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Surfing the Oregon Coast with Tom McNamara: Surf Travel
Oregon Coast Notes - Surf Report

surferErinFor the typical Northwest surfer, a “normal” winter such as this one can be pretty hard to endure.  Opportunities for quality surf have been few compared to some memorable, unusual winters.  So what’s a frustrated surfer to do?

Travel. It’s a popular antidote to short, rainy, onshore days, and 5 mm Neoprene.

For most of us, just the idea of warm water, coral reefs, palm trees and tropical wax is enough to awaken the wanderlust.  What’s tropical wax?

  That’s something you buy before your trip to warm water, a very hard wax that provides grip and traction on your surfboard deck, and doesn’t melt in the nice warm tropical sea.  Up here, we use a very soft wax that stays sticky even though it’s freezing.  Try it in Costa Rica, and you’ll look like you’re trying to ride a bar of soap.

Traveling for surf has been around forever, of course.  Weren’t the first Hawaiians just trying to find a better surf spot when they arrived?  In early California surfing, a road trip from Santa Barbara to San Diego was an expedition.  In the mid-60’s, the movie “Endless Summer” was the announcement to the masses that is was OK, even required, to leave the familiar behind, and go exploring.

And explore we did.  Some of the first visitors to now-famous surf spots endured danger, hardship, disease and boredom.  But they scored!  As the surf magazines began publishing stories and photos of those trips, the rest of us got out our atlases and looked at the earth as one big coastline.  Obviously, tropical destinations were usually easier to investigate for several reasons.  However, they presented unique challenges.  Malaria was a threat in most of those areas, along with lots of other diseases like dengue and yellow fever, not to mention hazards like poisonous stinging fish, sharks, coral cuts…you get the idea.  It wasn’t for the casual, resort-oriented traveler.

Some of the first discoveries included Indonesia’s many islands, Fiji, El Salvador, Nicaragua, the Caribbean, West Africa, and random islands in every ocean.  Many of these destinations at the time were “underdeveloped”, unhealthy and politically unstable, so going there took more effort and preparation than a weekend in Waikiki.

Today, we see the earth as a much smaller place.  Indeed, we can look at just about anywhere from the eye of a satellite and new surf spots are being discovered by people who haven’t even left their home.

Some of those early discoveries, once the destination of only the most determined wave hunters, are home to surfing resorts that provide every comfort and convenience, while world-class waves beckon from right out in front of your air-conditioned rooms.

Of course, all this comes at a steep price, so the average surfer traveling for waves is still looking for bargains, carefully saving and planning, knowing that the earth really is one big coastline.  For the clever, the courageous, and the driven, there are still discoveries to be made.

For the unencumbered, shivering, suffering Oregon surfer, relief could be as simple as a road trip to Southern California, or as exotic as disappearing into some steamy archipelago on a derelict fishing boat, with no agenda except finding surf.

Now for the rest of us, with jobs, families, and schedules, at least the days are getting longer.

Spring must be out there somewhere.

So, quit whining and paddle out!

Tom McNamara

Tom McNamara has been surfing since 1965. Tom is a well respected Oregon surfer and surfboard maker. Tom, with his partner Greg Niles, co-owns Ocean Pulse Surf and Skate in Newport Oregon. To get in touch with Tom, Greg or any of their knowledgeable staff call them at 541-265-7745 or visit them at www.oceanpulsesurf.com. For the real deal stop by their store located at 428 SW Coast Hwy Newport, Oregon.

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