Saturday surf blogging…!

Okay, Shakers, ready for another kind of “surfing”? Welcome to a new weekend feature, “Saturday surf blogging” in which every Saturday I or whoever’s in the mood will post photos or videos of radical waves and/or surfers from throughout the world, along with personal stories about waves, surfers, or wev, as long as there’s a surf angle of some kind.

I’m going to kick it off with a clip of bodyboarding legend, Mike Stewart, surfing his local break—which just happens to be Banzai Pipeline.

I’ve been riding waves since I was a little kid in the 1950’s and 60’s, first just body surfing, then graduating to blow-up air-mattresses, inner-tubes, Styrofoam boards that would rub your belly raw and break-in-two if you looked at them wrong, and eventually—in high school—a long board shaped for me in his garage by a classmate. It was a prototype of boards to come in that it was wide, light weight (for the time) and with really thin rails. I loved that board.

Now this was in the days before wetsuits were common and I was the only girl I knew who was dedicated enough to surf through winter. While the guys went in pairs or packs, I mostly went alone—although I was an experienced enough water person to know to surf where others were in the water.

My mother’s suicide in early 1969 brought it all to an end. With the exception of one extraordinary trip to Mexico in the Spring of 1973—I was in Guadalajara when I first heard news of Nixon and Watergate—survivor’s guilt kept me away from the ocean (sailing and scuba diving, too) until the mid-1980’s when I purchased a bodyboard and began surfing again—at first tentatively, then steadily—in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Frigid water, insane currents, sometimes huge surf, the Bay Area was a far cry from where I’d cut my teeth on waves in Ventura and Baja California. But I became an avid weekend bodyboarder, then when I moved to San Diego in 1997, I found a dream job at Scripps Institute of Oceanography—in this building, with a lot of the crew shown here—working out of a sandy, beachside office for a physicist who tracked ocean currents in and around the California Channel Islands.

For the next 4-1/2 years, I proceeded to surf morning, noon and night. At one point, I owned 4 surfboards and two bodyboards—all of which I kept in my tiny office. In the beginning, if I came to work and the surf was good, my boss let me paddle out, then stay late to make it up. But as time went on, he grew more controlling and I had to limit my water time to before work, lunch breaks, and after work.

It was as close to heaven as I’ve probably ever had it. And wow, did I get buff and in shape! There is no activity like bodyboarding to give you an all around cardiovascular and full-body workout.

I really miss it. Ireland has some world-class surf but I’ve yet to get my sorry ass over to the west coast to experience it. Part of this is laziness, part of it not having much money and it being very expensive, but mostly it’s that I can’t just surf a little. If I’m going to surf, I need to be able to do it at least every weekend. And that just isn’t possible with me living in Dublin.

In a future clip, I’ll go more into the ethos between surfers and bodyboarders—or “spongers”. But to end tonight, a clip from one of the most radical waves in the world: The Wedge, in Newport Beach, California. I surfed this spot on a teeny tiny ankle-slapping day and the wave was so powerful it surprised me. Imagine on a day like this! (And watch for Mike Stewart!)

And finally, for old times sake and just to prove I can do it, here’s me at Del Mar, California, in (I think it was) January 2002. Someone in the water took the video and emailed it to me—I forgot I even had it til I was looking through some old files tonight!


Filed under 08_brynn

17 responses to “Saturday surf blogging…!

  1. Hey brynn, I just uploaded some pics from one of my trips to Munich- my best friend lives there. German Surfers riding manmade waves in the English Garden. They seemed to have a damn good time.

  2. Hey man, I used to body surf a bunch at Mission Bay way back in the mid-50’s. Still got the scars to prove it too ’cause sometimes the waves broke right on the beach and dropped you on the sand. CRUNCH!

  3. Brynn

    petulant, what a trip!

    I’ve seen other shots from wave pools. Looks fun! But, as GOM can tell you, there’s nothing like the unpredictability of the ocean!!

  4. This is one of the best surfing pics I’ve ever come across. Makes me happy every time I look at it. (Taken by Schaben, published in the LATimes, Dec 22, 2006)

  5. Brynn: Ventura? That’s where I live now. (The county, not the town.) Cool!

  6. Brynn


    I’ve seen that photo before. It’s great!

    You live in Ventura County? No way!! I lived in Ventura, in the Pierpont area, from 1965 through 1970; from 1963-1965, I lived in Carpenteria. Before that, El Cajon (outside San Diego).

    Back then, Ventura was a hellhole for somebody as different as me. Ocean sports kept me alive.

    Of course, I really thank my lucky stars my folks didn’t stay in El Cajon!!!!

  7. Kevin

    Scripps! Oh cool Brynn, my friend Dan J worked there (he’s not in your picture, he was a shipboard computer guy), and I got to visit at the very end of the millenium. Beautiful place to work, and good work too.

  8. Sweet. Please keep the waves coming.

  9. Insubordination rules

  10. katecontinued

    I look forward to this. I have a neighbor here in Encinitas who is a surf legend. Me? Well, I remember getting to play the Big Kahuna on the playground in 1959 when the Gidget movie came out.

    Maybe next week I will give a great link. I work for a neighbor occasionally who makes a wonderful surf accessory.

  11. Excellent new weekly feature. I look forward to more and more!

    I stopped at Huntington beach during a trip in the 90s — never been surfing, or body-surfing, or nothing.

    Rented a boogie-board, and was hooked immediately. Spent three straight days on the beach, and almost missed an appointment on the trip. Had a trip to Hawaii where I got a totally one-sided tan — the back side of me — because I spent all my beach time face down on the board. (Never stood up, tho)

    Water’s pretty chilly where I live now, and the beaches are rocky — but I’ve thought about it, believe me. Maybe, with your inspirational Saturday videos, I’ll get the plus-sized wet suit after all.

  12. katecontinued

    PortlyDyke. I’ll be watching you . . . It might be nice to pour my old body into a plus size wetsuit and boogie board before I turn 60 in December. See ya in a week or two.

  13. katecontinued — I highly recommend boogie-boarding — even in small surf, it’s just like flying.

  14. I have never been surfing, but we (me, Loki and Monkey) went to a beach in Rhode Island today (we saw Impeach Bush signs on people’s lawns, btw), where Monkey spent the entire time boogie boarding. She loved it.

    I love the beach so much, the sound of the ocean makes me feel so peaceful and I love the workout I get when I swim – I definitely have to work harder to get where I want to go when the water is moving.

  15. Brynn

    Btw, I forgot to mention, one of the things that’s amazing about the first video I posted, of Mike Stewart at Pipe, is the long ride he gets there. Not just anybody can ride Pipe like that! He’s such a consummate surfer and he knows the break so well you’ll notice how he catches the wave early, maintains a really high position just burning along until the critical section where the water gets shallow over reef and the wave jacks up and tubes. Then he drops down and gets slotted. He makes it all look so easy, but trust me, years of conditioning, practice, and wipeouts went into that ride. The man is a wave-riding genius.

  16. You’re right about not being able to surf just a little–it’s like climbing that way, another sport I LOVE but at which I haven’t been able to devote the time to get very good. Still at the top of the list though, along with outrigger paddling. So thanks for putting these up, for the pure enjoyment as well as the inspirational value–I’d better get going on it as this may be the last year I live near an ocean for a while! I look forward to Saturdays even more now!

  17. Pingback: Daily Round-Up at Shakesville

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