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No Way Can I Move Now

A comment from one of my writer friends inspired me to write this morning. It has been a while! Doesn’t everyone who blogs say that, all of the time? But really, I think it has been a year.


1) I stood up last September after only 14 months and 27 days of learning. As one of my surfing friends said to me yesterday “You have to commit.” Well, I did.

2) I learned to standup paddleboard in September, thanks to my good friend John Beausang.

3) In November, I did standup paddleboard water support for the Beach to Battleship Ironman triathlon here in Wilmington, NC. I pulled a hypothermic swimmer out of the water. That was stressful! Glad I was there at the right place/right time.

4) In December I bought a new surfboard at the Hope from Helen charity surf auction. It is a 9″ longboard with the East Coast Surf label. Made locally. I finally took it out this week and it is a DREAM to surf.

5) In December, I also bought a “whopper” Starboard from John B., with a nice paddle and PFD, so I’ve been having fun paddling around the calmer waters and doing the “rec races” in the local paddleboard races.

6) In January, we bought my husband a kayak so that he could, in theory, kayak with me while I SUP. That hasn’t really happened. Anyone want to buy a kayak?

I’m not really made of money

So, where did this insane spending spree of water equipment come from? I have no idea, but I can’t move away from the ocean now.

But, that’s ok with me.


The whole time I was surfing yesterday, this song was running through my head:
You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table.
There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.

-Chorus from The Gambler, by Kenny Rogers

But, I wasn’t hearing those words.  I was hearing these words (or something thereof):

“You gotta know when to paddle, when to skedaddle

Know when to dig, dig, dig; know when to bail

You never count your waves while you’re sittin’ in the lineup

There’s time enough for countin’ when the surfin’ is done”

Everyone who hears that song says it is absolutely a metaphor for life.  Namely: enjoy, be in the moment, be serendipitous.  Also, be smart: don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.

Every surfer story I hear that ends with stitches starts with “The day would have been perfect if I could just get one more wave. . .”

Last night, I got out before I was entirely exhausted–merely mostly exhausted.  I didn’t end on my best wave, but I got out when I was done.

Saturday, during the Beach2Battleship Ironman Triathlon, while doing water support on my (borrowed) standup paddleboard, I pulled a swimmer out who was suffering from hypothermia.  Because they’re disqualified (officially) after getting out of the water early, I didn’t want to make the decision for him to bring him out.  He asked me to and I did.  He knew when to quit.  And that decision saved his life.

Postscript: he didn’t really quit, though.  After he warmed up, he finished the race, and came in 177 out of 700.  The time it took to warm up was roughly the same amount of time it would have taken to finish the swim, plus about 30 minutes.  He started the bike leg in almost dead last.  And then he finished.

Know when to hold ’em.  Know when to fold em’.

SUP, Family!

My parents visited over Labor Day weekend.  That was awesome!  They like to go to the beach, which is good, since that’s how we roll here in ILM.

I had just started taking Standup Paddleboarding lessons (SUP) from John Beausang over at, and as I frequently do with new hobbies, became immediately obsessed and wanted to take the fam.  My Mom does, like, two Pilates classes EVERY SINGLE DAY.  I work out with a trainer, but I’m still kind of a fatty.  My husband doesn’t work out at all, and my Dad fell and hit his knee the day before we were supposed to go.

OH! And our “meet up” time was 6:30 am.  The morning after I invited 25 of my closest friends in Wilmington to a rockin’ party at San Juan Cafe, all booze courtesy of my fantastic father.  (We ate ALL of their food, used ALL of their glasses, drank ALL of their liquor, and pretty much ran through ALL of their sanity.)

So, here we are, bright and early on the Sunday of Labor Day:

Note to others: it is a LOT EASIER to convince people to do something they’re not real sure about when they aren’t FULLY AWAKE.

We embarked.  John brought his waterproof camera apparatus.  We didn’t make it very far, but we sure had fun!

I’m not sure if I’ll ever get my husband on a paddleboard again.

And, yes, I’m wearing a “fanny pack.”  It is actually a “water bottle holder,” and when it is 95 degrees out, you need a “water holder,” preferably one that gets the water closeish to your mouth, so you don’t have to bend over and potentially fall off to get it.

My Mom took to the SUP like a duck to water:

All in all, it was fun, even though my poor, dear husband couldn’t really walk the rest of the day.  (That’s what tequila at Tower 7 is for.)

*All pictures were taken by John Beausang.  The awesome fanny-pack water holder is also his.

The 40 days and 40 nights of rain finally ended.  More or less.  In came Fall.  Just like that, a switch was flipped and it is now a different season.  Time to wear a thicker top when surfing.  Time to take a sweatshirt for apres-surf.  Time to put hot chocolate or hot tea in the thermos instead of water.

