interview with Web

Web started posting on the surf report a little while ago and laid down one fascinating tidbit of knowlege after another. It soon became evident that he's lived on a sailboat for much of his life and has explored many surf-rich regions throughout the world by boat. Many in the niceness community were curious about Web's adventures. He was kind enough to respond to a few questions. Thanks Web!!!

Hey E. I hope that one or two people get stoked by my little addition to this sailing/surf world and want to go... It is a pleasure to share something that is so much fun...

Niceness: Can you give a brief run-down of the places you've sailed/travelled?
Web: It is important for people to understand the distinction between where I have sailed my own boat, and where I have sailed someone else's.

Getting your own boat ready for a trip is a whole different league from getting on someone else's boat. And MUCH more of an accomplishment. Over the years, I have sailed my own boat (all starting from NorCal ports) up to Canada (Vancouver Island) and the Puget Sound. I have gone down to South America, through the Panama Canal, and all through the Caribbean (up to the Bahamas). I have basically checked out all the surf I possibly could from Northern Vancouver Island to Northern Columbia on the Pacific side by boat.

I flew over to Australia and ran a boat as Captain (surf/dive charter) from Oz (Brisbane) out to the Coral Sea and beyond to the South West Pacific. I then took the boat around the corner and left it in Indonesia. I have crewed from Hawaii down the line Islands to below the Societies. Some of that on a sailboat, some commercial Tuna fishing. I worked in the commercial fishing Industry for over a decade, including fishing the Bering Sea out of Dutch Harbor in dead winter. So I got to see some heavy weather there. But, as anyone can see, I have a long way to go before I can really call myself a "voyager".

California Coast

Niceness: Have you found a magic, empty, perfect wave while sailing?
Web: I have never found the "Magic" wave in the classic sense. Which ties into question three. (Why is the sailing/surfing/exploring lifestyle less than idyllic?) I had this vision when I was young and really dreaming of doing this of finding that "magic" wave on my sailboat, and riding the barrel into the sunset. The reality is a lot different. Not in a worse way or in a better way, just different. For example, when traveling on my last trip in Central America, it was just myself and my wife. We lived on the boat, and everything we owned was on the boat. That was our home and sole possession. We did not have any insurance, because we could not afford it. The reality of the possibility of losing your boat, all your stuff, and God forbid, your wife, hits home when you are trying to figure out how/where to anchor off a break that is pumping double O, you have never been there, your wife is going "this is really heavy, be careful" with big wide eyes, and you are counting on not getting hurt and the weather staying the same to pull it off. Not to mention that your wife is not comfortable the entire time you are in the water because the boat is just rocking and rolling. After all, it is a surf spot, not an anchorage. The So Pac ( or any atoll or motu) is a lot better for that, because you can get in a reef pass and be in calm water, and have the surf right there. Of course, you also have that little problem of hitting the reef (remember, you are ON YOUR OWN in many situations for medical care, etc) those aggressive reef sharks and, at times, really heavy waves.

So maybe that gives people a small taste of the different factors they might deal with while preparing for a trip of their own. All that being said, make no mistake: I have found some epic waves, put the pieces together, and had a magic day. It just is a little different than the story might be over a few beers.

Niceness: Have you had experiences with places inhabited by primitive cultures?
Web: Not really. Obviously., there is a huge difference between a village in the Solomon Islands or the jungle in Panama vs. anywhere in California. I came across people/villages who still carved their canoes out of logs and did everything by hand, lived with no electricity, etc. But I do not think they can be thought of as "primitive". They know what is up. Yachts (and everyone else) go just about everywhere these days with GPS. GPS has made a huge difference in opening up the oceans of the world to the average person. Keep in mind, most sailors are not surfers. Actually, very few sailors are surfers. Most sailors are older couples who are still trying to understand the ocean. So GPS is a huge comfort. They are willing to push limits that they never would have pre GPS. Before GPS it was Sat Nav, which only had a window to give you a fix for about twelve hours a day. That is twelve hours of no satellite fix. And before that, it was Celestial. So the modern voyager goes everywhere. Really what you get is "primitive" people canoeing out to the yacht as soon as you get the anchor down, trying to sell you something or trade something. They know what your gear is. And they want it. That, or they just wave and pass you by, just another "rich" yachtsman.

Niceness: In your guestimation, are there many Tavarua-like waves yet to be exposed in the South Pacific? (Maybe a few people surfing them, but no media exposure).
Web: Yes. That is not a guestimation, either.

Niceness: Any near-death experiences?
Web: None. I am very cautious. I am not a risk taker. And I have been lucky.

