In winter, although the surf is usually less than zero in the South Shore off-season, I continue my early morning walks to the beach park to check Suis, just in case. The other morning there were some waist-high sets, although it looked pretty blown-out, with whitewater chaffing in the brisk easterly trades.
“Hoo! Mindy,” called Kimo Cameron, who was raking his yard as I passed by. “Get waves.”
“It looks pretty disorganized,” I said.
“When’s low tide?” he asked.
“You going out?”
He nodded. “You?”
I met him 15 minutes later out at Suis.
“It’s tricky today, breaking at an angle,” Kimo said.
“Windy,” I said. “I wonder how it’s going in the finals (of the World Surf League’s Vans World Cup of Surfing) at Sunset Beach.”
“I only surfed Sunset once in my life,” Kimo said.
“Me, too.” That awesome power was too much for me. But Kimo? I was surprised. He’s a tall, muscular guy and a strong surfer.
He nodded. “It was in 1985 and I had a brand-new surfboard. I didn’t want to break it! But my cousin said, ‘Let’s try it out.’ ”
The arrival of some waves interrupted his tale. “Here’s a good one,” he said.
I missed it.
“Here’s another one.”
I caught it. “Hooo!” Kimo called after me like an owl.
We didn’t have time to talk for a while: As low tide approached there came a flurry of glassy waves fluting over the reef.
“So how was that session at Sunset?” I finally had a chance to ask.
“I caught four waves and then I went in,” he said.
“I didn’t want to break that board,” he said. “But then I ended up breaking it at Tonggs.”
I wasn’t surprised. Although Tonggs, two breaks Ewa of Suis, is popular with beginners, it’s a thick, fast wave that can blast a board on the shallow reef.
As Kimo and I chatted in the lull between sets, we were surrounded with divers, out in an end-of-year frenzy with their spears and their floats. Starting Jan. 1, 2019, an odd-numbered year, no fishing will be allowed in the nearshore waters from Diamond Head to the Waikiki Aquarium. By the end of even-numbered years like this one, the inshore reef is almost a desert: When I swim with my goggles, I see nothing except clouds of manini and a few big fierce humu protecting their nests.
“In just a couple days, no more diving,” Kimo said with a relieved look, confiding that he and his family feed the fishes “leftover poke and stuff” during even-numbered years to try and help them survive in a disrupted food chain.
SPEAKING OF calendars, all’s well that ends well: The World Surf League has scheduled its 2019 Billabong Pipe Masters for next December, after threatening to cancel it when Mayor Kirk Caldwell and the city Department of Parks and Recreation refused its request to switch the event’s dates with its January Volcom Pipe Pro.
This month’s Pipe Masters, held in challenging waves with up to 20-foot faces, was thrilling to watch, even on small screens. On Dec. 17, Brazil’s Gabriel Medina won the event, and his second WSL world championship, before an estimated 4,000 spectators on Ehukai Beach.
Also that day, WSL held the Women’s Pipe Invitational, a single-heat special event. North Shore native Coco Ho won, followed by Carissa Moore, Alessa Quizon and Zoe McDougall.
As with so much else in life, it’s all in the attitude: No matter what the waves’ sizes on a given day, surfing offers up plenty of excitement and fun. Our daughter-in-law, Kaitlin, a Colorado native and wildcat snow skier who originally — and wisely — felt some hesitance in the ocean, has become a charger on her bodyboard, kicking into waves at Makapuu while the rest of us bodysurf.
She and Rory are flying back to the mainland on New Year’s Eve. Such is the saga of yearly heartbreak for island parents, but for now, Don and I are enjoying the feeling of well-being we get from simply having them beneath the same roof, hearing their laughter. The house pulses with warmth and light. The old cat is in his basket on the porch, awaiting extra pets.
On Dec. 21, from Makalei Beach Park, we watched a silver, almost-full moon rise above Diamond Head and cast its luminous scales over the black sea. It was the winter solstice. The days are getting longer.
If only we, like the moon and seasons, could endlessly renew, but we are temporary — stardust. Here’s wishing you and yours lots of time together for the rest of this year and the years to come.
“In the Lineup” features Hawaii’s oceangoers and their regular hangouts, from the beach to the deep blue sea. Reach Mindy Pennybacker at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 529-4772.