Category Archives: General

Wish you were here…Tofino

We live our lives sometimes on the crossroads between should and must. Also the title of a good book by Elle Luna. A few years back, I watched the “Groundswell” film by the Malloy brothers. The stunning remote waves and brash wilderness called to me. We speak of wills and waves.

Must set the wheels in motion to help orcas in any way possible. Step 1. Apply for an environmental internship from my shop job at Patagonia. The future depends on our actions. We cannot pretend that nothing is happening. We must move away from the fossil fuel debauchery. Luck was on my side. I was awarded an internship to volunteer for the Georgia Strait Alliance in Vancouver, B.C. for five weeks in September-October.

Tasks included gathering signatures in opposition to the Kinder Morgan Pipeline extension, being a presence for GSA at some festivals and other projects, shooting photographs for the Waterfront Initiative and Water’s Edge Day.

This was my first time in Vancouver. An eclectic, diverse city with gorgeous parks hop-skip wilderness, hikes, climbing, sailing, kayaking, skiing and industry at your door step. I was not initially looking to be in a city. The more remote the better for me. For the internship it seemed to make the most sense with having access to the office etc. other folks, getting things done.

One rainy Saturday morning at 7 am, I took the one-hour bus to a three-hour ferry to Salt Spring Island. So excited to visit my friends Snow and Rob, go crab fishing and check out some hikes and the fall fair. Rob entered the smoked Salmon contest and the their daughter Maia showed her dog-in the pet parade in a scarecrow costume no less. Encouraging to see how my friends seamlessly slipped out of L. A. first to Portland then to Bainbridge Island, finally to British Columbia where Snow grew up. Just in time to avoid the shenanigans that our circus is providing back in the good ole U.S. of A. On the ferry back to Van City, I caught a glimpse of full breech and orca family along the ships starboard side. Only the captain and I saw it. It made my trip and my birthday extraordinary.

Tail end of my stay in Vancouver, I had reserved a few days for excursion and again on the bus, to a ferry to Nanaimo. It was a gray, coolish rainy day. Back onto another bus to the B.C. equivalent to the North Shore Tofino. A friend provided a 5.4 wetsuit with a hood, bless her heart! Thank heavens, I had my 3ml booties. No gloves. This is the fairest time for water temps in the area. The first night was spent in this gorgeous botanical garden and the next two in a not-so-splendid motel, but at least it was close to the beach. Would have preferred a sleeping bag and tent but had none of that on this trip.

My friend’s cousin is a heli pilot in B.C.. After a series of messages, he and I had a meal in Kitsilano. We shared stories of travel, surf and I tried to convince him to join me but alas, he had to work. He was generous, funny and kind. He offered to loan me a unique custom board he had stored at a friends in Tofino. Game on.

One girl hits the two-lane highway to catch a few waves in Tofino. The bus droped me off about 1km from the place I was to pick up the board. So happy to meet the wise and bold Giselle Bruhwiler. She was kind as can be. We spoke French as she is from Montreal. Together we chatted about life, love, children and grandchildren, waves, Switzerland and trees. She got me the board, asked Raph to take me to a break he was going to. “I am not coming back this way,” he said. Win some, lose some. Note made for the next trip hopefully with a buddy, camping gear, boards and a rental car. This time I was on foot with a 8’6″ gun-ish type board and a roller bag that was pretty much all wet suit. It poured rain the rest of the day, so I read. When the rain stopped after dinner I took a long walk amidst the trees and stars were so bright.

Next morning I jumped out of bed suited up and traipsed the board over to the beach. It was a large bay. Lots of people. A beginner spot, or several different levels of surf depending how far you are willing to paddle. Eagerly I looked for a left breaking wave. This was my first time surfing in a 5.4 wet suit. Can we say boyant? There were a few hazards the bulb kelp was gigantic and every once in a while a 40′ log. You wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of that. It wasn’t a big day. Thought I’d only last an hour but it was pretty fun. As usual, lost track of time. Hint: That makes surfing a “MUST.” When I could no longer feel my hands, I decided it was time for a hot shower. A French girl Sarah had to help me get the hood and wet suit off. Now friends for life.

So much of the island I cannot wait to explore further. This was a teaser, teaser, teaser of a trip. At least I made my bottom line — in and out of the water safely. Check.

If you would like to help orcas too or want to find out more about GSA. Also chomping at the bit to watch the next Bruhwiler Country.



