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Can You Get COVID-19 from Surfing?

Hit the eject button on crowds for now.

I confess: Over the past several weeks, I’ve been surfing. What was a few times has now returned to my routine. It had been over two months since I got in the water and the first time back felt weird. It felt wrong and odd, I felt like some kind of social recluse committing a crime, but giggling on the way in all the same.

I went to River Jetties in Newport and as I dipped my toe in the luke-warm ocean, a sense of relief and paranoia struck me all at once.

If this feeling could be put into words, it might look something like this:

Ahhhhhahwawwwweeeeeummmmmhmm

(not) a poo barrel–sponger gets a clean barrel at Wedge in Newport.

Can you get coronavirus from surfing? It lingered in my mind, distracted me from catching waves as I drifted towards the rivermouth. My friend’s sarcastic line floated into my mind: “Where the poo meets the sea is where I surf”—referring to River.

The Surfrider Foundation wrote a comprehensive report and references several studies, both published and unpublished, that cite contradicting information—one German study says you can’t pass it on through poop and another Chinese study says you can.

Is it viable once in the salt? It’s been said that it can be passed on through freshwater, like lakes and rivers. But studies don’t have conclusions about saltwater. Also, when waves break, it creates an aerosol affect, which translates into tiny water droplets flying through the air and into your smiling mug, according to some speculations.

Yummm taste that COVID-19 spray! Over the (small) falls at Wedge in Newport.

But that’s speculative.

From Surfrider:

At this point, the research community does not know if people can contract the COVID-19 virus from exposure to feces in recreational waters but the overall consensus is that it might be possible.

MRSA, e.coli and all those other fun germies can be caught through dirty water, so it sounds like we treat this as we would a sewage spill—don’t surf dirty water and stay away from people as best as you can.

But, tell that to 50 of your best buddies vying for the peak at Lowers on a Saturday morning.

An October Throwback

All-time destruction engulfs California while a fall swell lights up the coast—-never has it been more selfish to be a surfer.

The cause? Consistent Santa Ana winds blowing at speeds of 85 miles an hour out of the east in addition to drought conditions and some jerk with a pyro-fantasy.

October 2007 saw a massive outbreak of wildfires which consumed over 970,000 acres that stretched from Santa Barbara county to the U.S.-Mexico border. Much of the densely populated Southern California experienced approximately 30 wildfires in late October which were then contained by the beginning of November.

Clouds of smoke cloaked the sun which casted an eerie orange hue in the sky while surfers coughed and choked their way through the lineup. Smiles could barely be seen from the sand as rebels were spat out of each barrel’s temporary “orange room”–a mouth full of toxic air awaiting each grin.

“Did you see my barrel?! It was so $%@^%# !!” while ash slowly fell like rain all over Orange County.

It was hard to determine the central conflict: surf while fires raged and local communities cried for help, risk inhaling a five year supply of smoke -or- miss out of some of the most perfect barrels.

There were some who talked of volunteering while each Santa Ana-groomed set wave emptied like a perfect tee-pee over the sandbar. Some announced the amount of cigarettes this surf session would equate to while others casted those loudmouths dirty looks.

I CONFESS: I surfed 36th street in Newport Beach that day while I watched clouds of smoke billow from the hills. Yea, I felt guilty, so it didn’t surprise me when I later contracted several terrible sinus infections in the months to follow.

But—the barrels were #@%$#&&!@!!

Be Nice, Wedge

Wedge always makes for some glorious wipeouts and plenty of jaw dropping fun. As opposed to Trestles, Swamis or Rincon’s perfect shape and long shoulders set as the stereotypical California wave, Wedge is well-known for it’s beastly crappy shape and carnage. One human munching machine after the next marches through to consume the few who dare. However, every once in a while, Wedge’s all-too familiar jaws loosen and a couple of lucky souls find escape hatches/rides of their lives…when they’re not risking them.

As opposed to my last entry dedicated to “carnage,” it’s good to see the positive in all things…even Wedge.

The ‘Oh Shit’ Files-Vol. 2: Hurricane Norbert

Storm patterns have turned my weekends into glorious photo bliss coupled with daily surfaris up the coast. A few weeks ago, Hurricane Norbert graced our coastline with waves aplenty and warm water temps that I will surely be dreaming about six months from now. The category 3 hurricane veered up the baja coast and onto the inland southwestern region of the U.S. and delivered a much-needed dose of rain …now if only he swung a little more west, California’s serious drought problem might have been temporarily staved.

Save that water people!!

Until then, my journey plopped me in front of Newport’s finest carnage-inducing break: Wedge. Whether you surf, sponge or skin it at Orange County’s premier balls-to-the-wall sandbar slab, Wedge will do more than ‘kick your ass.’ It will turn you inside out, grind you in sand and spit whats left of you out onto the shoreline.

It might be wise to seek some sage advice from a seasoned pro or local before setting a toe in the water. I wonder who would be considered Wedge’s ‘Turtle’….brah….or would that be ‘bro’…?

Either way at Wedge,“…you’re gonna get drilled.”

#HurricaneMarie

If you were held captive inside an office like me during one of the biggest swells in 20 years on August 27th, 2014, your only outlet was: ###SoCiAlMeDiA.### As I arrived to work a bit embittered, random Facebook, Instagram and Twitter checks ensued. With every epic media update, my stomach twinged, my jaw dropped and mouthed in the stereotypical surfer fashion: “No waaay.”

I’ve never felt like such a social media stalker as I watched thick wedgey peaks plow through all corners of the California coast.

*Repeatedly bangs forehead against desk while the drone of the computer mocks all senses*

Some popular hashtags:

  • #hurricanemarie
  • #hurricanemarie2014
  • #bigwednesday
  • #thewedge
  • #waveporn
  • #purpleblob
  • #newportbeach

Despite the fact that I didn’t shoot the coveted Wedge pumping out 30 foot walls or Newport Point doing it’s best Pipeline impersonation, I managed to squeeze in some quick photos of certain spots before and after work…sans carnage…sadly.

The line, yes there was a LINE, to get onto the Newport peninsula was comparable to the city’s popular Fourth of July or Christmas parades. My terrific ‘love’ for crowds and parallel parking combined with the setting sun left me in a time crunch, so after one U-turn , my wheels were rolling towards Laguna and Dana Point. Newport be damned.

After narrowly escaping a park ranger’s citation (but not her lecture about possibly killing an endangered pocket mouse), the sun set over the corduroy-ed Pacific and I finally felt like my freelancer-self, again.

I’m alive!! I said, as I skipped to my car with blurry photos in tow, the park ranger glaring behind me.

Big Wednesday 2014 not only woke up the Pacific, but also reminded me of my passions that no amount of social media or any computer/smart phone can replicate.