beach (284)

Yes, Sand Crabs Are Edible!

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Last Thursday I saw two guys digging in the sand at Stinson Beach. They were collecting what are called “sand crabs,” or “decapod crustaceans.” Also called mole crabs. The guys were Salvadorans and told me they would be cooking them with tomatoes and having over rice.

The next day Doug and I got a batch, boiled them for 10 minutes, then marinated in olive oil, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and red peppers and fried at high heat, as shown here, in walnut oil.

They were delicious, like crunchy shrimp.

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Blast from the Santa Cruz Past #1 – Jack O’Neill

Jack O’Neill at Steamer Lane in the ’50s

One of the early wetsuits

Jack had this kite flyer at Ocean Beach in San Francisco, before he moved to Santa Cruz. This thing would get up to high speeds. I was his insurance broker when he opened The Surf Shop on The Great Highway in SFO in the early ’50s. Some time I’ll tell you the story of how Jack made his first wetsuit. Spoiler alert: he did not invent the wetsuit.

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Mr. Sharkey’s Fat-Tire Electric Bike in the Oregon Sand Dunes

Particulars on my fat-tire e-bike:

It’s a custom build, consisting of:

  • Soma “Sandworm” chrome-moly steel frame
  • Single-speed chain drive (no derailleur to need adjustment or break on the trail)
  • Bafang BBSHD mid-drive motor
  • Luna Cycle 1,000-watt controller and display, with the controller software reprogrammed to 30 amperes of current at 52 volts (1,500 watts, or 2 horsepower)
  • Luna Cycle 4p14s 52-volt, 12 ampere-hour lithium battery
  • Relatively inexpensive after market hydraulic front forks
  • 26 × 4.40 sand tires, running ~5 PSI (pressure depends on sand conditions)
  • Salsa “Bend” 23-degree swept-back handlebars (for arthritic thumb comfort)
  • More than I can remember at one sitting

Basically, this bike was custom assembled for riding on sand dunes. It’s also comfortable on the beach, and I even use it around the farm to get from place to place instead of walking sometimes.

The Luna controller integrates nicely with the Bafang motor and allows nine levels of pedal assist, which comes in handy for a variety of sand conditions and terrain slopes. The hand throttle is always available for use when desired.

Much of the riding I’ve been doing lately is going out on isolated dunes and seeking out wind-swept contours to surf, climbing to heights and carving the curves and troughs on the downhill run. Sometimes it’s possible to find formations that mimic a road course with banked turns, deep drops into depressions with easy exit slopes, or moguls, small jumps and the sort for some light trick riding. There’s also a fair amount of coastal forest trails connecting various dunes, which provides to opportunity for obstacle course practice and collision avoidance. Crashes are not uncommon, but the sand is pretty forgiving to the falling rider. Bruises are temporary, but good times live forever!
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Shipwrecked

A friend gave me this sleek little surfing kayak; I was excited and suited up and went surfing.

So excited I didn’t think of attaching a leash (connecting me to kayak should I get dumped), forgot a life jacket, and was wearing a 15-year-old 4/5 mil wetsuit that was stiff from age.

You can see where this is going, right?

It was kinda rough in the channel, and I wasn’t in paddling shape, but I went out and got a small wave — and was impressed that the kayak surfed pretty well (which most kayaks don’t).

I was tired, thought I’d go in, but — maybe just one more wave. And got dumped.

The kayak headed shoreward and I was getting slowly swept out to sea in an outgoing current (heading towards a minus tide). Tried swimming while holding on to paddle, but was getting nowhere, so abandoned paddle. Tried swimming to shore but the suit was so stiff I could hardly raise my arms. PLUS the the way it floated me, I couldn’t get horizontal to swim. I couldn’t get closer to the beach. (Same beach where I was a lifeguard 60 years ago — ironic.

I didn’t panic, but was worried, even contemplative: what if I can’t get to shore? How long do I have? I mean, I’m a lifetime swimmer, surfer, swim instructor, lifeguard at Lake Tahoe, Santa Cruz, Stinson Beach, and this was the first time I couldn’t swim to where I wanted to go. Shit!

