The Top Springtime Surf Destinations

A reef slab somewhere in NSW, Australia.

A reef slab somewhere in NSW, Australia.

In the past few weeks little pulses of southern hemisphere swell energy have lit up the reefs, points and beaches of the Pacific Coast from Chile to Canada. San Diego does especially well this time of the year with combo swells firing up beach breaks across the county. Here’s a guide to your best travel choices to catch springtime swells.

Trestles: You’re going to fight crowds and the some of the world’s best surfers at the top of their game. But if you want to surf some of the best lined up waves designed for high-performance surfing, than Trestles—Middles, Lowers, Uppers, and Cottons—is the best game around. Don’t like crowds—then surf at midnight. Just remember that we all need to fight to Save Trestles.

WCT surfer Heitor Alves was ripping. He made this.

WCT surfer Heitor Alves was ripping at Trestles. He made this.

San Diego County Beachbreaks: Our more than 70 miles of coastline suck in combo swells this time of the year. Beachbreaks especially do well in the springtime when multi-directional ground and wind swells can make random beachies fire for a couple of hours or a few days.

Baja: Southern Baja can light up with southern hemi swells. The surf can go from flat to overhead in a few hours and then die just as fast. Winds are notoriously fickle on the Pacific side and water temps plummet through June. The dreaded northeasterly winds on the East Cape can kill your epic session in about five minutes. Baja has a rhythm all its own but bring along a fishing pole, SUP, and a friendly attitude, you won’t be sorry.

Serge Dedina dawn patrols remote Baja

Serge Dedina dawn patrols remote Baja

Vancouver Island: Snow capped peaks, bald eagles, friendly surfers, fun beachbreaks and mysto reefs, along with great springtime snowboard and ski runs make this Canadian adventure outpost worth a visit. Great food and arguably some of the most beautiful surfing vistas on the planet make this island and its wave-riding capital of Tofino one of the most unusual and worthwhile surf destinations in North America.

It is cold but beautiful on Vancouver Island. Somewhere near Tofino.

It is cold but beautiful on Vancouver Island. Somewhere near Tofino.

Mainland Mexico: Pick a point or beachbreak. There is a reason why some of the world’s best and bravest surfers flock to iconic and heavy waves like Pascuales and Zicatela. There is no other location on the planet where you can as easily and cheaply score barrels that can spit you out into the light of day or grind you into the sand. The mellow points and reefs of Punta de Mita, Saladita and Sayulita offer a more fun reality for less danger inclined surfers. All in all, mainland Mexico is arguably the most cost effective and wave-worthy destination on the planet. If you’re adventurous there are thousands of miles (literally) of wave-rich coastline that largely go unridden.

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Central and South America: Pick a country. Chile for long left points and the opportunity to ski and board early season snow. Peru for even longer lefts and the world’s best ceviche. Nicaragua for offshore A-frames and El Salvador for perfect but crowded right points. Ecuador is the newest surf destination with warm water, consistent waves and a friendly vibe.

Australia and New Zealand: Unfortunately prices have shot up, so make plans to camp and cook your own food, but with some of the world’s most beautiful and iconic landscapes and diversity of waves, Oz and Kiwi-Land are great surf and adventure travel destinations.

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Why you travel to Australia-it doesn’t get any better than this.

So get out there. Whether you’re at La Jolla Shores, Bells or Chicama, remember that the more experiences and adventures you have, the happier you will be. And congrats to Brazilian surfer turned San Clemente local Adriano de Souza for his victory at the Bells Rip Curl Pro and all of the other ASP surfers for putting in awe-inspiring performances at one the world’s most iconic surf contest venues.

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Another Weekend of Perfect Waves at San Miguel

We spent the weekend at San Miguel for the 3rd Annual Walter Caloca Open, a surf contest that brings together competitors from Mexico, the U.S. and around the world.

The waves were a blast!!

Sunday morning--San Miguel channeling Lowers.

Sunday morning–San Miguel channeling Lowers.

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That’s me channeling Terry Fitzgerald at J Bay in 1975.

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My eldest son Israel.

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My youngest son Daniel.

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IB surfer Sean Fowler.

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San Miguel local Kevin Meza.