Time when those of us with extra flab are actually a bit grateful for it.

It Only Took ’till October for a Chicks on Sticks Reunion

After a gajillion days of rain, everyone was ready to get outside on Friday afternoon.  We cut out at about 4:30 and went surfing at the north end of Wrightsville Beach.  Along for the rides were Tracy, Nancy, me, Kristen (our new SUP friend), Kim’s husband and Tracy’s husband.  Kim watched from the beach.  At SOME POINT we’ll get Melody out there.

The evening had a very “the gang’s all here” feeling to it.  Tracy’s husband had recently received 7 staples in his head because of a fin smack, so he was getting back on the proverbial horse.  And, he did it!  Caught some nice rides.  Kristen Is about 5 feet tall and weighs about 80 lbs soaking wet, so she spent most of the evening with blue lips and convulsive shivers.

A Little Help from My Friends

I mostly like to surf with other people.  It is just safer that way.  Someone to fish me out if I’m drowning.  Someone to call 911.  Someone to notice me in the lineup.  Friday, this was especially important, as we had to sit REALLY far out to catch the good ones.  And, because of rips and such, we all kept floating further out and had to paddle back in.  When you’re a few football fields out to sea, it is nice to have others with you.

Remnants of Nicole and the freakish triple-whammy of stalled cold fronts made the waves nice, but enough time had passed that they weren’t all freight trains steaming in.  Most of the waves broke pretty far out, then the powerful ones were whitewater until they re-formed closer to the beach.  That made for some nice, long rides. And long rides mean:  YOU KNOW WHAT THEY MEAN!!!  Standing up!

Crouching Katie, Hidden Whatever

I’m finally getting the hang of this surfing thing.  When I started working with a personal trainer in July, my NUMBER ONE GOAL was to be able to stand up on my surfboard.  Now, lots of lessons and technique training last year from Nancy and Tracy gave me a good foundation.  I was at the point where I could do everything but push myself up on that board.

Then, I started working with Jason at Muscleworx in Carolina Beach.  His diet and exercise regimen (mainly lifting LOTS and LOTS of weights) pushed me over the top and helped me meet my goal.  I could not be more proud, or more grateful to everyone who stuck with me on my journey.  On Friday, I stood up for several, and Nancy and Tracy actually got to SEE the fruits of their hard-fought teaching.  The last wave, I rode in a crouch–two feet down, one hand on the board, and one sticking out to the side for balance.

Then I went in.

Don’t Tempt the Surf Gods

When I played golf, if I was hitting golf balls, I’d always quit after a good shot, even if I had a few left.  I wanted to end on a high note.  I’ve learned this is a good idea, if possible, with surfing.  If you get greedy and try for “Just ONE MORE,” you end up with a busted lip or staples in your head.  Just sayin’.

40 Days and 40 Nights

After standing up on my surfboard about a week ago, I’d love to repeat the feat–this time with Nancy and Tracy in tow.  However, we’ve been having some freakish weather down here in Wilmington this week.  Starting on Monday, September 27th, and continuing even as I write this on Thursday, September 30, it has rained nonstop.  We had about 1 teaspoon of rain during the rest of September.  We’ve had 22 inches since Monday.

Here’s what the low pressure system is doing to the waves:

Monday, we were supposed to surf.  Wednesday we were supposed to surf.  Both days, I woke up to pounding rain, thunder and lightening.  Text messages were exchanged.  We all went back to bed–until our weather radios went off.  Again.

Tomorrow, we’re going to try again, but I’m not sure I feel prepared for head-high.  We’ll see.  I might watch.  I do suspect, though, that Nancy and Tracy are going to make me at LEAST get in the whitewater so that I can show them I wasn’t making things up when I updated my facebook status to say “I stood up!”  (For the record, I have a witness: my husband.)

I’ll report back tomorrow.

I stood up!

On Friday, September 24, after 14 months, 27 days and 1 hour, I stood up.

I got my front foot up and my back heel down.

My work has only just begun!

What to do in a Hurricane

Well, it appears that we’re going to get EPIC SURF during Hurricane Earl’s pass close to the coast here this week.  Here’s what the Magic Seaweed projection says:

What do you do if you’re a beginning surfer, especially a beginning longboarder, when there are double overhead conditions?


And that is where you’ll find me on Thursday afternoon.  With my visiting parents.  Who might never let me surf again if they watch the hurricane swell.

