Search results for: Big Sur
Eric Anderson -- from US Marine to Northern California freediver and spearo
** Interview episode 122 **
Today we talk with Eric Anderson who checked out of the military life and into an ocean life here in the waters of Northern California. Eric takes us through his time deployed around the world as a United States Marine to finding his true calling underwater through his wife and family. With a commendable obsession for freediving and spearfishing, Eric takes us through diving California’s Channel Islands, white sharks, to days hunting abalone and pursuing fish of all shapes and sizes along the very epic Big Sur coast. Throughout, Eric provides a great perspective on conservation, limiting your take from the ocean, and dedication to introducing the next generation to the ocean and his own kids find that connection that we all feel. Our conversation begins around one random day where we met each other at a top secret dive spot.
Shannon Quirk -- big wave world tour, empowering women in the water
Other pieces of our conversation with Shannon:
- Settling down on Oahu, life-giving nature of the ocean, surfing, and yoga
- Living in various places around the world including Maui, with big focus on Nazare, Portugal for 3 years
- Similarities of Portugal to Northern California — cold water, wetsuits and thick heavy waves
- Working for the Big Wave Tour and ‘family’ aspect of big wave surfers
- Knew as a youth that journalism was the path she wanted to pursue
- Focus on growing movement of women in big wave surfing and finding new ways to showcase women in the
- Starting live reporting for Surf Channel at Mavericks and refining her craft of reporting over the years
- Dynamics of big wave rescue, driving jet skis, and preparing to help yourself and others in big surf
- Spent years as a pro snowboarder and traveling the world to chase winters.
- Shannon talks about her quiver on the North Shore — big wave boards down to 6’5
- The importance of yoga in Shannon’s regular routine
Maria Fernanda -- big wave surf photography, fins and a camera
- Recent (November 2019) swell at Nazare
- Swimming and taking photos at legendary big wave breaks such as Jaws, Puerto Escondido, Pipeline, Todos Santos, Waimea Bay, Nazare.
- First photo shoots and heavy waves on Kuaui
- Mental and physical training for swimming in big waves
- Growing up in Mexico City and finding her strength in the ocean through weekend trips to the coast with family
- Having a mentor to teach her surf photography, starting with a disposable camera!
- Perspective on the mainland Mexico big wave surf scene, and global big wave surf communit
Sachi Cunningham -- big wave surfing photography, film making, gender equity on tour
In Episode 69 we speak with Sachi Cunningham, a legendary woman of the water who has been photographing the waves of Mavericks and other heavy breaks for close to 20 years. Sachi shares her stories of developing her strength swimming in the water as a youth then finding her passion for photography, surfing, and waves. We hear of Sachi’s first day swimming and shooting at big Ocean Beach, her progression of capturing big wave photos from the water at both Mavericks and Jaws, and the big wave community she has been part of for so long. Sachi talks about her focus for helping women in professional big wave surfing reach gender equity on the world tour and her current project, She Change The Film, that documents the events and key figures in that awesome story. We also hear Sachi’s physical and mental approach to swimming in big surf and introducing her young daughter to the ocean.
Thanks for sharing Sachi’s ocean life with us. You can find pictures and video of her on Instagram and She Change The Film website. Please consider donating a few bucks to Sachi’s She Change project to help raise awareness for gender equity in surfing and beyond.
Photos by Maria Fernanda and Sarah Makarewicz.
Stoked Grom: Cole Renfrew - surfer, spear fisherman, Junior Lifeguard
In our first episode of Stoked Grom Stories we talk with Cole Renfrew, a surfer, spear fisherman, and Junior Lifeguard. Cole shares his stories of surfing at Steamer Lane with his crew of friends, the beauty of diving and spearing fish in the kelp forests of Big Sur, and his passion for competitive surfing. Cole talks about following in the goofy-footed footsteps of his father and does an amazing job answering the grom question lightening round.
Thanks for sharing Cole’s ocean life with us. You can find pictures and video of Cole on his Instagram page.