There were a couple of people on the beach. Guess I could wave arms and yell “Help!” but “…the shame of it all” (a la Lee Marvin in The Wild One. Kook!

Well lo and behold, here comes a surfer, towing my kayak out. I was too tired to climb aboard, so I grabbed the back of it and he started towing me to shore. Halfway there, a girl on a longboard paddled over, let me borrow it and I paddled on in.

The kindness of strangers.

My rescuer turned out to be Kater Murch, who I remember as a kid in town and who was now a physicist living in St. Louis and home for the holidays. (This was on the afternoon of Christmas eve.)

Beyond the call of duty.

You saved my ass, I said, and hugged him.

OK, OK, if I go kayaking again, I’ll use a leash, wear a lifejacket, and wear a new stretchy wetsuit.

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The Art of Polynesian Navigation

View of Maitavie Bay, Tahiti; painting by William Hodges (1776)

…Although the details of Tupaia’s knowledge may be lost to history, Pacific people continue to voyage in his wake. To mark the 250-year anniversary of Tupaia’s voyage, in 2019 Galenon and Teipoarii navigated the ship  by the moon and stars from Tahiti to Aotearoa. They are part of a Pacific-wide movement of modern wayfinders who hope to restore inter-island networks disrupted by colonization and to build regional unity around shared challenges like climate change.

Like Tupaia, they exchanged oral traditions with people they met along the voyage. ‘Our ancestors would navigate to maintain relationships,’ says Galenon. ‘The canoe was the link.’

Above painting is Tahiti.

knowablemagazine.org/article/society/2021/reading-pacific-navigators-mysterious-map

Also, Polynesian Navigation on Wiki: wikipedia.org/wiki/Polynesian_navigation

From Dan Dwyer

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Solo 94-Day Sailboat Journey to San Francisco from Japan in 1962

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In 1962, a small sailboat sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge. Aboard was Kenichi Horie, a 23-year-old Japanese adventurer, who had left Japan 94 days earlier and with nothing but the power of the wind, crossed the Pacific Ocean. He was at first arrested because he had no passport, but eventually was released and given a key to the city by the mayor.

This is his boat, at the Maritime Museum at Aquatic Park in San Francisco.

If you go there be sure to walk a few blocks to the much larger Maritime museum in The Cannery building at 900 Beach Street.

…Oh yeah, afterwards an Irish coffee at the Buena Vista Cafe (across the street from the cable car turnaround)…

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Crystal Voyager — Music by Pink Floyd, Photography by George Greenough —1973

Crystal Voyager: Echoes from Jacob H on Vimeo.

In 1971, Bob Easton and I were putting the finishing touches on Domebook 2 at his home in Santa Barbara. Bob said his next-door neighbor was a surfer and liked to use the large white walls of Bob’s house on which to project his surfing films. Should I invite him over, said Bob. Well, duh…

When it got dark, over came the neighbor — George Greenough, with a projector, and as we watched George’s footage of hot dog surfers in Southern California, Bob played an Albert King blues album.

Later in the early 70s, when Bob and I were working on the book Shelter in Bolinas, George came up from Santa Barbara with the footage for this film, and we showed it to friends in my dome, and then to everyone down at the community center. He subsequently made a deal with Pink Floyd where they projected this footage along with their song “Echoes” in concerts, and George used the music in his 1973 film, “The Crystal Voyager.”

George was the originator of in-the-tube surf photography, using a homemade 30-pound waterproof camera mounted on his shoulder, riding a homemade spoon kneeboard. Resolution is a pretty crappy 240p, but you get the idea: you are inside the chamber of the tube with the barrel getting smaller and smaller, like the f-stop on a camera, until — wham! — psychedelic bubbles, turbulence, and spinning.

George went on to become a surfing legend legend and now lives in Australia.

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Birds at Jenner, Highway One, Northern California

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Jenner last month, on my way up the coast to Louie’s. Thousands of gulls. They weren’t feeding, maybe in for the coming storm?

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