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Zach Plopper

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Israel

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Israel

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Contest organizer Alfredo Ramirez of UAPO.

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From left to right: Me, my youngest son Daniel and friends Josh Johnson and his dad Daren Johnson.

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Junior boys finalists including from left to right: Gavin (3rd), Daniel Dedina (2nd), Dakotah Hooker (4th) and Josh Johnson (1st).

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Daniel.

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Daniel

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Josh Johnson

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Daniel

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Beach cleanup Saturday.

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Sharing Waves and Stoke at the 6th Annual Rincon Invitational

The Wildcoast team.

The Wildcoast team.

“What a stoke and a privilege to share good waves at the cove at Rincon with only seven friends for an hour,” said Jeff Knox, a longtime Imperial Beach surfer and retired elementary schoolteacher.

Jeff was at Rincon to surf with the WILDCOAST team in what is arguably the world’s most unusual surfing “competition.”

This year more than 200 surfers representing 22 surfing organizations were blessed with two days of consistently fun waves and a great weekend of camaraderie and hospitality and the 6th Annual Rincon Invitational.

With my sons israel and Daniel.

With my sons israel and Daniel.

“We designed the event to recognize surfers for their public service efforts,” said event committee chair Glen Henning. “It is not about commerce or competitio. It is about community.”

According to Henning, “Each team had the famed point at Rincon to themselves for an hour. The Black Surfers Collective rode 143 waves. The Best Day Foundation had two or more surfers on over 70% of their weaves. The Barbara Surf Club logged an astounding 247 rides. The surfers from the Third World Surf Company had up to eight riders linking hands.”

Josh Hall of the Pacific Beach Surf Club directed his totally stoked team into the “Wave of the Day Award.”

“They had their entire 10 person team all riding on three different waves,” said Henning.

San Diego shaper Josh Hall.

San Diego shaper Josh Hall.

Probably no one is more stoked on sharing the wealth of the ocean than Josh, a surfboard shaper and student of legend and stokemaster Skip Frye. Hall, a longtime visitor to the surf coast of Spain invited a couple of Spanish friends to join the PB Surf Club team at Rincon.

Josh even let me borrow his 12′ single fin pintail which I managed to maneuver on a few of my early waves. But I couldn’t figure out how to ride far back enough on the tail to avoid wiping out. So I ran the board back to the beach, thanked Josh, and ended our session on my 6’0″ Stu Kenson “Pleasure Pig.”

Daniel with my Stu Kenson Pleasure Pig

Daniel with my Stu Kenson Pleasure Pig

I shared all of my waves with teammates. But my best ride was a long ride with my two sons Israel and Daniel. At one point Daniel hopped on Israel’s 5’10”.

The boys and I sharing a wave.

The boys and I sharing a wave.

When the boys are off to college in a few years I’ll think back fondly to that wave. For a surf dad sharing a wave with your kids is as good as it gets.

“There’s so much competition for waves these days, and amateur and pro contests are a constant presence,” said Henning. “So we think it is important to keep alive a version of surfing that’s all about sharing. And ironically, we end up getting really good waves, and a lot of them.

A baby elephant seal shares the stoke.

A baby elephant seal shares the stoke.

Thanks to Glen Henning for the invite and reporting.

Results 6th Annual Sharing the Stoke Rincon Invitational, March 16-17, 2013

Saturday

Total Waves

1. Sunset Cliffs Surfing Association, 2. Malibu Surfing Association, 3. Great Lakes Surf Crew

Total Shared Waves

1. Third World Surf Co., 2. Coast Law Group, 3. Surfrider Advisory Board

Sharing Surfers

1. Best Day Foundation, 2. Pacific Beach Surf Shop, 3. Huntington Beach Longboard Crew

Wave of the Day: Project Save Our Surf

Spirit of Surfing Award: Ventura Surf Club

Sunday

Total Waves

1. Black Surfers Collective, 2. Santa Barbara Seals Surf School, 3. Wildcoast

Total Shared Waves

1. Doheny Bob’s Surf Crew, 2. California Adaptive Surf Team, 3. Oceanside Longboard Surf Club

Sharing Surfers

1. Santa Barbara Surf Club, 2. San Diego Surf Ladies, 3. Surf Happens Surf Kids

Wave of the Day: Pacific Beach Surf Club

Spirit of Surfing Award: Childhood Enhancement Foundation

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David Helvarg on “The Golden Shore: California’s Love Affair with the Sea”

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No one has done more to educate the public on ways to preserve our coast and ocean than David Helvarg. Author of six books and the founder and Executive Director of the Blue Frontier Campaign, Helvarg will be speaking about his newest book, The Golden Shore: California’s Love Affair with the Sea at the Birch Aquarium on Tuesday Feb. 26 from 6:30-8 p.m.

