Surfing Vancouver Island  

Foondroppings 13  

Re:Just another surf story

Thu, 30 Jul 1998

Jack wrote:          Just Another Surf Story 30 Jul 1998

To put these words down on paper or rather, to tap them slowly into a machine that glows in my face, is about as distant an act as it can conceivably be from what I am thinking.

......(snipped a damned fine effort for just another surf story)

I started reading this yesterday and knew within the first three paragraphs it was special and would take me places I could not go just then. The pressures of deadlines, phones, faxes, e-mails and drop in visitors to my office were going to make it impossible to enjoy this journey.

This morning I sat, with a much clearer mind and open perspective, to absorb and enjoy it. I'm glad I waited. Yeah sure, it's just another surf story. I've written a dozen like it and read a dozen more in the ng (Maybe not as well written) But what strikes me every time I read one is the difference in writing between someone who truly experiences this amazing sport and one who just writes about it. Jack is the real deal. The wording and descriptions can be as polished as a pro-writer, but the genuine feeling expressed cannot be fabricated or coined from a glossary of surf terminology. My God bro, I hope you've got some more of these laying around in your brain. Bring 'em on!

Given the current Right Coast surf drought (approaching the apocalyptic proportions of last year), stuff like this is about as close as I'm going to get to a good session. I was totally refreshed and stoked after reading; made my day. I'm actually starting to get some interest up in a little weather fart called Alex. Thanks Jack.


Bleach Boogie Bozo's Reign of Terror

Mon, 24 Aug 1998

The little blond, 12 year old girl looked up at me as we stood knee-deep in the beautiful, warm, green, water of the Foonbunker Beach and said very seriously, "Surfers Rule -Boogies Drool."

"Now Lindsey," I replied, "That's not exactly a sentiment that's favored around the Foondoggy household. We don't judge individuals by the type of water craft they ride."

"That's not what I think, Uncle Foonie," she answered all doe-eyed and innocent. "It's what the boys say at my school."

"Well anyway it's not right to judge people that way." I said solemnly.

"You do it," she offered.

"Do not." I countered.

"Do too," she continued, getting ready to make her point. "Just a minute ago you called that Jetskier who drove by the swimmers too closely a 'Shit-for-brains.'"

Knowing I'd just been caught in my own trap I deftly planned on wiggling out using language as my tool.

"Well considering he came way too close to the swimmers, endangering their lives, don't you believe that man qualified to be called, 'Shit-for-brains?"

She pondered this for a minute then said, "Well what you said was, 'those Jetskiers have Shit-for-brains,' making me think you thought they were all that way?"

Damn this kid was sharp. I had to fess up.

"Well Lindsey at the time it seemed my logic was irrefutable, but I guess you're right. Not all jetskiers are shit-for-brains, but that one definitely was based on his dangerous disregard for swimmers." She seemed happy with this explanation.

We were at the Foonbunker Beach to entertain my niece for the week as a reward for her getting all "A"s in summer school. As we stood in the shallow water I considered it to be a family embarrassment that this kid lived in the San Fernando Valley not many miles from some of Southern California's greatest beaches, and she had been in the great Pacific Ocean exactly twice in her life. I was determined that her fear and timidness around the ocean would end here, today, in the warm waters of the Atlantic.

To that end I had walked my niece down to the water's edge and told her we were going swimming. She looked frightened and not without cause. A good size swell, the result of a weak NorEast flow, had brought larger than normal waves to the beach. Face sizes were I guessed at 4-5 feet on sets. But most of the wave were smaller. What was more troublesome was a strong side current that ran along shore just a few yards out. As we walked slowly into the water I began to tell Lindsey all I could to educate her about waves, side currents, rip currents, backwash and how to swim safely in the ocean. I began to drill her on entering and leaving the water and how to dive under waves safely.

Within an hour she was comfortable with most of what was going on. I was constantly at her side, down current and within a few steps. I would call out to her if she could jump over or dive under a wave. I told her repeatedly, if I yell,"DIVE!" she should dive immediately and deeply into the base of the wave. She was not to hesitate or look around. I was unaware 'til later just how important this was to become.

As the morning progressed Lindsey began to loosen up and have fun. She was a great little swimmer and simply loved challenging the big rolling shorebreaks as they made it into shore. Because it was summertime, naturally there were hundreds of tourists in the water sharing the fun. What was not fun was watching the close calls as an army of tourist boogieboarders rode waves straight in. These people were not in control of their boards and there were many almost accidents.

