by Corky Carroll
Last week we touched upon some of the perils of a day at the beach, protecting yourself from the sun, staying hydrated and making it home without becoming a piece of fried bacon. This week I want to go into some if the issues that you will need to deal with once you set foot into the ocean. This is aimed at those of you who are new to going to the beach and new to dealing with the Pacific Ocean. This thing is nothing like a big lake or a swimming pool, it has a mind of its own and can be extremely moody when it wants to be.
First off let’s talk about the ocean itself. Depending on the swell and surf conditions there are currents. The more surf and bigger the swell is the stronger the currents are. Even on days when the surf is tiny there are still currents. Generally speaking, the currents are going the same direction as the swell. If we are looking at a South swell, as is normal in the summer, the direction of the current will be going from the south towards the north. There are some who get all techno and want to tell you the coast goes East and West, but I am not one of those. In my mind if you are looking towards San Diego that is South. If you are looking towards Los Angeles that is North. So, on a South swell the currents go South to North. You can jump in the water and without even knowing it be a hundred yards up the beach in a few minutes. The dangerous part of this, besides losing track of where you are, is that these currents turn and go out to sea. This is called a “Rip.” Once you are stuck in one of these it’s not easy to get out. You need to swim sideways, towards the north side, to get out of the river heading out to sea. Then swim back to the beach. Do not try to swim against the current, you will wear out and then you have a serious problem. We always tell people to stay near the lifeguard towers. No matter how good of a swimmer you are, if you are not experienced in being in the ocean, you can get in trouble very quickly. If the surf is big the best idea is to have fun watching it and stay out.
Then we have sea life. The ocean is a whole other world and home to all kinds of life. Sometimes I think of it as being another planet when you get underwater. Aliens live there. Monsters. And fish. You don’t really need to worry about most of the fish, they are cool and will swim away from you. But, there are a few critters that you might come across that are not all that friendly. The most common along our shores are Stingrays and jellyfish. The Stingray has been around forever and will probably be here after humans wipe themselves out. They like to hang out in the warm shallow waters close to the beach. This is all good unless you step on one of them. If you do they will sting you and there is one solid fact I can tell you about that. IT HURTS. It hurts pretty badly too, enough to make adults cry and call for their mamas, enough to make little kids say words they don’t even know, enough to totally ruin the next couple of hours of your life. It’s not serious, but it’s painful. You need to get your foot, or where ever the sting is, into as hot of water as you can stand as quickly as you can. You need to keep heating the water. It should be so hot that it is almost burning you. This lessons the pain and makes it go away quicker. The normal deal is about two hours, then you are fine. You do not pee on it, that is for sea urchins.
For a jellyfish sting you need to scrub the area with anything that will get the slime left from the jellyfish off of you as soon as you can. Wet sand works great. Or surf wax. If you have a bar of wax in your wax pocket (for surfers) this works just fine. Whatever you can find to clean the spot off will be good, just do it as soon as you can or it will leave a welt. It’s kind of an itchy burnie irritation. The stingray is more like the same kind of pain as a bad toothache. Neither are fun, but the stingray is way worse.
Sharks? Well, they have become more of an issue recently than in the past but in general they are still pretty rare in our waters. They are there though. If you get chomped by one you are probably toast, but maybe not. Best thing is to see a doctor as soon as possible.
Ok, I hope that helps you survive your first days at the beach. Remember to try and use common sense and you will probably be ok.
by Corky Carroll
Yes kiddies, this is my annual tips column on how to survive going to the beach this summer. As always, this is aimed at newbies and other non-beach-oriented people who might be a tad clueless when it comes to the hazards to your health from what would seem to be a fun day at the beach. For those of you who have read these in years past I suggest you stick with me and read this one too, just as a refresher in case you forgot any of this helpful information.
First off, and probably most importantly, that big ol' summer sun is not in any way your friend. Yeah, you are looking to put on a nice glorious golden tan and look all cool and weathered in your summer outfits. That’s all good and fine, but you need to do this without getting sunburned, and that is the issue that most people either overlook or are not aware of. Sunblock is your friend, your very very good friend. You will still get plenty tan no matter how much you use, and you should use plenty of it. Put it on at least twenty minutes before you go into the sun and reapply it fairly often. Yeah, it says it lasts all day and is water resistant and all that, but it lies. You need to keep using it, especially if you go into the water. I know that there are some of you with the opinion that you can hang out for a little while, getting “color,” before you apply any protection. This is a really bad opinion because you will burn. I cannot impress on you how important this is. Todays sunburn is skin cancer twenty years from now, trust me on that because I know all about it. Besides that, it hurts. Wear a hat too.