Serge Dedina: What is your first memory of the coast in California?

David Helvarg: Flying into San Diego at night to help out some friends in trouble in the Ocean Beach neighborhood and then staying up ’til dawn watching the Pacific lapping on the shore, small breaking wavelets sparkling with silvery luminescence. Two days later there was a concert on Sunset Cliffs. Watching the young OB residents dancing on the beach and wading into the bracing 68-degree water where silky-haired California girls in bikinis were tossing Frisbees, I knew I’d come home to a place I’d never been before.

Dedina: What does the coast mean for California?

Helvarg: The Pacific defines California and its spirit of adventure, exploration and enterprise. Teddy Roosevelt called California “West of the West.” It’s where U.S. expansion ended, but not the promise, where the frontier turned to liquid and a gold rush and World War transformed the golden shore. Without the ocean and coast, California is just a long skinny, seismically active clone of Nevada.

Dedina: What did Jack London have to do with the development of surfing in California?

Helvarg: Jack London arrived in Hawaii in 1907, saw the Hawaiians surfing at Waikiki and tried it himself. He was so taken with it, he wrote an article in the Women’s Home Companion (and a chapter in his next book), titled, “A Royal Sport” displaying the kind of unbridled enthusiasm for surfing he usually reserved for brave dogs. This was the first mass-media reporting on surfing on the U.S. mainland. He also wrote a letter of recommendation for Hawaiian surfer George Freeth, who used it to find work in California, where he is often credited with introducing the sport to the state.


Dedina: Sometimes we overlook the role of the military transforming our ports and managing our coast. How have our armed forces aided in the development and conservation of the California coast?

Helvarg: It started with the Navy and Marines seizing California from Mexico and expanded with the military port towns of San Pedro and San Diego (today SD remains the second largest naval complex in the U.S.).  The war in the Pacific transformed California during World War II with millions of Army and Navy personnel training and deploying from here.  California also became a major industrial war producer with its shipyards and aircraft factories.

Population increased, and the state became a center for the aerospace industry during the Cold War that followed. The Navy even jump-started the electronics industry in Silicon Valley. Today the Navy is working on reducing its C02 emissions by half in the next decade. Working on my book, I visited a new amphibious assault ship that burns one third the fuel of other ships of its class in a massive combat training zone off the coast.

Dedina: What was the role of the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill in developing our California coastal protection system?

Helvarg: California was where the first offshore drilling was done on piers near Santa Barbara. And because of blow outs and oil pollution Santa Barbara banned drilling off its beach till 1969 when the federal government promised new technology made it safe. Within days of the first wells being drilled there was a massive blow out and oil spill. Three years later, still shaken by the spill’s impact, the people of California voted to create a Coastal Commission to protect our shore even though opponents of coastal protection (real-estate interests, PG&E and the oil companies) outspent its supporters 100 to 1. Today, 30 years later, the commission continues to limit reckless development along the shore while guaranteeing public access to our spectacular coastline.

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Dedina: What is your favorite place along the California coast?

Helvarg: My home on San Francsico Bay, also most of what exists to the north (Mendocino, the Lost Coast, Del Norte) and the south (Monterey, Big Sur, Baja)

Dedina: Is the Coastal Act still relevant? Do we really need to worry about protecting our coast anymore?

Helvarg: To Quote Peter Douglas, who wrote the act and headed the Coastal Commission as executive director for many years, “The Coast is never saved, the Coast is always being saved.” The Coastal Act is for California what the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts are for the nation.

Dedina: California institutions such as Scripps lead the world in ocean exploration and research. How did California become a pioneer in marine research?

