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    The Voyage(s) of the Cormorant, Part 3

    By Christian Beamish

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    “Check out that fin,” my buddy, Dillon Joyce, said.

    And there it was, 50 feet off the stern, an unmistakable dorsal, weaving in a slow “S” through the water. Wasn’t the sharp triangle-shape of a whitey, and as we were five- or six-miles out from Santa Cruz Island on our long sail back to the mainland, my best guess is that we were seeing a rather large blue shark. Nothing fearful about a blue shark, even if we sat a mere foot off the water aboard Cormorant. And compared to the wild ride of the day before, we were content to enjoy the light winds and the sight of thriving sea life in the Santa Barbara Channel.

    Editor’s note: If you’re just joining us, catch up with Part 1 and Part 2.

    I’d ordered a new pintle, cast in bronze by Classic Marine in the UK, fixed the rudder and returned to Santa Rosa to retrieve Cormorant. It happened that Dillon, a young surfer from San Clemente with whom I’ve sailed the islands once before, was planning a hiking trip out there and we agreed to travel together. Solitude has its place, but the safety and company of a good friend is priceless. The ranger had offered to give us a ride out to the backside of the island, as hiking with all the gear for the return sail would be impractical, and he met us at the dock.

    Above: A very simple arrangement: The haliyard runs through a hole in the top of the mast and ties off on a cleat—no stays, no fuss. Photo: Dillon Joyce

    Continue reading "The Voyage(s) of the Cormorant, Part 3" »

    The Voyage(s) of the Cormorant, Part 2

    By Christian Beamish

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    When the pintle snapped I felt a moment’s disbelief and then something like panic spark down in my belly. But I tamped that feeling with a long drink of water and a pep talk, noting to myself that I was not injured, that I had plenty of food and water, and that the conditions were calm. Johnson’s Lee, a good anchorage on the southwest corner of the island, was about five miles down and I draped a sarong over the top of my ball cap and tucked it in to my long-sleeve shirt for sun protection, then leaned into steady pulls on the oars with the thought that I might meet someone at the anchorage who could help me.

    Editor’s note: In case you missed it, catch up with Part 1. Photos: Christian Beamish

    Coming in close along shore I had a good view of desolate beaches and the scrub canyons that led upwards, the water below was aquarium clear and revealing sand one moment, rock reef and kelp the next. At a corner of rock shelves and low dunes, two big elephant seals pushed against each other chest-to-chest without much enthusiasm for the fight, their percussive groans having no effect on the females in deep slumber further up the sand. I kept on, steadily rowing, not wanting to squander the momentum I had gathered. But I stopped occasionally for water and to shake the numbness from my hands. When a light breeze started up a couple of hours later I raised sail and steered with an oar, Polynesian style.

    Continue reading "The Voyage(s) of the Cormorant, Part 2" »

    The Voyage(s) of the Cormorant, Part 1

    By Christian Beamish

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    If I’ve learned anything in these recent years of open boat adventuring aboard my 18-footer, Cormorant, it’s that everything is fine until it isn’t. But also, as Yvon says, “The real adventure starts when something goes wrong…”

    Late July, 2014—Shoving off from Gaviota for the 27-mile crossing to San Miguel Island came with a new kind of anxiety, as I no longer travel solo in life but am now married with a soon-to-be three-year-old daughter. When the State Parks Lifeguard pointed to Natasha and our little girl, Josephine, and asked me if I was planning to bring them along, I vehemently replied, “Nooo!” aghast at the thought.

    But another thought came on its heels, and that was that if it this sailing journey was too dangerous to consider bringing my young family along, why was it OK to go alone? I’ve rationalized this by telling myself that I pick my days carefully (the forecast was for light-to-moderate winds), wear a lifejacket and lifeline, and carry a Spot satellite device if I really blow it and need to be rescued. So with the mental shrug of the shoulders that it takes to do these types of trips, I pulled Cormorant off the trailer, got her down the beach, and kissed my ladies goodbye.

    Above: High-seas selfie, 15-miles into a 27-mile crossing. All photos by Christian Beamish

    Continue reading "The Voyage(s) of the Cormorant, Part 1" »

    Stepping from Sand to Pavement – San Sebastián Surfilm Festibal 2014

    By Tom Doidge-Harrison

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    Travel in all its various guises is at the heart of surfing, so it was appropriate that there was a little of it involved for most of the people—Patagonia or otherwise—at this year’s Surfilm Festibal in San Sebastián, Spain.

    They say that change is good and that exploring new places nourishes the soul, but Nora, my three-year-old daughter wasn’t letting on if it did. Changing time zones with a small child is a test of a parent’s reserves of patience. From her perspective, though, once we were in country and with day time operations revolving around Patagonia’s San Sebastián surf store—a casual glance away from the acres of white sand that make up La Playa de Zuriola—she’d died and gone to bucket and spade excavation heaven. Happy child, happy parents, happy days.

    [Above: The author chats with Otto Flores after a morning surf, just out the door from Patagonia San Sebastián. Later, customers were invited to make their own handplanes with the tools in the foreground. Photo: Mat. Turries / www.nordicsurfersmag.se]

    Continue reading "Stepping from Sand to Pavement – San Sebastián Surfilm Festibal 2014" »

    My Best Surf Session

    By Laurel Winterbourne

    Cheering friends on

    Head-high peaks stacked in perfect rows, warm clear water, and glassy surface conditions were not the reasons for the best surf session of my life. Sometimes it’s about more than that. If you were asked to describe your most memorable surf session, what would you say? Would you scroll through your memories of surf trips to the South Pacific, or an epic day at your home break with no one out except you and the dolphins? That’s what would have come to mind before my experience with the athletes from the High Fives Foundation.

