Saturday, September 14, 2013

What I Learned Body Boarding On Friday Afternoon

"What I Learned Body Boarding On Friday Afternoon" or "Body Boarding For Dummies".

I am a California novice.   I don't pretend i know everything about what to do or how to do it here, and I find those who try to appear to be "way so cool" to be laughable (and I choose not to hang around them).  On Friday afternoon, my last conference call ended at 1pm (after starting my day at 4am and not having breakfast until a quick snack at 11am).  I checked the wave conditions at Dana Point, and found that there was a "2 star" rating (out of 5 stars) at the surf rating sites, and that the waves were estimated at 2.5 feet high.  "Cool!" I thought, time to body board!

I broke out my O'Neill Psycho 3:2 wet suit, body board, cooler (for re-hydration), reading glasses and book (Gaffigan's Dad Is Fat), towel and sun screen, and headed down to Dana Point.  I scored rock star parking at the best parking spot at the top of Strand Beach, headed down the 200+ stairs, and looked for the best area to begin body boarding.  There were dozen of adolescent & 20-something surfers, and 1/2 a dozen children and "old men like me" body boarders.  I headed for the body boarders, and avoided the skillful surfers.

While websites said the waves were 2.5 feet high, they often ran 5 or 6 feet high, with formidable crashing into the shore.  The wind speeds were about 10 mph.  It was clear and sunny (good thing I had SPF 50 on my face and neck) and the water was about 66F.  Here's my take-aways, as a rather novice body boarder:

1)  Wear a wet suit.  Your fingers and toes will get chilly in the 66F water, but the rest of your body will be fine.  3:2 or thicker..  (the kids in the 2 mil suits were shivering)

2)  When you are bobbing out in the surf, up to your neck, your toes in the sand, and a Large Wave approaches, and you feel the TUG of the under-tow drawing you out to sea, and the water level goes from chin, to chest, and then to wait level (dropping almost 3 feet) LOOK at the oncoming wave.  If it is about to crest, DIVE DAMNIT!   DIVE INTO and UNDER IT!  You will come up on the backside of the wave alive, and well balanced.  If you naively choose to try to "ride the wave" you will be pummeled, pounded into the surf and sand, and tumbled like an old sock in the dryer, repeatedly, dizzily, to the point where walking a straight line is a significant challenge.

3) When another body boarder (or boogie boarder, or no-board-surfer) rides an excellent wave for dozens of yard, at the crest, and makes it from the deep water all the way into shore in-tact, and you NOTICE this, and marvel at it, and then that person swims back out past you, it is nice (and good karma) to compliment them and tell them "that was a good wave you caught".  Telling them this will Make Their Day.  The responses I have received when I've done this have ranged from "thank you" to "that is the best wave I caught all day, I've been out here for 4 hours!".

4) when the seagulls are laughing, they are not laughing at you.  They just make that sound, that seems like laughing to humans.

5) when you ride a crashing wave all the way into shore, and you try to maneuver to avoid crashing into three 5 and 6 year old little girls who are standing in knee deep water, but the wave is so violent & powerful that you still glance against the leg of one of the 3 foot tall little girls (who tells you "I'm fine" when you ask her "sorry about that, are you ok?") it is time to call it quits.  If an old man approaching 50 years old cannot control his body board trajectory, and he crashes into little girls who are standing knee deep in the surf, he's too tired to keep body boarding.

6)  A "one star" surf rating, is rather "boring" with 1 foot high waves, and a "green flag" rating.  A "two star" rating, at 2 feet, is fun and exciting, and enjoyable, with a "yellow flag" rating.  A "two star" or "three star" rating might be fun for seasoned surfers, with a "red flag" rating, but for old men like me, it means a wet suit full of sand, a dizzying tumble in the surf after being pounded repeated by powerful waves, and a dazed-and-confused stagger back to your cooler, sandals, and towel.

7) Wear your body board wrist tether, it will keep you from having to swim (or wade_ ashore to retrieve your body board that will inevitably be wrenched from your tenacious grasp when you are pummeled by a crashing wave. But remember, when you wearing your wrist tether, that the chord is somewhat elastic, and when the board Finally Breaks Free of the waves, it will have a tendency to WHACK you in the neck or face as it breaks free of the shore bound wave.

8) Rinsing your wet suit in the shower while wearing it, and then peeling off and rinsing it "inside out" will be the easiest way to get all the salt water off the suit.  Make sure to use the coldest water possible, so as not to degrade the suit (hot water and hydrophobic coatings are not so compatible).  Make sure to keep the original equipment hangar close to the shower so that you can hang up the wet wet suit, after rinsing.

9) remember to watch how large of a volume of liquids you drink while wearing a wet suit.  While emptying your bladder in the ocean might seem "natural" to some people, voiding your bladder inside your wet suit is just plain old nasty.  And when you get home, tired, and post-surf-tumbled, and you have a full bladder, getting out of the wet suit and going to the rest room will become of paramount importance to the human brain.

10) soaking in a hot tub, for about an hour, with jets on your neck, shoulders, and lumbar, with a large glass of iced ethanol, helps to alleviate the pain that being tumbled in the surf can cause.

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