Helvarg: Appreciating what we had and how little we understood it, George Davidson began exploring the marine frontier that was California in 1850.   The newly established Stanford University set up the nation’s third-ever marine lab, the Hopkins Seaside Lab in 1892 and the Scripps family in San Diego supported zoologist Bill Ritter in creating another lab a few years later that became the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Today, California marine science is leading the world in understanding marine ecosystems, marine wildlife, upwellings, ocean acidification and other anthropogenic (human-caused) changes in the world ocean. Also exceptional is the fact that state ocean and coastal policies are driven by the best available science.

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Dedina: How has the the mythology of the beach and the coast in California defined or influenced popular culture in the U.S and globally? Has Hollywood played a role in that?

Helvarg: From Gidget and The Endless Summer, to Sea Hunt, Baywatch and The OC, not to mention surf music and language, dude, California has taken on a mythic place in world culture. Southern California’s major industries are maritime, military and fantasy (Hollywood) and so they mix naturally along the shore. But that’s nothing new. When Richard Henry Dana wrote, Two Years Before the Mast in the 1830s, his tales of life along the California coast fascinated the nation and that sense of wonder, envy, inspiration and interest has yet to fade.

Dedina: What is the purpose and mission of the Blue Frontier Campaign?

Helvarg:  The Blue Frontier Campaign works to build the seaweed (marine grassroots) constituency of citizen activists needed to protect our ocean, coasts and the communities that depend on them. We do this through actions like this spring’s Blue Vision Summit in Washington DC May 13-16 that will include the largest Capitol Hill Healthy Oceans day in history with hundreds of people letting their elected representatives know we expect them to restore the blue in our red, white and blue – in other words to follow the California model.

A family (I suppose) of Sea lions in Santa Cru...

A family (I suppose) of Sea lions in Santa Cruz, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dedina: California is the home of the some the world’s most iconic and popular ocean animals – white sharks, gray whales, sea otters, harbor seals, bottle nose dolphins and even giant blue whales. What is your favorite California ocean animal?

Helvarg: The California Sea Lions (all 300,000 of them) because they’re loud, smart, kinda messy and often rowdy, just like us humans. Know what they call a congregation of sea lions?  A mob.

Chasing Mavericks: Surfing in Northern California

The swell had finally hit.

Steamer Lane was 6 to 8 feet on the sets with fun waves and not that many people out. My sons Israel (16), Daniel (14) and I quickly donned our wetsuits and jumped into the lineup.

We were on the second part of our Thanksgiving week excursion up the coast of California to visit college campuses in the world’s best public university system (Israel is a junior in high school) and hopefully catch a few waves.

Before heading north, we checked out Southern California schools and surf spots.

Jumping off of the rocks at Steamer Lane.

Jumping off of the rocks at Steamer Lane.

My wife, Emily, flew into San Francisco the day before Thanksgiving and we planed to join my dad, my brother and the rest of our family for a feast.

The Lane, a World Surfing Reserve, is ground zero for Northern California surf culture (technically it is Central California—but I’m calling Santa Cruz and SF Northern Cal). It is a frenetic beehive of surfers, waves, coastal culture, and surf-gazing tourists.

It is the Main Street of surfing in the United States, with a lighthouse and panoramic view for the wave-filled lineup of Monterey Bay. I couldn’t think of a nicer place to spend an afternoon.

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While the boys gleefully jumped off Lighthouse Point and into the Slot, I carefully walked down the upper staircase and delicately threaded my way down the rocks and into the lineup at The Point.

While I fought the crowd for a few lined-up rights, the boys snagged set waves, then found waves to take them inside, where they would run up the inner staircase,  back to the outer rocks, fling themselves back into the lineup and start all over again. Grom heaven.

After a couple of hours at the Lane, we hurried northward along the Pacific Coast Highway. Our destination was Half Moon Bay and Pillar Point, home to Mavericks, one of the world’s most infamous and challenging big-wave surf spots.

After hitting a bizarre pre-Thanksgiving traffic jam in Half Moon Bay (which is literally in the middle of nowhere), we found the Mav’s parking lot at the base of Pillar Point.

The boys with Greg Long.

The boys with Greg Long.

The boys ran down the trail ahead of me.