Steve Lonhart - Marine Scientist, 3,000+ dives
In Episode 37 we speak with Steve Lonhart, marine scientist in Central California with over 3,000 scuba dives under his belt. Steve shares his life of researching the reefs and kelp forests around Monterey to better understand the changes to our ocean over time. We hear about the physical challenges of marine research diving, the boats and people required, the importance of collecting quality data, and the rugged beauty of the Big Sur coast, an iconic area of California. Steve shares a great perspective on the importance of monitoring our ocean environment over time to detect subtle changes that may indicate larger trends at work.
Sean McClenahan -- towing Jaws on the skimboard, big waves and family dedication on Maui
** Interview episode 124 **
Today we talk story with Sean McClenahan, skim boarder, surfer, skater, family man, and much more. Sean takes us through his days surfing the left at Jaws, including the story of his personal biggest wave this last winter of 2019. We hear of Sean’s dedication to the sport of skim boarding, his favorite spots, growing the sport in the Hawaiian Islands as a skim boarding ambassador, and through his training business, SkimHawaii. Sean tells a gnarly story of paddling out at Jaws on his skim board for a tow session (which you gotta check out on YouTube). As a dedicated a family man, Sean talks about raising ocean-focused kids on Maui and tells the story of helping his 9 year old son Asher, a full charger in his own right, score an absolute freight train barrel at Honolua Bay (another video clip you’ll lose your mind over). Really great perspective today from Sean, a man well focused on his family, the ocean, and finding new limits in the water. Next time you’re on Maui — go check him out and throw a skimboard with him.
If you like what you hear on the podcast today, I appreciate you following This Ocean Life on your podcast app and/or sharing with a friend. Hope everyone is well and safe. You can find more fun stuff on the ThisOceanLife.TV website, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Host: Josh Pederson, @surfpaddletailgate
Today’s sponsors: LiveCrepic.com — use the coupon code Ocean20 to get 20% off any purchase of their rad hats, shirts, and more. Mile22.com — grab a pair of Monster Straps for 20% off when you enter the coupon code TOL15.
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The Four Do’s and Don’ts of Taking Your Boat to Mavericks (Part I)
Mavericks needs no introduction. It’s a big, scary wave that requires full attention and respect from both the people who surf it and those who take boats out to it. Thanks to my friend Zach Wormhoudt I had the amazing opportunity of taking my old boat, Maria May a 21 ft Parker wheelhouse, out to Mavericks for a few occasions. First in 2011 for a zero-visibility surf strike, second in 2012 as support boat for filming of the Chasing Mavericks movie, and third in 2013 for the Mavericks Surf Contest as board caddy for a few legends.
How many days total have I been out at Mavericks on my boat? Four. Does that qualify me to give advice to other would-be boaters at this scary surf break? I’ll let you debate that answer after you read the rest of this article. If nothing else, four days of boating at Mavericks is very much trial by fire and more than enough for me to learn a few very key do’s and don’ts. Three sets of key do’s and don’ts in fact 🙂
Do #1: Go around the buoy
Pull up a map showing the Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay and you’ll see that it’s a straight shot from the harbor mouth out to Mavericks. Looks like a no-brainer to run straight out from the harbor, right? Now pull up a map with bathymetry (ocean depth) and you’ll see a different story. It’s shallow. Very shallow. A reef, rightfully named Blackhand Reef, extends from the harbor entrance out toward the surf break. Guess what washes over this shallow reef when the swell is pumping 18 feet at 15 seconds? Very big waves with very big whitewash. On their way out to the 2011 Mavericks contest a couple of friends on a Boston Whaler just barely turned around in front of a detonating 10-footer on Blackhand Reef escaping catastrophe.
So you do not cut across the reef unless you are on a ski and can easily run to the shoulder to avoid serious harm. The alternative is to head south down coast for ~1 mile to the can buoy. This marks the safe channel and your best friend; deep water. Big waves struggle to break or reform in deep water so it’s your safety zone. Once you round the buoy you take a diagonal path out to Mavericks 1 mile+ out, staying in deep water and watching the chaotic scene unfold on Blackhand Reef from afar. Deep is safe (remember that).
