Posts Tagged ‘oahu’

A lil’ meme for the Hawai’i tourist, who doesn’t always comprehend the intense environment here. Who thinks when the hurricane or tropical storm warning has ended or been cancelled, you’re in the clear. Who doesn’t pay attention to high surf or those pretty signs that line the beach warning you not to go in. Who think they can handle the waves here, because they’ve surfed before. Who go to the shoreline to get that perfect selfie, only to get washed away. Who think (or don’t think) it’s okay to be oblivious because you’re on vacation! Problem is, tourists die here every year, because they’re not paying attention. If you’re “that guy” (or girl) this one’s for you!Hawaii-Hurricane-Tropical-Storm-Oahu-Maui-Kauai-Big-Island-2


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Hawaii is now home to the most fascist gun laws in the nation. Hawaii Governor Ige signed a bill making it the first state to place all of its law-abiding gun owners in a federal criminal record “Rap Back” database and monitor them for possible wrongdoing anywhere in the country. Let’s repeat that one more time for clarity sake: LEGAL gun owners in Hawaii are now in a CRIMINAL database.hawaii guns hawaii defense foundation laws

Thank goodness, because consistently being a state with the lowest gun death rates certainly made it a crisis issue! Being a state that already required you to jump through excessive hoops to acquire a gun, we definitely needed more restrictions.

Some wacko gun rights advocates might think the real crisis in Hawaii is the huge increase in violent crimes and robberies. Or a crisis might be the near-impossibility to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon, which has surely put many-a-woman at risk.

Heck, Hawaii politicians must really dislike women who want to protect themselves, as they also make sure to restrict them from carrying mace. On Kauai for example, obtaining pepper spray legally includes restrictions similar to gun ownership, with fingerprinting and 14 day waiting periods. And actually, MACE is illegal; only pepper spray with less potent OC ingredients, and only 1/2 ounce max. If you’re caught using pepper spray without a permit the fine is $2,000. If you use wasp spray against a predator there are even larger fines and you will be jailed (if you’re broke, might be easier to let yourself get raped or robbed). Don’t worry, you’re not allowed to have a stun gun either. And if you don’t have thousands of dollars to hire a lawyer to go to court to assist you in acquiring an order of protection from a stalker or someone who has sexually assaulted or threatened you, we have personal experience that judges here prefer to deny the P.O. But hey, that’s a whole other story.

Background checks weren’t enough to protect us from the danger of legal gun ownership (most of the legal guns here being hunting rifles). Watch, in five years they’re going to claim Hawaii has the lowest gun death rate because of this law. Perhaps, as with many areas that impose gun restrictions, we’ll also see an increase in violent crimes.

Of course, for this to all make sense we will need to pretend criminals won’t be able to acquire guns, and that making it harder for people to protect themselves will keep our gun murder rates even lower.

hawaii guns

Hawaii Guns. Don’t Ban Guns!

In conjunction to this bill, Ing signed another reassuring us that those who have any mental disability or depression (let’s say vets who ever suffered from PTSD; anyone who took Prozac once; perhaps even a mom who had postpartum depression…) can be denied the right to own a gun. Reality check: with these kinds of laws in place, it really is best that if you ever are depressed you never tell anyone and you do not seek help, because any record of your depression may impair your ability to acquire a gun or maintain possession of your gun. If you were ever treated for depression, you can be denied your 2nd amendment rights.

Luckily there will be little complaint in Hawaii, as the guns most people here care about are the ones that shoot barrels of big waves. (Nah, just kidding, usually after initiatives like this, even in Hawaii we see an increase in people applying for guns). But it is why they initiate these types of legislations in Democrat-dominated states, usually with a populous who seem less conscious or concerned about giving away their rights, particularly the right to bear arms. A large portion of liberals have had their minds mushed to the point they are begging the government to take that right away from them – how is that?! And yet again, no matter the reasoning, these restrictions have little to nothing to do with terrorists, mass shootings, automatic weapons… they’re about gun control for law abiding citizens.