“Hey, Dad,” said Israel, running back toward me after a couple of minutes on the trail. “That’s Greg Long,” he said, pointing to a lone surfer walking down the beach carrying a big-wave gun.

And sure enough, we were lucky to catch a moment with one of the world’s best big-wave surfers.

“The waves are coming up,” Long said. “It’s not super big, but I wanted to get ready for tomorrow.”

Sunset at Mavericks.

Sunset at Mavericks.

All I can say about Mavericks is that I have a deep well of respect for the surfers who challenge themselves on what has to be one of the gnarliest and most difficult waves to surf on the coast of California.

The rocks, the waves, the paddle, the sharks, and the boils come together to make it a true surfing gauntlet.

As the sun set, the boys and I joined a couple of locals and a group of Japanese surfers on the cliff above the beach and watched 12- to 15-foot waves pour through the surf zone.

It was gnarly. And it wasn’t even that “big.”

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For the next two days, in between wonderful meals at my brother’s house, the boys and I enjoyed great waves at Fort Point and Ocean Beach in San Francisco. We couldn’t have been more stoked.

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So for those of you who spend your time and money searching the world for great waves and adventure, make sure you haven’t overlooked our wonderful surf-filled state.

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Up the 101: A Tour of California College Surf Towns

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We were on the beautiful Cal Poly San Luis Obispo campus on the second day of our college and surf tour of coastal California. My youngest son Daniel, 14, was along for the waves and to get a peak at cool college surf towns.

“I can’t believe they have a surfboard shaping bay in the Student Union,” said my 16-year old son Israel.

The first stop on out trip was Ventura where the boys were determined to surf in the wake of Dane Reynolds.

Reynolds skipped in and out of the ASP World Tour and made the hollow beachbreaks of his laid back hometown world famous.

But the spot of choice was closed out. So we checked Emma Wood, a reef and beachbreak on the northern edge of town. A couple of years ago the boys surfed there with Dane.

“I even talked to Dane,” Israel said. “He was so cool, and of course he was shredding.”

But Emma Wood was sort of small and the offshore reef was only just starting to show the rising swell.

So we decided to head back further south and check out beaches known for their excellent wave quality and territorial locals.

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Upon our arrival at the parking lot at the north end of the beach we could see it was good. A-frames broke up and down the half-mile long beach with small packs on every peak.

California juice.

Our next stop was Santa Barbara. This beach town is the Beverly Hills or Monte Carlo of coastal California. It is so over-the-top gorgeous and so luxurious that it makes Laguna Beach, its sister-city in upscale chic, seems almost run-down.

We were on our way to a campus tour of UC Santa Barbara, one of the four universities we planned to visit on our tour.

If you’re the parent of surfers, you know that expensive and overrated East Coast private universities are off the list of acceptable schools. Thankfully our great state has the best public university system on the planet and a few of them are close to great waves.

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UCSB is situated on a pointbreak and counts surfer-singer Jack Johnson as an alum.

At the end of our tour, we head down to for a peak of Campus Point. Only a few surfers enjoyed the knee-high point waves.

“This place is awesome,” Daniel said.

The next morning, two hours north, we dawn patrolled Morro Bay. Overhead A-frames broke up  and down a beach that seemed endless.

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The boys and I shared peaks for a couple of hours and then headed to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

After our surf session, a wonderful campus tour, and the visit to the on-campus shaping bay Israel said, “That’s it. This is where I’m going.”

I hope he gets accepted.

Daniel checking out the shaping classroom at Cal Poly.

Daniel checking out the shaping classroom at Cal Poly.

Why We Need to Address Climate Change

Sea level has been rising cm/yr, based on meas...

With ongoing Hurricane Sandy cleanup operations and damage assessment being carried out on the Eastern Seaboard, it is easy for San Diegans to become complacent and argue that climate change can’t happen here.

But the impacts of climate change are already being felt here in San Diego.

For surfers and ocean lovers, subtle but significant changes in our climate have already had a big impact on our coastline and even surfing conditions.

The dramatic oscillations in ocean temperatures, changes in weather patterns, increased Santa Ana conditions and increasing loss of coastline due to erosion are all things long-term surfers and ocean observers already see happening.

As a drought-prone region largely dependent on water brought in from outside San Diego County, we are vulnerable to increases in temperatures, prolonged drought and sea level.

