My 40th Birthday! As Told by Chris:
I woke up very early this morning; it’s still dark out, there is a faint light to the east, and the waves are so loud, it’s almost like thunder. I don’t pretend to be an expert surfer, but I have been spending every day on the water on this painfully long learning curve to become even an intermediate surfer. I’ve been taking a physical beating. Today though, its my 40th birthday and for most people, this is a big one. Some people buy a new car, or some other toy. I want a GOOD day in the water. While laying in bed before the first light listening to the wave explode on the other side of the dune from our camp it comes to me; today, I Boogie. I grew up in Southern California; my parents bought my first Boogie Board (aka: Sponge) when I was five. This is something I know how to do pretty well. This trip I’ve only taken it out a few times, but it’s time, again.
Despite popular conceptions, Baja can get cold in the winter. True, I’m not saying its Bend, OR cold. But how many of you would have thought it would be…36 degrees in the wee morning hours at sea level just a few miles north of the TROPIC of Cancer. Yeah thirty-six Fahrenheit! Once the sun finally clears the horizon, I head for the beach to the Point. Because its still damn cold, my outfit is award winning…3/2 full wetsuit, Metolius stocking cap, jacket and tennis shoes; carrying my Boogie Board and fins. I’m quite a sight to be sure. The first waves I see, a couple of the regulars here, Andy and Matt, each take a turn on a double-overhead (12 to 14 foot face) waves. They’re both great surfers and they are killing it. There’s a light off shore breeze and the waves are roaring around the point. Yeah, not a day for me to be surfing; good choice.
From the time I hit the 74 degree water for the next three or four hours, it was my day. I rode some of the biggest, cleanest, meatiest waves I can ever remember riding; and rode them well.
The Point had about 15 good surfers out and myself the only one to represent for The Spongers. Here at Punta Conejo the vibe in the water is always reserved and quiet, friendly without any hassling. It is a widely held belief by those that surf that Boogie Boarding is a lower level of wave riding. As a result there can be a bit of prejudice, but usually just good natured ribbing. In some ways I agree, Boogie Boarding is the Snowboarding of the wave world with its much smaller learning curve. Yet, when done right it does give one those same sensations of surfing a wave well. Today though, I got several “Hoots”, thumbs ups and other forms of respect from these core surfers. More important to me though was I was having fun, dare I say I was having the most fun.
I rode a ton of waves that day, despite them being big, powerful and dishing out poundings; I was able to play with them. My best wave and one of my largest came right to me while sitting on top of the Point. Fighting my instincts to bail out the bottom of the wave to avoid a likely thumping, I pulled up on the front of my board and stalled positioned myself for the lip of the wave to sail over my head and I could hear that gurgling roar of being tubed. I continued down the line of the wave for another 25 yards or so and shot out onto the open face of the wave, clearing the tube section and then proceeded to carve the wave face from top to bottom and bottom to top, on down the line. A truly great wave and something I’m not quite able to do on a surfboard. But that day is coming. Looking forward to my Roaring Forties!
Christmas Morning! As Told by Katy:
Learning to surf at age 35 is kind of stupid idea (some things are a lot easier to learn when you are young and still have cartilage), but it had to be done. I’ve wanted to surf for my entire life, since I was a little kid. Maybe it was the “surfer-lifestyle” that allured me, but there was always something about surfing that just drew me in. Growing up in Southern California, I loved the ocean, loved the beach, but back then, girls didn’t really surf. None that I saw, anyway. I knew it was a tough thing to learn, not to mention that you need an expensive surfboard and wetsuit, so it never materialized. Then a few years ago, Chris and I started taking winter vacations in Mexico and as I spent more time at the ocean, I thought, maybe give it a whirl and see what happens. About five years ago, I rented a surfboard, caught a few waves, and that was it. Done deal, I’m ready to do this.
Surfing is kind of like saving nickels and dimes, it may take a long time, but eventually, you’ll be able to cash out. Don’t get me wrong; every day is fun. But you do pay your dues: no waves, too-big waves, scary conditions, mean locals, daily thrashings, getting caught on the inside for so long you want to give up, not finding your feet when you stand up, all of it. But some days are pure bliss, like Christmas morning.
Oh-Dark-Thirty: It’s still dark out, but I can hear the waves. They seem louder than ever. Shit. Seriously, are we going to get washed away? What is going on out there? I’m too groggy to know. Oh wait, maybe it’s just high tide and a new swell showing up. Okay, wait. Might be great down at the point. Maybe Santa came to Conejo!!!!!
First Light: Okay, better get going. Brrr its cold!!! Clothes, shoes. Rouse Dozer out of his snoring sleep. Check the surf. Hmmm, the beach break never looks good at high tide. Crane neck around the corner to see the point. Yep, waves, and a few heads bobbing in the water already. Good. Coffee mugs in hand, everyone turns a sleepy eye to the water in these early hours. Matt and his old dog Hallie, Jed and Emily and dog Bodie, Hollywood, the family from San Clemente, and others.
Sun Peeking Over the Horizon: Need cereal, water, Advil (shoulder is sore), suit up. I hope all my neoprene is dry from yesterday. Grab board and go. Like most people, I’ve learned how to surf on a longboard, but have been slowly making my way down to the shorter boards. My “shortboard” is not really that short by any means (6’0”), but I’m still on the steep part of the learning curve, so the frustration level rises as it’s quite a bit harder to catch waves. So for Christmas morning, I decided to take out “Ole Faithful”, the Channel Islands Water Hog (7’10”), aka: Blue Board.
I paddle out to what I call the second point, a place that I’ve got dialed by this time. Only a handful of people sit in this area, and I chat with a guy about how it might get better as the tide drops. The waves are great and FAST. Chris and I are both regular footed (meaning our left foot is in front, and our right foot is behind us), so this wave is a little more challenging because it is a “left” and we are riding the waves on our backside.
After about six really fun, overhead waves, I begin to realize – this is it. This is what I have wanted to do for so long and it’s finally happening! Woohoo! Now give me that bottle of Advil again….