Governor Ing Hawaii gun laws

And the kook award goes to… Governor Ige

Anyway, we prefer to stay optimistic. Maybe with this out of the way, Governor Ing and friends can focus on a quintessential ban more representative of reality – a ban of fists, feet and knives – since these “weapons” actually equate to almost 90% of the murders in Hawaii (murders of people who aren’t defending themselves properly, with guns, mace, stun guns, etc.). Heck, maybe these Hawaii politicians will have time to join the Facebook Page “Stolen Stuff Hawaii” so they can keep up on the increasing number of thefts and assaults going on, under their watch. Good thing is, these kinds of bills that restrict legal gun ownership do complement a system that consistently works against lawful citizens e.g. in Hawaii you do not have a right to shoot an intruder who enters your home.

Some common core logic: Legal gun ownership restrictions up + violent crimes up (+ number of Iceheads per capita, definitely up) = Do the math! Hawaii is setting us all up to be victims. Good to see Hawaii politicians have their priorities in order.

Want to own a gun in Hawaii? Try these:

Big Island: Hilo GunsKona Guns & Ammo

Oahu: Too Many to List, Here’s Top Yelp Reviews

Maui: Central Guns & AmmoMaui Ammo & Gun Supply

Kauai: JGB ArmsKauai Gun Dealer • Rosa’s Arms (note: you can also get a storage container and a massage at Rosa’s!)

Contact the Governor: Governor Ige

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If you haven’t read the full oxybenzone study yet, you should. It’s pretty devastating what this popular sunscreen ingredient oxybenzone is doing to our corals. This barely touches on what it does to other sea life and humans (or the negative effects of all the other toxins in these products). Ask your local stores why they are selling this crap to people and contributing to destroying the ocean ecosystems. Ask the person spraying these all over themselves and their children (and anyone around them) to read this study as well as the many articles available online about the toxicity of oxybenzone and chemical sunscreen ingredients.

FULL STUDY: Oxybenzone and Coral Toxicity

Hawaii Tribune Herald: “Sunscreen Devastating to Coral”
Huffington Post: “Sunscreens Could Be Killing the World’s Reefs, Study Says”

EWG: Guide to Sunscreens


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Lots of headlines like this over the past couple days:

“O’ahu’s South Shores Invaded by Mysterious Creature”

People are tying the “mysterious creatures” to tsunami debris, Fukushima radiation, and – why not – End Times. And because KHON2 news couldn’t seem to find anyone on the beach or at the local aquarium who’d ever seen them before, or had a name for them, it’s a big mystery being posted across mainstream news and conspiracy web sites.

It’s something many have never seen before. And no one we found knew what they were.

“I definitely want to know where they came from and what they are all about,” says beach goer Scott Paddock.

Even the biologists at the Waikiki Aquarium are scratching their heads. They’ve been getting reports of the pea-sized crabs from Kahala to Ala Moana, all this week.

“The lifeguard called and asked what these things were because she had reports of surfers were actually have these things crawl up on their boards and onto them,” says Norton Chan, Waikiki Aquarium Biologist.

Some scientists tentatively tagged them as baby 7-11 crabs, a few molts shy of forming a shell.

Well, I don’t know about other surfers out there, but I’ve had these almost translucent, purple-ish “larve” crabs crawl up my legs many times when surfing on Hawai’i Island (although, ehem, the Big Isle could be considered by some a sort of “End Times” destination). Anyway, this occurred well before 311.

So really the only mystery is why they are “beaching” themselves. Not to dismiss possible pollution issues, Fukushima radiation dangers, but more than likely this is related to recent hurricanes in the area, not the impending apocalypse.