The next thing that is super important at the beach is having a good pair of polarized sunglasses. All those pretty sparkles on the ocean are a zillion tiny mirrors reflecting sunlight directly into your eyes, and yes kids….your eyes can get burned too. And they do. The sand is also highly reflective, just like snow. Sunburned eyes can lead to growths that your eyes form to protect themselves, I know all about that too. I have had the surgery to remove them and I can tell you right now that it is no fun at all. Well, unless you think having somebody cutting on your eyes while you are awake is fun. I, for one, am not into that kind of thing.
In short, the sun that you seek can really ruin your day if you do not know how to protect yourself from its little not so hidden hazards. Another one of these is that as the day progresses the sand gets hotter and hotter. People head down by the water and get a nice spot all set up for the day when it’s still cool. But then later in the afternoon when they pick up their gear and attempt to walk back to the car, or whatever, that stretch of beach between you and it has turned red hot. The famous “burning sands,” called that because they are actually just that, freaking BURNING sands. If you don’t have something to put on your feet you are in for a world of hurt. First you will start to hop, then run, then run as fast as you can while screaming as your feet blister right under you. This, once again, is no fun. And the total idea of going to the beach is to have fun. Getting burned is a bad thing.
Another very bad thing is dehydration. You need to take along water or some sort of electrolyte beverage. Cokes, coffee, beer and everything like that are all dehydrators. If you get dehydrated you will feel exactly the same as if you have food poisoning or what people call “the revenge.” The thing is more times than not when people think they have something like that it is dehydration. It is dangerous too as it can cause you to have a stroke, something you really do not want to have happen to you.
So, the quick version is protect yourself from the sun and drink a lot of water. Use sunblock, wear a hat and sunglasses and take along something to wear on your feet for when the sand gets hot. I will get to “in the water” hazards next week.
by Corky Carroll
I flipped on my old computer just now and while it was warming up, it’s a steam powered Apple III, I was thinking about what I was gonna write about for todays adventure into my continued quest to wipe out the use of all grammer and long words. A semi loud “bing” sounded over my head and the idea that I should revisit some previous subjects, stories and people from time to time could be cool. So, I took a look back at a piece I did on three of our greatest local surf rats from the 1960’s that I did in 2012. John Boozer, Tommy Leonardo and Robert Kooken. These are guys you don’t hear about much but were a major part of Orange County surfing in their day. Hey, perfect choice to kick this off with. I took the following from that story.
Today I thought I would put out a little tribute to three of the best local right foot forward guys from my era, which was mostly the 60’s and early 70’s, who are not with us anymore.
First would be John Boozer. I first remember John as a freshman at Huntington Beach High School. There was a big fad at school that year with these light blue very lightweight windbreakers. Boozer was the first guy I saw with one of those and I liked it. I think that’s how I met him, by asking him where he got the cool windbreaker.
Shortly after that I started seeing him in the lineup on the south side of the pier and realized that he was a pretty good surfer. He really started to excel and become a serious competitor on the West Coast contest circuit about the time we were seniors in 1965. He won a big contest at Redondo Beach that spring called the “Laguna Masters.” It was put on by Laguna Swimwear.
John won the men’s division and took home a motorcycle. I won the juniors, as I was still 17, and got a color TV. I remember that it was Mother’s Day, which I had forgotten. I went home and gave my mom the T.V. Phew.
John did very well for a few years on the competition trail and eventually became a main guy in the Robert August Surfboards factory. Great guy and good pal. The next guy I wanna mention is Tommy Leonardo. Tom was known not really affectionately as the “Top Mouth on the Coast,” for many years. He held that title until Chuck Dent came along in the later 60’s. Tommy could really spew out a running stream of verbiage when he got on a roll. Sometimes he was funny, but mostly it was some sort of rage he was feeling toward somebody.
We were friends until he went to Hawaii one year. After that, and I never learned why, he seemed to have something against me. He went over before me and when I got there people told me he had said a lot of bad things about me. None the less I always respected his surfing skills. I still remember one day I paddled out down by Tower 5 and saw Tom on one wave totally in the barrel doing a “cheater 5” all the way across the face. On the next wave, there was Boozer doing exactly the same thing and I was thinking that these guys were really good surfers.
Tom and I were not pals, but he was one of the best goofy footers around in the early to mid-sixties. Lastly, there was Robert Kooken. I loved this guy because he was totally different surfing wise than what was popular at the time and he could have cared less. In a period when the popular direction was soulful style and grace, Robert Kooken wore polka-dotted surf trunks and totally attacked waves with an array of arm-waving, radical turns and spinners and all sorts of acrobatic-looking moves that made him look more like a circus performer than a surfer.
