How to skipper a boat
Before you skipper a boat of any sort of heft, you must become a first mate. Here we see the honourable Captain Stubing, master marina, left, and Isaac, the happy first mate.

So you really want to skipper a surf-charter boat?

Here's how!

There comes a time when we heed a certain call. For some of us it might be to save the wretched African; others might develop a fondness for screwing his fellow man to accumulate money.

And there’s the call of the ocean. As old as time itself. One hundred years ago it was to lance a damn big sperm whale for his juice; now it’s to become the skipper of a super yacht or sail around the world.

And for those who enjoy the ocean’s oiled coils, what better métier than to be the pilot of a lavish surf-charter vessel? Drive at night, anchor in the day, surf until your heart explodes, come in, soak yourself in pirate juice (rum and coke) and do it again and again.

It ain’t easy to get the wheel of a good boat, unless you want to drop a mill or so yourself, but it’s possible. Heres how.

1. You’ve gotta be a Master IV or better
The way commercial boats work is this. You build up an arsenal of what they call tickets. The more sea-time you do, the more sea-miles you log, the more study you take, the more tickets you get. In Australia, a popular route is to accumulate the required sea miles for a Master IV, either as a deckhand or even a cook if you’ve got a breezy skipper who’ll sign off your log-book, and head to the Australian Maritime College down in Tasmania for the 10-week Master IV course. But, just ’cause y’Master IV don’t mean you got the wheel yet. But you’ll get on the boat. And once you’re on the boat…

2. You’ll learn the surf-spot route
What good is a surf-charter skipper if he can’t take you where you want to go? Now you’re a Master IV you’ll become what’s called a mate: you’ll be on watch, drive the boat while the skipper snoozes, ferry the passengers out to surf breaks in the tin boats tethered to the stern. You’ll study the charts, you’ll learn what’s breaking where and how, in what wind and tide. You’ll make relationships with other boats and skippers that’ll last years.

But these aren’t the only skills you need. Like,

3. Can you fix?
Whenever something breaks down on my boat, the only tool in my box is a credit card. I wave it in the air while the bastard pushes my face into the pillow and screws hell out of me. You can’t do that on a surf-charter boat, middle of nowhere. If the air-con cacks it; if an outboard is refusing to start; if the steering just… stops working, these you must be able to fix.

4. Do you like booze?
Very, very important. I’ve never met a skipper who couldn’t drink an entire boat under a table.

5. Are you in the mistress game?
It’s a single life, the life of a seaman. Sure is hard to hold a girlfriend or marriage together when you’re out at sea for years at time. But a man, or gal, gotta eat don’t he? And so you must groom sexual partners in various ports, from Male to Phuket to Singapore. Screwing the cook or the cleaner or a guest never ends well. You ever see jealousy play itself out on a confined space such as a boat?

6. It’s a helluva responsibility
It’s a game when you’re a passenger. Such fun! So many laughs! But when you’re the sole master of a dozen or more people in seas that host earthquakes and tsunamis and at least half the people are pissed some of the time or unaware that the midnight ablution they’re taking could be their last, it plays with your head.

Every second, you keep a mental list of who’s where… numbers… numbers… numbers. Passengers wander at night, passengers go swimming in the dark, passengers spontaneously decide to freedive to stupid depths, passengers grab the boat’s tenders for a lark. Every single time it happens, they dance on the precipice of tragedy. And the only person to blame? You!

The best surf contest ever?

It got big. Real big.

The gloriously sponsorless Fiji Pro (Men’s) should get underway tomorrow, after much gender-biased jostling for a potentially prime swell window. The forecast is looking good-not-great, and aren’t we all just at the edge of our seats…

But as we wait patiently for the call, I can’t help but daydream about Fiji Pro’s of yesteryear, namely the 2012 clusterfuck to end all clusterfucks. Do you recall? Of course you do…

On June 8th, 2012 Tavarua awoke to a bolt of lightning, a direct strike. To thunder’s literal clap. Kaiborg and crew were setting up a pop-tent for Volcom, when they saw the burst of light, felt its blast.

“My balls almost came out of my mouth, brah,” Kai told Transworld.

Anyhow, the morning was big. Really big. Slater and a small crew of earlybirds got some fun ones as the swell began to rise.

The conditions were a little challenging, a little bumpy. A few mushmouthed pros complained about the “Devil Wind.”

But mainly it was just getting a little heavier than many expected. And it was only the lemon next to the pie…

The ASP hemmed and hawed, despite Surfline’s official forecast calling for  “15-20-25’+ faces at Cloudbreak as the swell peaks, with some larger sets at times, along with generally favorable wind.”

They ran two heats, then poor Raoni Montero blew out his knee on a brutal one. The contest was called off for the day.