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Hopefully Obama can maintain his integrity and smooth style as he surfs the candidacy for president. But we hope he doesn’t play it too easy! Michael Moore, in his recent rant entitled “How The Democrats Can Blow It, In Six Easy Steps” seemes to adequately point out some of the strange maneuvers as of late – of the Democratic Party side-stepping toward center, to try to win over both sides (though instead potentially losing for exactly those same reasons). I’m not into the extremes of Moore on most occasion – but he brings up some important points. It goes -in much greater detail- something like:

For years now, nearly every poll has shown that the American people are right in sync with the platform of the Democratic Party. They are pro-environment, pro-women’s rights and pro-choice. They don’t like war. They want the minimum wage raised, and they want a single-payer universal health-care system. The American public agrees with the Republican Party on only one major issue: They support the death penalty. So you would think the Democrats would be cleaning up, election after election. Obviously not….

Just follow each of these steps and you, the Democratic Party establishment, can help elect John Sidney McCain III to a four-year extension of the Bush Era….

1. Keep saying nice things about McCain…..
2. Pick a running mate who is a conservative white guy or a general or a Republican.
3. Keep writing speeches for Obama that make him sound like a hawk.
4. Forget that this was a historic year for women.
5. Show up to a gunfight with a peashooter.
6. Denounce me (Michael Moore)!

While we’re doing a small dose of politics right now: There are key core issues on which Obama hasn’t waivered (or offered amenable middle-of-the-road variations). One is women’s rights – specifically to abortion. When women say they are on the fence -especially women I know who have had abortions- I am dumbfounded. And it’s not really about whether or not you like abortions, who does!?! But it’s about what would happen to women if there were no choice. And McCain – he’s #1 top dog for restricting abortion rights (and replacing any competent birth control for the lovely but ignorant dream of abstinence – which, is proven, only puts more young people’s lives at risk). And, in conjunction, are you ready for the after-effects of more right wing conservative members on the Supreme Court? Though there are many good reasons, especially when looking at our country after the past eight years of idiocy, these alone should help make one run not walk to the polls, whether it’s a vote against McCain or for Obama.

Obama, we love your water style, but McCain is playing old school type politics – he knows no other way. He’s like Laird’s character in North Shore – pulling your leash. Don’t let him get away with it – it’s your heat! So while surfing your aloha with a smile – not only remember your competition, but also remember to maintain your ideals and what got you here in the first place. Now go rip it up!

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Pat Caldwell SurfingAs a surfer living in Hawai’i, the “surf report” is an essential element to knowing how to plan your life(style)…or at least the week. Unlike most mainland news stations, here every channel has a surf report, even radio stations give the daily update, and most of the reporters surf. But like the weatherman predicting rain for what ends up being a sunny day or calls for sun during a thunderstorm, this science isn’t always exact. Sure, forecasting the elements is complex and includes last-minute-variables that can come into play and effect the results. But there are some forecasters who not only have a comprehension of the importance of their work -for recreational and safety purposes- but realize how many people rely on them to use every faculty at their fingertips to get it right. The most respected man in the Pacific who not only surfers, surf pros, and contest operators alike depend upon for their oceanographic answers is Swell Master and NOAA Data Center Hawai’i Liaison, Mr. Pat Caldwell, whose report Hawaiian Surf Forecast for Oahu is found on the National Weather Service’s web site (you can always find the link from CoconutGirlWireless under “Surf” in the sidebar). We were lucky enough to get a break in the swells (ha) to talk to him about his life, work, and…how exactly one ends up becoming a surf forecaster. (psst. FYI…Comments are opinions of Mr. Caldwell and do not reflect NOAA or UH viewpoints.)

Where were you born? Kentucky – I was raised on a farm that’s been in the family since 1700s.

“I am the son of a farmer, and farmers are always talking about the weather…I have weather in my blood.”

How did you end up in Hawai’i? Surfing was my main motivation to move to Hawaii and I arrived in 1987. That was before I met my wife Diana and started a family.