But in the midst of all that, he was really doing some great surfing. I would hear guys berate him for his wild style and I would always ask, “but is he a great surfer or not?” Everyone would always have to say, “Well yeah, he is really good.” He won a couple of events and was at the top of the competition scene here on the West Coast for a number of years.
I enjoyed watching Kooken surf, he was very entertaining. And he was an extremely fun dude to hang out with. One of the real rare “individuals” who have come along who just rode on pure stoke.
Yeah, I know there are a lot more. But these three guys had a big mark on surfing here in Orange County and they are gone now. I just wanted to remember them a little – they deserve it. And that kiddies is today's Blast from the Past.
by Joel Saltzman
As it's Corky and Mike's names on many of these products, we've gone out of our way looking for surf products that are top quality, innovative, and stuff we would actually use ourselves. Recently, we became dealers for several awesome companies that manufacture stuff that makes life much easier for dawn patrollers.
For starters, we found an amazing dry bag at the Boardroom show that is super light, super strong and watertight. It doubles as a backpack and has options to close it. I was so impressed with this product and the Dry Rack this company offered that we became dealers the next week. Here are three products we just picked up and have in our store.
The waterproof backpack needs no explanation. The Dry rack is designed to hang from your sideview mirror to dry your wetsuits. There is also an $8.99 suction cup hook option that enable this product to be mounted nearly anywhere. Finally, the Rinse Pod is the new generation of an older product. It's much smaller, lighter and better pressurized than it's predecessor. Unfortunately, these days if you are lucky enough to find a beach shower that works, the water pressure often resembles that of a drinking fountain.
One of the products that I am really excited to test next week is the Rib Rocket. As I wear a 3/2mm wetsuit of thicker all year, my trips to the tropics are the only time that I get to surf in boardshorts only. While I love this, my rib cage is not used to direct contact with my surfboard. I don't mind a little was rash but rib pain sucks, especially when you have to paddle 300-500+ yards to get back out after each wave. Here is what I am hoping is the solution for this problem.
Ironically, Corky knew the owner of this company and had helped launch this company's initial model years ago. They have since come out with a far better product and several variations.
We also have some really cool new hats, t-shirts and other neat stuff. Please have a look!
by Corky Carroll
I love writing this column as it gives me the chance to wander all over the map on subjects that relate to fun, surfing, music and a lifestyle that has been great to me for a very long time. The one part that I never look forward too, however, is when it comes time to write about the death of a fellow surfer and friend. This time it is unfortunately one of the greatest surfers to ever set foot in the ocean and one of my lifetime best friends, Mike Doyle. I have written about him before, and recently for that matter. He had been in a losing battle with ALS and many in the surfing world have been paying tribute to him over these past months, knowing the final wave was at hand. Even though it was expected, and for the best as his last months were very hard on both him and his wonderful wife Annie, it still came as very hard and sad news when he passed recently after just turning 78. Today I would just like to lay down a few words about Mike and a couple of memories that I can share with you.
As I mentioned, Mike Doyle was among the all-time greatest surfers. Current surfing history does not give him due credit, a sore spot with me. During the 1960’s Mike was one of, if not the very best, big wave riders on the planet. When most people were going straight, and riding for their lives, he stood out for taking off deeper and actually surfing giant waves as if they were fun surf. It wasn’t until Laird Hamilton came along that another surfer separated himself from the pack in the same fashion. Doyle also won many events in small surf and was a total all around surfer and waterman. He won paddleboard races, lifeguard events, was an innovator in both surfing and lifeguard equipment and was the guy who developed the original “mono ski,” which would evolve into the “snowboard.” The dude could do it all. They called him “Iron Mike” in lifeguard circles as he was one of what they term “Iron men.” A guy who can do it all.
As a person Mike was a very good guy, honest and a straight shooter. You could trust him. He had a fantastic sense of humor and could always see the funny side of things, a trait that I have always found appealing in people. He was fun to be around. He could get moody though, kind of had that high/low thing at times. We hung out together a lot when I was a kid and it was him, along with Mickey Munoz, who kinda helped teach me when to keep my mouth shut. That was not always easy for me as I was pretty much a loud-mouthed punk most of the time. In my defense, I thought I was being funny. Those two were my mentors through my teen years.
Mike was good with the chicks, a total ladies’ man for as long as I have known him. He was a good-looking dude but was always self-conscious that he had a big nose, which he did. But it suited him. He was nicknamed “Tiki Mike,” because he would paint these big tikis on the bottom of his boards. He was also an amazing artist, a whole story in itself. The nose thing kinda gave him that “tiki god” sort of look. He was also famous for the Mike Doyle “nose tweek,” from the early surfing movies. Somewhere along the line he had a nose job to give him a more “perfect” one. He claimed that his board had hit him in the face and that this was the result of the accident. None of us bought it. He was a proud man. Yeah, he looked great with the new nose, but he was fine before it too. Chicks always dug him.