Standup Paddleboarding is also an Option

This morning, I had the good fortune to join a “test run class” with John Beausang, founder of the Distressed Mullet Paddleboarding Club in Wilmington, NC.  I’d never SUPed before.  It was AWESOME!  Peaceful, where surfing is exhilarating.  Somewhat easy, as opposed to the very difficult, nearly IMPOSSIBLE work of standing up on my longboard.  And, a GREAT core workout, to boot!  John will be starting classes sometime soon, and you can read all about them on his website I HIGHLY recommend it, and will be signing up for more classes, myself.

Some of the classes are cardio, others are scenic tours, and still others are core classes where you paddle out to a calm area, and then do yoga and lots of complicated maneuvers on your board.  (While our class was doing this, John was teaching me how to turn.  I fell off, which was nice because it cooled me off.  And, it is always good to learn that you can fall off and get back on easily.)  It was interesting to watch people doing side plank on their SUPs while floating in the marina.

This won’t replace surfing!  No no!  It will improve my surfing.  So, as if I weren’t already obsessed enough, here’s another water sport to fall in love with.  I’m going to try to get my husband out doing this.  It is like kayaking, but more fun and less in the way of butt cramps and saltwater projectiling up the nose.

Surfing my Brains Out

Nancy says that, no matter how old I am, how long I have surfed, or how good I am or not, I will always get at least one and probably multiple calls from my parents whenever there is the hint of a tropical bump hovering off the coast of Africa that might possibly, MAYBE impact the currents off my home surf break.  They might be nonchalant about the conversation, and casually slip in something like “oh, you’re not planning on going surfing this weekend, are you?”  Or, they might just come right out and say it, even though they don’t really know what they’re saying.  “So, will the storm affect the tides and stuff?”  Or, they might be out and out hysterical:  “I JUST SAW ON TV WHERE SOMEONE IN MARYLAND IS MISSING BECAUSE OF A RIP CURRENT.  STAY OUT OF THE WATER.”

I feel better that even my surf teacher gets those calls.  And, I’m thrilled that my parents care enough about me to worry.  And hurricane swell is what surfers from Wrightsville Beach live for.  We don’t have regular reef breaks that produce reliable rights or lefts that you can ride for 90 seconds with a cup of coffee in one hand and the newspaper in the other.

We have mostly wind swell, and sometimes groundswell.  In the same surf session, we’ll have waves that feel like a freight train hitting us and waves that feel like someone’s blowing bubbles at us.  We don’t know until we catch them, or they hit us when we’re paddling back out.

Speaking of paddling back out.

So, tonight, Nancy caught a nice wave and was starting to paddle back out.  I looked over my shoulder and saw a wave coming.  It looked good, as in, I thought I could catch it, and it wouldn’t die before it got to me.  So, I went.  I paddled for it and caught it, right in front of Nancy.

Shortly before catching it, I had been saying to her “See, I can catch these waves, but then I immediately pearl. (Dive face-first down the steep face of the wave)  What should I do?”  She said “oh, maybe scoot back a little on your board.”

Then she had a front row seat to see what I was talking about.  Once I re-surfaced, grabbed the leash up by the tail of the board, and checked my thigh to make sure I wasn’t bleeding where my big fin smacked me, I heard Nancy yell “WHAT WERE YOU DOING?  I WASN’T EVEN ON THAT WAVE AND I WAS SCARED.  HOLY CRAP!!!!!  IS THAT WHAT YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT?  THAT WAS THE PROBLEM YOU WERE ASKING ME ABOUT?  I have no IDEA what to do about that.”  She continued “I hate to say I don’t know what to do, but good GRIEF.  Maybe try to get out in front of it?  Paddle harder.”

Let me tell you what: after a year of surfing, I’ve learned that the answer to almost any question is “Paddle Harder.”

In the parking lot, I had been telling Nancy that she was the only one who would go surfing regularly with me.  After this performance, she said “Well, if you’re trying to get them to take off on THOSE waves, no WONDER they won’t go with you.”  Lesson learned. I also decided that if there’s hurricane swell when my parents visit next weekend, I’d better stick to the inside, because if my DAD watches me do what I did in front of Nancy, I’ll be lucky to not look out the front window and watch him breaking my board himself before a wave has a chance to do it for me.

We’re probably going to have to have back to back to back tropical systems out in the ocean this week, so I predict a lot of surfing.  While we were packing up tonight, Nancy said “Same place, tomorrow morning, 6:30 am?”

So my question is this:  is it a two-fer if you surf twice within 24 hours, even if *technically* it is on different days?  When we were surfing tonight, it was already Monday morning in Australia.

Reef/Sweetwater Pro/Am Wahine Re-Cap

In the middle of July, I worked the Reef/Sweetwater Pro/Am on Wrightsville Beach.  It was tons of fun.  Possibly the most fun you can have while working.  A local surfer won, which was also fun.  And, apparently, he’s an all-around-nice-guy.  Which, of course, is more endearing to me than the most gnarly airs.  But, this isn’t about the guys at the contest, it’s about the girls.  There were two events for the ladies:   Girls Open Longboard and Girls Open Shortboard.