Don’t do #1: Don’t go in the fog
This lesson is best told in a story that would take way too long to tell properly in this blog article (I’m hoping to actually do a podcast on it one day). The cliff notes go something like this: Myself and 5 friends (including Zach) took my boat out to Mavericks one early morning where the swell was 12 ft at 14 seconds with fog so thick we had to navigate through the Pillar Point Harbor by GPS (basically zero visibility). We somehow found the wave (heard it before seeing it), rode a few waves while my buddy hovered the boat like a ghost somewhere in the channel, got all of 4 of us back on the boat, and made it back into the harbor safely. All with <25 feet of visibility in the fog and before a big clean-up set blew out the other few surfers, scattering them onto the rocks (which we heard about later in the parking lot).
So needless to say, don’t do this. Don’t take a boat out to Mavericks in the thick fog. Pretty simple. Looking back, we were a bit younger and definitely more stupid than today but more than anything, extremely lucky. Mavericks is sketchy enough surfing or boating on a calm, clear day let alone with almost zero visibility.
Do #2: Watch your depth sounder, not your surroundings
Deep is safe. Remember that? This is exactly the case while hovering your boat on the shoulder of the wave while your crew is surfing or the photographer on board is doing their business. You can pilot your boat while shifting your focus between the horizon and landmarks, like the famous radar dish, to stay in a seemingly safe zone but just a couple minutes of distraction can be costly. A change in wind speed or direction can quickly put you in the last place on earth you want to be with your boat — in the bowl. No boat that I know of is meant to take a draining 15-footer on the bow. So while you think you’re safe one minute, the next you may look up to see that your a touch inside with a set swinging wide causing a very sick feeling in your stomach (pray your motor doesn’t hesitate).
So while lineups and watching the horizon are key, what’s most important at Mavericks is depth. Mavericks breaks so suddenly and violently because the water is really deep then suddenly jacks up onto a plateau-like reef taking all that deep-water swell and unleashing Niagara Falls. The safe zone for your boat is 50-60 feet of water (just outside of the reef) with the danger zone being anything under 40 IMHO. If you remember the scene in Chasing Mavericks when the boat almost rolled over from a big set wave (main picture above), I was there about 20 yards outside of that guy and was just able to get around the shoulder of that wave, still in about 45 feet of water.
Chew on this for now and we’ll look at the rest of the do’s and don’ts in Part 2.
Legends Never Die: They Live On Within Us
By Mike McDaniel – July 18, 2020
The passing of Big Dave King on July 3rd 2020 came as a gut punch to the surf and waterman community of Santa Cruz. Dave embodied everything good about the surf and paddling lifestyle, and had a big smile for everyone he met. Full of pure Hawaiian aloha, he was more than loved—he was beloved—by an entire town. And at six foot nine (or ten?) he was looked up to—literally and figuratively—by everyone. He was the guy we all hoped we could be, someday; a grounded, genuine, surf-stoked grom. In his middle sixties.
He was the guy we all hoped we could be, someday; a grounded, genuine, surf-stoked grom. In his middle sixties.
Dave had a stroke back in March of 2019, and although his road to recovery was going to be long and bumpy, nobody doubted that Dave would endure that journey, and emerge victorious. But sometimes, fate has other plans. Big Dave passed at home on July 3rd, surrounded by his loved ones.
Only a few days later, I heard of the passing of another surfer/friend, Chuy Venegas. The name might tip you off; Chuy was a friend from Mexico. He lived his entire life in a small surf/fishing village in the Mexican state of Nayarit, that I happened to inhabit for eleven years. In those years, my relationship with Chuy evolved from fear to tolerance, to some sort of compatibility and eventually, to friendship. It was another long bumpy road, punctuated with tense exchanges and middle fingers. But as is often the case, harsh words and puffed up chests sometimes hide soft hearts.
I purchased my first prone paddleboard from Big Dave almost twenty years ago. We were introduced by our mutual friend Zach Wormhoudt. At the annual Pier 2 Pier race in Santa Cruz Zach called Dave over and said “Mike is looking for a used paddleboard, do you have one for sale?” Dave said he had two boards for sale, and asked if I wanted to follow him over to his house to check them out. Thirty minutes later we were in his back yard, checking out his quiver, five beautiful boards racked neatly. I knew very little about prone boards at that point. Dave gave me a quick education, and suggested I try out a couple of them. That was easy because he lived two houses away from the beach. Dave was a realtor, and said “I have to go show a house, but I’ll be back in about an hour and a half. Just help yourself to my boards, even the ones not for sale. Figure out if you like it, first. Then we’ll talk when I get back.” I went paddling alone.
