So SHARK WEEK 2019 was hitting a little too close to home for some folks. Not me, I was always, (and I do mean always) was aware that White Sharks live out there off our beaches. And as of late, we've had more than a few confirmed sightings of the Great White monster, as well as an increase in Bear sightings. As most of you already know, Cape Cod has a pretty significant White Shark problem. With several attacks now on record, and unfortunately there was a fatal attack last summer, when a surfer was killed while surfing off of one the beaches. So yeah, it's gotten serious.
The photo above is me standing with my Shark Board that I had made in the early 90's. This particular photo was taken in 1993 when I was doing the Live Beach/surf reports on WBCN. The deck of the board is all gray. I used to joke about the board saying it would ward off any white sharks in the area. Of course I never saw a White Shark back then.
That board got a lot of second looks back in the day.
And this? This was me once again goofing around by posing in one of the JAWS inspired Great White rubber sharks. I can't remember where this was. But I know there's a few of them around. Hell I even posed with the kids when they were little groms at a local water park. So the topics of both sharks and bears are real. The price one pays for living close to the elements.
I have a true White Shark story that I'm not sure I ever shared with you all.
The summer of 2014. It was a few weeks after our local friend and surfer had passed away. Rick Savastano died in August of 2014. It's hard to believe it's been 5 years already. That was a summer to end all summers. My family lost our beloved nephew Michael Colby in June of 2014. Then we lost Ed O'Connell on July 2nd, and then we lost John "JT" Taylor on July 6th. Like I said, it was a bummer of a summer if there ever was one. But back to my story. I had been out surfing at the Wall. It was about waist to shoulder high. It was a hot August day, and the water was so warm. It had all the elements of creating a crowd. And that's exactly what it was that late morning.
It was crowded with beginners and intermediate surfers. It was too small and too crowded for the heavy locals to be out. I had caught a few fun waves when some guy dropped in on me. Suffice it to say, words were exchanged. He was completely in the wrong and like most beginners had no idea why. So rather than educate another
clueless beginner, I opted to leave.
By leaving I meant I would seek surf elsewhere. I had a hunch and went with it.
The photo of me on the phone? Yeah, that's where I my hunch paid off.
There was nobody out. And I'm not gonna lie. It was half the size of the wall. But at least I'd have it to myself. And that was the charm of this potential score. There was a large woman on the beach. She was dressed in a pink sweat-suit. She was lying on a long beach chair
reading a newspaper. I walked by her and she never looked up. I had every intention of greeting her with a smile and a happy "Good morning." But she was not having any of that today. I suppose in her own way she was sweating off the pounds. It was as I said earlier, very hot and humid. I can relate to her tactic because I currently do the same when I go out in the woods with my dog. I wear a full nylon jacket with long pants. I have a hood that I wear as well. My intention is to sweat off a few pounds off my large framed body each time.
So looking back at this day, perhaps she was doing the same.
Well, I paddled out and much to my surprise there were a few sets coming in out of the semi fog. They were small, maybe thigh high. It was dead low tide so I had to be careful not to hit any rocks. I rode a few waves when I looked up and saw the coolest cloud formation. I can remember distinctly speaking out loud. "Hey Rick, is this your doing?" The clouds were unlike anything I had ever seen before. They were kind of shaped like curly pasta or springs. And for the life of me, I couldn't figure out how or why they were formed like that. I remembered looking back at the shore to see if the "Pink"lady was seeing them. But she was still deeply involved with her newspaper.
And then when I looked back out to the horizon to see if any waves were coming, I saw it. Plain as day. About 75 yards east of where I was sitting.
A fin. A solid fin cutting through the water moving from north to south. It took me a few seconds to process what I was seeing. For the record, I have seen many sharks in my life. I've seen Basking sharks, Nurse sharks, Sand sharks, Blue sharks, and I've even had a 12' Tiger shark chase me and two friends (Lenny Nichols and Kevin Grondin) out of the water on Oahu's East Side one year (1989). I remember that like it was yesterday. But I had never seen a White Shark out in the water. That is not until now.