Now, while the guys were more than happy to flex their muscles and pose for photos, the girls, not as much!  🙂  But, I managed to snap a few shots.  Here’s the Wahine Scene at the Reef/Sweetwater Pro/Am 2010.

The girl on the right was surfing in her first contest!

A local wahine!

Another local-Jo–she’s been surfing for a long time, and competed in both shortboard and longboard events.

Girls longboard finals

The Longboard winners (above)

The Shortboard winners (below)

And, more of why surfing’s so fun:

Big thanks to Tony and Jenn Butler for calling me to work!  And thanks to Abby (the usual helper for Jenn) for having an art show that weekend and being otherwise occupied.  Big thanks to Reef for my new flip-flops!  (They really ARE ridiculously comfortable.) And thanks to Sweetwater, for putting on this event and organizing it!

Where I rant about male surf writers

I’m going to write a review of a new book I just read.  I liked the book.  My review on Amazon makes it sound like I didn’t like the book, though I made sure to reiterate several times that I did, in fact, like the book.  Some of what I *didn’t* like about the book are “man things,” I think.

This is where I will alienate all four of my man readers.  Sorry guys.  But, really, ask yourself, how often do you actually stop and ask for directions?  Never?  Yeah? Well, that’s why the gals always bring that up as “man behavior.”  Because it is.  Directions? To a new and complicated piece of power equipment?  WHO NEEDS TO READ DIRECTIONS?  NOT ME,  I’LL JUST CUT OFF MY FINGER.

Ok, maybe you’re not that extreme, but I SWEAR TO GOD, I have more than one example of that, in action.  One example involved an 8 month old baby, a day at the beach, and a brand-new tent.  Ahem.

Someone needs to write a Women’s Surf Memoir

Maybe someday, I’ll have time for that and somebody might be interested.  In the last year, since I’ve become fanatically obsessed with surfing  (well, I’ve always kind of been obsessed, but I finally acted on my obsession), I’ve read about 8 surf memoirs: Saltwater Buddah, Surf is Where You Find It, Kook, and so on.  (I forget-I need to start a “surf books shelf” like my “garden books shelf.”)  They were all written by men. And they all re-hash the following old-as-time and annoying-as-crap male tendencies:

  • Don’t ask for directions. Don’t try to learn. Just do.  And possibly break your neck while doing this.
  • Completely ignore social conventions and then wonder why you almost got socked in the jaw.
  • Have a midlife crises.
  • Go on a long road trip during said crises.
  • Completely ignore everything and everyone around you.
  • Talk about the mysticalness of the ocean.
  • Claim that anything other than stoicism in the lineup is “kookish” or “wimpy” behavior.
  • Repeat, endlessly, that when you can’t stand up, or you fall off your board before getting a good ride, that the time was wasted.
  • Comment on hot chicks in bikinis.

How Women Surfers are different than Man Surfers

This is not a scientific research study.  In fact, this list is gleaned from my time in the water over the last year with Nancy and Tracy, and their other students, and their surfing gal-pals.

  • Women will hoot and holler for each other when we catch a wave and not feel self-conscious about it.
  • Women do not ask each other what size baggies we wear.  Nor do we talk about what size swimsuit we wear. (Thank GOD because I’m still kind of fat.)
  • Women are not afraid to scream if we purl, or get chomped on the foot by something, or see a shark.
  • Women will keep track of each other in the lineup–in a friendly, making sure we don’t drown way.
  • Women will call each other to go out surfing. Plan a time to meet.  Chat, eat breakfast together, and generally be social.
  • Women will encourage each other to catch waves, and will work around each other if we both happen to catch the same wave.
  • Women do not usually have a reason to punch each other square in the jaw over a wave.

Now, maybe these observations are because I rarely surf in a lineup of 50 surfers.  And, I’ve run into some pretty nice surfer guys in my first year of surfing.  Gents who did not laugh when I fell right off my board trying to sit up on it in the lineup.  Gents who helped me learn how to catch waves.  Mostly, these gents were older than me.  Somewhere between 20-30 years older.  They have had years of experience.  They don’t just abstractly KNOW, but they really UNDERSTAND, that there’s ALWAYS another wave.  Plenty to go around.

So this book I just read, well, the author might have been in his 40’s, but maturity-wise, he was about 25.  More on that later.

I’m grouchy tonight. I know it.  Just, DANG IT: there are some ladies that really know how to shred it, and they’re nice, to boot.  I wish they got more ATTENTION.