Saturday, January 14, 2017

Del Mar: Drought-Breaker

Sometimes you're handed a totally unexpected gem.  Such was this morning.

Two months, it's been, since last I posted; since last I surfed.  I can't remember when I've gone so long.  This week hardly brought prospects of change.  Through the week, Southern California has endured a very welcome deluge; good for drought, not so much for surf.  Friday found me in Torrey Pines for work, holding no hopes for a surf session.  It was a wet day and evening, with showers expected to linger into Saturday.  Foolishly, I allowed the forecast to lull me into a late night with associates, expecting a leisurely morning of preparation to return to Pasadena.

Hardly early, but sunlight through the hotel window awoke me at 8:20.  The sky was clear and no wind appeared to stir the trees outside.  I rolled over and grabbed my bedside iPhone and checked the Del Mar cam.  Not many people in the water, but a nice little peeler showed in sunny, glassy conditions.  Sh*t.  Need to pack, to eat, to check it worth it?  I rolled over. 

9:00 found me balancing my rolling suitcase, briefcase, umbrella, bran muffin and paper coffee cup on my way to the hotel parking lot.

As I pulled into the meters by the Poseidon parking lot behind the 17th Street Life Guard headquarters in Del Mar, there was Jody Hubbard (organizer of our Nicaragua trip last spring), peeling off her dripping wetsuit, surprise lighting her face as she saw me approach.  Chris Lafferty was a few steps behind, and Bill "Froggy" Schildge was just coming up the sand.  Hard to express how good it was to see three of our Nica pod, before, finally, getting my first session of 2017.  How wonderful is it, to be able to pull into a beach parking lot over 100 miles from home and, unarranged, encounter three great friends that I'd not seen in months?

Entering my first cold water in a very long time, I was surprised how good it felt.  No "ice cream headache," no shock, just the icy trickle down my back as I made my first duck dive in two and a half months.  No doubt, the bright, sunny morning, the lack of wind, the warm-for-winter mid-60's air, all helped.

The surface was glassy and nice, un-threatening, mid-sized waves - maybe waist to shoulder high - were consistently rolling in.  As the very high morning tide started dropping, occasional larger waves would catch the sand bars further outside, but too infrequent to warrant swimming out there. In the two blocks blackballed (no boards, no skegs) around the 17th Street station, the only other surfers out were a couple of bodyboarders to the south, who left about halfway through my 45 minute session.  Otherwise, I had it all to myself: fun, peeling, semi-hollow, clean.

The highlight of the morning came as I exited after a long "shoreboat" ride in from the lineup: I doubted my eyes as I saw Vince Askey, the driving force behind the vibrant & growing Del Mar Bodysurfing Club, dunking himself in the shallows in a pair of jammers.  Shock, not because of his exposure to the cold water, but because Vince just had surgery to remove thyroid cancer from his throat less than a week ago!  He looked great!  Amazing.

At Vince's urging, I spent a few minutes at the Poseidon bar with the regular DMBC Saturday morning crew, saying hi to John and Joe and other of the crew.  I'd hoped to see Merideth & Haylee, as well, but unfotunately, they weren't there.

I expected to get up this morning, late, eat & pack, and eventually wend my way back from La Jolla to Pasadena.  Instead, I got a compelling reminder of what so mandates my commitment to bodysurfing and the bodysurfing community.