Surf Journalist braves “weather event of the century” Hurricane Hilary in wildly ill-advised sail odyssey to forbidden California island

Red at night, sailors a-fright.

As you are undoubtedly aware, what was once a category 4 hurricane, yesterday, made historic landfall in California. Hilary be her name, destruction and vengeance be her game. Governor Gavin Newsom bravely declared a state of emergency, Los Angeles and San Diego school districts cancelled school. The Soho House, downtown Los Angeles, cancelled a Sunday evening soiree and coffee shops throughout Orange County put signs on doors reading “closed due to weather.”

Headlines across all major media implored people to “shelter in place” and “avoid dying.”

I was accidentally on a sailboat heading to Catalina with my two very best friends. The same very two with whom I was lucky enough to survive post 9/11 Yemen, war-ravaged Beirut, early days of Covid-19 Paris.

This brazen and selfish ignoring of common sense, potential strain put on “the system,” outrageous irresponsibility was not, as in times past, on purpose but only accidental as the trip had been planned for a week and you know how tough schedules can be to change these days.

We had been tracking Hilary, spinning off the Baja Peninsula, when we left Newport Harbor Saturday afternoon. Reports were calling for nearly unnavigable five foot seas and nearly unimaginable 18 mile per hour winds for Sunday.

We pressed on.

The Pacific was near oil glass, the sky lightly cloudy when we hoisted the mainsail and unfurled the jib. A steady breeze pushing us along at a decent 9 knots. We spoke of books and ate Italian sandwiches for lunch, arriving at Avalon in the late afternoon.

The harbor was empty.

We called the harbor master and he informed us that it was, indeed, closed, no mooring balls to be had, and that restaurants were likely closed too in preparation of the storm of the century. We thought of anchoring but had left our dinghy in Newport and if no restaurants were open it would be pointless anyhow.

Stress grew as we only had one more Italian sandwich to split between the three of us and dinner was fast approaching.

The call was made. We would return to Newport and sort out a meal.

The return trip was quick, a steady breeze for the first three-quarters, dying entirely as Fashion Island came into view. The sky turning a brilliant salmon as dolphins leapt, striking terror into the hearts of all.

Red at night, sailors a-fright.

Near the mouth of the harbor, we decided to motor to the public dock, tie off and walk to Restaurant A as we were really hungry and it would be quicker. The time was, roughly 8:30. It was open, we were seated immediately and ordered a butterleaf wedge salad, ceviche tostaditas, 22 oz bone-in ribeye and Atlantic lobster tail, all for sharing.

We washed it down with a Moscow Mule.

Afterward, we returned to the boat, motored back up the harbor to the mooring, fixed the lines then fell asleep on the deck.

At 3:00 am I felt a raindrop on my head and moved below.

It rained all night.

In the morning, we all woke up and it was still raining. We cleaned up then rowed across the channel right as Hilary, then a tropical depression, made its historic landfall.

Foolish jerks.

The end.

Surfers who survived sinking of Indonesian boat raise $50,000 for family of missing deckhand lost at sea for over one week as mother pleads, “Keep looking for him and put him in my arms”

"Keep looking for him and put him in my arms. You should all be out there looking. Everyone else is found. The boat is found.”

As streaming platforms and producers swarm the four surfers who survived two days lost at sea near Nias when the crappy Indo boat they were on was swamped by waves, money is being sought for the family of the one missing crew member.

The four surfers, Elliot Foote, Steph Weisse, Will Teagle and Jordan Short had been travelling through northern Sumatra to celebrate Foote’s thirtieth birthday, a gift from his father. The boat went missing on the fifty click trip between Nias and the island of Pinang in the Bankyaks, separated from another boat carrying eight other friends, during a storm.

Recalling the event Elliot said,

“When the first one [wave] came in, Jordie’s like, ‘alright guys, this could be serious. I was like all right sweet, grab me that, grab me something warm, grab me my knife, grab me this. We all started grabbing shit.”

All four friends were found after thirty-six hours, with two of the three crew members rescued shortly after.


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Lost at sea, and likely dead, is Fifan Satria, who was only on the boat ‘cause his Dad Muhammad Musa, who usually took the wheel, was sick and he was called in to help.

As the four Australians paddled off for help,  the other Indonesians on the boat, Mohammed Iqbal and Junardi Akhmad, stayed behind to help Fifan, who couldn’t swim.