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Short Film: Blue Rise

Check out this new short film directed by Tristan Helias & Marin Troude. “We really wanted to make something original, a short film where everyone could identify with this mysterious, strong and enigmatic character. Between shadows and lights, a timeless and fairylike moment shot during the last glimmer, where woman and ocean become one.”


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Justine Dupont: Big Wave Surfer Dives Deep

justine_2_exc(The following is an excerpt from The Red Bulletin, read the full article here.)

Any trip Justine Dupont makes to the diving tower at La Teste-de-Buch near Bordeaux is a return to a bizarre world, a stark contrast to a big-wave surfer’s regular life; a still, peaceful parallel universe in which the churn and violence of the surface are left far behind.

Last winter in Nazaré, Portugal, one of the globe’s major big-wave hot spots, was no different. There, the waves—vast 100-foot-high slabs as tall as a city block and collapsing like dynamited buildings— are Dupont’s playground. And yet within seconds of a dive, and 30 or 60 feet down, she’s overcome by calm, cocooned by
 the deep and wrapped in a cloak of serenity. “You can’t hear a thing below the surface,” says the 26-year-old. “It’s
 as if time stands still. Plus, there’s this unbelievable three-dimensional freedom —a lightness. You concentrate on the here and now. It’s magical.”

Dupont has been practicing freediving twice a week for two years to learn how to react as calmly as possible should something happen while she’s in the water. She goes to the diving pool at La Teste-de-Buch as often as she can. Her trainer, Laurent Gamundi—an expert 
in freediving and underwater hunting, whose club, Biarritz Chasse Océan, has
 a diving course for surfers—watches over her while she’s there.

“At first, I had difficulty letting go,” says Dupont, “but now I feel totally liberated.
I used to think too much about the exercise itself and whether the time I spent in the water was long enough to prepare me for the conditions in the sea at Nazaré or at Belharra in the Basque Country.”

But the composure that the Bordeaux- born surfer needed developed over
 the course of her diving sessions, so improvements came by themselves. For big-wave surfers, this composure is vital for survival, simply because the essence of the conditions they face is always the same: tons of water slamming into your body, pummeling it with relentless force and hurling it like a rag doll into the torrent over and over again.

“You get cramps, you get battered, your diaphragm seizes up; your tensed muscles burn and stop reacting. It can really hurt,” Dupont explains. Yet somehow she finds these moments in the churning wave soothing. “It sounds odd, but I’ve often enjoyed those moments underwater because it’s just the sea and me. And the sea reminds me that it’s not me making the decisions. All I can do is prepare meticulously so that I can deal with the situation as best I can.”

Dupont explains that the greatest risk with waves that size is simple— drowning. “But I surf better and more calmly if I know there’s a safety buffer.”

All fears are taken into account from the very start, so they can be gradually overcome. For some surfers, the process takes several months. Dupont found 
it a lot easier. Her awe of big waves, which she’d had since childhood, has simply vanished.

When did she first surf big waves? “Last winter was the first time I only used a shortboard, and I spent a lot of time surfing big waves.”


Belharra, situated off the coast of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, is scheduled for this autumn, but the priority is Nazaré and its huge swell, which makes it the perfect place to pit yourself against monster waves and gain confidence. And to push your own boundaries.

Read the full interview at and in the October issue of The Red Bulletin – on news stands including Hudson News, Barnes & Noble, Target and Walgreens across the U.S. from September 19.

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Book Review: All Our Waves are Water by Jaimal Yogis

Everything about Jaimal Yogis new memoir All Our Waves are Water appealed to me. As a surfer, yoga teacher, and Taoist-at-heart I felt a kindred spirit in Yogis sequel to Saltwater Buddha. A man searching for enlightenment around the globe, Yogis travels to India, Bali, Israel, New York, and San Francisco. All the time Yogis is journeying inward trying to find that place of calm and focus, a place of nonduality where we are united with the universe. He finds that mostly in the ocean, and uses the ocean as a metaphor to which he constantly drifts back to find and ride the perfect wave.

Waves Water

“But the ocean tells its own story. We are merely rippling characters. the sea my respond to our please, prayers, strivings. They are part of the story–pushing and refracting back. But water will not be rushed. So relax. Be humble. Stay open. Look where others don’t. There are secret sanctuaries everywhere, places nobody can tell you how to find–places you won’t discover until you are there.”

Yogis journey of self-discovery is a mesmerizing read, ripe with religious teachings, yogic offerings, and mindful meditations. I highly recommend.

