A musical journey of bodysurfing, persistence and stoke
It was one of those Fridays I look forward to all week - my meetings let out at noon, which, gives me enough time to scour the coastline of my hometown of Santa Cruz in search of waves.
It's a beautiful, windy, spring day that everybody seems out to enjoy. After battling traffic down Ocean Street and through the West Side to the beats of the Wu Tang Clan, I finally arrive just to the north of Steamer lane at the parking lot of It's Beach. I've arrived early enough to score a prime parking spot and it only takes a moment of watching to realise that I want to go in. It's not big or super barreling but it's been over a week since I've been in the water, I'm a little desperate and the side bowls near the cliff are offering just enough sustained hollowness to be considered inviting.
Time to gear up (cue "A-Team" music)- sunscreen on the face, suit on, GoPro attached to grill mount, check the battery and SD card, grab my DaFins and the MiniMother and I'm hurtling across West Cliff Drive, over the railing and down the trail etched into the cliff by thousands before me, onto the sand and into the cool and bracing water.
It's not a great session, but it's exactly what I needed.
Walking back to my car, I pass a beat up old van with hippies dancing in the dirt behind it; one twanging on a banjo he doesn't know how to play, two others spinning hula hoops around various appendages. A few cars down, another van sports a square sticker that says "Is this whole town stoned?". I chuckle to myself.
A quick visit to say hi to Brian Himlan (of Longship Design fame) and the good folks at Sawyer Supply before I start heading back toward home. Listening to Freddie's Dead by Curtis Mayfield now, I cruise my way through Midtown traffic toward the Eastside, past the Harbor and down by the Crow's Nest restaurant. It's onshore and choppy, and the mysto dormant winter sandbars still sleep. My instincts are telling me to move on, to keep looking...
As I make my way toward Santa Mo's, I notice that the flag by the bank is now gently flapping toward the sea - is the wind shifting? As I pull up at the end of the dead end street, I see it: less chop, a slight glassiness and definitely offshore. "The Mo" isn't really working properly though, and there's like a dozen bodyboarder kids all over it. My instincts - remembering an epic session of tube gluttony I scored a few weeks ago say "go look at Blacks",
Standing on the bluff overlooking the beach near Blacks, it's definitely more offshore here, even if it's mostly closeouts. I watch it for a while, smiling to myself about the prospect of a second session. I can clearly see its also offshore across the Harbor at Castles. "I wonder if it's any good over there?" I think to myself. It rarely is but the instinct says keep looking
Then I see it- the lonely wisp of a peak in an unlikely place.
"Nah... it couldn't be" and I'm running barefoot to my car across the chunky grass for my binoculars. Cleaning off the lenses with my shirt, I peer through them, quickly focusing. There it is again; shimmering plumes of spray echoing off of a plunging lip. Clean, glassy and peeling. With nobody on it.
I can't get back to my car fast enough. Now blasting "No Remorse" by Metallica, I thunder as quickly as I can back past the Harbor. I think to myself "it's 4pm on a Friday... how can there be nobody there?". I haven't checked this spot in a while and when I pull up, I can see after all the winter rain that the sandbar is a shadow of its once mighty self. Still, I don't even need to get out of the car, one glance out of the window is all it takes.
"Yep!" I say aloud to myself, and I'm changing again, as fast as I can, into the sandy, dripping 4/3. Over another railing, down the cliff and bolting across the sand. Eyeballing the parking area above as I run, expecting to see truckloads of frothing shortboard groms arriving to descend on me at any moment.
But they never do.
There's a few UCSC kids on Wavestorms on the Boardwalk side, fooling around in the whitewater. After a while there's actually another bodysurfer but he stays on the inside picking off the end section barrels. I'm planted firmly at the peak, intent on chasing down as many 4 to 5 foot Midtown unicorns by myself as I can, for as long as I can.
An hour and a half later, I'm back in my car leaving a message on my old bodysurfing partner "Lousy" Walker's phone telling him about the score. I'm sure he's at work, (not so) silently grumbling in my direction.
I'm not concerned with traffic anymore at this point; I'm salty, exhausted with red eyes from time spent in the barrel and totally content. As I settle in for the drive to the chilled tones of "Soul Station" by Hank Mobley, I smile as I think to myself- "always trust your instincts."
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