I noticed on your resume it stated you are related to Mark Twain. Might you go into more detail… My great-great grandmother is Betsy Clemens, Samuel Clemens’ auntie. You know how it goes when there is someone of importance in the family line – the name gets passed around like butter. I’m the lucky one of my four siblings to get Clemens as a middle name. Nice to have a sense of humor in the bloodline, it may explain my habit of writing satirical surf songs.

Pat Caldwell in togaAt what age did you start surfing? 14

Do you bodyboard or surf mostly? I don’t bodyboard at all. You may have me confused with the professional bodyboarder, Pat Caldwell, who grew up on East Oahu. Surfing is my main priority for water time, but if the wind is up, I’ve been into windsurfing for 25 years and now kitesurfing for about a month.

Ever compete? I did one contest of the Eastern Surfing Association in South Carolina, and even though I did OK – I got my little statue surfer trophy – it just wasn’t my style. I’m a soul surfer. I surf fringe locations to avoid crowds.

What did you want to be when you grew up? (simply because I never hear anyone say they want to be a surf forecaster). Well, when I was a kid, I wanted to be Underdog, that funny hero dog in the 1960s cartoons. But for my realistic youthful dream, yes, I did want to be a surf forecaster from within a year of learning to surf in my early teens. My parents split, and my mom being a California beach girl, moved us to Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, a few blocks from the beach, where I became an avid surfer at age 14, between 8th and 9th grade. I had been playing football but didn’t want to continue into high school because I was well below height and weight to most folks my age then. The waves are small in South Carolina, so being a small person had an advantage. Surfing became my number one pastime. Plus I liked the people who surfed – more artistic and musical with lighter attitudes on life. I didn’t do any extra-curricular activities in high school – I only surfed. It didn’t take long to tie the connection between weather and surf. On my first surf trip to the East Coast surf mecca, Cape Hatteras, at age 15, we visited the weather service office to check on surf potential. It was at that moment the light shined down on me and I started my quest to be a weather/surf professional.

Pat Caldwell skatingHow did the process evolve to get you where you are today? What is your schooling? Did you become a meteorologist first? Oceanographer? Talking with high school teachers, they said push hard with the math and science. Then when it came time to choose a college, I picked the best meteorology program in the South – Florida State University in Tallahassee – where I arrived in 1978. Forecasting skills were greatly needed there, because FSU is two hours from the Gulf and three hours to the East Coast – too far to get burned by flat surf. So watching the weather charts and forecasts was a daily ritual. Relative to South Carolina, I was scoring much better surf in Florida. At FSU, my surf buddy Rob Yonover and I used to talk about going to grad school at the University of Hawaii (UH); and we both made it and are both avid soul surfers today! I got my masters degree at FSU first, worked in Saudi Arabia a few years as a climatologist -made lots of money to let them know its hot and dry- then arrived in Hawaii. I bailed from my PhD track at UH because a great job opened up; I still have the same job today. Now my title is Oceanographer since I work closely with oceanographic data. My primary job is keeper of the measurements – ensuring all data collected in the ocean are stored safely and made readily available. Forecasting is a small part of my job, but it helps with my primary duties, since I have to ask for contributions of data from researchers. Since I share my forecasts, the researchers are more likely to share theirs. You’ve got to give in order to receive.

Did you have any “mentors” (per se)? When I got to FSU, there were no surfers in the program older than me showing me the ropes. I was pretty much figuring it out on my own. Not to say I didn’t get plenty of help from my professors, who were wonderful. If I did have to name one, it would be Dr. Raymond Staley, my first meteorology professor. He would invite all the students to his house once a year for his famous lemon chicken and always have that warm, welcome smile. It’s not only a gift of communication that is needed with teachers – they need good personalities too, and he had it. As a grad student, I took an independent course with Dr. Staley studying literature on wave forecasting.NWSnoaa logo

How long have you worked for the National Weather Service? I’ve been with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) since 1987. I’m in the satellite and data branch of NOAA. The National Weather Service (NWS) is a separate branch. That’s why my forecast is titled “collaborative”, since it involves two branches of NOAA. I began doing the surf forecast with NWS in October 2002.

