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.

P.S. All material on this blog, words and photos alike, are copyrighted by me. Copyright 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018. If you decide that this material is worth re-publishing, please give me credit and lots and lots of money.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Rugged Individuals

Mom and Dad walking the walk in the Himalayas 

Kids are generally infinitely cooler than their parents – that is a fact of life – so I know that it is weird to gloat about your parents. However, when it comes to my parents, I have come to realize that they go bigger than anybody I know. They talk the talk, and walk the walk. Literally.

Not only are Mom and Dad sailing around the world (a journey on which I joined them for the first three years), they also decided to take a little month long trekking adventure through Nepal along the way.  They left the boat in Phuket, Thailand and flew into Kathmandu a few weeks ago. In the past two weeks they have trekked over 65 miles in the Himalayas – like, in Mt. Everest’s backyard. I don’t care if you’re 26 or 60, that’s badass.

Dad celebrated his 60th birthday in Nepal on October 1st. Amazingly, they had internet service wherever they were staying and I got to call and wish him a happy birthday. When I talked with him he sounded like he was on top of the world – probably because he was.

“Happy birthday, Dad! How has it been?” I asked.

“Oh Cork, it’s been… Exquisite… Over the top…” He replied slowly through a surprisingly clear Viber phone call, considering a signal beamed from my iPhone 3 into outer space and landed somewhere in the Himalayas.

“Cool! So, what has been so exquisite about it?” I asked with a pang of jealousy.

On a side note, I have spent some pretty cool birthdays with my dad in the past three years: one in Tonga, one in Vanuatu and one in Bali, so it was hard to imagine this one being “over the top” (or better than all the rest). But I understood after he started elaborating:

“Oh Cork..” he began in a soft voice, “Just all the little details. For example, this morning before sunrise we got a soft knock on the door and a little voice said, ‘It’s clear, go watch the sunrise this morning.’ So we got up and watched the sunrise over the Himalayas. After that we returned to the hotel and had a big breakfast. Ruthie went for a hike later in the morning but I stayed in the room and smoked a big bowl of strong hash. Then I went up to the rooftop bar and got a cold beer; the sky was bright blue and the sun was shining. Two falcons were flying around each other and suddenly locked talons in some kind of mating ritual, plunging toward earth and then soaring back up into the sky… The owner of the hotel was so honored that I would spend my 60th birthday at his hotel he brought me a cup of goat’s blood from a freshly sacrificed goat… It was delicious.”

At this point if you looked up “Euphoric State of Being” in the dictionary I am pretty sure you would see a picture of my dad. I completely understood why this birthday was his best ever.

But he continued: “Cork, Nepal is an amazing place. You have to come here. It is destitute, but the people here are incredibly hospitable and warm. And everybody works incredibly hard – it is just a part of life. It doesn’t matter if you are 6 or 60, everybody works every day.”

Inspiring, no?

Not only Nepal, not only the people, but the fact that my parents, who are both 60 (which is the new 40) are doing ridiculously long treks at sky high elevations, drinking goat’s blood for lunch, also happen to be sailing around the world. Yep, that’s impressive. 

My parents have always been my role models, not only because of their work ethic, success in business or adventuresome spirit, but because they are a team. My dad pushes my mom to do things she never thought she would do in her wildest dreams, and my mom keeps my dad grounded and down to earth — which it seems is harder and harder to do these days.

My conversation with Dad ended as follows:

“So, when are you guys going back to the boat? When will you be back in Phuket?” I asked, slightly frantic at the thought that my parents might become monks and stay in Nepal forever.

“Oh, in about a week or so,” Mom replied from the background of their hotel room.

“Maybe…” Dad said, a little too casually.

I heard giggles from both of them.

And then the signal dropped.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Beauty and the Beast

 Robert August -- the man himself -- with the Beauty and the Beast

Do you believe in love at first sight? Have you ever had that feeling where you look at something (or someone) and are slammed in the face with desire? Usually when this wave of desire washes over me, I long for something unobtainable: Kelly Slater, a massive barrel at Cloudbreak, gills, etc. However, at Camp Shred -- which I decided was the best event in the world -- I came, I saw, I fell in love, I conquered. 

Let's back up. Camp Shred was a surf expo held at San Elijo campgrounds this past March. It was probably the most awesome event ever to happen because the top names in the surf industry came out, opened their quivers, and allowed us common folk to take out any surfboard, any SUP, any fins and any wetsuit we wanted. Needless to say, I was like a kid in a candy store. 