I have so many great memories of times we spent together that it would be hard to just lay down one or two. We went to the contests together, went to Hawaii together, he took me to Mexico for the first time and all the way there we shouted “Mexicooooooo” at the top of our lungs and then couldn’t talk for two days while we were there, we skied together and he turned me onto the “mono ski” while we both were living in Sun Valley, Idaho, he help ease me into the Stand Up Paddleboard (along with Munoz and Gerry Lopez) and he was always supportive and a good friend. He also could always make me laugh. I respected him on so many levels.
The surfing world lost one of its best in Mike Doyle. RIP mi amigo.
by Corky Carrroll
There was a time when going to see a surf movie was an “event.” They were filmed in 16mm and pieced together by the guy who was making them. Then he would rent a high school auditorium, or some other sort of hall, stick up a screen and a projector, sell tickets and show up with a home tape recorder with a boot legged soundtrack that he put together and a microphone to personally narrate the movie himself. Everybody would show up and it was as much a social evening as it was to see the movie. I loved going to the surf movies. The next day I would always be out in the water early to see if I could practice some of the moves that I had seen the guys that were in the movie do. The Dewey Weber cutback, the Phil Edwards head bobble, the Mike Doyle nose tweak, the Mickey Munoz “el mysterioso,” the Mickey Dora nose-wiggle, on and on. For some strange reason it seemed like every following morning after a surf movie the surf would be horrible, I have no idea why this was, but it just was.
I will never forget my first surf movie. 1958, the movie was SURF SAFARI by John Severson. The DeCheverous brothers mom, Ruth, packed us up in her station wagon and drove us to Hollywood where the film was playing in a tiny art theater, I think it was the Encore. I was in surf gremmie heaven. The highlight of the movie, and something that has stuck with me since then, was when the big wave sequence came on. John’s narration went like, “On December 15th the biggest swell to hit the Hawaiian Islands in over 50 years came marching out of the North Pacific….. and only a handful were there to meet the challenge.” At that moment the theme to Peter Gunn by Henry Mancini came blaring out of the loudspeakers at mock volume and these guys were taking off on waves so big that I was scared just watching from the safety of my seat. Freaking epic stuff, breathtaking.
The golden years of surf movies lasted until the early 1970’s, pretty much the same as the golden years of California surfing. There were some classics over that time span. Severson came back after Surf Safari the next year with “Surf Fever.” He put together what he had thought was going to be a program to go along with the movie, which actually became the first issue of SURFER magazine. Of course, SURFER became the bible of surfing and is still on the stands today, even though John is riding waves with the angels. His next release was titled “Big Wednesday,” and became the title idea for the big Hollywood version staring John Michael Vincent, Gary Busy and Billy Katt. His last, and best, surf film was “Pacific Vibrations,” which ran into a snag over the use of the song “Wooden Ships,” by Crosby, Stills and Nash. The era of bootleg soundtracks was over. It was one of the best surf movies ever though.
There were also some really fun releases from Grant Rohloff, Dale Davis, Greg Noll, Gordie, Hal Jepson, Jamie Budge and Walt Philips. Probably the best known were Severson, Bruce Brown, Bud Brown and later Greg MacGillivray and Jim Freeman (MacGillivray/Freeman Films.).
Bruce Brown hit the big time with his epic “Endless Summer.” The most well-known and successful of the lot. Bud Brown had better footage than Bruce, but Bruce could steal a crowd with his amazingly smooth narration. It wasn’t until Bud’s last film in the early 1970’s, “Going Surfing,” that he got some really good people to narrate. I think most surfers of that era would agree though that the greatest surf film ever made, just for sheer being GOOD, would be the Laguna Beach based MacGillivray/Freeman classic “Five Summer Stories.” This included the historic original soundtrack done by the HONK band as well as it was the first time that the surfers in the film actually got paid. We were all in shock, happy shock though. Greg MacGillivray has gone on to win numerous awards and acclaim for his Imax releases including “Everest” and “The Living Sea.” Go to MacGillivrayFreeman.com to see the long list of hits.
Yes, there were some really good films to come after this, and I probably should do a story on the “second phase” soon. But the fact is that there was nothing really like going to Newport Harbor High School or Laguna High School or Pier Ave or the Santa Monica Civic to see the latest surf film. If you survived the bottle cap flipping it was always a great night.