How much time does it take for you to compile a day’s surf forecast? With quiet patterns, it takes about 20 minutes to sort through the weather/wave products. With busy patterns in both the North and South Pacific simultaneously, it can take up to an hour. I do all this from my office via the Internet. Then I go to the NWS next door, talk over the patterns with their experts, type in the values for the table, and write up the general discussion. This part takes about an hour. So the whole ordeal can take up to two hours.

How many people might you estimate rely upon your for their surf forecasting? including other surf forecasters 🙂 ? How many hits does your site get a day (avg.)? I’m not exactly sure how many hits the NWS page gets per day. I asked once and they said about 200; I think that may be per hour. When I did a surf forecast page from a UH server, I was getting about 4,000 hits a day. I’m not aware of other surf forecasters looking at my work, except for my good friend Gary Kewley of Surf News Network. (Um, CoconutGirl uses it for CGW’s temperamental Hawai’i Island “forecast” -along with observations- ’cause it gives us enough details on degrees and such to, for example, get an idea if Maui will block, etc.)Hawaii Surf Forecast ChartHawaii surf Forecast Chart Explaination

Reporting the surf includes many variables… can you explain a little about the process; what you compile to get the proper forecast? Do you ever throw in a touch of intuition, maybe when all the data you need is not on hand? I start by checking all the present conditions: surf reports, cams, buoys, and satellite wind/seas estimates. Then I study the weather charts of the most recent few days to see what is next on the horizon. Finally, I sort through all the weather and wave models to see what is out beyond a day or two and into the long range. There is an aspect of intuition. Mostly this involves memory of similar patterns or knowing weaknesses of the various weather and wave models.

And considering that kind of situation, can you bring up occasions when you were the only one who forecasted the conditions properly, or times when you were totally off? Right, a little of both – I nail some and others just totally catch me off guard. Sometimes you may call the size just right, but miss the arrival time. For example, I missed the arrival time by about six hours for that March 13, 2007 swell that lit up Waimea and outer reefs during the last few hours of light. But I did see its size potential about five days sooner and likened the pattern to a giant episode of Easter 1999 – and it turned out to be very similar.

What are variables or changes in weather patterns that can affect quick changes in forecasting abilities? Surf forecasts are really open ocean wind forecasts, since it is the wind making waves. So it’s a close watch on modeled versus measured wind, with the latter getting greater weighting in decision making. The closer the storm, the less travel time, so the less confidence in a forecast beyond the time when one can get measurements of the winds. Some storms can be within 1-2 days travel, so forecasts made prior to that have lower confidence. Forecasts are all about degrees of confidence. The highest forecast confidence is achieved when the swells roll under the buoys, which gives us about a ½ day lead time.

Oahu CompassWhy are buoys out of commission so often? How does that limit you? Who is in charge of maintenance of those? It’s actually amazing that the buoys run problem free as long as they do considering their harsh environment. No easy way around that issue – electronics don’t do well in wet, salty places. It’s expensive to service the buoys, so that is the main lag. Write your senators and let them know how important the buoys are for your wellness (surf time) and safety. It’s just a matter of allocating priority to keep them running and ideally expanding the spatial coverage. When the buoys are out, I just have to wing it as best as possible based on all the other information. There is no doubt that the buoy data are the best means to fine tune a near-term forecast. There are several groups that maintain the buoys. NOAA is the biggie with buoys 51001-4 and 51028 on the equator. UH maintains the Waimea and Kailua buoys, and soon one south of Lanai. Jerome Aucan gets most of the credit for these. He does most of the deployments and maintenance. There is another wave sensor, part of the Kilo Nalu Reef Observatory, just off Point Panic in Honolulu that is maintained by UH.