Then the winds died, the swell peaked, and all holy hell broke loose.

The webcast remained blessedly live, as a crew of surfers paddled out into what Lewis Samuels called “mindlessly perfect Cloudbreak” and proceeded to make a mockery out of the tour’s cowardice.

(Ironically, around most of the CT guys that did end up paddling out—JJF, Kerr, Parko, Mick—would have been in the first four heats of round 3, had the green light been given.)

So much was contained in that one day, in what it represented to the world, in the twilight of the ASP. So much glory. So much shame.

Mick Fanning, after breaking a borrowed 8’0 of Kala Alexanders, excused his tourmates’ swell-dodging, saying “a lot of guys on the Tour didn’t have mates willing to offer up their best big-wave boards. I was lucky.” Which is sweet of him to say, sticking up for his pals.

Whatever their reasons, those who stayed on boats, or retreated poolside to watch the day unfold, they have to make peace with their decision not to surf the most gorgeously perfect, massive waves a surfing contest will ever see.

Here are some highlights:

Are TED talks the death of Western Civilization?

Yes! But watch surf journalist Chris Dixon give his here!

This morning, as I was trolling the internet for inspiration for my daily BG post, I came across Chris Dixon’s recent TEDx talk. It’s not bad, definitely worth 15 minutes of your day. (ed. note: Chris Dixon is a surf journalist.)

It got me thinking, how do I get in on this? I know that, supposedly, people more often fear public speaking than death, but I am not one of those people. I love being the center of attention, especially when it’s totally one-sided and I get to just talk and talk and talk, without having to listen.

Seriously, put a mic in my hand and I can blather on and on. What do you want to hear about? Dog training tips? I’m on it. Relationship advice? You got it!

I’ll probably swear a few times, and I’ll definitely say something inappropriate but, hell, that’s how you work an audience.

I got to play big shot writer once when I contributed an essay to a collection of stories about skateboarding. There was a release party and I got to read part of my piece to a group of total strangers, and I was damned stoked to do it. Since no one else wanted to go first I volunteered.

It was early in the evening and everyone was still more or less sober, so I thought I’d tell a joke to warm up the crowd. It went like this:

A priest and a rabbi are standing on a street corner when this ten year old boy walks by. The priest leans over and says, “Hey, what do you say we grab that kid, take him into an alley, and screw him?”

And the rabbi says, “Out of what?”

Utter silence.

Which, you know, really worked for me. Because it’s not like things could go any worse, and it’s not like I really care what a room full of strangers thinks of me anyway.

Trend: Slooooooooooooooow is the new fast!

Kids these days just crawl!

It is the dreamiest when new technology coincides with phenomenal talent. Cameras have never been better, for surf, what with their crazy frame rates and gorgeous pixels (are they still called pixels?) and names. Phantom? Red? Scarlet? Yes, please!

Of course it takes a steady hand to maneuver these futuristic beasts in the surf, a polished eye to capture the subject wiggling amongst the masses and totally rich parents who live in Santa Barbara to buy one but there is always a cost to crafting high art.

In any case, cinematographer Chris Bryan has two of the three (no rich Santa Barbara parents I think!) and look look look what he has done for John John. 1000 frames per second of pure bliss. The picture moves so slow that you or I can study each one of John John’s muscle fibers firing. With enough practice we can get ours to fire the same way and with Chris Bryan we could have a slow-mo film of ourselves backflipping and landing clean minus the Hurley leg double-stripe. I will be sponsored by El Charro tequila and Mission Federal Credit Union instead.

Just in: WSL admits to hating Dane Reynolds!

I am as shocked as you!

If you don’t go to like, totally every day then you are missing out. The powers that be at BeachGrit do not believe in the zero-sum game (be damned John Forbes-Nash!). We love (or don’t love) other websites because there is room enough for everyone (except The Inertia) but we love love love

In any case, just yesterday did a fab piece on Dane Reynolds receiving the coveted wildcard slot for the upcoming Fiji event. It was titled “Reynolds: Cloudbreak Is Intimidating.”
There were lots of hyperbolic adjectives used (as expected. MDMA flows like Dasani water, apparently, in the Santa Monica offices) but the best sentence read, “Few figures in modern surf history have been more popular, and subsequently more polarizing, than the 29-year-old.”

Polarizing? Dane? Do you know what “polarizing” means? The Webster’s Dictionary shall tell you. “To divide in sharply opposing factions.” That means some people LOVE Dane and some people HATE Dane. Do you know anybody on the street that HATES Dane? I can’t think of any. Do only people in the offices HATE Dane? I think yes because he told them to take the tour and shove it. Did they tip their hand in writing this piece by saying they are the only people on earth that HATE Dane? For sure! Which is why I go every day.

Read the rest here!