It seemed surreal to me. And I wasn't 100% sure of what I was looking at, even though it was right there out in front of me. Well, I snapped back to reality within a few minutes after I confirmed in my mind just what it was, that I was looking at. I looked over my shoulder to see if there was anyone on the shoreline. Nope. Just the pink Sweat-suited lady buried in her newspaper. Then I scanned the horizon to see if there were any waves coming. I had made up my mind that I needed to get out of there. And thankfully a set appeared. I paddled for the first wave and caught it. I made sure my fingers barely broke the surface as I paddled.
I rode that wave all the way into the inside. Looking back over my shoulder the whole way in. When I got inside I stopped and sat up on my board.
The logical thing to do now would be the obvious. Keep paddling in. But for reasons, that to this day escape me, I turned around to see if I could see it. I couldn't see it.
Then I did something that my wife wanted to kill me over. I turned around and paddled back out. Why? I wanted to make sure I hadn't just hallucinated this whole scenario. So I got back out there, sat up on my board, and looked in every direction. My senses were on high alert. I'm not sure how much time had passed but I'm guessing it was about 15 to 20 minutes. I saw nothing.
My heart had stopped beating fast and I felt more relaxed and for a moment there, I thought that maybe, I had just imagined all of it.
I looked all around. Up in the sky at the clouds (that had since vanished), back on the beach where the lady was still lying on her lounge chair. And back out in front of me. And then, as luck would have it, there it was again. It was real. A solid fin, not some flopping back and forth fin like on a basking shark. This was solid. And then I did something that surprised the hell out of myself. Instead of paddling in, and riding a wave in on my stomach, I paddled out towards that shark. I wanted to get closer. I wanted to be able to see it's white underbelly. Keep in mind, it was dead low tide out there. The depth of where I was sitting was no more than 3 to maybe 4' deep. We're talking shallow.
It's important to know that I have done things like this in my past.
I got as close as I could to a 12' long alligator once. I got about 3' feet from this large gator in the Florida Keys. I believe I've posted that pic before. (It's in the yesterday page section if you want to see that). I walked up on a large Bull Moose in Maine taking photos with my buddy Rich standing way behind me. And once in Southeast Asia while on patrol, I followed a large cobra crawling along a river bank, must to the dismay of my fellow Marines in my squad. And now here I was paddling up to a White Shark. Well, I got close enough to see the white belly and I glided to a stop. It went under and headed south. I stayed out there just sitting on my board. I was not catching any waves. I was letting it all sink in.
I've been surfing since 1964, and had never seen a White Shark before this day. To me, it felt invigorating. I wasn't scared. If anything, I felt empowered. I know it sounds ridiculous, and honestly? If anyone in my family had done such a thing, I'd be furious. As my late mother used to always say to me when I would point out the absurd things she would do "Do as I say, Not as I do."
Long story short. The shark never came back. I stayed there a long time.
Eventually a surfer paddled out. A young guy I had never met. He paddled up to me. "Hey are you Ralph from Ralph's Pic?
" I looked at him and said " I am." "Oh my God I'm surfing with Ralph from Ralph's Pic!?!?" I looked over my shoulder and back at him. "Yeah lucky you, only we're not alone." His face changed and he looked at me "What do you mean?" "I mean I just saw a shark about 20 minutes ago." "A shark? What kind of a shark?" he asked. "I can't be 100% sure, but I'm pretty sure it was a White Shark."
And no sooner did I say those words, when he paddled over to me and sat inches from me and my board. "Hey don't sit on me. Don't crowd me. I don't know what kind of vibe you're giving off. Get away from me." And I paddled away from him. But he followed me. "Look man, don't sit on me. That shark wanted nothing to do with me. But I don't know what his deal is with you."
He laughed nervously and then pushed himself away from me.
I hung around for another twenty minutes and surfed with him. The shark never returned.
I heard later that some fishermen had spotted the same shark about a mile south of where I saw it. And the day before Dave Cropper from Cinnamon Rainbows had spotted a large seal nearby where I saw the shark.
When I left the water that day, I walked by the woman lying in the chair dressed in the pink Sweat-suit. This time she looked up at me. "What a beautiful day." I said.
She looked at me and smiled "It is." I smiled back "Have a nice day."
And I walked away from one the most intense days of my life.
Sharks in the water and Bears in the woods. Only the woods on the Seacoast are not exactly Yellowstone Park. We have small sections of woods. But apparently they are big enough for Black Bears.
