I think I figured out my retirement over the weekend. Sail around the world and surf, visit with friends, eat great food, drink and be merry. Had a very therapeutic surf/fishing trip the weekend before last somewhere off the coast of California. It was nothing short of epic.
Flew in the night before we were supposed to leave and just knew it was going to be a great trip by the incredible sunset from the plane and the way everything was starting to come together.
That night did a bit of warming up by chowing down on some sushi and washing it down with sake and a few good pints at the Other Door. Awoke feeling good at about 7ish and went to meet up with my old friends Paolo and Shane who I would spend the next few days with rocking and rolling on the open sea.
Packed everything up, went on a major shopping spree for supplies and headed off. It was a beautiful sunny day with a decent little swell marching in. As we left the harbor with big grins Paolo gave us a taste of what our sweet ride was capable of; cruising at about 35 mph over 4ft swells that nearly got us airborne on the good ones as we were greeted by just one of many pods of dolphins to swim alongside us on our journey.
The ocean was so smooth that we were able to keep a solid pace for the next hour or so as Shane and I hung off the sides of the boat riding up and down the swells and just giggling like we were 12 again. It was really surreal and so liberating to be out on the open ocean with nothing around in all directions and just cruising at break neck speed with all this wonderful ocean life everywhere.
After what felt like a short time we started to get a glimpse of the islands that were going to act as our shelter and entertainment for the trip. They were just the most majestic big rocks jutting out from the sea which seemed to hold a certain purity, mystique and grandeur rarely found on the mainland all in one package. We started to get excited as we were able to see the swell hitting some of the reefs.
We went directly to our first stop and were pleasantly surprised to find a couple guys enjoying what looked like some really fun surf. Paolo and Shane had surfed the spot before, but this was my first time and so it was cool to see that it was rideable and had what appeared to be from the back a perfect A-frame peak.
We anchored about 75 yards from the break and I got all suited up not really knowing what to expect but stoked that the wind was light, surf was up, and this was the ideal way to get things going. The water was an amazing deep blue which contrasted so beautifully with the golden kelp that reached up tall from the ocean floor.
Paddling over to the break I was just ecstatic and pleasantly surprised to find that it was perfectly clean and a true A-frame that broke over rock reef for about 35 yrds both ways. It reminded me a lot of Sewers in Santa Cruz except that it was an easier takeoff, longer and more perfect at its size. There were sets that were coming through at just barely overhead on the peak and you could take off slightly behind the peak and make it every time. We all shared waves for the next couple hours going right and left and switching from long to short boards and back. It turned out that the 4/3 I packed was a bit much, but it was nice to be warm and protected for our first session.
We surfed for about two hours and then paddled back to the boat feeling like I was thousands of miles away from home. We cracked a few cold ones and sat back for a brief moment to soak it all in before motoring off to find a quiet cove where we would spend the night anchored.
We traveled about ten minutes up the coast to this perfect natural harbor with rock cliffs on all sides connected by a small strip of sand. The swells gently undulating in and out of the cove massaging us as we got ready for one of the many great meals to be devoured. Paolo was channeling Mario Batali or something but whatever it was, we were livin large.
We ate Albacore and Bluefin over rice, barbequed chicken breast, and even burritos one of the nights with albacore belly….so fatty and delicious.
It was killer!
The evenings were amazing as we had foggy nights that seemed to kiss the tops of the cliffs and create a scene that looked like something out of the Land of the Lost. You fully expected to see some terradactyl come swooping out of the fog with little ringlets of clouds spinning off the wing tips. It was super trippy.
And I don’t think it was entirely due to the euphoria we felt from the great surf, food and drinks we were consuming.
Some of the nights we had just beautifully clear skies with a million and one stars up in the sky. It was so dark we could see the Milky Way and all the various constellations, not to mention a plethora of shooting stars. I slept out on the back deck under the stars in my sleeping bag and could not have been cozier.
The mornings started off slow with a bit of fog till about ten in the morning, which was the perfect pace. Nothing worse than being woken up at the crack of dawn by the blazing sun beating down on you. I had many a mornings like that in Taiwan and much prefer to wake up at a reasonable hour and let the sun slowly warm you.
Shane would make us coffee and we’d take a refreshing dive off the side of the boat into the kelp forests to wake up before motoring off to get our daily surf and snorkel in.
One of the days we decided to motor to a part of the island where we could come ashore if we wanted to. Shane was dying to do some hiking and get some views whereas Paolo and I were looking for some submarine views and decided to try spearfishing for the great white sea bass that flows through these parts around this time of year.
Shane took a pack on his back and a board and paddled to shore to have a look around and we headed off. I just trailed Paolo to see how its done since I wasn’t confident I would know what I wanted to catch and really just wanted to soak it all in. It was amazing and some of the best snorkeling I’ve ever experienced and its not like I haven’t been to some cool locales.
The ocean was on fire with lavender sea urchins everywhere big and small. Big black sea urchins, interesting snails, and some really cool fish like the Garibaldi which is flourescent orange and really friendly. Also saw some Opal Eye fish (I think they were called) and all sorts of minnows and Mackerel. I played in the kelp forests diving down as far as I could go, swimming between kelp stalks, and through tunnels in the kelp and then decided to warm up on the rocks nearby. As I got out I found that I had a pretty good case of sea legs…it felt like the whole island was rocking back and forth about 6-12 inches up and down and side to side. It was pretty wild and wasn’t sure if I was just dehydrated or something.
There was no one around and it felt so cool to have this playground all to ourselves. I spent another thirty minutes or so trailing Paolo around as he swam gently threw the forest of kelp searching for his prized fish. We never did find it and ended up heading back to the boat to soak up the sun and get ready for another surf.
For the duration of the trip we surfed everyday, sometimes getting it all to ourselves and just having a blast. Slept well, ate well, let loose and just took a much needed break from all the pressures back in our daily realities.
I was able to get a great taste of how good owning a boat can be without having to own one. The freedom to get away from it all and recharge your batteries.
As we headed back from our trip we were sun burnt and stoked. A whale sighting topped off the journey and really hit home how lucky we’d been. We had chest to head high surf everyday, great weather, sun every day and fog when we needed it, incredible food, great friends, laughter up the yin yang, and memories to last a lifetime.
I could absolutely get into sailing or boating and really look forward to my next boat trip and adventure….Maldives? Tahiti?…sailing from island to island…ho brah!!