Indomitable: The Spirit of Chris Hitchcock

Despite the neverending complaints that life isn’t fair, in reality it isn’t. Some of us are born into circumstances beyond our control and spend our life trying to catch up to where most start. Unfortunately, many don’t even get close. The truth is we never really know what anyone else is dealing with or where they are coming from.…

California Lost: Time Was…

As I have written, moving as a surfer was a bummer, especially when I left California for the east coast in 1974. In this case, we moved near the end of my junior year to northern Virginia where I finished high school.  What I didn’t appreciate was how my mind would respond to the change in scenery. Although…

Unbounded Courage: the First Surfers to Ride Waimea Bay

When I was a young surfer I read about the first surfers to ride Waimea Bay in 1957. Surfers at that time were too afraid to surf Waimea, and for good reason.From the beach Waimea appeared too big, too fast, too steep and just generally too treacherous to ride. Add to that a raging rip current, sharky waters, and the presence of a church on the point and a Hawaiian heiau in the valley and it all added up to a scary, forbidden place.

SmartFin: Environmental Wave of the Future

As the world’s environmental problems expand the challenge is to keep up with the increasingly larger scale of the issues. Decades ago we worried about individual beaches, now we are focused on whole coastlines, and indeed entire oceans are at risk.  To keep pace marine biologists and oceanographers have deployed huge arrays of sensors across the…

Crush Depth: Adventures with Scientific Submersibles

“What’s your depth?” echoed down from the surface radio, unanswered for the third time in a row and sounding increasingly desperate. It was 2002 and I was riding inside the scientific submersible Delta, heading towards the seafloor off Anacapa island in an area known simply as the “footprint,” a deep-water fish, coral and sponge hot spot…

Surfing Crystal Pier: Life as a Grommet

Crystal Pier, 1966 In the long arc of my surfing life my early years remain indelibly etched on my psyche, as is true of most surfers. Why is simple: we are pulled in by the ocean’s allure, rapidly learn her inner-most secrets, measure our courage against her power, but are ultimately humbled by fear. It is the beginning of…

Skipper: Stories of my Grandfather

Sydney Nelson Patton (1882-1976) was born into the world of another era. During his life he arguably witnessed the greatest change of any generation: when he was young he rode horses, trains and read by candles but during his life he saw the advent of electricity, radio, cars, airplanes, TV and he watched men walk on the moon. During his lifetime the world grew from 1.2 billion (1880) to 4 billion people (1975), he saw the US engage in five major wars, and he lived under 17 US presidents.