One in particular that I called "BleachBoogieBozo" was riding near us and I immediately got bad vibes from him. He was in his mid twenties, had a shock of poorly bleached, short blond hair and he just oozed attitude. He was also wearing what I guessed was a fairly expensive pair of silver bug-eyed Oakleys held to his head by a neoprene sport strap. BleachBoogieBozo yelled and screamed for everyone to get out of his way, and it was obvious he did not know how to control or ride his board. On several occasions I saw him run over people because they could not get out of his way.

I was bodysurfing some of the waves and took one in. As I came back out I saw Bozo taking the next large wave directly outside Lindsey, before I could say anything he went by her hitting her slightly on the shoulder and head. I swam out to her and she was ok but upset by the near miss. As Bozo walked his board back out past us he said angrily,

"Tell your kid to stay out of my way!"

"Why don't you learn to control your board?" I answered.

"Why don't you shut your fat fuckin mouth, asshole." He retorted loudly, angry that anyone would question his superiority and ability.

"Because," I said gettin my own Irish up, "if I did, morons like you would continue to hurt innocent people."

By that time he had paddled well outside. He turned and yelled, "Just make sure you and the kid don't get in my way again, you stupid fuck!"

Well......even though I outweighed Bozo by 40 pounds, he looked muscular and athletic enough to kick my ass in a fair fight, and I wasn't about to lower myself to that for a stupid comment. But this wasn't a fair fight and Bozo had picked it in exactly the wrong place. This was the Foonbunker Beach, my turf. And it was my niece he was threatening.

I counseled Lindsey to move down with the current about 50 feet but as luck would have it, Bozo drifted down with us. Lindsey was getting more used to the action of the waves and would move out toward the impact zone. I lingered inside in waist deep water just to watch. All of a sudden I saw Bozo taking off behind her as she attempted to clear her eyes of water from the previous wave. I knew she couldn't see him, instantly I yelled, "DIVE!" and she went down immediately, deep enough to avoid him as he went over exactly where she'd been. I was inside a bit and I could see he was actually trying to aim his board at me as he grinned fiendishly and accelerated coming down the face of the wave.

Oh boy, was I ready for this guy. Clumsy as I am, I deftly sidestepped Bozo as he came at me but reached across the front of him as he did, grabbing his leash and pulling it back across his neck, effectively clothes lining him as he went by. The effect was to peel him off the deck of his board and causing him to get nailed by the breaking wave. While he was underwater, what should come floating to the surface but a pair of silver Oakleys!! I quickly grabbed them and put them in my pocket.

Bozo came up out of the water like a Polaris missile and immediately came after me. I stood my ground as he charged me yelling, "I oughta KICK YOUR FUCKIN ASS!!"

At the last second I took his shades out of my pocket and held them in my fist where he could see them plainly. I then calmly said,

"What you oughta do is see clearly that I have the ability but maybe not the inclination to determine whether you get what I imagine are some pretty expensive shades back in one piece." I increased the pressure bending the ear pieces to emphasize my point.

"What you also should do is listen to me when I tell you that what you are doing is endangering a lot of swimmers in this water with your reckless and unskilled boogieboarding." I squeezed the glasses just a little more which made his eyes widen with a "I can't believe you're doin this look."

"And finally pal, you should never threaten people you don't know. They just may be able to hurt you in ways you may not like." The plastic glasses were just on the threshold of being crushed, much like my ass would be if I did wind up breaking them, I guessed. I was betting Bozo would not call my bluff.

"What do I have to do to get my glasses back in one piece?" He said angrily, finally realizing from the look in my eye, I was dead serious.

"Simply this," I asked. "Please take your glasses and your board down the beach out of the way of the swimmers. There are plenty of waves down there to ride." I handed over the glasses. Bozo glared at me as though he was contemplating kicking my fat fuckin ass, but thought better of it, grabbed the glasses and stormed down the beach. Several people were now standing around me who I trust would have dragged him off me if he did go after me.

"Uncle Foonie?" Lindsey asked me later. "Was that boogieboarder a Shit-for-brains too?"

"Considering what he did Lindsey, yes but not all boogieboarders are that way."

"I think I understand now." I then explained to her the difference between bodyboarders and boogiers. At that moment the real thing (one of the local and talented crew) was putting on a demonstration of standup and dropknee bodyboarding in the shorebreak. The boyz were rockin the break with Kamikazi face plants worthy of a full body cast if I were doing it.

Later in the afternoon I gave Lindsey her first bodyboarding lessons. She picked it up within minutes and was angling down waves yelling and shrieking her head off in joy. After one particularly fun ride she popped up out of the water screaming, "Bodyboarders Rule Uncle Foon!!"