Dangerous wildfires experienced in the past decade may be indicative of what people in San Diego and elsewhere can expect in the future.

The issue isn’t whether or not San Diego is being impacted by climate change. Our climate is already changing. The fundamental issue that we need to address is how we as a region will adapt and respond to our changing climate.

Mean surface temperature change for 1999–2008 ...

We can either bury our head in the sand and pretend that climate change is a hoax.

Or we can believe the streams of data assessed by climate scientists worldwide and in San Diego to understand that we have an obligation to identify solutions that can help deal with the changes that are happening now and forecast to come–before it is too late.

The time to deal with climate change in San Diego is right now.

Even if the cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon emmissions that begins Wednesday is a huge success, pollution and the rammifications of climate change are global, so we must prepare.

Luckily the San Diego Foundation has provided a blueprint, San Diego’s Changing Climate: A Regional Wake-Up Call, for such a program and identified some of the ways in which our climate is changing now and is forecast to change.

The report evaluates how San Diego’s climate will change by 2050 if current trends continue.

Some of the facts listed in the foundation’s report:

  • We will see an increase in average annual temperatures of between 1.5-4.5 degrees.
  • The weather in November will often feel like September does (as I write this we are feeling mild Santa Ana conditions).
  • Summers will be even hotter than they are now.
  • There is projected to be an increase in sea level between 12-18 inches exacerbating the loss of beaches. Click here to see how sea level rise is expected to impact local beaches.
  • We will need 37 percent more water than we currently utilize even though our sources of water might shrink by 20 percent.
  • There will be an increase by 20 percent of the number of days with ideal conditions for large fires.

One thing that is important to mention—there is no real debate on the validity of climate science. That there is “debate” on the origins and consequences of climate science is due to campaigns financed by fossil-fuel companies opposed to any increased regulation of carbon-based energy. The impact of Hurricane Sandy illustrated to a nation why we cannot afford to wait any longer to address our changing climate.

It’s not too late to take action. I sat on the city of Chula Vista ClimateChange Working Group and was impressed by how a local group of business leaders, conservationists and scientists came together to adopt a number of common sense and low-cost strategies to reduce the impact of our changing climate (just planting more trees would help).

Planning for climate change is something that every city in San Diego County should undertake. Especially for those who live for our coast and ocean here in San Diego, it’s something that we can’t afford not to do.

San Diego County Wildfires, AGAIN!

VOTE FOR WiLDCOAST FOR ECO-CHAMP

Vote today to make WiLDCOAST your 2012 Earth 8 Eco Ambassador! Vote daily now through December 6, 2012, to conserve our coasts and oceans for generations to come! CBS 8 San Diego, San Diego River Park Foundation and San Diego Gas & Electric have partnered to highlight 8 dynamic environmental programs working to create “sustainable, greener and cleaner neighborhoods” throughout San Diego. We are proud to be a finalist, and will be even prouder to be your 2012 Eco Ambassador!

Vote once daily per device (computer, tablet, mobile phone) from now through December 6, so that we can continue our efforts to conserve our coasts, oceans, and wildlife. From exploring Marine Protected Areas with local school children, to clearing over 150,000 pounds of ocean-bound trash from the Tijuana River Valley this year alone, WiLDCOAST works to connect communities to conserve the coastal areas we love. Support what we need to protect and vote for us today!

Why Marine Protected Areas Benefit Surfers

Cabrillo MPA in Point Loma, San Diego.

Any North County or southern Baja vet most likely has run into Garth Murphy intensely evaluating surf conditions from shore and gracefully riding the best waves of the season. A California icon who partnered with Mike Doyle and Rusty Miller in their infamous and pioneering Surf Research company, Garth is the author of the epic novel of California, The Indian Lover, and the son of noted fisheries biologist Garth I. Murphy, who was La Jolla’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography‘s first PhD, and a professor at the University of Hawaii.

Garth, who has lived, surfed and advocated for coastal and marine protection in Hawaii, Australia and Baja California, was a member of the California Department of Fish and Game‘s Marine Life Protection Act Initiative (MLPAI) Regional Stakeholder Group.

