Tsunami Scare




CHARLESTON-OR    0715  PST MAR 11  SEASIDE-OR       0724  PST MAR 11

Awoken by my wife at 1:30am by news of a catastrophic earthquake and subsequent tsunami generated out of Japan.  Half asleep and not having all the facts, we woke up the boys, grabbed essentials, packed the car, and were ready to roll until realizing it wasn’t supposed to arrive till morning.  Whew!  Texted a buddy in Hawaii who was busy packing his survival kit and readying as well.  Tried to go back to sleep, but the the images of the first waves coming ashore in Japan were haunting.  Didn’t sleep well….left TV on all night so I could half listen to any new updates.

Woke up at 6am glued to the TV again.  Some neighbors were up and readying their departure.  One of my neighbors in a downstairs apartment had been up since 4am packing his valuables in his truck.  ‘If this thing floods my apartment, I’m done’, was the first thing out of his mouth.  There wasn’t any panicking since SF has never had a big Tsunami, but it had people’s attention.  We left our apartment and drove up to higher ground where we could get a view of the ocean just to be safe.  I didn’t think anything was going to happen since it was supposed to only be a 2-4ft surge, but better safe than sorry.  I’ve seen the footage of Thailand, Indonesia, and now Japan and so didn’t want to risk anything.

We sat up on the hill watching the surf and every time we saw a big one feather out on the outer bars we wondered if that was the start of the tsunami making itself known.  We ended up sitting in our van with pillows and sleeping bags while we listened to reports of traffic on 92 out of Half Moon Bay and 17 out of Santa Cruz being backed up by evacuees.  We were wondering why no one was reporting what had happened in Hawaii or Crescent City….indicators for what was coming our way.  Right after we vocalized our frustration with the lousy coverage was when we heard about water surging out of Santa Cruz Harbor….and then surging back in a few minutes later.  We thought we could see the ocean receding from our vantage point, but was hard to tell.  45 minutes after it was supposed to have hit, we decided it was safe to venture back down and have a look to see what we could see.

Couldn’t see much except an exceptionally low tide and some good sized swell in the water.  Surprised to see as many spectators as I did all with the same burning curiosity.

Beautiful morning and was interesting to see the neighborhood so quiet.  Great Hwy was shut down and of course the beach, which didn’t deter a few of us.

It was a bit of an eerie calm.  People weren’t talking to one another much, but just staring out to sea or talking on the cell phone.

Based on the news I heard this morning, sounds like Santa Cruz Harbor was the worst hit in this area.  We are sending our prayers and best wishes to all the people affected by this horrible tragedy in Japan.  I have been through a bunch of earthquakes, including the one in Taiwan that killed 2,000+ people, but can’t even fathom what an 8.9 for two minutes would feel like.

Looking forward to getting some rest this weekend.

Hope all our friends in Japan, Taiwan, Hawaii and other affected areas are safe today.


Artful Awareness

I must be getting old since I’m blogging about vacuum cleaners, but bare with me on this…there is relevance.  Check out Electrolux taking a stab at raising awareness for the massive amounts of plastic waste floating in our oceans.  From the Pacific Garbage Patch, which is about the size of Texas, to locations in the Indian and Atlantic Oceans as well as the Mediterranean, Baltic and North seas.  Albatrosses and other sea birds die from malnutrition because their bellies get full with this stuff and they can’t absorb enough nutrients.  Whales, seals, sharks, dolphins, turtles get snagged and trapped in leftover fishing gear…it’s really horrible.

Volunteers were sent out to collect bits of floating plastic, from bottles and buckets, styrofoam, and abandoned fishing gear from the oceans and seas mentioned above.

The pieces were then used to create various models that will be auctioned off to raise awareness.

These won’t be available for the masses and will never be made into full production models.  I was kind of hoping when I read this initially that there were efforts being made on a large scale to start removing and reusing this waste.

A small effort to get people aware of the problems plastic consumption and waste can cause and will perhaps get us thinking of creative ways to recycle and live more simply in the first place.  Every time you’re about to buy something plastic, consider whether or not there is an alternative, since it will be around a long long time.

You can read about the models here featured in FastCompany.

Progress for Ocean Policies/Awareness

The disaster in the gulf, if nothing else, has shown how fragile our ocean ecosystems really are, how the repercussions can be felt by all that are dependent among its resources, and the importance of measures to protect it.  Nice to see that there is heightened awareness and steps being taken in the right direction.  Hope this momentum continues in Washington and beyond.