That's what I thought you said.


DejaFoon All over again

Wed, 26 Aug 1998

I can hear the phone ringing on the other end, 10 times then:


"Hi Mom, howya doin?"

"Who is this please?"

"Mom, you know very well it's your son Foonboy."

"No, you must be mistaken sir. My son Foonboy would be down here to protect me from this Hurricane." (Oh boy, here we go.)

"Mom, if you want I can leave right now and be down there by dawn. Would that make you feel better?" (Man she can play the guilt card like a Vegas card shark)

"I suppose not Son. You know they just closed Wrightsville and Carolina Beaches, you wouldn't be able to go surfing anyway." (Ah, there it is, the Ace guilt card)

"That's not why I would come down there Mom." (Geez, did I really expect her to believe that?")

"You know son, it's only been two years since Fran, and those poor people are going to lose everything again. The storm is supposed to come ashore about noon tomorrow."

"Are you gonna be ok Mom?"

"Well, I've got 25 gallons of bottled water, a years worth of canned goods, 30 D-cell batteries for the lantern, my boombox, a quart of Mad Dog 20/20 (that's for snake bites), my Bible bookmarked to my favorite disaster passages, and by the way, I found the shells for the 10 gauge you thought you hid last time."

"Mom.....You live in a brick house miles from the shore, in a gated and patrolled private community, right next to the county hospital. You couldn't be safer."

"I'm just worried about them looters, ya know someone stole my chaise lounge during Fran."

"Mom, the chaise got blown away by the wind because you didn't put it in the garage."

"Well, if my Son had been here, he would have done that for me." (That's it, that's the royal flush. I'm done.)

"Well, I'm sure you'll be ok. If you get scared call your grandson and he'll come get you in the Hummer" (Mom calls all SUVs Hummers)

"Oh, I'll probably sleep through this one like I did Fran......Foonie?"

"Yes Mom?"

"Are you going after this storm?"

"Ummm, I'm not sure yet, mebbe." (Liar Liar, pants on fire)

"You, be careful Son. You aint as agile as you were when we lived on Long Island."

"Yes, Mom. I'll be careful."

"God bless you, Son. I love you."

"Thanks Mom, I love you too, I'll check back with you tomorrow to see howya doin. And don't be goin to Mrs.Jenkins Hurricane Party. The cops got really pissed last time when they had to come out and break up the fights."

"Ok son, who'da thought 4 old ladies would get so riled up over a bridge game?"

"Well who'da thought she'd be putting straight Stoli in the fruit punch?"

"She does have a heavy hand with the Stoli. No I'm not going this time."

"Well anyway, you be safe and I'll call tomorrow. Bye Mom."

"You take care Foonboy."

As I write this Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, and the whole of the Carolinas, is bracing for another devastating blow, equal to or worse than Hurricane Fran two years ago. The destruction from that storm took months to clean up and years to recover from. There were huge piles of debris from fallen trees for months, and after the storm private boats at the marinas were stacked like cordwood. Hundreds of homes were destroyed. The Holiday Inn on Wrightsville, was gutted by Fran, and just this summer they had started pouring foundations for it's replacement. Many people lost everything they had in Fran. To have this tragedy repeated so soon is almost beyond comprehension. I'm not that religious but my prayers and thoughts go out to all the people in the coastal Carolinas. They are about to relive their worst nightmare.


A Wife Knows

Wed, 26 Aug 1998

We sat in the leather love seat watching the endless storm coverage on TV. Landfall was going to be about noon near Wilmington, NC. My thoughts were about my Mom and sister's family who were right in the path of this deadly storm. But they were veterans of Fran, Felix, Eduardo, Hortense and others. They knew exactly what to do. My thoughts wandered to another subject as the projected track of Hurricane Bonnie was displayed on the TV. Out over the Outer Banks and off the Coast of the Delmarva Peninsula. Foonbunker country.

MrsFoon was very quiet. She held my hand tightly. She's no dummy when it comes to weather and wave conditions and she could see what was unfolding before our eyes.

"You're goin aren't you?" She said quietly.

"Ummmmmm, I think so."

"You're goin.........this looks bad Foonboy. It's gonna veer right past the Bunker. The surf will be huge."

"Well, at first yeah. No one will go out at first until it organizes." She hugged me tightly as only a wife can do and put her head on my shoulder.

"I don't want you to chase this storm Foon. Not alone."