“The foreigners paddled very quickly but we couldn’t keep up and we had to look after Fifan,” Iqbal told The Australian. “I tried to give Fifan a lot of encouragement. I reminded him to tie his surfboard to his body so whatever happened – if he felt dizzy or passed out – he would not sink to the sea. I told him if he didn’t do that and he passed out, he might not be found.”

With rescue unlikely, a crowd funding account has been set up by the survivors to raise money for Fifan’s family with 47k of a proposed 100 already raised, mostly from the survivors themselves.

The money is going to “assist and support the family and community of the one crew member who is still missing, to compensate the people who committed their time and resources to the rescue effort, and to help ensure nothing like this happens again.”

Meanwhile, Fifan’s mother Erlisda has pleaded for the search to continue.

“Please look for my son. Keep looking for him and put him in my arms. You should all be out there looking. Everyone else is found. The boat is found.”

LOL and KS.

Kelly Slater demands jail and punitive fines for keepers of Killer Whale Lolita, found dead at Miami Seaquarium after 53 years in captivity

“She died as she had lived… in the smallest, bleakest orca tank in the world."

Back in 1970, halcyon days when Nixon was prez and Vietnam was getting lit up by Napalm and even before Kelly Slater existed, a little killer whale calf off the coast of Washington State was snatched out of the ocean and delivered to the Miami Seaquarium, one of the oldest fish zoos in the US.

And there, labelled Lolita, so-named after Nabokov’s famous nymphet, she lived, miserable, alone – her one companion, Hugo, killed himself by belting his head against the wall of their shared tank until he died in 1980 – until her death yesterday.

Lolita’s enclosure, measuring 80 feet by 35, offered the twenty-foot mammal minimal room to swim, interact and express natural behaviors.

“She died as she had lived: After spending more than five decades imprisoned by the Miami Seaquarium in the smallest, bleakest orca tank in the world, deprived of any semblance of a natural life, the long-suffering orca Lolita has passed away,” wrote People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in a statement. “Kind people begged the Miami Seaquarium to end Lolita’s hellish life in a concrete cell and release her to a seaside sanctuary, where she could dive deep, feel the ocean’s currents, and even be reunited with the orca believed to be her mother, but plans to make this move came too late, and Lolita was denied even a minute of freedom from her grinding 53 years in captivity.”

The lingering existence of Lolita had ignited fierce debate surrounding the ethics of keeping intelligent and social creatures like killer whales in captivity. Advocates argued that orcas are highly intelligent, emotionally sensitive, and have complex social structures in the wild.

In captivity, these traits are often stifled, leading to physical and psychological distress. Lolita’s case came to symbolize the broader issue of marine mammal captivity, prompting calls for greater awareness and changes in animal welfare practices.

Now, Kelly Slater, a man rarely one to mince his words, has called for the immediate imprisonment of her captors.


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In a comment posted to @Dolphin_Project, he writes “Sad. They should be jailed and fined.”

Commenters were universal in their praise although one had the misfortune to post a laughing emoji, raising the hackles of the world champ.

“Why do you find that funny?” he replied to Simone Gross, a young woman with 178 followers.

Marine parks, zoos, those drive-through African theme parks with the threadbare lions and defeated giraffes, reminders of the cruelty of man, I think.

I’m with ol Petey Singer when he said,

“To protest about bullfighting in Spain, the eating of dogs in South Korea, or the slaughter of baby seals in Canada while continuing to eat eggs from hens who have spent their lives crammed into cages, or veal from calves who have been deprived of their mothers, their proper diet, and the freedom to lie down with their legs extended, is like denouncing apartheid in South Africa while asking your neighbors not to sell their houses to blacks.”

Tension broils on Maui as pro-tourist and anti-tourist camps dig in

Should they stay or should they go?

The horrible tragedy on Maui, wildfires chewing through large swaths of the western side of the island, burning historic Lahaina to the ground and killing over 100, is still unfolding. Families suffering, lives forever altered, paradise strained. In the days after the fire, which sparked to life on August 8th, Maui residents and those on neighboring islands pleaded with tourists to change their travel plans and not visit.

“Maui is not the place to have your vacation right now,” Hawaiian actor Jason Momoa declared, adding, DO NOT TRAVEL TO MAUI. Do not convince yourself that your presence is needed on an island that is suffering this deeply.”

The sentiment remains for many, days, on, but others are feeling the strain as tourist dollars account for the bulk of Maui’s economy.

