One Kook's Safari with Bill Barlow

One Kook's Safari > Waves wait for no one

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Written by Bill Barlow Friday, October 04, 2013 06:43 am

Plenty of surfers hit the waves Tuesday morning, when sunny skies and a nice, friendly swell made all seem right with the world. Plenty of surfers hit the waves Tuesday morning, when sunny skies and a nice, friendly swell made all seem right with the world.

I’d like to think we are beyond a lot of the petty stereotypes of surfers as slackers and beach bums, more concerned with the waves than with the more conventional pursuits of career, family and shiny new gadgets.

There are far too many surfing doctors, lawyers and other grownup professional types for that old trope to hold up any longer. There are surfer entrepreneurs in every shore town, and I know at least one surfing minister.

But still …

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One Kook's Safari > What does technology have to do with waves?

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Written by Bill Barlow Friday, September 27, 2013 12:55 pm

The water temperatures have been dropping, but it still feels great to get out there on a sunny day.   The water temperatures have been dropping, but it still feels great to get out there on a sunny day.

I was talking to an old friend about the biggest change since he started surfing. He’s one of those guys who has surfed more days than not, all year long, for decades, and he remains fixture in the break.

I was thinking along the lines of the switch to epoxy boards, maybe the move toward a thruster fin setup, or the advent of root-beer scented wax.

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One Kook's Safari > Sweet September, the happy time for surfing

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Written by Bill Barlow Friday, September 20, 2013 01:26 pm

  A shortboarder finishes a ride with a splash on Friday morning. There were some decent waves from morning until night, and plenty of surfers trying to get in on the fun. A shortboarder finishes a ride with a splash on Friday morning. There were some decent waves from morning until night, and plenty of surfers trying to get in on the fun.

On Thursday morning I had some of my best rides of the summer.

Shut up. It is too still summer. Memorial Day and Labor Day have nothing to do with the season. Summer runs from the solstice to the equinox. So that means it’s still summer until Sunday night. So until then, go ahead and go to the beach, wear white shoes and keep those gin and tonics coming.

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One Kook's Safari > Still waiting for the perfect storm

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Written by Bill Barlow Friday, September 13, 2013 11:48 am

 One Kook's Safari > Still waiting for the perfect storm  One Kook's Safari > Still waiting for the perfect storm

I’ve got to say, Gabrielle is looking pretty good. 

No, not Xena’s pal from the warrior princess show, although Renee O’Connor remains a handsome woman. Tropical Storm Gabrielle is heading up the coast, set to pass Jersey way offshore on Friday, far enough so it’s not expected to do any harm, but close enough to kick some waves our way. What those waves are going to look like depends on whose forecast you believe, but some surfers are feeling pretty confident about the coming swell.

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One Kook's Safari > Shape matters

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Written by Bill Barlow Friday, September 06, 2013 06:54 am

 Brian Wynn at his shop in Egg Harbor Township says he has probably shaped a few thousand boards so far. Brian Wynn at his shop in Egg Harbor Township says he has probably shaped a few thousand boards so far.

Every element of a board makes a difference in the ride

Back in the days when missionaries were chastising the Hawaiians to stop wasting all that time playing in the waves, there was only one material for surfboards: wood.

Keep in mind that those Hawaiian riders, who were keeping alive an ancient Polynesian pastime, didn’t even have fins on their boards. They were skilled boat builders – I mean, I’d imagine they’d have to be – so they understood float and currents and how materials move in the water. But what they were riding was dramatically different from the surfboard you can grab off the rack these days.

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One Kook's Safari > Two sessions, two very different rides

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Written by Bill Barlow Friday, August 30, 2013 01:50 pm

 Sunday saw some exceptional summer waves. September and October usually mean many more swell days on the way.  Sunday saw some exceptional summer waves. September and October usually mean many more swell days on the way.

Well, that went quick.

It’s Labor Day weekend, the guards took their stand off my beach, and those beach tags are changing from tokens of admission to souvenirs.

In the great big world of surfing, Australian Adrian Buchan won the Billabong Pro at Teahupoo in Tahiti this week, beating out perennial winner Kelly Slater of Florida. Sometimes called the world’s heaviest wave, the reef break had waves so big in 2011 that the contest was canceled. This year’s waves were more manageable, at least if you’re an internationally rated pro surfer. The contest streamed live, but if you missed it, billabongpro.com has a bunch of video up if you’re the type of person who likes to see beautiful waves ridden well in a breathtaking environment.

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One Kook's Safari > Hang 10, if you can manage it

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Written by Bill Barlow Saturday, August 24, 2013 05:56 am

 Cailin Callahan takes a wave. She can walk the board like it has been nailed to the wave, but don’t ask her to explain how.  Cailin Callahan takes a wave. She can walk the board like it has been nailed to the wave, but don’t ask her to explain how.

Once upon a time, I was trying to learn how to drive a standard transmission.

I was after clear, concise instructions. How fast should the car be moving before changing from first to second? How many rpm? How quickly do I release the clutch in relationship to depressing the gas?

The answer was always the same: You just have to get a feel for it.

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One Kook's Safari > Little waves, big fun, and summer speeding by

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Written by Bill Barlow Friday, August 16, 2013 03:16 am

 August is half gone. Better get out and enjoy what’s left.  August is half gone. Better get out and enjoy what’s left.  Cold. Dark.

This morning, the alarm went off in an hour that starts with an “F,” which is never all that inviting.

August is half over, and it seems like the calendar is on fast forward. Better make the most of it.

That often means getting in surfing before and after work, which with the days getting shorter, means seeing a lot of sunsets and sunrises.

Thursday morning, when this was written, didn’t seem much like August, though. Even dry and at home, the air felt chilly. Besides, we knew the chance of waves was a longshot, whereas the possibility that the nice, fluffy pillow would remain soft and comfortable was a statistical near-certainty.

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One Kook's Safari > Where did the waves go?

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Written by Bill Barlow Friday, August 09, 2013 05:56 pm

 Most mornings this week, the Atlantic looked like a big, choppy, beautiful lake. 

 Most mornings this week, the Atlantic looked like a big, choppy, beautiful lake.

A couple of times this summer, I was ready to comment on how good the waves have been. It looked like a summer without doldrums.
Good thing I hadn’t gotten around to it. Somebody would have had my head by now.

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One Kook's Safari > Combat veteran finds peace in the waves

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Written by Bill Barlow Thursday, August 01, 2013 05:10 pm

  Nick Borrelli and Randy Abbott are at the airport in San Diego, ready to head to the East Coast for the Brendan Borek surf contest Saturday. Nick Borrelli and Randy Abbott are at the airport in San Diego, ready to head to the East Coast for the Brendan Borek surf contest Saturday.  Surfing helps, Nick Borrelli said this week. It helps a lot.

After two deployments to Iraq with the Marines, Borrelli was hurt inside and out. His shoulder is damaged, he is dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, and there are other issues, but he doesn’t seem too interested in running through a laundry list.

Surfing is good for his body, he said, but more important, it seems, for his head.

“That’s like my sanctuary,” he said in a phone interview from San Diego this week. “When I’m out in the water – it sounds very hippie, I guess – but when I’m out in the water, I’m just one with nature and I feel at peace.”

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