Alan's Endless Summer 2004
Sundays with Larry 8/22/04
It's been a slow summer here at Alan's Endless Summer. Unfortunately I think I'm going to have to wait until next year before I catch some good waves. There's been some decent surf but I've just been too busy to get down to the cape. I've been a little preoccupied.
Anyway, when Holly's parents came down to visit for a week at the end of August I decided that I would invite Holly's Dad to spend a weekend day Alan-style. I checked the weather and it looked fine. It had been too hot the day before but Sunday was only going to be in the low 80's and the water temperature down at Cape Hatteras was going to be just about the same as the air. The only problem with the day was that we would be arriving right at the peak of high tide and the best surf conditions are during low to high. But it would be a nice day to just sit at the beach and Dad wanted to see my secret Pea Island surf spot so we packed up the board and drove down to North Carolina. Click here to check out the pictures from our Big Day.
Holiday Traffic for the 4th of July? 7/03/04
Alan's Endless Summer is not going well this year. We've had beautiful weather, but for some reason on the weekends when I want to go surfing the swells drop off to practically zero. The ocean is not cooperating with my schedule. It'll be clean all week and then when the weekend comes it goes mushy or flat. I don't wanna surf at home in VA Beach until I have my skills in place and my training grounds are 2 hours away so if the wave forecasts and morning surf reports say the conditions are poor, I just don't go.
I checked the weather and decided that Saturday was going to be the best day. Low tide was scheduled for 2:30pm so I could even sleep in and leave around noon. Wave forecast was weak but small and glassy is good enough for a longboard. I strapped on my stick and left a little after noon. I don't know what I was thinking.
I should have known immediately when I turned onto the main highway to Nags Head. There was a bit of a back up and it was then, only minutes away from home, that I realized that perhaps others would be headed to the Outer Banks for the 4th of July weekend. Duh. It's only the busiest weekend of the year on the entire East Coast.
As soon as I crossed the border into N.C. the two lanes of traffic backed up, stopped and then started the 5-10mph creep toward Cape Hatteras. I was surrounded by an sea of minivans and SUV's, some painted with happy smiles, flags, and sun-shines with phrases like "OBX or bust!" and "Happy 4th of July at the Beach, Hurray!" I was stuck in a 100 mile long traffic jam of vacationers.
I flowed along in the gridlock for about an hour and a half before I gave up. It was now about 3pm and the tide was going to be coming in and pushing the waves too close to shore. I was still at least an hour away under normal conditions - like if the road was clear. At the rate I was going I probably would have gotten to Pea Island by sundown, maybe.
So I spun it around, zoomed home on the traffic-free side of the highway, and went to a late matinee to see Spiderman again. It's been kind of rainy this weekend so I suppose I should feel sorry for all those happy little families who got in the way of my surfing. Fortunately, I can go to the Outer Banks whenever I want and am not forced to risk my whole vacation on the weather patterns of a single weekend.
I'll probably make the drive next weekend when things get back to normal. Lesson learned. Next year I'll remember that the weekend of the 4th is for tourists.
Wake Boarding in Michigan 6/9/04
I know it's not surfing but it's been a slow summer here at Alan's Endless Summer so here's some pictures from my first attempt at wake boarding.
My brother Beans (Glen) and his wife Dawn started wake boarding at the end of last summer and now they're full blown enthusiasts. They bought a boat and all the gear and even went to Florida for a week during the winter to practice with a Pro wake boarder. So while I was in Michigan for Sasha's baby shower I spent June 9th, Beans birthday, on the water with them as they tried to show me how to do it.
Click here if you want to see and read about it. (Lots of pictures, high speed internet connection recommended)
Don't Go in the Water 5/23/04
Quint: The thing about a shark, it's got lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll's eyes. When it comes at you it doesn't seem to be livin'... until he bites you, and those black eyes roll over white.
So I finally ignored the weather, water temperature and surf reports and decided that I was going surfing this weekend no matter what. The report was 30% chance of thundershowers both Saturday and Sunday but the surf report called for slightly bigger waves on Sunday so that was my day. Now that I have my own board I didn't have to stop at The Pitt so I left a little later and arrived on Pea Island at noon.