“We’re really in pain, but I have no trouble with a customer coming in with a smile on their face,” Panna Cappelli told NBC News. She had art gallery on Front Street in Lahaina and the work of some 200 local artists were all destroyed but she also has three other galleries on the island that remain open and in need of customers.

“Come to Hawaii, but also respect what is happening,” said Maui resident Jon Baker, who owns and operates a rental car business near the normally bustling Kahului Airport. “If you don’t see the typical aloha, it’s only because people are hurting and grieving,” he added. “We rely on tourism. We need it.”

Air travel to Maui has dropped by 80% since the fire.

“It’s a fine line. It’s a fine balance,” said Ilihia Gionson, spokesman for the Hawaii Tourism Authority. “At the end of the day, for those people who want to be working, we want to make sure they can be working. What we don’t want to see is people losing their homes and then losing their jobs.”

“(Not coming to Maui) is the wrong message,” said Maui-based wedding photographer Tara Lee Murphy. “We want to keep working to keep Maui open. We don’t want Covid 2.0.”

And on it goes.

But do you have an opinion on the matter?

Team Momoa or Team Tourist?

More as the story develops.

Pip, Italo and Gabriel

Olympic selection process slammed as a “colossal failure” after Filipe Toledo chosen for Teahupoo 2024 over Gabriel Medina and Italo Ferreira

“Filipe’s deal is un-spinnable. I feel crushed by what I saw. He isn’t ready for prime time at Teahupoo"

A byzantine selection process for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games has been slammed as “absurdist” and branded a “colossal failure” after Filipe Toledo, whose fraught relationship with Teahupoo ain’t no secret, was selected for Team Brazil over Gabriel Medina and Italo Ferreira. 

In an ironic twist, it was against Ferreira in 2015 where Toledo suffered the ignominy of becoming one of only two surfers in pro surfing history to paddle in from a heat without a wave being caught. 

“Fail-wise, it was just beyond epic,” the surfing historian Matt Warshaw told BeachGrit. “And so very public… Filipe’s deal is un-spinnable. He isn’t ready for prime time at Teahupoo… I’m his biggest north-of-50 fan, and I feel sort of crushed by what I saw.” 

Seven years later, Toledo almost reprised “his brave act of cowardice” in a heat against middle-aged veterans Kelly Slater, fifty, and Nathan Hedge, forty-three. 

As Chas Smith reported, 

Toledo, with reputation for not enjoying the Teahupo’o battle, would certainly spear naysayers in the throat by dropping in to infamy, no? Apparently no.

Slater and Hedge traded waves, big and perfect, one after the other after the other with Toledo holding priority well out the back, refusing to paddle, one after the other after the other.

Slater, barreled, unable to contain smile.

Hedge, barreled, unable to contain smile or beat, smartly, boss.

Toledo, un-barreled, holding priority for fifteen-odd minutes while Slater and Hedge swapped beneath him.

In the dying seconds, the King of Saquarema swung on a baby tube then punched board in channel.

Again, this year, Toledo bobbed, holding priority, while (wildcard Mihimana) Braye paddled, dropped, became barreled and was spat into applause. There he took off on a small closeout just to hand that priority over and not be forced into actually trying. There he lost 15.50 to 5.73. It was a shameful display and would be semi-forgiven if Toledo finally, and for the first time, admitted that Teahupo’o terrifies him.”

Now here’s the twist.

Thanks to the Olympic selection process where the top ten-rated CT surfers of 2023 are granted automatic passage to the event with each country permitted a max of four surfers (two men, two gals) unless their country wins the ISA Games in which case they get a couple more, something Brazil probs ain’t gonna do, Filipe and Joao Chianca are gonna be Team Brazil.

Australia, Jack Robinson, Ethan Ewing.

USA, John John Florence, Griff Colapinto.

JP Currie noted the contrast in his Tahiti Pro analysis, 

“The masters of this are Jack Robinson, Gabriel Medina and John Florence. Teahupo’o is their element, and their mastery is unmatched. The contrast between these three men and the one (Filipe Toledo) sitting atop the rankings is jarring. For the layperson or those new to pro surfing fandom, it would be hard to explain.”

Hope does loom for Medina, at least, on the horizon. Literally. A six-foot plus swell may appear next year and the lil man whose Teahupoo campaigns rival your ol pal DR’s (five trips, zero tubes) will be happy to sit it out and gift his card to Medina.

Or will the chance of Olympic gold awaken the famous Lion beneath the tattoo?

Comments sought. Leave below the line.