Niceness: Favorite wave?
Web: (this is my favorite BOAT wave, not land based) My favorite wave is, ironically enough, pretty easy to get to by boat, although that is the only way to get there. There are no roads. Really remote. And it is not some South Pacific perfect magic, either. It is in Baja, about 2/3 down. It is my favorite, because I go there with my wife, so she shares it with me. It is an insane right, but easy to surf. The bottom is rugged, but fairly deep. And the anchorage is spectacular. I can anchor my boat, launch my dingy, and motor in minutes to the break. My wife can see me, so she is comfortable that I am alive, and I can be surfing a double O wave, and she is in flat water. There are no sharks to speak of. In a pinch, we can get out of there to medical care in about a day. There is great hiking, so we can do things together, and it is safe politically. The first time I was there, we pulled in and there was one boat there, from Montana. There was a couple on board, and I anchored and rowed my dingy over. The guy comes out, about my age (back then in my thirties) with a big smile and hands me a cold beer. It turns out they are river guides in the summer, and sail in the winter. He says, "oh, yeah, it is going to be good this afternoon. I have been surfing for three days by myself. Great to meet you, bro". we end up trading overhead waves for about five days. Finally, my wife forces me to agree to leaving when we run out of fresh food. I love that place.

Central America

Niceness: Places you'd like to sail/explore?
Web: My wife and I are gearing up for a major South Pacific run. We now have a 8 month old daughter, so we are waiting until she can swim and is out of diapers, a couple of years. We are selling our boat, and buying a bigger one. We really want to work the South Pacific hard. I would love to open up a dialogue with others who have the same plans, especially if they have kids. I think I have it pretty wired on how I want to do it, but am always looking to see how others go about it.

Niceness: Crazy/gnarly stories?
Web: I have a lot of experiences that make good stories to those who can stand to listen. But overall, the same shit that we all go through groveling our way to that next wave on the horizon.

Niceness: Favorite port?
Web: There are a lot, but probably Bocas del Toro in Panama on the Caribbean side. The place is happening. Cheap, great day sailing to little islands, and really good surf to be discovered.(well, sort of discovered) And almost no crime.

Niceness: Any pirate stories?
Web: There were active pirates on the Caribbean side of Nicaragua when I was there. A Swedish family was shot about a day ahead of me when I was going North. I ran at night with no lights,(not that it would have mattered if they had radar) and hid in the cays during the day and slept. It was gnarly. My wife was not on the boat at the time, she had flown back to the States for a bit. I was with a surf buddy, and was glad she was not there.

Niceness: Advice for an aspiring sailor/surfer of the high seas?
Web: READ all you can. Just read everything. Sailing rags (latitude 38). Go to the armchair sailor in Sausalito and buy as much as you can afford. Walk the docks and boatyards, get to know boats. Get to know the people in the yards. Find a mentor you trust. Decide what you need in the way of a boat, and figure out the cheapest way to get it. There are a lot of deals out there. Get by with as little as possible. You do not need all the bullshit gear. The younger you are, the less you need. Don't listen to idiots. Especially when they tell you what boat to get. (that is like telling you what kind of surfboard to ride) Trust your gut. Taking lessons does not hurt. Enjoy the process of getting ready, because it is just as much fun as actually going. Most importantly, live your dreams. Don't let anyone stop you. Believe in yourself, because you can make it happen. There is NEVER a "right time". Just do what it takes and fucking go.

Niceness: What do you think of the surf and surf-scene in SF?
Web: I don't know. The surf speaks for itself. It is incredibly good. As for the scene...My family has been in NorCal for five generations. I have been surfing since I was 14, 1978. The localism thing worries me. It used to be different. Not so violent. I remember going (I live in San Mateo County, South West corner) to Ano in the late 70's. The west side guys (Vince and that crowd) would sort of vibe me, but as long as I was low key, I was OK. I was not a threat wave count wise to them anyway. Even in the heart of the West side. Never just random violence. Now, I have seen guys just go ballistic for the slightest infraction. I understand it, but do not agree with it. I get left alone, I guess because I am older and bigger, but I do not like seeing anyone get hassled, unless they REALLY deserve it. Being a "local" is just not an excuse to make someone feel like shit, or worse. I think these guys who pull the local trip are fucking lame. It fires me up, and I will call them on it. Most of them are not even "local". They are transplants from SoCal or where ever.(not that it matters) We must learn that the ocean belongs to everyone, and that everyone therefore has a deep responsibility to take care of the ocean, and each other, in any way they can. At the end of the day, what matters is not what we take with us in our greed , but the beauty we must leave behind for the next generation.

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