It was warm and sunny and in the high 80's to low 90's and the waves were decent size but the wind was blowing really really hard and out to sea. This caused numerous problems. First of all when you have a 9'2" long board it's almost impossible to hold onto it in a strong wind. You either get spun like a big propeller or it just flies out of your hands. So it was very hard to walk down to the water. Plus the tide was out so I had to traverse about 100 yards just to get to the water. The wind was also blowing the sand like crazy. It felt like 1000's of tiny needles. In fact when I would go out to surf, my chair and backpack would become completely covered by the blowing sand and I had to keep digging them out when I came up to take a break. Additionally the wind blowing toward the water tends to destroy the wave shape because it blows the top off them. So even though the wave size was pretty good the waves were almost all destroyed by the wind before they really had a chance to break.
But I didn't care. I'd had my gear for 2 months and I was dying to use it. Even though some people were out in just bathing suits, I thought the water was still cold enough to try out my wetsuit. It worked great too! One thing I learned though is that they retain water. Because there was so much sand blowing, and I didn't want sand in the wetsuit, I decided to go out in the water and put the suit on. When I did this the suit filled with water and it was like being stuck in a human-shaped water balloon. I waddled up on shore like the Michelin man and drained the water out at my ankles. Now keep in mind that I already look kind of stupid in my wetsuit even when it's not filled with water. I've gained a lot of weight so I sort of look like a really pudgy bald Spiderman. As usual there was no one nearby to witness my shame.
Anyway, it was fun to be out again. Surfing is not really like riding a bike. I found that I was not at the skill level I left off at last summer. At first I couldn't get up at all. Then I was able to get into this squatting stance, feet down but with my hands still on the board for balance. Every time I tried to stand all the way up I immediately fell over. So for today squatting was the best I could do. I got in about 8 full rides and I will call my technique "Crouching Alan, Surfing Dragon."
I also found out that my winter spent watching movies, eating buckets of popcorn, and going to all the off-season all-you-can-eat buffets in town have left me a bit out of shape. I actually had to take a break before I even started because I got winded just carrying my gear down to the beach and getting in my wetsuit. Then when I got in, the waves were erratic and the wind was causing a strong side current that I was constantly struggling against. I stayed at the beach and played until about 4pm.
I packed up my gear and with much difficulty, because of the wind again, strapped my board back on top of my car. The wind would literally pick it up when I was trying to belt it down and I would have to catch it in the air before it smashed onto the pavement. By the way, I think I found my old surf spot that was lost during the hurricane last year. Hurray!
On my way out of town I stopped at Goombays, one of the local's restaurants in Kitty Hawk, for some of those fish taco's I love so much. As I was getting out of the car this old surfer guy came running up to me and started going crazy about my board. He loved it for some reason and wanted to touch it and tell me how cool it was and then he sort of walked away. So I ended up spending the whole meal keeping an eye on my car outside the window in case he came back.
It was late afternoon before the dinner rush. There were a few locals at the bar but I was the only person eating. The bartender came over to ask me how the surf was. He was a long boarder too and we talked for a few minutes about surfing and stuff.
As I was stuffing fish taco's into my mouth a couple of the waitresses came over and said, "Did you say you were you out surfing today?"
I said, "yup, down at Pea Island."
They said, "Weren't you scared?"
I said, "No, why?"
They said, "The shark."
They then told me that the beach at Rodanthe, the surf beach about 10 miles South of where I surf at Pea Island, was closed yesterday because a 16 Foot, 2000 pound Great White was spotted by a charter fishing boat off the coast. I thought they were kidding. They said that the dorsal fin of the shark actually stuck 5 feet out of the water! Then they gave me the charter boat website with the picture and the video that I have included below. It was difficult to finish my meal. I was a bit shaken.
Here's something fun I did when I got home to tell Holly the story. Grab a tape measure and pull out 16 feet. (Do it right now, it makes the story better when you see how big it really is.) It's huge! A shark that big could have swallowed me and my board in one gulp and I would never have even known what happened. It's like a dinosaur or something. Here's a news clipping and a photo of the actual shark and a link to the video.
From: Kitty Hawk Free Press
Great White Shark filmed swimming near charter boat on the Outer Banks
A Great White Shark was spotted off Rodanthe by the charter boat Poacher. The great beast was over 16 feet long, and about 2000 lbs. Charles Perry shot about 3.5 minutes of video from the deck of the 40 foot charter ship Poacher.
