ocean (191)

Going Down the San Lorenzo River on Surfboards During the Great Flood of 1955

My Santa Cruz roommate George Kovalenko and I went down the San Lorenzo River on our surfboards in 1955, during the biggest flood in Santa Cruz history.

The water was up over the parking meters on the main street. It was a gray, drizzly day, and George and I put in by Paradise Park and got swept down the river, along with cars, uprooted trees, sections of houses, and refrigerators. Every bridge across the river had collapsed; it was pretty scary.

Morons!

When we got out down by the ferris wheel at the river mouth, the cops said they were going to arrest us, but they got diverted by other emergencies and we slipped away.

These 67-year old photos were almost illegible. Rick Gordon performed some Photoshop magic to get this much out of them.

Note: I was interviewed by Jessica York, a reporter for the Santa Cruz Sentinel yesterday for an article on our adventure.

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Fresh Albacore

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Jeremy Dierks filleting an albacore. Very different from filleting other fish, tricks to it as shown here.

I marinated in olive oil, soy sauce, a little vinegar, garlic, and ginger for 30 minutes, then cooked at high heat briefly on Weber grill.

I swear it was about the best food I’ve ever had.

Note: A lot of fishermen stay at sea for 2-3 weeks and quick-freeze fish until they get into port. Fresh fish is entirely different.

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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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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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