What are some of the technological changes in weather/surf forecasting since you have been involved in the process? The two biggest advancements over the past 15 years have been the arrival of estimated ocean surface winds and seas from satellites and improvements in weather and wave models.

wave heightCan you talk a little about the process of accurately measuring the height of a wave (including variables)? What’s the difference between measuring the swell and measuring the wave height? The first distinction one needs to make is between the terms “seas”, “swell”, and “surf”. Seas are the waves in the wind-generating area. These waves have varying lengths and periods, which are the distance and time intervals between successive crests, respectively. They have more peaky shapes with a random, confused pattern. Swell is the term used for waves that have left the generation zone. The seas unravel, with the wave groups with the longest wave periods traveling fastest, thus, leading the successively shorter wave period groups behind as they spread out across the ocean. Swells are more orderly, the long-lined, corduroy pants effect, because any given batch has similar wave periods and lengths. Finally, Surf is the word used for the breaking motion caused by shoaling waves, that is, waves in shallow water. In the deep ocean, buoys measure waves using the acceleration of water past the buoy. Since each passing wave causes a circular motion of a water parcel, these circles are related to the wave height and length. Fancy mathematics turns the accelerations into a wave spectra, which is the distribution of wave energy with varying wave period. Finally, statistical formulas turn the wave spectra into various quantities such as significant wave height and dominant period – the parameters most commonly found in buoy data and talked about by surfers. Surf heights are more difficult to measure. Waves break in water of similar depth so bigger waves break in deeper water. Also, waves are bending with the sea floor with differing surf heights along a given reef, so stationary instrument packages do not work well. The best available historic surf data are based on visual observations.

Pat Caldwell at NOAAWhat was the impetus of your site being taken down in 2002 and the petition to bring you back? Any idea how many people signed it? I saw the online one with hundreds of signatures with commentary. Peter Cole wrote: “Pat Caldwell’s forecast must be brought back for the exact safety reasons sited by NWS to terminate the service.” The site was only down two weeks before they brought you back – can you explain some behind-the-scenes? Did that effect people wanting collaboration on the scaling system? How much effect did you have on that change? What were your feelings during the “controversy” of calling the wave height from the front of the wave (mainland style) instead of calling them from the back (local style)? Right, one of the primary reasons for shutting down my UH surf forecast page was because I presented surf heights as both trough-to-crest (face scale) and Hawaii scale (local scale). At that point in time NWS had adopted the face scale. NWS desired all NOAA products using the same scale for consistency, and since I used both, my page was shut down. The aftermath of shutting it down was quite shocking. This was just a casual page I did as a hobby, but tied in to my job – I had no idea how important it was to so many people. Obviously the NWS did not predict the tidal wave of furor either – who wants to sort through hundreds of angry emails and phone calls. Of course, your everyday watermen and women of Hawaii were the main users. I remember seeing the petition – thanks folks! I don’t know the head count. But there were also commercial ventures, engineering firms, coastal researchers, and transportation sectors that were using my forecast, and having been very pleased with the accuracy, were upset enough to contact their senators when it was shut down. So the ball came rolling down from above to NWS who quickly decided a compromise was needed, and the collaborative surf forecast was born. It was an emotional ordeal but I’m glad it happened, because it allowed me to officially forecast as part of my job, and dedicate time to improve the accuracy – thus it was best for everyone. I used to just forecast surf heights on the UH page, but in the collaborative forecast, I focused on forecasting the deep water, nearshore swell height, period, and direction. This required a new way of thinking. And with the new buoy off Waimea, it made it easy to validate. This led to my research on estimating surf heights based on deep water swell, and in turn, has greatly improved the accuracy. The collaborative forecast only gave deep water swell during the first two years, but after I had my research accepted by a peer-reviewed science journal, surf heights with very explicit definitions in time and space are part of the product. This publication is coming out in print this summer or next fall. The heights that are given in the collaborative forecast table are face scale, but are directly tied to Hawaii scale, in the sense that the historic Hawaii scale data were used to fine tune the formula to estimate surf from deep water values. Another aspect of my research was translating the Hawaii scale heights to face scale using photographic evidence. Assuming face height is defined as the trough to crest height at the moment of maximum cresting at the highest portion of the wave front for waves in zones of high refraction, or basically the highest surf spots for the given wave direction, then the translation is a factor of two for the full range of wave heights in Hawaii, given a 20% margin of error. So when you look at the collaborative forecast table and want to translate to Hawaii scale, just divide by two.

