat - Mr. SnakeyPants

Fri, 25 Oct 1996

Last weekend there were a few Father/Son surfers in the lineup at my homebreak. I get a vicarious stoke watching these pairs experience surfing together and get as much of a charge when a kid gets a good ride as the Dads do. I know a few of these folks by name, but mostly we're just nodding acquaintances.

On this day, we were really getting it good with exceptional conditions spawned by I believe the remnants of hurricane Lili, which was just spinning up some lines way out in the Atlantic. Most everyone was getting good rides and there were plenty of waves to go around the 12-15 riders in the lineup. One of the young boys was just learning to ride a new board and as yet had not mastered the technique of controlling it. In fact, it was so new he hadn't even put a leash on it yet. So basically he was being real careful about the waves he picked.

As luck would have it he was concentrating on positioning himself for a good middle wave in a set and he didn't see me going for it, though I was closest to the peak (I know, it's real hard to see a 215 lbs man on a black bodyboard and black wetsuit charging down a green wave.) The result was, he snaked me pretty good. I didn't mind since I was planning on practicing my sophisticated controlled sideslip in the soup and I could tell the wave was walling up for a big closeout. So I was hanging back, riding as much of the clean face as he would let me. Since he had his back to me he didn't realize he would turn right into me if he cutback to straighten out. All of a sudden he made a lurching cutback and my body board hit him just above the back of his ankles as it went over his board. Amazingly, he just leaned back with a leg on either of my shoulders, and gently SAT DOWN ON MY BACK!! The kid weighed maybe 55 lbs, so as we cleared his board, I still had enough momentum to continue slowly along the wave face.

The kid laughed out loud and grabbed the strap on my wetsuit zipper for a handhold. Very quickly it was apparent the wave was going to closeout and the kid yelled "Straighten out Mr.Foondoggy!!" I assessed the situation and thought, "Not likely, Snakeyboy. This could be the one and only time you ever ride tandem on a bodyboard so to make it memorable, WE'RE GOING FOR IT!!" The kid realized when I angled up the face of the wave I was not going to straighten out and started to scream a loud, "AH..OOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!" as we completed about 180 degrees of an in the tube rollo before we went over the falls and got worked big time.

We both came up spitting and laughing. I let the boy hang on my board as we ducked under two more waves of the set, then went in with him to get his board. His Dad came riding in and since he didn't see what happened, the kid had a great time describing the ride to him. The Dad got a kick out of it but I was glad he pointed out to the boy to be more alert when going for waves. The next big, freckled bodyboarder may not be so nice and give him a ride.

Foondoggy (One of the few wipeouts of mine I wish had been videoed)

Dawn Patrol

Mon, 28 Oct 1996

From a Right Coast perspective, it is almost alien to not be looking toward the ocean's blackness for the first red tendrils of dawn. Reading this piece reminded me of my few years on the Left Coast where surfers must wait for the Sun to clear the various mountain ranges for warmth. Out here the wide expanse of ocean horizon is our only clock face at dawn and the almost perceptible changes from red to rose to orange to pink to peach to yellow, mark the minutes like a colorful sweep hand, until we start hearing the straps snapping and wax grating.

I miss the rich textures of the flora, fauna, geology and topography of the Left Coast breaks. But sitting on my deck facing the empty ocean in the East, nursing a hot cup of coffee before dawn patrol, is no less as satisfying an experience as I have ever had on the Left.

Though there were no waves when I read this, I was inspired to go off and seek out a serious breakfast. Thanks fang, it's no wonder your writing can be found archived on various webpages.

Foondoggy :^)

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