As Monica, Anastacia and I walked down the main drag we passed Al Merrick, Surftech, Quiksilver, Rip Curl, Board Works and many more vendors. All the boards looked super fun, but the waves were small and mellow and I didn't want to waste my time paddling for waves on a shortboard. And then I saw her. And I knew right then and there she was the one. 

All alone on the surf racks of the Robert August Surf Co. tent was a 9 foot 7 inch beauty of a board. I approached the woman at the tent and asked if I could really demo the board -- I mean, these things aren't cheap.  "Of course! That's what they're here for!" she told me. I learned that she, Lisa, is the niece of the legendary Robert August. I asked her about marrying into the family and she graciously offered up any one of her three sons. 

It was a hard choice between securing my place in the Robert August Surf Dynasty and surfing a sweet longboard, but I made the right decision. Although the surf was packed with people demoing boards, I caught the best waves because I was on the beautiful beast. Paddling was effortless, the drop-in like butter. I had never surfed a classic noserider like this but it was epic.

As hard as it was to get out of the water, there were many more surfboards I wanted to try -- keep in mind that there were hundreds of boards to choose from -- and I intended to surf them all. Bearing in mind that it was now late morning, Monica, Anastacia and I decided to investigate the beer garden, because there is nothing better in the world than drinking a frosty, cold beer in the warm sunshine while listening to live music after a sweet, salty surf session. 

(This is where I pop up in the picture Loreen sent me.)

I went on to have one of the best days of my life, buzzed on the stoked vibes of Camp Shred. Monica and I took out a 12-foot inflatable stand up paddle board and took a tour of the kelp beds before attempting to catch waves in the small-ish surf. We also took out a huge, neon green foamie because foamies are my guilty pleasure. (I know, I know, I could have ridden any board in Al Merrick's quiver and I chose to ride a foamie...)

Monica and me kooking out with a sweet foamie and experimental wetsuits at Camp Shred

As I walked up the stairs to return the neon green foamie I saw a guy getting out of the water with my Robert August longboard. For a split second a surge of anger and envy shot through my veins, an instinct of panic and jealousy. However, I quickly remembered that this board was not mine, and part of what made Camp Shred so cool was that anybody could ride any board. "Sweet board, eh?" I said to the guy. "Aw man, like a Sunday drive!" he replied with a huge grin on his face. 

I had two revelations in this moment: one, I needed this board to be mine and two, I don't like sharing. After trying out a few more boards and maxing out my energy capacity, Monica, Anastacia and I headed home. Before we left I stopped back by the Robert August tent. I got Lisa's contact info, made plans to crash the Robert August Camp Shred camp site next year, and picked up a sweet, pink Robert August hat. 


I buzzed on that day at Camp Shred for a solid week before I put my desires into action. After perusing the Robert August website I decided to email Lisa directly about the longboard. The email I sent said something to the effect of:

Hi Lisa, remember me? I wanted to marry into your family... Now, I know I can't afford one of your surfboards, but if you ever need to get rid of one or can make me a deal, let me know!

Lisa responded within a day that, yes she remembered me and my friends because not many other people were trying to marry into her family that day (which is hard to believe!). She also wrote me that she would love to sell me the board I rode that day and made me a great offer. I can't tell you the exact price, only that it was too good to refuse -- but still not cheap!

But, being me, I had to hem and haw for a week or two before I could justify spending that much money on a luxury item. However, after calling a few friends who I knew would talk me into it, I made the call to Lisa. I asked her to hold the board for me while I hustled to make a little extra cash before driving up to L.A. to pick the board up.  

"Oh, by the way," I asked Lisa while on the phone with her, "do you think you could have Robert August sign my board? Maybe write me a little personal message?" 

"Unfortunately, he lives in Costa Rica so he isn't available to sign boards -- however, he is actually going to be in town at the end of the month to celebrate 50 years of The Endless Summer, so if you want to wait a few weeks, he might actually be able to sign the board for you," Lisa told me. 

Whereas I didn't want to wait to ride my baby, I decided it would be worth it to wait a few weeks to have the man himself bless my board.

