Barrels for Breakfast Take 2

My Imperial Beach Patch surfing column from November 16, 2010.

I.B. does very well on peaky combo wind swells. That’s why the fall is my favorite season in Southern California.

Last Tuesday was a classic IB morning. The South Side finally came alive. There were also peaks from the pier to the Boc’s to be had.

I paddled out in the South Side channel just after 7 a.m. and greeted Todd and Tim Lang. Tim and I were second grade classmates at Berry Elementary. I shared the wedgy rights with Dave Thomas, Billy D., Ben McCue, Dave Parra, Dave Santos, Randy Putland and Zach Plopper among others.

On Wednesday the groms were out in the water at daybreak.

My son Israel said, “Matt Wilson was running into the water yelling, ‘Barrels for breakfast.'”

On that morning, Zach Plopper, Ben McCue and I left Imperial Beach early, crossed the border and surf checked the TJ-Ensenada coast.

We settled on San Miguel for a session with no crowds and 2-4 feet crystal clear waves. Just like Baja Norte is supposed to be.

Thursday morning IB offered up Santa Ana winds and 3-5 feet A-frames up and down the beach.

“The waves were typewriting,” said Billy D.

“I was there at about 6:30 a.m.,” said Alan Jackson. “I saw Terry and Josh on the south side and a few dolphins, but they were out a ways. It was so clear and beautiful that we could see the cross on Mt Soledad.”

With good waves come increased crowds at a few select sandbars. According to Andrew Pate, one way to maintain order in the water is to, “Never paddle out and swing into the first wave coming through when there are other surfers in the lineup.”

Early Saturday morning, my groms Israel and Daniel departed for Ventura with surf dad extraordinaire Jason Stutz and his son Jake.

Jason called me later in the day and said, “The boys surfed with Dane Reynolds at Emma Wood. I told them that we could go home. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

Daniel said, “Dane is super cool. He was shredding and almost landed a backflip.”

On Sunday morning I checked the surf at dawn and was surprised to see waves breaking at the Sloughs. Chris Patterson and I surfed the shorebreak alone for a while.

Dave Thomas paddled out later in the morning.

“I got out at the Sloughs in the late morning just as the onshore winds started,” he said.

Dave is looking for someone to caravan to southern Baja with on December 26.

Speaking of the Sloughs, Phillip “Flippy” Hoffman, a North Shore and Sloughs pioneer, passed away on November 10.

“Flippy often came down to IB to surf the Sloughs with Dempsey when my brother Jim and I were just starting out,” said Jeff Knox. “We were very impressed by his ability and his impish humor. He was an absolute classic.”

Dempsey’s grandson and John Holder is in the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic. He writes, “Been busy travelling around a bit and trying to get things done here on this crazy island. Finally settled into my cottage so I can sit and write and think in peace.”

John will be home for holidays and is looking forward to some southern desert solitude.

A chapter about the Sloughs and its pioneering surfers including Dempsey and Walter and Flippy Hoffman among others are included in my new book, Wild Sea: Eco-Wars and Surf Stories from the Coast of the Californias, that will be out just before Christmas. Look for an IB book launch party in January.

Finally, I end with this quote from Zach Plopper, “Surfing for me means endless fun. There is nothing more fun than surfing.”

See you in the water.

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