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Life Hack: Removing Tar From Your Skin

On a recent trip to the beach, I stepped on a large piece of  tar. Ugh. It’s happened to me many times before, and I had always scrubbed with nail polish remover to littIMG_4381le avail. This time Stef, Surf Like A Girl’s co-creator, suggested coconut oil and baking soda. We mixed the ingredients together and I applied it to my foot with the back side of a rough sponge. It came off immediately. I love that it is an all natural product rather than using something acetone-based, and it worked like a charm.

Mind blown.

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Let’s Talk Sun Safety!

As a mother and melanoma survivor, I am passionate about sun protection. But as a surfer and Angeleno, I refuse to give up the outdoor activities that I love so much. Before you grab your sunscreen off the shelf at the grocery store, check out these recommendations.

Just Say No to Spray

For the love of all that is good, please do not purchase spray sunscreens. I have a four-year-old who won’t stand still long enough to apply sunscreen, so I see the appeal of them (I really do!). But here are the facts: Some sunscreens contain toxic ingredients like oxybenzone, octinoxate, retinyl palmitate and paraben preservatives.  Because of the fine mist, it is easy to inhale spray sunscreens. This is particularly harmful because the high-alcohol formulas can irritate the lungs and their ingredients can be absorbed into the bloodstream. Even the ones with the “good” ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide can be toxic if inhaled.

Consider Sea Life

If you love the ocean and all its inhabitants like I do, make sure that you are using a natural sunscreen that doesn’t contain ingredients that are harmful to our coral reefs. Oxybenzone is a common chemical found in sunscreen that can contribute to the bleaching and disrupt reproduction and growth.

Do Your Research

The best thing to do before purchasing your sunscreen is to check out the Environmental Working Group’s website to find safer alternatives. As a bit of a sunscreen guru, I have tried many. I am not a fan of the thick and pasty zinc brands that don’t spread well. While I absolutely appreciate that they may have some of the best ratings on the EWG, they just don’t work for me. I also won’t spend a fortune on sunscreen. I just don’t have it in my budget to drop $45 on 5 ounces of anything. Also, I like a broad-spectrum sunscreen the whole family can use, so I can throw one bottle in my beach bag to share with my daughter and my husband.  Finally, it has to work well. I have tried some sunscreens that don’t seem to protect well enough, regardless of a high number on the bottle.

Wear SPF Clothing
Because if you really did it properly, it would take about a quarter of an hour to put all that sunscreen, I opt for SPF clothing. I have a pair of swim pants and a rash guard that I wear at the beach or in the pool. That way, I only have to put sunscreen on my hands, feet and face. I also don’t have to remember to put on the sunscreen 20 minutes before I go out in the sun. I make my daughter wear a long sleeve rash guard as well, even though she is starting to resist. With her little body, if I just have to put sunscreen on her legs, hands and face, I consider it a win. I also have a wide-brimmed hat that I wear on the beach or poolside. I appreciate that I look a bit like a beekeeper, but I am okay with it.


Seek Shade

Like I said, I love the beach, and won’t stop going. I also have an SPF-rated umbrella to sit under in the shade. Anyone knows there is really no sitting when you have a child–that is when the beekeeper outfit comes in handy. Now I can build sand castles on the beach or chase waves with my daughter with the best protection.

Go Early

Whether you are heading to the beach or pool, you know you need to get there early to get a prime parking spot or a lounger by the pool. Peak sun hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Try doing a beach morning or a pool afternoon.

Have a great summer, don’t forget to reapply your sunscreen, and be safe and healthy everyone!



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Andy Davis

IMG_3536On the color and form opening of Eye Yi Yi May 25th at Vintage Market Place in Malibu. The opening was a blast, plenty of color, pink flamingos, live music, yummy snacks and drinks. Friendly non-snooty crowd, nice seeing old friends and making new ones. Andy generously auctioned off one of his works to the highest bidder giving the proceeds to West LA/Malibu Surfrider. YAY! There is a variety of so-cal cool paintings and fairly priced prints. Show is running May 26th- July 1st, 2017.

FullSizeRenderAndy’s playful and colorful style reminds me of the word frolic and leaves much up for the imagination in a positive way. These new works do not disappoint. One of my fave’s is the “Wife Aquatic” because a) she is wearing a big hat. I love hats! Or even if I really hate hats, I have surrendered to waring them for sun protection. b) We are aquatic wives, women and girls at SLAG. Check out the show after a surf day at the beach or doing a local hike.



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