As a result of that effort a new network of marine protected areas (MPAs) was established in Southern California with reserves at Swami’s, Black’s-Scripps, South La Jolla, Cabrillo-Point Loma and the Tijuana River Mouth. These MPAs conserve key marine ecosystems such as kelp beds, reefs, sea grass beds – the ecological features that provide the foundation for some of our very best waves.

Serge Dedina: Why should surfers care about marine conservation and creating MPAs in Southern California?

Garth Murphy: Because we have 300 wave-rich surf spots to choose from and over a million Southern California surfers average 20 surfs a year – for 20 million yearly immersions in what usually happens to be our ocean’s most bio-diverse coastal marine habitats. The Marine Life Protection Act recognizes traditional surfing as a compatible recreational use of the ocean resource, permitted in protected areas except at mammal haul-outs, bird roosts and estuaries. A network of Marine Protected Areas, by protecting and conserving complete coastal ecosystems and habitat, enhances the biodiversity and abundance of marine life, enriching our experience, while minimizing and controlling potential habitat-destructive human activities, which directly affect us.

Looking toward the San Diego-Scripps MPA and Black’s Beach in La Jolla.

Dedina: Why is preserving marine ecosystems of Southern California so important for surfers?

Murphy: Southern California surfers and marine life share natural coastal ocean habitats of every important class: estuaries and river mouths, beaches and inter-tidal zones, surf grass and eel grass beds on composite reefs like Cardiff; rare cobble reefs like Trestles, Rincon and Malibu; rocky reefs like Windansea and Laguna; submarine canyons like Blacks, and sand bars at Newport and Pacific Beach; as well as man-made habitats like the Piers at Huntington and Imperial Beach, rock jetties like the Wedge and Hollywood by the Sea, and artificial reefs.

As a boon to surfers, thick coastal kelp forest canopies, which shelter the greatest biodiversity of coastal marine species, also protect us from the afternoon winds, refining ocean surface texture and grooming the swells to extend our surfing hours and the carrying capacity of affected surf spots. Habitat-based marine protected areas preserve everything within their boundaries, including our cherished surf spots.

Dedina: What about water quality? Would marine reserves help our efforts to keep beaches free from polluted runoff?

Murphy: Coastal ocean water quality is not just a function of land pollution runoff. Over-exploitation and depletion or collapse of important food web components causes imbalances that degrade marine ecosystems and make the ocean more vulnerable to disease outbreaks and opportunistic invasive species like stinging jellyfish, algae blooms and toxic red tides, diminishing water quality and habitat suitability for marine life and surfers.

On the contrary, robust, bio-diverse marine ecosystems with intact food webs are resilient, resisting and adapting to environmental change and pollution, maintaining water and habitat quality. Estuaries are marine life nurseries, fresh/salt water interfaces that empty into many of our finest surf spots. We absorb that same water through our eyes, ears, nose and mouths on duck-dives and wipeouts. Rebuilding and maintaining bio-diverse estuaries with a full range of marine life creates healthier nurseries, and encourages upstream compliance with pollution regulations. The result is better water quality for all of us.

Dedina: So in the end, how does preserving our marine heritage in Southern California benefit surfers?

Murphy: The California surfing style evolved in a unique marine environment of glassy peeling waves. Stylish surfing and our beach lifestyle have become an important part of California history and culture –and media focus – generating an endless wave of glossy-color surf magazines, surf videos and feature films. The success of the $7-plus billion surfing industry, centered in Southern California, depends on maintaining the high cultural value of the traditional California surfing experience: as exciting, invigorating exercise, as a get-away, as a sport, a meditation, a dance, a family get-together and photo opportunity –enhanced by a vibrantly alive and healthy ocean.

The ocean is Earth’s largest and most accessible enduring wilderness. Regular contact with wilderness is a human, and especially American, cultural value, manifested today in the ocean by the popularity of surfing. A full and abundant spectrum of marine species – from whales to hermit crabs to phytoplankton – is an integral part of our ocean-wilderness experience.

Marine Protected Areas enhance ecosystem awareness by exposing us to a broad diversity of marine life. They encourage monitoring of potential problems and upstream compliance with complementary air and water quality regulations. The positive water quality and life-giving effects of marine protected areas are a valuable gift to the surfers and marine species who share them.