"I'm going to be very careful hon. No stupid chances. I'll wait until the surf cleans up and when that High Pressure comes through on Thursday, it will be heaven." (Whoops, bad metaphor)

"Will you do me one favor?"


"Will you wear the dog tag?" The mere mention of the dog tag had been cause for laughter at our home. Wearing it in the crap surf we've had all summer was some kind of stupid joke. MrsFoon was not joking this time. Knowing my history of injury and accidents, she was just making sure that, god forbid, they could ID the body. She was not happy about the thought, but knew very well, with me, anything could happen.

"Sure hon, I'll wear it."

"When are you goin?"

"Tomorrow night, after work."

"What should I tell your boss?"

"Nothing, he's not stupid, he knows where I'll be."

"Well at least, we'll have one more night together." She hugged me tightly again as we watched the deadly swirling mass on the TV.

"I'll be back, I promise."

Foon (Got a date with Bonnie tomorrow, and I don't feel the least bit guilty)

Bunker Report on Bonnie

Sun, 30 Aug 1998

Year of watching hurricanes on the Right Coast did nothing for my prediction skills when it came to Bonnie last week. "The Bitch set me UP!!" (Mayor Marion Barry, Washington DC, on the occasion of his crack bust) That's about the way I felt over the three days I stalked Bonnie. Even professional forecasters had called for Bonnie to glance off of North Carolina and quickly veer out into the Atlantic still a hurricane, to churn up toward the Delmarva Peninsula and on to New England. Instead, Bonnie decided she liked that southern hospitality and stayed a day to reek even more havoc on those poor people.

I'd timed my arrival at the Bunker in advance of her dash to the ocean determined to be there when she went by. Her stall over land screwed up my timetable by a day and by Thursday morning she was still slamming Va Beach with 90 mph winds. The Delmarva was still sunny and bright, and what I saw from the balcony were long, thick swell lines coming out of the South East. These babies were generated before she went ashore and had plenty of long fetch form and punch. They were hurling themselves against the island in well spaced sets that approached on a severe angle and were measured in city blocks. The bigger ones (8 feet) could peel rather well in a demonic sort of way. The smaller ones (5-6 feet) hit the sand bars more squarely and suffered from terminal and ferocious closeout. The sea surface was choppy from a slight side shore wind but there were no whitecaps, yet. Water temps in the high 70s, air temps high 80s.

I watched the action for awhile noting that the spacing of the sets was so wide, if you timed it right you could paddle out dry headed. If you didn't, a few of the larger waves were certifiable widowmakers (a term MrsFoon hates). The bigger swells appeared thick and ominous and landed with a sickening roar. I tried not to imagine being under one, but my curiousity had me wondering what it was like out there. I'd hoped my experience and healthy desire to live would serve to keep me out of harms way, and I knew the conditions were unpredictable. What was worse, there was no one out and I was determined to honor my pledge to MrsFoon not to go solo. I figured the conditions would not be better anywhere along the Right coast for the meantime so I decided to sit tight.

By 9:00 am, a couple of short boarders and a Longboarders launched themselves into the shorebreak. I grabbed my gear and ran to join them. By time I reached the water's edge they were already being whisked down the beach by the strong side current. The predominent flow of the waves and wind were South to North. It was futile to try and paddle to stay in place so I resigned myself to being swept along with the current. Luckily I got out with no trouble but seeing the surf close up gave me new concerns. The smaller ones carried an amazing piledriver punch. The bigger ones were beyond my comprehension. I decided to avoid them at all cost.

Down the beach I could see the shortboarders making the most of what they could. By my observation they were either fearless, or stupid, taking off on waves that telegraphed disaster. Every wave was punctuated by a major lip launch bailout, or a head first straight down wipeout. Ugly to watch and frightening to wait until someone's head would pop up. But youth would prevail and they'd come charging back out for more.

I tentatively scored a few smaller wave trying to get a feel for the temper of the ocean. It was not happy. I quickly learned the smaller waves were a death wish. Each time I got crushed I tried to remember "closeouts count." To find one that peeled reasonably, you had to head out to the 8 footers, which broke top to bottom harder, but at least in deeper water. By time I worked up the courage to try one of these monsters the current had carried us 10 blocks. I'm a very chosey wave picker, especially when it's my ass that's in the sling, so I waited a long time to find one that I knew I could make.

Finally a 3 wave set barreled through and I had no more excuses not to go. I knew the swells were moving in fast so I started my paddle early. What I forgot was by doing so my takeoff would be that much later. Twenty feet behind me the lip started to feather due to the slight onshore breeze. For an instant I almost pulled out, but I could see the long, sloping line of the shoulder just a short distance from where I was. If I could survive the drop, I could make the shoulder easily.