A few weeks later I got an email from Lisa saying Robert had signed my board and it was ready to be picked up. Miraculously, I had the day off work and a bit of cash in my pocket, so I donned my pink Robert August hat and set off for L.A. 

The RA headquarters were located in an industrial part of L.A. but I knew I was close because I could smell fresh resin in the air. I parked my truck and walked a few steps down the street before a man popped his head out of a doorway. "Are you Corie?" he asked me. "Yep!" I said, surprised he knew who I was. "Oh, I'm Robert August. I hear you are picking up one of my boards today. Nice to meet you."

I was stunned. Had I heard him right? The same Robert August who surfed around the world and made his dream a reality, only to inspire the dreams of millions of other surfers? I recognized his smile and, like a true surfer dude straight out of the tropics, he was rockin' socks with flip flops. It was him alright. 

After snapping out of being star struck, we shook hands and I introduced myself. I needed to ask him something immediately that had been weighing on me. "Robert," I said, "I need to ask you something. Do I have your permission to surf this board into the ground? Or should I hang it up on the wall and keep it pristine?"

"Surf the thing into the ground!" he replied. "I can't stand it when somebody buys one of my boards and then hangs it on the wall. They were made to be ridden!" 

I sighed with relief. I knew this was going to be his answer, but I needed his approval. I'd never owned a board this nice, and I didn't want to have to feel guilty about riding it. "Oh, and one more thing, Mr. August, can you please sign my hat?" I asked. I was too shy to ask for a picture with him.

He pulled out a Sharpie and signed my hat before grabbing his things and leaving to do whatever legends such as himself do with their free time. Lisa and I settled our accounts, I picked out a fin and a t-shirt, and then she presented me with my new board. Right there on the bottom of the board it says, "Keep Surfing Corie! Robert August". 

My baby, aka the Beauty and the Beast aka Roberta

What a treasure. And it's official -- I have to surf until I die -- Robert August says so. This board is now hanging on the wall in my bedroom, with a few kisses from the reef on her nose. I named her the Beauty and the Beast (and also Roberta) because she is so giant but also so perfect. I only ride her on small days, and have a long ways to go in learning the classic longboard style, but learning to surf new boards and new styles are my favorite lessons in life. And life is good.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Door to Door Solar

After goofing off for weeks and months and (groan) years, my bank account and I decided that it was high time I get a job. Plus, unlike many parts of the world where "work" is an abstract idea, in our corner of the first world people tend to look down on those who do not commit themselves to making money for 40+ hours a week. Not that this notion was my main motivation for getting a job, but I also  realized/remembered that in order to participate and function in our society one needs money. And lots of it. 

So, where does one begin the arduous journey of searching for and landing oneself a job? Why, Craigslist, of course. Along with finding great deals on surfboards, housing, roommates, and potential life-long (or one night) partners, Craigslist is the place to go. 

Within a few weeks of answering ads and attending fewer interviews, I landed myself a job with a cool San Francisco start-up that recently opened offices in San Diego. The company, Gen110, is on a mission to provide inexpensive solar energy to every home in the greater San Diego area. While I was away I hadn't realized that the solar industry has absolutely exploded in California, and inadvertently found myself surfing the wave of an energy revolution. (Cliche? Yes. Kidding? No.)

While my job with Gen110 is a "real" job, it is not a traditional job in the 9-to-5, desk and office sense. When I first realized it was a canvassing job -- going door to door with the intention of getting money out of people -- I groaned. But then I thought, "if I can do this I can do anything, so I might as well go for it." Technically, we Outreach Specialists with Gen110 are not selling anything when we go door to door, merely "qualifying homes for a government financed on-site electricity program" but I certainly have salesman blood in me, and it is high time I embraced it.

I have always pitied people going door to door, selling me things I don't want -- be it religion, double pained windows or magazine subscriptions. I could never fathom how somebody could withstand so much rejection, so much standing and so much boredom. But now I can safely say, speaking from experience, that going door to door is never, ever boring.

You can imagine all the weirdos we run into, the little glimpses into peoples' lives we see. On my very first day out in the field, on my very first door, a man answered who was obviously drunk. I went through my opening script and stuck out my hand to shake his. He looked at my hand, smiled, licked his hand and then proceeded to shake mine. I was so shocked and so nervous (being my first door ever) that the only thing I could do was shake hands. I have since bought a bottle of hand sanitizer that I take with me.

