Surf Mavericks: Update 5

A long summer of mediocre waves, strong winds and lots of slop all but removed surfing from my routine. Riding waves was relegated to a vacation activity. Limited to a few trips to Santa Cruz for south swells, a road trip to So-Cal and a camping weekend up north. Far from the daily habit it once was.

As a result, two and a half months from the end of the year, I am basically back where I started. No where close to being ready to surf Mavericks. I can hold my breath for just over two minutes, I’m not in great cardio shape and my arms don’t have the strength they need to get me in and out of giant waves.


This isn’t where I wanted to be at this point in the year. This is where I am.

Thankfully the fall, a glassy head high jolt of electricity, has reignited my fire for surfing. It started with a day towards the end of September that looked like this.


The reports were coming in that we had gotten our first north swell. The forecast was calling for OH+.

I was at the beach before sunrise, though you wouldn’t have known it. There was about 50ft of visibility which meant I couldn’t see the water from the parking lot. Nor could I see the waves from the water line.

I paddled out into a dense fog, unsure if anyone else was surfing. As I duck dove the first few walls of white water, each increasing in size, I knew the reports were true. I came up from one and looked to the end of my visibility where I saw a surfing dropping in. The wave was well OH for the few seconds before it closed out on him.

There were only two of us out there and the waves were a mess. The sand bars haven’t yet prepared themselves for the winter surf. I can sympathize with that.

Without catching even a single wave I turned around, happy, knowing that I was at least on pace with the sand below. Success that day was a kick in the butt.

Arm Strength: Weak – need to do some paddling

Breath Holding: 4:06 record – 2:12 current

Days to Go: 76

Times surfed on Hail Mary: 1

Resting Heart Rate: 64

Surf Mavericks: Update 4

Stoked! I cracked the four minute mark this week.



Most of my improvement has come from better oxygen conservation. I have been focusing on relaxing to minimize the oxygen I use per minute – thus letting me last longer on one breath. To do this I’ve been working on lowering my resting heart rate and slowing everything down. I think relaxing my brain is the hardest part, so I’ve been counting in my head really slow. I think that helps pace my body a bit as well.

I haven’t been able to push any further on the discomfort scale – once my vision starts to go blurry I stop. I think that is probably safer for training, but I’d like to try blacking out a few times so I’m familiar with it in case I ever get to that point under water.

Finally, this week I heard of a new sport that a few big wave surfers play in order to train their lungs, underwater hockey. I can’t believe I haven’t heard of this before. I have most of the equipment I would need to play, so I’m going to try and find a pick up game. Apparently the sport is small enough that teams are stoked to have someone new that wants to play come and join them.

Shoulder: Done with PT, continuing strength training, three times a week to strengthen shoulder

Breath Holding: 4:06

Days to Go: 227

Times surfed on Hail Mary: 1

Resting Heart Rate: 58

Create With My Hands: Update 1

Back in January I set a goal for the year to create things with my hands. A quarter through the year I had yet to do anything – not a result I am happy with.

So, to correct this, on Sunday I set out to get some supplies and started three new projects, two of which I completed and will share here.

Problem One: Wet Surfing Gloves

I am a So-Cal surfer and always will be. My hands go numb after about an hour in 55*F water. I currently live in San Francisco, which means I have to wear 3mm neoprene gloves for about half of the year. Getting them dry is a pain because they have to be upright – the outer shell of the gloves is somewhat water tight and the inside is a fleece-like lining that absorbs water.

Here is how I solved my wet surfing glove problem.


  • Hold two sets of gloves upright to dry
  • Be freestanding & stable enough that it doesn’t fall over
  • Fit inside a Rubermaid tub for storage & possibly indoor drying someday
  • Under $15

For supplies, I bought an 10′ length of 1/2″ pvc, a few pvc joints and some pipe cement. I already had a saw and sand paper. Total cost $7.55 + tax.


My plan was to have a rectangular base with the four glove holders sticking straight up. Here is a 2D version of the plan.


The pipe cement I bought came with a brush in the cap, which makes things easy. I had a ton of cement left and only used about half of the 10′ pvc pipe – so the next project only requires joints. Making two of these could get costs down around $5 a pop.


Half way assembled. To make sure everything was straight, I started with segments that were 2D and made sure they were straight on a piece of wood.

Finally, I brought everything together and made sure the glove holders were at a 90* angle.


Here it is with two sets of gloves, drying like a boss.


Project Two: Better Access To My Tool Box

Part of the reason I haven’t been working with my hands very much is that my tools are a bit hard to get to. Right now I’m living in a studio with my wife so space is at a premium. I built a bed with storage underneath it last year – which works out great for the large tubs of surfing and camping gear we keep under there (not to mention various lifetime supplies of things from Costco). My tool box, however, is metal and would scratch the floor if I dragged it, so I try and lift it out of its place. Life Lesson: It is incredibly hard to reach under a bed for a 50lb toolbox and then try and lift it and bring it out – especially if you have a shoulder injury.


I want to make it a bit easier to get to my tools, so I’m going to put some wheels on them. I thought of buying a toolbox dolly, but this seems like a problem I can solve by hand. That is always more fun.


  • Rolling platform for all of my tools
  • Must support ~50-60lbs
  • Limited to 20″ wide and ~2′ deep

This one was an easy fix, but it feels great to have it done. I got some scrap particle wood and cut two sheets of 20″ x 24″ and picked up a set of castors (wheels that spin). A few screws and it’s done.



It doesn’t roll perfectly, but it is much better than before. The best part about making something by hand like this is that I can always cut it smaller or get a new sheet of wood if my size requirements change in the future.


So, despite a bumpy start to the year, I feel like I’m back in the groove, ready to create some cool things with my hands. The next one I’m working on is a fun one, stay tuned…