Do you think that’s helped tourists be more cautious? No. Tourists are by and large ocean clueless; they don’t need numbers. Plus many are coming from countries that use metric and don’t translate quickly from feet. They just need to know if a given beach is safe enough to swim. Color code is the best way to go, that is green GO, yellow CAUTION, red STOP, etc., which is already being employed by a project of the Honolulu Water Safety Division and UH researchers. See Oahu Beach Hazard.

Did that inspire you to write “The Validity of North Shore Oahu Surf Observations” in The Journal of Coastal Research? Right, that paper was the starting point for doing surf research – we need data on the surf. The best available set was the visual observations made by surfers for surfers in the Hawaii scale. But how valid are they? That was the focus of the paper. I compared the surf observations to buoy data. The results showed the Hawaii scale observations are consistent over time with about a 15% margin of error. The paper also presents the North Shore surf climatology based on the 1968-2002 data set. The publishers sells copies online. See a link from my website: www.ilikai.soest.hawaii.edu/HILO/.

Do you feel a responsibility to get the info to the surfers? to people enjoying the ocean safely? It’s a good karma thing – surfing gave me my livelihood – I’m stoked to give back.

What’s one or two of the most gnarly situations you’ve gotten yourself into in the water? When I was in high school and was used to small fry South Carolina waves, I went to the Bahamas over Christmas break. A giant swell came in, likely around 8-12 Hawaii scale, breaking on outer reefs. I borrowed a gun, which was a 7’2”, a gun relative to the trend at the time of the late ’70s with those round-shaped twin fins. I was the only one that made it through the shore break. I paddled all the way to the outer reef, about a mile out, and got clobbered by a clean-up set. It snapped the leash. When I came to the surface, I had to knock away all the floating foam to breath. I saw the tip of my fin above the foam about 20 yards away and raced to it, bear hugging it just in time to get swallowed by another round of breakers. I held on and the next thing I knew I was going down the face at the middle break. I stood up and rode awhile before it backed off in deep water. I made it back to shore and was hero for the day. The fearless days of youth. When I got to Hawaii in my late 20s, I slowly worked my way up to bigger waves, but those fearless days of youth were pau. I’m in the mortal realm, i.e. I like the typical 4-8 Hawaii scale range. I’ve had some hairy moments in the mortal realm though, like getting caught inside on a big day in front of a mysto windward side shallow reef, and somehow going over the reef to the inside channel, then looking seaward and seeing that reef go dry. The hands of God carried me to safety, give thanks!

Did you ever ignore your own “high surf” kinds of warnings? When traveling are you ever frustrated not able to get decent forecast of waters you’re visiting? I’m a lot more careful in my adult years about staying in my size boundary. During warning conditions, I leave the giant stuff to the likes of Clark Abbey and Ian Masterson, my big wave hero friends – and I surf around the corner where the waves are smaller. These days when you travel, as long as you can find an Internet café, which is easy enough, even in small fishing villages of northern Peru, you can get the wave model products and make a good enough forecast.

save the north shore oahuAny funny anecdotes about the North Shore: old days to now – how it’s changed? I’ve always liked less crowded places and certainly select sections in country that used to be quiet on weekends can now be zoos even on weekdays. Sure ain’t funny! But Oahu has so many breaks thankfully, always a plan B. The Kam Hwy along the North Shore between Haleiwa and Sunset is choked on weekends – wasn’t that way a decade ago except on giant swells. It is a fight to keep country country – like that issue with the massive Turtle Bay expansion now – write your representatives and get that nonsense stopped! See Keep The North Shore Country (and scroll down to check out my “Keep the Country Country” anthem).