My regular late takeoff procedure is to commit early paddling hard to get my slide going before I reached the top of the wave, hoping my weight and speed would get me moving down the face before the lip came over. If it's really late, I also angle my board targeting a spot somewhere to the side of the peak. I felt the board begin to move and decided to set my trim line high in case I had to bail out fast.

I shot along the top third of the wave, barely hanging in the face as it steepened and hollowed. It was a short but exhilerating ride that almost made me forget what the inside section would do. In the distance I could see the balance of the swell hit the sandbar and start to suck out. Stupid me wanted to dive for the bottom and cut deeply back up the wave and explode out the top. Smart me screamed, "Get your ass OUT OF THIS WAVE NOW!!" Thank God smart me prevailed. Bursting through the lip to safety I just avoided the whole brick wall coming over on me. It would have been very ugly, especially if I'd been under it.

What I'd also forgotten was that I took the second wave. The third was just walling up as I turned my board back out with no hope of getting over it. The longboarder was paddling out nearby after a previous wave and he knew he wasn't going to make it either. In classic big wave form, he slide off the back of his board and tried to punch it through the waveface from the tailblock. As I watched I could see his 9.5 foot board go verticle on the face and there was still a couple of feet of lip over that. The wave came over burying him and me in a mountain of whitewater. It had been a long time since I've been ragdolled in the soup but this working but me in touch with my inner pussy. At the point where I was being flipped for the second time I declared this session was over.

I walked back the 15 blocks with the others giving sincere condolences to the shortboarder who was carrying two pieces of his board. I spent the rest of the day watching the conditions deteriorate and get truly ugly as Bonnie swept by the Delmarva within 60 miles. The ocean off our coast went berserk with huge waves getting their tops blown off by tropical storm force winds and heavy rain squalls. I spent a good deal of time hunkered down behind the Bunker's hurricane shutters (which survived gusts over 55 mph easily) and felt quite safe until late in the afternoon when I ventured out on the beach to experience the winds coming around the top of the storm out of the NorEast. Besides finding it hard to stand (much worse than when there's no wind) I was treated to having my legs shaved by wind driven sand that scrapped them from knee to ankle.

Unlike the long huge lines that Bonnie had sent before she reached land the day before. Fridays waves were closely stacked peaks that cleaned up late in the afternoon. The side current was now North to South at about 15 mph and venturing out would mean breaching a nearly continuous wall of whitewater from death bomb monsters easily 8-12 feet. I would pass on trying. No one else did either.

Saturday dawned warm and rosy. Great slabs of fish scaled clouds moved slowly in stately formation across the sky. At dawn I counted 18 guys in the water along the beach. Without exception they would be both disappointed and relieved by what Bonnie left us. Disappointed because the size had dropped to about head high on sets, and relieved that they did not have to struggle in the death grip of the previous two days conditions.

I decided to explore the all new and improved set up at the Bunker beach which now was firing with reasonably long and very glassy lines of small performance waves. Though modest in size, as the tide came back in, one could tell these waves were spawned from a more powerful sources than what we were used to. There was plenty of juice in the minibarrels that were crushing the crew, and they were wallowing in the fun of it.

As I dialed into my 10th wave of the morning, I looked outside to see a large pod of bottlenose dolphins cruise just beyond the break. I wondered if they had spent the previous two days somewhere waiting for the fury of Bonnie to subside. My wave peaked and I dug my arm deeply to crank a quick whip turn, then set my rail low in the steep and very hollow wave. The barrel launched me down a perfect 5 foot water pipe of speed and fun. Confident I'd make it to the end, I sat back and just enjoyed the sensation, surprised at the finish by the spray that covered me as the expiring tube spit me out.

It felt good to know I'd been rewarded for my patience. But in fact, watching the whole process unfold from the Bunker as the storm reformed and swept by our beach, was a fascinating experience. In all, Bonnie which came as close to the Bunker beach as a storm could without striking, had provided me with a cheap thrill, a good scare, an incredible display of ocean power, the nice new beginnings of some late season sandbars and a nice little (?) report. If I had to rate her, I'd say though she was a big storm, we've suffered worse from some strong NorEasters. And certainly she did not measure up to the wave making machine that was Hurricane Eduoardo, two years ago.

In the end she did not leave us with a lot to play with, but that's ok....I hear her sister Danielle is due in town in a few days. I hate to be greedy, but is there a needier bunch of long suffering surfers than the Right Coast crew?


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