5 Ways to Save on Gas While Surfing

With gas averaging $4.72 a gallon in San Diego County, commuters and especially surfers are scrambling to reduce their fuel consumption. Surfers waste gas while driving non-stop coastal loops in search of the best waves and endlessly idle their vehicles during street end or beach parking lot surf checks.

Surfers love their gas guzzling bro-dude monster surf mobiles that boost macho core-scores but put a strain on bank accounts and produce smog alerts. Find a surfer and you can guarantee he’s packed his quiver in the back of a lifted 4×4 F-350 crew cab, which makes sense when hauling a trailer filled with sand toys to Glammis but not so much when it comes to driving a mile to the beach.

A typical SoCal surfer bro-mobile.

There are, however, some creative and innovative ways to save fuel, the planet and money in order to arrive at the beach for a surf. That’s because although for some conservatives, “conservation” is a dirty word, for this old-school cheapo, anything that directs less of my paycheck to the monolithic retrograde oil industry and all the dictators who love to sell us petroleum (e.g. Hugo Chavez), is a good thing.

Trade in Your Gas Guzzler

For everyone who bought their mega-truck on zero percent financing and now  pay $170 to fill it up, run to your nearest auto dealer and trade it in for a hybrid or electric vehicle. My 2010 Honda hybrid averages about 40 MPG and it fits four groms  With the money I save on gas I can afford to buy the groms tacos at Rubios after a run to Blacks. If the groms don’t like your new wheels with less legroom make them hitchike.

Carpool

You know that really mean and grumpy silverback who screams at you everyday in the lineup even though you’ve surfed together for over twenty years and live down the street from him–well, next time he lovingly blasts you with an insult, pitch him on a carpool. As in, “Hey bro—look I know surfing makes you incomprehensibly angry, but why don’t I ease your pain by joining you on the beach commute and we’ll share some tasty waves together.” Paint a picture of all the fun you’ll have and even offer to let him bitch slap you around in front of his crew for spilling yerba mate on his ride. So make some new friends, save some money and bring peace and joy to your spot by bringing carpooling to your lineup.

Here’s my 1980s Schwinn girls ten speed beach cruiser with Carver Surf Racks.

Recover a Bike from the Trash and Ride it to the Beach

I come from a long-line of hardened dumpster divers or what eco-hipsters now call “freegans.” As a grom, my crew and I roamed the streets salvaging bikes, surfboards, wetsuits and anything else that could propel us to the beach and in the water (no one in IB had any money in the 70s). I continue that tradition with my kids and often depend on the largesse of my eighty-year old immigrant father—the Freegan King of California—for a parade of old bicycles we’ve cobbled together as urban surf machines (my kids first line of bikes proudly emerged from a dumpster run—we fixed them up together). I’m currently cruising a 80s’ Schwinn ten speed girl’s beach cruiser that my father either liberated from the street or found very cheap at a garage sale that I’ve outfitted with Carver Surf Racks (that cost more than all of our bikes combined), and a big basket  No more parking problems and I burn a few more calories during my daily surf commute. The Trestles locals are the fittest surfers in California and seem to have bike rack and trailer systems dialed. I have noticed more people switching to bike surf commutes in the past month than ever before. So search the streets and alleys of your local millionaire laden beach town (La Jolla is gold) and enjoy the gifts of our throwaway consumer society in order to save money, get in shape and improve air quality.

Take the Bus

The Southern California coastal region is chock filled with trolleys, trains and busses. A monthly pass costs anywhere from $72 for adults to $18 for seniors. So go ahead and make a few friends while swinging your longboard around the bus during the morning beach commute. Last year my kids and their friend Jake caught the ferry, two buses and the Coaster from Imperial Beach to San Clemente in order to spend a few days surfing Lowers, and it only took five hours one way. Time is money and since no one seems to have any money, spend your time wisely, meet new people, and cruise to the waves in our wonderful transit system.

Stop Surfing

Your significant other and mom are correct–surfing in an incredibly selfish and self-centered sport that accomplishes very little and interferes with your job, life, and relationships. So nix surfing, reduce your overhead, and spend more time at home with your spouse and children. Who knows, they might even remember who you are.

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