Sandy Beach: Waveriding Paradise and Obama’s Favorite Wave

Sandy Beach on the south shore of  Oahu has it all. Great sand, crystal clear water, big park, lifeguards, an incredible shorebreak and a few slabby reefs for surfing. And the beach scene is something out a reality show: South Shore Beach Scene–Glee meets Point Break meets North Shore.

The water at Sandy Beach is crystal clear.

President Obama at Sandy Beach. People love to criticize Obama as feckless. But let me tell you, pulling into a wave at Sandy requires cojones. And the Tea Party hacks wouldn't even be able to drag their pasty blubber past their knees before being knocked down by the whitewater.

This is where President Obama went to bodysurf during his campaign for President. And when surfers worldwide saw him put out his arm in the classic bodysurfing position, we knew we was the real deal. And let me tell you-Sandy Beach is legit brah!!!!! I can guarantee not on of those Tea Party goofballs would last a minute out there in a one on one with our Bodysurfing Prez!

My youngest son Daniel on left on the east side of the beach. Rocks everywhere just below the surface.

Sandy Beach is a bodysurfing haven. The key is to find something to use as a hand planer.Daniel and my oldest son Israel share a fun wave. When it gets big the risk of injury is high. According to the lifeguards, there is nowhere else where more necks are broken in the U.S. I believe it.

Daniel driving into the barrel.

The bodyboarders are amazing. Many are standing up and just surfing their bodyboarders. One told me that he was "a surfer surfing a boardyboard." These waves require committment to get over the hump and into the face.

This guy was ripping. These were not easy waves to make. The wave boils over the reef. The right off this wave is a crazy barrel. A guy was backdooring it all afternoon (no photos though).

DIY bodysurfing tools--a swim paddle, homemade hand planer, and a McDonald's food tray.

What seals the deal on President Obama's bodysurfing street cred is the fact that he can go left and right. The man knows what he is doing. Looks to me like he is a "goofyfoot" and favors going left (as I do).

Oh yeah, when you get hungry, you just stroll over to the Wahoo's fish taco truck--the only one in the world!

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Got Sand? A Brief History of Sand Projects in Imperial Beach

A boy who was almost impaled by metal dumped on Imperial Beach in 2004.

Sometime this week the Scows DS5, Harold M and Clarence D and tugs Katha C and Killeen will transport barges filled with 33,000 cubic yards of sediment dredged up from the Ballast Point Coast Guard Station in San Diego Bay by the vessel DB Palomar.

 

Rather than dump the dredge spoils that contain cadmium, lead, arsenic, mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls  (PCBs) at an existing dumpsite off of Point Loma, the toxic sediment will be placed just offshore from the terminus of Imperial Beach Boulevard in Imperial Beach. The placement of this toxic material will be carried out with the approval of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the City of Imperial Beach.

The history of Imperial Beach is rife with a parade of badly executed “beach replenishment” projects that have failed to actually do much to protect our coastline. The problem of our receding shoreline is the result of the combination of sea level rise, the construction of the Rodriguez Dam, and the armoring of our coast.

Here is a brief history of the mostly unsuccessful and fatally flawed sand projects carried out by federal agencies at the urging of the City of Imperial Beach. Only one agency, SANDAG has been able to carry out a successful beach project—primarily due to its commitment to using clean large grain sand for its projects.

1976-77: The most toxic areas of South San Diego Bay are dredged and the spoils are dumped on Imperial Beach killing benthic life (e.g. sand crabs) for more than a decade. Local surfers still tell stories about the skin rashes they received from contact with the filthy sediment.

1977-1984: The Army Corps attempts to build a mile-long breakwater in Imperial Beach. The fledgling Surfrider Foundation and local surfer Jim Knox stop the project at the last minute. The breakwater would have forever destroyed surfing and wave action in most of Imperial Beach.

2000-2009: Army Corps and the City of Imperial Beach plan a $75 million long-term project involving dredging an area near the border sewage outfall pipe that was used as a WWI gunnery and bombing area. WiLDCOAST, Imperial Beach surfers, the Surfrider Foundation, Senator Tom Coburn and the Obama White House kill the project that the City of Imperial Beach spent more than $250,000 lobbying for.

2001: SANDAG carries out a project with clean sand, which helps to create great sandbars for surfing and clearly increases the size of our beach.

2004: Army Corps dredges area near the Bay Bridge. Barges then dump toxic sediment in the surf zone including thousands of rocks and pieces of garbage, dangerous rebar and metal onto beach and in surf zone. Surfers call the dump area “Toxics”. One child is almost impaled by a piece of rebar that is hidden in the surf zone. The City initially denies that the garbage and rocks are from the project. No measurable benefit to beach.

On of the thousands of shell/rock conglomerate dumped on Imperial Beach in 2004. These can still be found all over the beach.

2007: Army Corps permits the dredging of a toxic hot spot in San Diego Bay’s Shelter Island. Dredge spoils are dumped with no notice to Imperial Beach residents. Barge is initially turned away by Imperial Beach Lifeguards. The barge subsequently works in the middle of the night to avoid public scrutiny. No measurable benefit to beach.

2010: SANDAG once again proposes “best practices” sand project to be carried out in 2012 involving clean large grain sand. The agency works extensively with local surfers and stakeholders to plan the project.

Rather than focus on a coastal zone management plan that proactively seeks to enhance our coastline by addressing sea level rise, ocean pollution and beach management, unfortunately the City of Imperial Beach continues to seeks the placement of any type of “sand” on our beach, regardless of the potential threats to our children.

It will be important for the community to monitor the current project to identify any impacts and threats to public safety. In a communication on Tuesday with the EPA I wrote that, “Unfortunately during all of the San Diego Bay projects in which dirty and toxic sediment is dumped on our beach—federal agencies have either not informed local agencies at all, or involved almost minimal notification or no stakeholder involvement at all. These are examples of the worst type of coastal zone management practices.”

People go to the beach to swim in clean water.  The City of Imperial Beach should focus on reducing ocean pollution—the main deterrent to tourism—rather than  placing toxic sediment on our beaches in a misguided attempt to promote economic development.

See you in the water.

Serge Dedina is the Executive Director of WiLDCOAST and the author of Wild Sea: Eco-Wars and Surf Stories from the Coast of the Californias.

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