Who are your favorite surfers? Who do you enjoy watching and who do you enjoy paddling out with? I live in Kailua and surf with the windward folks mostly – Jeff Cotter, Tom Deir, Kaleo Ahina, to name a few. My surfing circle of friends stays small because I don’t like to show up at a break with more than one, well at most two people. It’s one of the downsides of soul surfing – if you make it too social, then the line-up is too cluttered, and you can’t satisfy your soul. I’ll save the socializing dry dock time. My favorite surfers to watch are Keala Kennely, Iron Bros., Slater, Betheny Hamilton, Jamie O’Brien, Melanie Bartels, to name a few. I make it to most of the big pro contests on Oahu – I like watching all the surfers rip it up. It’s especially fun to take note of the up-and-coming shredders.

What are your favorite spots to surf? Mysto windward side spots. A few other off-the-path country spots. You won’t see me in the pack, unless I’ve got a visitor who wants to surf the big name place.

What does the ocean/surfing do for you, personally? It’s the combination of the physical and mental. I like a good work-out and the only regular exercise I get is through surfing, wind/kite surfing, or wave-skiing. Nothing like the thrill of making a drop and seeing the wall line up, or catching the breeze with a sail/kite and feeling the acceleration. The experience stimulates the senses. I thinks it’s tied to my keiki time growing up on a farm, when I would get a rush just by running through a wide open field – the colors, smells, textures. Same-same in the water – especially with light and waves every changing – just can’t get enough.

Pat Caldwell and familyDo you wife and daughter enjoy the waves/ocean too? Yes, not as chargers in waves, but sailing, kayaking, swimming, building sand castles, etc.

Will you continue indefinitely with your surf forecasting for Hawai’i? Any other projects (extracurricular) that you are involved with and want to promote? I’ll be doing the NWS forecast until I retire from NOAA at 58 and ½ (just over a decade to go). Likely I’ll do it as a consultant low-key style after that. I’m still doing surf research with two papers now being prepared for an upcoming wave forecast workshop at Turtle Bay in November 2007 (“8th International Workshop on Wave Hindcasting and Forecasting“). One paper focuses on South Shore surf climatology and a special technique using buoy data for estimating the Shore Shore surf size. The second paper looks at how often and for what duration do extreme swell and Spring high tides coincide on North Shores. I get great pleasure doing the research.

Do you have any conservancy/environmental concerns regarding the ocean? Yes, we don’t want to kill the goose that lays the golden egg. Nature is a delicate balance with each living thing big or small having an important role – that leads directly to the well-being of all flora and fauna, including humans. Ecosystems need to be monitored and protected. I’m proud to work with NOAA that makes this objective their mission and I support various environmental initiatives. I’m certainly a major fan of Jack Johnson and give him mega praise for his Kokua Foundation.

Thanks so much for your time Pat! A Hui Ho, Cheers!

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science cafe bishop museumIf you’d like to meet Pat in person and don’t know his secret surf spots, check him out August 21st at The Science Café presentation of “Cowbunga! Surf-stoked Science with Pat Caldwell” at Oahu’s Bishop Museum. As Pat explains, “They have this massive sphere about 10 feet in diameter that rotates and upon which imagesPat Caldwell Surf’s Up Age 8 can be projected, such as global cloud patterns or output from global wave models. We’re doing a case study of the giant surf that hit on the First Annual North Shore Tow-in Championship – Super Bowl Sunday, 2006. Important weather and wave products will be shown with a discussion on how the forecast was made. Xtreme TV (Zon3.com) is donating some footage of the Tow contest.” Admission is free but reservations are required: email lgeschwind@bishopmuseum.org or call 808/847-8203. Check out the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology and the Bishop Museum website for more details.

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