I have created this blog with the hopes that you, my friend, will follow me as I sail around the world (figuratively or literally, not sure yet) with my parents on their Contest 48. Whereas I hope to keep you updated with exciting adventures of exotic ports and epic waves, keep in mind that cruising - that is, traveling by boat in a leisurely fashion - tends to be filled with days of intense boredom, punctuated by moments of sheer terror. Please keep this in mind as you read these entries, for this platform will be just as much an attempt for me to maintain my sanity (and connection to the California-based world), as entertainment and reassurance for you. And so, follow me as I sail the world.

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Surf Trip pt. I

Although the forecast looked pretty weak both in terms of weather and waves, Mark and I decided to head down to Raglan on Wednesday. Never mind that there were gale force offshore winds, no waves to speak of, and it was predicted to pour rain all week - it was either now or never to go to Raglan, so I chose now.

In the surfing world, Raglan is by far the most famous wave in New Zealand. It is a series of point breaks that peel around the headland to make a perfect left. Some compare the funky town of Raglan to that of Santa Cruz, but in my most humble opinion Raglan does not have shit on Santa Cruz. That being said, Raglan is a pretty cool, low key semi-rural surf town. Lots of surf shops, cafes, backpackers and of course, surfers. I have a natural affinity to all surfers and spent lots of time chatting with the locals about where the best waves would be and when.

Unfortunately the surf gods were not favoring Raglan while we were there, but Mark and I managed to get in one fun session at the beach inside the point of Manu Bay. The waves were punchy, hollow and clean the first afternoon, but conditions fell apart the next day. Really, I knew they conditions were not ideal for Raglan but I would have felt like a total kook if I spent 6 months in New Zealand without making the pilgrimage. And I am glad I did.

Mark and I stayed in a backpackers full of crusty surfers, so we fit right in. Aside from the mosquito infested dorm rooms, it was a nice place tucked back in the rain forest above the bay. We stayed two nights and when we weren't surfing we cruised around town and checked out the surrounding beaches. The west coast of NZ has some pretty rugged and beautiful coastline - much of it reminds me of Big Sur and northern California.

There is a macking swell on its way up the west coast right now, but Mark and I didn't want to hang out at Raglan waiting for it to show up, so we decided to head north. We stopped at Piha for a surf yesterday afternoon even though the waves were big and messy. Hanging out in the parking lot of the beach we met two German guys who told us they camp here for free without being hassled by anybody. That convinced us, and after a surf and a walk on the beach Mark and I set up camp. A few other camper vans pulled in for the night and we ended up having a bit of a party/jam session until late in the evening.

At some point during the night I noticed that the waves were calming down and the wind had shifted off shore. The sky was clear and the stars were bright. I was so excited about the potential morning session I could hardly sleep - well, that and the fact that Mark and I were sleeping in the back of the van on an air mattress.

Alas, when I awoke I was greeted with peeling peaks and off shore winds. I will admit it took me a while to get going, and it is a bit embarrassing that a few JAFAs ( Just Another Fucking Aucklander) beat me to the waves when I woke up in front of them, but.. oh well. We had a nice morning session but by noon the surf was packed with everybody from newbie surfers to the local shredders.

Mark and I decided to head north toward Shipwreck bay where we will catch this epic swell, but first decided to take a night off of our epic surf trip and sleep on our respective boats. We have to drive through Whangarei to get north anyway, so we are taking advantage of showers and a free night's stay. Tomorrow it is up at daybreak to go to my favorite place in New Zealand: Shipwreck Bay!

Stay tuned for part II of the epic surf adventure.

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