The different responses we get are interesting. Most people are "not interested" even though they have no idea what we are there for. Of the people who are interested most are skeptical, not believing that they can actually be upgraded to solar energy at no cost to them. But every once in while you get that gem, that person who is so nice and excited about solar that if you told them they had to give you their first born child in order to qualify, they would seriously consider it. For the record, we don't accept children as payment, just a small, fully refundable Gen110 application fee.

Like any job, some days are tough -- it is hard not to take rejection or aggression personally. Some days are great -- people are stoked on our program and sign up en mass. On those days it is easy to laugh at people who get mad at us for trying to hook them up with cheap, clean energy. We get lots of your typical middle-America, older couples asking if this is the "so-lar" and yelling us because we interrupted them while they were watching Bill O'Reilly. However, I have been impressed with the positive response we have gotten in predominantly conservative, military and NRA lovin' neighborhoods. It helps that we have a solid team with good leaders who look out for all of us.

Like I said before, I never understood how people -- particularly people selling religion -- could stand to go door to door, being rejected over and over. Since I started working this job I have come to realize that when somebody believes in what they do, when they genuinely believe that they are improving the state of the world by sharing their religion/beliefs/program, the rejection doesn't matter. Those few that they connect with in a week, a month or a year makes it all worth it. 

And the same goes for going door to door selling solar energy. I strongly believe that what we at Gen110 are doing is good for the individual, the community and the world at large. The way we live now is not sustainable, the status quo is not okay, and this is a step in the right direction. Granted, solar energy might not be the best clean energy option in the future, but for now it is a great alternative to traditional power sources. 

Yes, it feels good to work again, particularly to work toward a good cause. It is nice to be a part of a team and to have structure in my life again. Weekends are more meaningful and, although I don't have much free time, I can afford to do fun things again. If everything goes to plan, my first "real job" purchase will be a bitchin' 9'7 Robert August classic noserider longboard that I will be sure to tell you ALL about.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Happy 10th Anniversary to Surfing and Me!

Happy anniversary/birthday!

Photo by Jessica Cometa

Too bad I have such a goofy-ass look on my face

Whereas there is no other age I would rather be turning tomorrow, instead of celebrating my 26th birthday I am celebrating my 10th anniversary with surfing. And because it is my birthday I get to write about whatever I want, even if it sounds egotistical or downright crazy. 

Yes, it's been ten glorious years and I still love surfing as much as the day we met. As little tyke I walked the Cliffs or out on the pier and watched surfers with envy, thinking that there was absolutely nothing cooler than riding a wave. Of course I was right. I took a few surf lessons here and there, did Junior Lifeguards and borrowed boards of friends' older siblings, but it took me falling into the surfer crowd and getting my own wheels before I became a true surfer.

I owe a shout out to CJ and Cody Stone who surfed with me pretty much every day through high school and encouraged (teased) me to paddle out even when I really didn't want to. CJ's shredding shortboard style and Cody's cool, get-barreled-on-your-longboard steeze were my first and greatest influences. I also owe a huge thanks to Chris Wheatley, who gave me my first surfboard, a 7'8 G-Star, after he realized I had pilfered it a long time back.

I remember the good ol' days of piling as many people and boards as we could into Monica's van and heading out on all-day surf adventures in Big Mama, and ditching English class to surf with Juan. I remember feeling like such a badass paddling out in the wooly wilderness of NorCal and feeling like a local at Steamer Lane while paddle-battling with Nat Young and Ratboy, just for practice. I am not sure how many waves Dan Kingsbook let me drop in on him just to make sure I got one, but it was heaps. I remember many episodes of night surfing at Cowells (rather intoxicated), with a single beam of moonlight on a pitch-black face to guide me down the line. That was epic.

Things changed a bit when I took off sailing on Rutea. Before we left I had the vision of jumping off the boat and into a perfect left-hander, which manifested itself sooner or later, but because surfers and sailors want exact opposite conditions, it was a bit more challenging than I had anticipated. 

However, surfing is a great way to make friends, and I did so, all around the world. I became one of the crew in Punta de Mita, surfing with Antonio and hanging out at his surf shop, La Escuelita, every day. In the South Pacific I had to get used to surfing with sharks, over very shallow, very sharp reef, but did so without any major scars to show for it. Granted, I didn't charge overhead barrels at Teahupoo like I probably should have, but I like to think that I am alive in part today because of the good choices I have made along the way.