We made a deal when he got back, and I had my first prone board, an 18 foot Richmond that looked like a giant ocean-piercing spear. I had almost enough cash on me… I was a hundred dollars short of the thousand that he hoped for. I offered to run to the ATM, but he said “Nine hundred is fine, it’s a deal.” I considered him a friend from that day forward, the day I met him. And I looked forward to all the Santa Cruz paddleboard races and events, at least partially because I knew Dave would be there. Dave was impossible not to like.
It was definitely possible to not like Chuy. But even though he was the grouchy enforcer in a surf town known for producing talent, and often had harsh words for tourists and expat gringoes living in ‘his town’, or anybody that rubbed him the wrong way, I wanted to like him. That took effort. He was fluent in multiple languages including English, profane in all of them, and his edges were perpetually rough. At times, he seemed like a grenade, ready to explode and take out the whole beach.
I came in from a surf one afternoon, where I caught a bunch of waves. I was stoked on my session. I made some critical (for me) drops, made some nice turns, and kicked out cleanly on most of my waves. I was pleased with myself. As I crossed the sand, Chuy—who had been watching from the beach—blocked my path and he looked irritated. He said “Hey pinche gringo, if you’re going to keep doing that shitty pop-up, go surf another break. It’s ugly.” Now, I knew my pop-up was less than textbook; I had struggled with it for years. But the fact that I could still make a drop and hit a bottom turn, occasionally make a clean, open-face cutback, and find speed on a mushy wave made me feel better about my surfing overall. But Chuy zeroed in on my weakness, and scolded me.
But he also wanted to help me. He and I are built the same; short and barrel chested. And mutual fondness for beer made us both kind of doughy. I tried to blame my clunky take off on my physical limitations, but that was a flawed strategy with Chuy. Despite his stockiness and rock-star-party-all-night lifestyle, he could ride a longboard in heavy surf and make it look natural, even beautiful. His pop-up was flawless. And he could throw an old-school headstand on an open face at will. He gave me some suggestions on getting my knees up under my body more quickly and efficiently. A guy who had never EVER been to a yoga class in his life, or even considered it, suggested I might try it, to improve my flexibility. And then he slapped me a ‘chocala’—the Mexican equivalent of a high five—and said “you owe me a beer” and walked off. That was the day I realized we were some version of friends. All my experiences with Chuy after that were much more pleasant, and some of them included post-surf beers.
Despite his stockiness and rock-star-party-all-night lifestyle, he could ride a longboard in heavy surf and make it look natural, even beautiful.
I’ve been thinking about Dave and Chuy a lot the past couple of weeks. Despite the very obvious differences in the types of people they were—polar opposites, really—the feelings of sadness and desire to see them both again, even just one more time, are strong and equal. I’m going to miss Chuy as much as I’m going to miss Big Dave. I know the the next time I visit Sayulita (usually about once a year) it’s not going to feel the same without Chuy there on the beach, drinking a ‘ballena’ and sneering at kooks. And when I drive up to Santa Cruz on August 8th for Dave’s paddle out celebration, it’s definitely not going to feel the same. But I hope to feel Dave’s loving presence when I get in the water there. They both offered their versions of friendship to me, and those are gifts. They both had an impact on how I ride waves, how I treat others, and how I see and interact within our waterman community. Despite their distinctly opposite personalities, they both had positive impacts.
For all of that, I am grateful. Chuy and Dave… rest in love and peace, brothers. Maybe they will meet up on the other side? I assume there’s a nice wide, sandy beach there, with clean water and peeling waves, and whales breaching on the horizon… and a cold cerveza when you come in from the surf. Under those idyllic circumstances, they could even become friends.
About Mike McDaniel
Mike McDaniel is a surfer, prone and SUP board paddler, creative genius, and all around rad guy. He runs Mile 22 and is the mastermind behind Monster Straps as well as a collector of snowboards and Jay Race t-shirts. Find him on Instagram @miletwentytwo or Facebook.