180South cont….

Watched the rest of 180South.  It’s an inspiring tale that makes you want to hit the road and maybe not come back.  Really great to see the history of how great brands like Patagonia and North Face were conceived and what they are doing to help protect the wild places that are left.

Makes me want to load up the van, strap the boards, and head out on my own adventure.

Wonderful ride following Jeff Johnson around on his adventures as he spans generational and cultural gaps, hangs with friends like Yvonne Chouinard, Doug Thompkins and Keith Malloy and finds some really tall peaks and fun surf.

You can buy it from Amazon or watch it streaming on Netflix like I did.

Future of Taiwan beaches?

Got this photo from ‘Gazza the Great’ the other day.  Our beloved break may soon be no more.

So many good sessions along this stretch of sand.  Looks like it may go the way of all too many beaches in parts of the world where the surf population doesn’t have the collective strength to shoot these things down.

Check some of the videos in our video section to reminisce with me.

Photo: Phil McCrackin



This shot is pretty incredible.  Truly amazing creatures.  This is the type of image the perpetuates our fear.  Our human nature and conditioned fear of these highly evolved and awe inspiring animals.  The threat is much more real in places like Australia, South Africa, Norcal/Oregon and perhaps less lethal encounters in Florida.  I came across a pretty horrific video the other day that I think all of us as surfers and water enthusiasts should absorb.  In fact sharks should be much more afraid of us than we of them.  These creatures have been around for millions of years and play a vital part in our planet’s well being.  The potential repercussions are not to be overlooked or taken lightly.  Hopefully with a bit of awareness we won’t be the ones to take them out.  Check the video Sharks in Deep Trouble here.

With the increase in shark attacks globally and the violent attack of a lifeguard/surfer in South Africa it is hard to not think about what factors play a part.  Warming temperatures, gaps in the food chain….what is our level of influence.  A bit of education and respect will go a long way.

Some interesting links

Shark Hunting Strategies

Recent South African Attack

Shark Research Committee

It’s about Sea Life Benefit

Surf Aid Benefit

So my buddy Brian who used to work for Surf Aid sent me this invite. Looks to be a great event for a great cause. Was reminded when my ZunaSurf newsletter came via email today.

Here is the scoop.

“Surf Addict” and its crew, named after SF based Clothing & Accesories Manufacturer, along with other local partners/sponsors, will be the presenting sponsor of a launch party to benefit several sea life protection and environmental non-profit organizations.

Tomorrow night Friday, November 21st, 2008, 6:00pm-12:00pm – Aquarium At The Bay. Paddle Out on Saturday, November 22nd, 2008, 8:30am – Crissy Field

Learn more here

Dang Taiwanese

Dang Padang


A little bit late on the news, but just came across this today. It looks like there is a real problem down at Padang Padang with a fishing boat that ran aground on the reef at Padang Padang right in the takeoff zone and starting to leak fuel…but don’t take my word for it, read on.


Here is a little report from Slim at Baliwaves.com.


‘Situation we have down at Padang Padang. Well as far as I know at around 7.00pm on the evening of the 11th of July the fishing boat pictured on the cover of baliwaves.com ran a ground just about smack dead in the middle of the take off zone of Padang Padang reef (give or take 5yrds). Now the funny thing is that looking at the angle she hit the reef on I’d have to imagine that she was under power at the time, bow first into the reef. If she had lost power and adrift the strong off-shore wind would have blown her out to sea.

This boat also had a valuable cargo hold full of yellow fin Tuna all in the 50-70kg range that were also abandoned. Needless to say the Padang Padang / Uluwatu folk were all BBQ’ing fish the next night. As of yesterday afternoon the boat is still there in the same position on the reef. And with the tide’s that we have at the moment not being high enough for a tug to extract her until after the Full Moon rises on the 17th.

As of yesterday afternoon the boat started to leak diesel fuel and oil so her hull has been broken by the hard lava flow type reef of Padang Padang. This is going to cause some big problems with the fuel and oil already contaminating the Padang Padang area. The slick was also expanding and heading towards Uluwatu driven by the wind. I just hope it hasn’t gone that far as no one would really know just how much fuel and oil was on board the stricken ship. And if they are able to pull her off the reef there’s every chance that she will just sink as soon as it hits deeper water. So that’s about how much I know at this point in time but if I do get any new info on this crisis I’ll keep you all posted.



Jason Childs got some good photos of as well. Check out Surfing magazine here.