Other highlights of my surfing career were anchoring off Tavarua and surfing Restaurants while feeling smug that everybody else there was paying thousands of dollars to stay on the island, watching one of the most epic surf contests ever at Cloudbreak, the Fiji Volcom Pro 2012, and of course, meeting Kelly Slater. Because I licked my hand after I shook his and got the stomach flu, I can now say that Kelly and I share DNA, which obviously makes me a better surfer. (Or is that just really weird?)

I have a bad habit of wanting to surf wherever I go -- even if it is not a surf destination. England? It's an island, there's gotta be waves somewhere. Israel? Yep, surfed it. Should I go to this historical event in Spain where a Franco statue is taken down or should I go surf with Ralf? Ha. Maybe that one was an oops. But I can't help it. I am drawn to the ocean always.

San Diego is a great place to be a surfer. There are a wide variety of waves, the weather is warm and the water isn't freezing. Yesterday at No Surf was a most excellent celebration of my 10th anniversary with surfing and (coincidentally) my 26th birthday party. The weather was amazing, the surf ridiculously fun, the company great and the sunset mind-blowing. There were a few people that couldn't make it who I missed dearly, but when half of a very crowded beach sang me happy birthday, I felt the love.

Yes, surfing has been an integral part of my life for the past ten years.  It is my exercise, my joy, my meditation, my style and my way of life. It has made me life-long friendships (and perhaps ended a few), and is something I love to share with anybody and everybody. I guess what I'm saying is, come surf with me!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

On The Virtues Of Kelly Slater

Kelly Slater. 10 Points.
Photo by Zak Noyle

This is a subject that I have been meaning to devote an entire post to for a long time now. It's very serious. And it's very personal. And after he won the Volcom Pipe Pro this last week, I think it is finally time to discuss the virtues -- no, the awesomeness -- no, the godliness -- of Kelly Slater.

For those of you who don't know, Kelly Slater is the best surfer in the world. Often times the "best" is subjective -- a mere opinion. However, when it comes to Kelly, this is a fact. Not only is he the best surfer in the world on paper -- having won eleven world titles while the runner up, Mark Richards, won five -- but Kelly is the best surfer in the water. 

I am not ashamed to admit that, like many people, for a long time I thought Kelly was over-hyped and overrated. That is because I had never really seen him surf. Then, in 2012 I had the immense pleasure of watching him surf Cloudbreak during the Fiji Volcom Pro. The lines he drew, the waves he chose and the barrels he stalled in were all the best. And I am not just saying this because he went on to win the contest, or because I got to shake his hand, or because he represents for USA on the World Tour. After watching Kelly surf I finally realized why everybody says he is the best. It's because he is.

Do you need more evidence? Ok, no problem. Let us cite the most recent contest at Pipeline, the Volcom Pipe Pro. For those of you who don't know, Pipeline is the gnarliest wave in the world -- the biggest, heaviest barrel. On one wave in particular, Kelly made a late drop into a monster of a left, recovered after submerging more than half his board under water, did a huge bottom turn in the barrel (hands free -- didn't grab the rail), and just barely made it out of the barrel under the lip. I know it is hard to comprehend how unbelievably gnarly and insane that is. I have a hard time with it too. But, like quantum physics, nuclear chemistry and other mind-boggling ideas, we just have to accept. Except that with Kelly, we have visual evidence right before our eyes.

Do you have any idea how gnarly this is?
Photo by Jeremiah Klein

A few days shy of 42 years old, Kelly won a contest at Pipeline while competing against people half his age and younger. His experience, his competitiveness and his commitment to surfing for as long as he can has changed the way we view the sport. He is instrumental in new designs for surfboards, fins and fin set-ups. You can count on seeing people out at your local break surfing his models of boards. He is a trendsetter and pioneer in the surf industry. He reads the ocean better than any other surfer, sees waves that nobody else does, and makes the unmakeable.

But the thing I love most about Kelly Slater, aside from his humility and willingness to sign autographs and take pictures with fans after his heats, is his love for surfing. After every heat he won he was interviewed and in every interview he said something to the effect of, "I just want to get back out there." Kelly didn't enter the Volcom Pipe Pro because he wanted to win the contest, he entered because he wanted to surf his favorite wave (Pipeline) with three other guys. He won because he is the best.