So our State Assemblymember Wes Chesbro’s was town and stopped by KHUM, then KSLG as part of his media tour. Somehow Mike D ends up asking him what blogs he reads.

Wes Chesbro + Mike Dronkers on KHUM

(h/t Heraldo)

I’m honored he mentioned mine – he likes to read about surfing, he says – but mortified because I’m updating so infrequently. Five times in August, only once so far in September? Boring! Sure, I have reasons: This working 60 hours a week and frequent multi-day travel interferes with my attempts at literary introspection. I’m writing, oh, am I writing –  last week, I had an art column in the Journal*, an MLPA column in the Eye and a My Word in the T-S, this week I’ll have my money column in the Journal, whew! – but regarding life on the home front, a Tweet‘s as good as an essay lately.

And regarding surfing, all the efforts gone toward carving out time to surf, rather than time to write about it. But now, simultaneously humbled and inspired, I have some catching up to do:

Surf session #52: Well, what do you know? It’s fall. Maybe we haven’t reached the equinox  yet, but those south winds, that long interval groundswell, the waves losing any friendly demeanor as the peaks sledgehammer over and explode into walls of whitewater, no doubt about it, autumn has arrived. Now, my little formula goes like this:

x = wave height

y = interval

If x + y > 20, the resulting waves likely exceeds my personal comfort zone. This swell ran 8 at 13, a touch on the “too big” side, but then again, I’ve been working out hard and feel ready to raise the stakes this year. So I drove out and checked it, beloved Taylor 7’8″ gun in the back. Sure enough, double-over and then some at Bunkers, maybe head-high at the Jetty. Nick had come with me, insisting he was fine to paddle out. A few minutes of watching clean-up sets, however, we decided to give it a pass, maybe check it later.

Later… a call from a surfer friend alerted me to the fact the swell had dropped a bit, was only head-high, a little more maybe (I should note, “head-high” to this friend is overhead to me!). Inspired, I rousted Nick for another check. This time we ended up in the water — conveniently some of his friends were also paddling out. We started at the Jetty, where some nice lefts seemed to be coming through. The waves were there. The problem was fighting the current to stay in place to catch them. The pull toward the jetty wall and out to sea required constant paddling to keep any sort of position. After a few waves, we tired of the fight and all set off for Bunkers. Poor Nick — he was on a shortboard when he needed a gun. A long paddle, the kind that makes your arms feel like overcooked spaghetti.

He lucked out, though, when his buddy wanted to swap boards. They switched, and Nick ended up with a vintage BK 7’6″ gun — and almost immediately caught a bomber head-and-a-half wave.

I did all right, didn’t get the set wave I wanted, but felt confident and didn’t wipeout. Session ended when a monster clean-up set arrived, however. A bigger-than-before wave marched in from the horizon. Nick and I barely made it over. Another one. I made it over, but Nick got creamed. Another one. I scratched to the lip, only to be flung backward, tumbling through airy foam before smashing down into the water. My hands went to my leash; I rope-climbed to the surface, broke through and searched for Nick. Ah, there he was… with another double-over wave about to land on his head. I flinched as he dove under, then did the same. Came up, tracked him again. We both bellied in, stampeding elephants of whitewater propelling us toward shore.

“Were you scared?” I asked him later.

“No,” he shrugged. “I just knew it was going to suck.”

Ah. Okay, then. Insane current and serious pounding, but he came out with a great wave and good attitude. Guess we’ll call that session a success.

#53: Power Poles. Boy, this one sucked. I don’t mind the shifty peaks, but give me a channel and something that doesn’t die the second you finally drop into it.

#54: Jetty. That insane current from the other day? Still there. Mercifully, I only had 30 minutes before work, a perfectly fine excuse to get the hell out. I did catch this one wave that made it all worth it… too bad it was the first one, followed only by paddling and paddling and paddling and oh, the hell with it, it must be time to go in!

#55: Camel. Sunset. Isn’t it weird how August-September roll around and suddenly in the sea of faces surfing Camel, you don’t recognize a single one? Well, maybe a single on, but that student influx blankets the entirety of the Houda Point area. Bigger than it looked from the cliffs (isn’t it always), making my decision to sport the longboard an iffy proposition in the water — I have a hard time managing it when caught inside. Not that I would’ve been caught inside if I’d been able to surf Camel proper, but Nick wanted to shortboard over by Wash Rock. I snagged one beauty of an outside right, then a closeout knocked me halfway to shore. By the time I struggled out through the head-high sets sweeping into the cove, the sun had sunk below the horizon. One weak wave in and the session was over. Still, nice to get in the water, of course.

Buoy says water temp is 57 degrees! See you at the beach.

(*For reasons unbeknownst to me, the folks at the NCJ would prefer my status as a columnist remains a secret. Don’t tell anyone.)