Last week a great white was spotted just off the breakers at Pea Island. The last reported sighting was just off Kill Devil Hills on the Outer Banks.
Great White Sharks are expert Killing Machines. the great white usually strikes it's prey from below in one powerful blow, some victims have likened the experience to being hit by a car, inflicting a lethal bite to head or trunk of its victim. The shark then swims away a short distance to let its victim bleed to death so that it will not have to struggle with its meal. This pause after an attack is what allows some survivors to escape after being bitten by the great white beast. The largest great white on record measured 21 feet long. Since great whites are such elusive and mysterious creatures, it's entirely possible there may be even bigger ones out there we have yet to meet.
So that was my first time out this year. But it won't be my last.
Quint: [singing] Farewell and adieu to you fair Spanish ladies / Farewell and adieu you ladies of Spain. / For we received orders for to sail back to Boston / And soon never more will we see you again.
Buying My First Stick (3/27/04)
OK. This isn't much of a story but it was a pretty exciting day. I had been trying to call The Pit for like 3 days because I planned to finally drive down and use the gift certificate I got for Christmas from my brother Beans (Glen), his wife Dawn, my Mom, Dad and Holly. We had some money from our tax refund and that coupled with the gift certificate was enough to at least get the board, fins, leash, wax and car rack. So on Saturday about noon someone at The Pit finally answered the phone, said they were open, and had the board I wanted in stock.
I dragged my pregnant wife out of bed, strapped her in the car, and drove down to Kitty Hawk, N.C. Actually, I dragged her out of bed, ran to Best Buy to get the new Marcy Playground CD, drove back home and then strapped her in the car, and drove down to Kitty Hawk, N.C. I wanted to listen to the new CD on the drive down.
We got to the store and they did have about six of the South Point Longboards in stock. I had always imagined that I would get a blue one because that's the color that they had in stock all last summer but today they were all yellow. I was a little disappointed at first and although the guy working the store, I forget his name, told me I wouldn't really care about the color I was still sort of bummed. Holly said it was cool though and I have to admit that as the day went on, and I saw it lashed to the roof of my car, I was really glad I got the yellow one. The blue ones were boring. Yellow's where it's at man! I'm all about yellow now.
The board was only a bit more than my gift certificate and with my Pal-of-the-Pit discount, they threw in the fins, leash and wax for free! Super sweet!
Another piece of good news was that I was going to be able to use a $40 soft rack to mount it on top of my car instead of the $300 hard rack I thought I was going to need.
So I bought the board, strapped it to the top of my car and now I'm good to go. Totally amped. We then stopped to celebrate at Goombays for those fish taco's I love so much. It was a really nice sunny day in the 80's on Saturday but the water temperature was still too cold (only 45 degrees).
I checked out the wetsuits at The Pit, but I have seen them for sale online at a better price so I decided to wait. I was going to stop and peek at the other surf shops on the way home to scout for new shoes anyway and there was a specific RipCurl wetsuit that I had my mind set on. At one of the last stores on the way out of town I actually found the RipCurl wetsuit that I wanted for like $50 cheaper than I had seen it priced online! I had tried some wetsuits on about a month ago at 17 Street Surf Shop here in VA beach, and determined that I needed a X-tra Large. (I couldn't even zip my fat gut into the Large sized ones that day.) So today I tried on the XL RipCurl and it was even a bit too tight. I tried on the XXL and it fit great and I could actually breath in it. The guy at the counter said I should get the one that fits now even if I planned on dropping some weight, so I bought the XXL. It looks cool on me. Kind of like Spiderman as Venom. Maybe after my board gets beat up enough I'll stencil the Spiderman symbol on it. That would be rad!
Once we got home I realized that a 9'2" surf board doesn't really fit well in an apartment. The ceilings in here are only about 8 foot something. I had planned on leaning in in the corner by my DVD's but that's impossible unless I slant it out into the middle of the room. Right now it's laying in the space we cleared for the baby furniture in our bedroom, but I hope to mount it up on the wall in the living room if I can (That's the only room with wall space longer than 9'2").
Anyway, the day was a great success. I didn't get in the water, but I now have all my gear and as soon as it warms up a bit, I'll be stoked and on my way for the 2004 season!