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Wintertime
27 April 2009

Snow

My brother-in-law sent me this photo looking out his front door on Saturday morning.  He lives in Colorado and it snowed all day on Friday.  They ended up with nearly two feet of the cold white stuff.  It probably won't last long but that doesn't matter, if it's cold enough to snow that means it's too cold to go in the water and I love the water.

I don't mind the snow, in fact I rather enjoy it, but I would still rather be surfing.  In fact, while my brother-in-law was inside watching the snow accumulate, I was at the local surf spot catching a few waves.  Of course I had to give my brother-in-law a call and tell him all about it.

Winter in Hawaii is a great time for the ocean.  The water can get a little chilly but I don't bother with a wetsuit and it's still plenty warm on the beach.  The best part of winter is when storms bring in big surf.  I am comfortable in surf up to about 10 feet, anything large is too dangerous and scary for me.  We're on the leeward side of the island so calm summer weather often means the surf is completely flat for weeks at a time, like a giant, salty lake.  I prefer the winter swells which are usually somewhere between three to six feet.

That's not me in picture below.  You can imagine that it's me though.  Just imagine me being older, less coordinated, on a smaller wave, not in the tube and generally looking much more like a kook.  I'm not nearly as tan either.

Surfer

This picture was taken by a talented local photographer.  I think he was out in the waves with me on Friday.  I couldn't be sure because I was busy being pummeled by the larger sets.  I managed to catch a few good waves but I couldn't stay long because I had to get back home to finish smoking some freshly caught pork before it got dark.

My friend and I were at this same surf spot last week when the swell was really booming.  That day we decided to take our body boards instead of surf boards because we're more confident in the big surf on our body boards.  Surf boards are a faster but body boards are easier because you're laying in the water.  We were sitting just outside the surf, waiting for some good waves, when I spotted a fin.  I was pretty sure it was a shark but I didn't say anything.  A large set of waves was coming in and I was more concerned with catching a good wave.

After the set passed, right as we were paddling back out to catch more waves, the whole group of surfers saw two fins and this time they all pointed and shouted.  My friend didn't see it so I explained that it was a couple sharks.  Another set of large waves was coming and as I paddled out I was talking over my shoulder, explaining that the sharks weren't interested in us.  When I turned around though, my friend was already half way to shore.  Of course I didn't want him to get lonely so I decided that I should go in too.

The sharks were probably hammerheads.  A couple weeks before my brother and I had been out in the kayak when we saw a similar group of fins.  We were maybe a mile off shore, directly out from that same surf spot.  We paddled over to the fins and managed to get fairly close.  At one point I looked down and about 20 feet below the kayak I clearly saw a hammerhead shark.  The shark was about the same size as the kayak.  I tried to get a good picture but couldn't quite manage.  The best picture I got was one of the fins.

Whale We hadn't been hoping for sharks that day, we were actually out looking for whales.  They're also surprisingly difficult to get a good picture of, especially when borrowing my daughters little camera with an annoying long auto-focus delay.  I've managed to get close to whales on several occasions.  Just hearing their blow hole, it's immediately obvious how large the creatures are.  Sometimes they'll slap their tail repeatedly against the water as in the picture.  They are very powerful creatures.  The whales are only here for the winter and they've all headed north by now.  Maybe next year I'll manage to get a better picture.

My friend managed to get really close to a whale once.  He was surfing and the whale was actually inside the bay with him.  It's amazing how shallow of water they'll swim into.  With a couple short paddles, my friend was close enough to touch the whale.  I had decided to stay home that day and do farm work.  Silly me, I'll try not to make that mistake again.

Shark




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