    While surfing with this crew of hilarious, inspiring, adventurous folks, I found new meaning to surfing and, more importantly, the contagious element of positivity. The High Fives Foundation is a non-profit group, based in Truckee, California, that supports the recovery of severely injured athletes and helps get them into adaptive sports. I was lucky enough to join the group on a surf trip to San Onofre, California. This is where the adventure began and my life changed. It’s a beautiful thing when something that you love and are passionate about opens your eyes a little wider and forces you to reevaluate your perspective.

    [Above: Cheering on friends. All photos: Trevor Clark]

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    The Lost Dory – Traveling in Baja with my dad and his handmade boat

    By Joe Curren

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    When I think of my dad, I think of roughing it in Baja and traveling up and down the peninsula in a rickety old VW Bug. For three straight years, between the ages of 13-15, my dad would pick me up in Santa Barbara and we’d make the 1,000-mile drive south to Cabo on Highway 1. We spent six weeks in summer and two weeks in winter mostly staying at my dad’s place on the East Cape, but we also camped, surfed, fished and dove along the way, and always with his handmade foam and fiberglass dory.

    The trips are some of the best memories I have of my dad while growing up. Yes, we did rough it, but a bit of hardening was good for me. Traveling in Baja is a rite of passage for the Southern California surfer and getting dirty comes with the territory, especially once you venture south of Ensenada. Shipwrecks, Scorpion Bay, Seven Sisters; as a grom it was the waves that drew me in. Many hours, of course, were spent surfing. But my dad really made sure I experienced everything the land and water in Baja had to offer.

    [Above: The first trip when I was 13. Many adventures lay ahead. Photo: Pat Curren]

    Continue reading "The Lost Dory – Traveling in Baja with my dad and his handmade boat" »

    Live Stream: 2014 Gerry Lopez Big Wave Challenge at Mt. Bachelor

    Surf meets snow this Saturday at Mt. Bachelor with the 4th Annual Big Wave Challange. This one-of-a-kind contest – the brainchild of host Gerry Lopez – features a series of huge sweeping banked corners, quarter pipes and spines shaped into wave-like features for a flowing course that brings the surf to the mountain. And you can watch it all right here.

    Live stream: Saturday, April 25, 2014, ~9:30am PT until it ends

    Let Gerry tell you more about the event in the video above and then hit the jump to watch the live stream.

    Continue reading "Live Stream: 2014 Gerry Lopez Big Wave Challenge at Mt. Bachelor" »

    Imagine

    By Gavin McClurg, photos by Jody MacDonald

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    Sailing around the world isn’t new. Historians recently learned that Chinese merchant ships in the latter 15th century, which were grander, faster, and better equipped than Spanish and Portuguese fleets (Magellan, Columbus, Gama, etc.), used trading routes that vary today only because of the Suez and Panama Canals. These canals eliminate the need to navigate the treacherous Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn, respectively.

    Today, we call these routes the “milk run.” When you start at X and sail to Y, there is a very sensible time of year to do it and a very sensible course to take advantage of winds and currents. This is true for all vessels of every size and type. To get away from the milk run takes a lot more effort, skill, patience, fortitude and, yes, imagination – which is, of course, why it’s worth it. It may be true that the oceans of the world have been mapped, but that doesn’t mean they have been properly explored.

    [Above: Finding a barrel at the bottom of the world.]

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    Home

    By Patch Wilson

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    Growing up in Cornwall, in the UK, it’s easy to feel blessed when you’re young. I thought we had the best waves ever, and in some ways it’s true. When you’re a kid, the waves at home are all you really need. But quickly the realization sets in – as you get a bit bigger and aren’t so scared of what the ocean can throw at you – you want more.

    I‘ve travelled to the other end of the planet to get my fix of heavier hollower waves. But over the last 10 years or so I have come to realize that what I’m really looking for is right on my doorstep.

    Here are some photos from a trip I did earlier in the year around the UK and Ireland.

    [Above: Scotland, in my opinion, has some of the best waves in Europe but it gets cold in the winter. Changing out of your wetsuit can literally be a race to get into your warm car as quickly as possible. All photos by Patch Wilson unless otherwise stated.]

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    Wooden Big-Wave Guns: Two Techniques, Same Objective

    By Dr. Tony Butt

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    Nowadays there are a lot of people making wooden surfboards. Environmentally it makes a great deal of sense. Wood is a natural, non-toxic material that is infinitely less harmful to work with than polyester, epoxy, polyethylene or polystyrene, and that can be assimilated back into the environment once the life of the board has ended. Also, wooden boards are generally made to last longer, which reduces the environmental footprint at the manufacturing end and at the waste-management end. And if the raw material (i.e. trees from the forest or offcuts from other industries) is extracted at a rate that is slower than the rate of natural re-generation of that material, a wooden board can be close to being truly sustainable.

    When one thinks of modern wooden surfboards, those that immediately spring to mind are longboards, retro-fishes and single-fins – boards where a little more weight and perhaps a little less speed are not too much of an impediment. Boards for riders whose top priority is having fun without necessarily being able to land an aerial 360.

    [Above: Patrick Burnett (left) with his 11’0” hollow wood board and Jason Hayes (right) with his 11’4” agave board.]

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