Like this NH Bruin. This is a big bear. I would typically tell people that Black Bears are not dangerous to humans, but that's not entirely true. There have been fatalities involving Black Bears. Especially a mother bear protecting her cubs. That's a no brainer right? You all know enough to stay the hell away from Bear Cubs right?
Momma Bear will tear you a new asshole if you get close enough to her cubs. That's something I taught my own kids when they were 5 years old. If you see a bear cub stay away. Just walk away. Yeah they're cute. Not so with Momma Bear. She's anything but cute. She's dangerous. She will mess you up.
I never thought about Bears in the area like we do sharks. But this year? This year is different. For some unknown reason there have been multiple bear sightings on the seacoast. They say it's because of the many elaborate bird feeders
in peoples yards across the Northeast coast. While I have never encountered a bear up close and personal (I saw one about 300 yards away one time in the woods) I have found this. What is this? This is Bear Scat.
In other words it's bear droppings. Bear crap. Or as my wife calls it, bear "poop"
. It's shit. Shit from a bear. Don't know why they call it Bear Scat but I know one thing, I'm not calling it Bear Poop in front of other Outdoors-men. I don't want to have my man card revoked.
I have found many signs of Bear Scat all over the seacoast wooded areas. And some so fresh it's practically steaming. So to answer that old question of "Does a Bear Shit In The Woods? The answer is Yes. Yes they do"
Bears and Sharks. This is just one of many truths of living in Northern New England. One thing's for sure with most of us though, it sure beats the hell
out of City Living.
Please join the friends and family of Surfer Curtis T. McGadden
on Sunday August 18th, 2019 at 4:00PM to 6:00PM across from
Cinnamon Rainbows on Ocean Blvd in Hampton, NH
Thank you AGAIN to all the artists who contributed to the annual Surf Art Blog!
"Surfing, Art, and Love Heals All Wounds."
This is the summer of 2013. This is Sam and Hannah Vokey two of my favorite Surf Artists in the world. And two very good friends. I'm pretty sure they were aware of Ed snapping this pic.
Photo by Ed O'Connell
*Click the photo above to see a larger version of Ed's Pic.
Now for Some Local, National and International News
This president causes more uproar on a daily basis with his nasty tweets than any of the last 20 presidents did in their entire terms. It's like he can't help himself. I can't believe that the GOP base is happy with what he does every day. There must be a growing discord among the members of the GOP who think outside of the box. Those who are all in for the party don't care, but I know there are those who really feel uncomfortable. They need to speak up. Enough is enough. These juvenile tweets must stop.
Looking at the 20 plus Democratic presidential hopefuls that are all vying to unseat this buffoon? I don't see one outside of Biden who can beat him. They need to weed out the pack and get it down to a few candidates. Then maybe we can focus on one and really have hope. Or maybe some Independent maverick will come and save the day. Right now? The future looks bleak.
And if 45 gets re-elected? Well, all bets are off. He'd be really dangerous, because he has nothing to lose.
Lord Help Us All.
This PSA from Cape Cod (below) is important stuff.
CULL (KILL) THE FRICKING SEALS!! Something MUST Be Done about the Seal Population on the Cape. It's time to cull the Seals. *I came up with I think might be a good solution. Why Not get robotic ORCAS and have them putter around the beaches of the Cape? Great White Sharks are terrified of them. Hell the mechanical shark (Bruce) in JAWS terrified an entire generation. Let's try the motorized ORCA and terrorize the White Sharks!
ESM (Eastern Surf Magazine) using a READY MAG format did the Best of Ralph's Pic. And while they couldn't possibly use everything thing I've ever done, they did manage to put up some 50 pics of mine, plus two videos. And I was truly humbled by their intro. Mez said some nice things about me. CLICK ON THE IMAGE ABOVE TO SEE THE WHOLE Spread.
PLEASE JOIN US on Sunday August 18th, 2019
as we celebrate the Life of Surfer Curtis T. McGadden
So while I was making the GRANITE GIRLS video I came up with this project and concept. It's never been done before. As hard as that seems to be. I'm onto yet another groundbreaking Surf Movie concept. This will be an overview of Surfer dads and their sons. It's a work in progress and I'm hoping to get as many dads and their sons as possible in this movie.
It's that time of year again when we have to start thinking about our annual HIT THE BEACH. This is our 12th year and we are looking forward to this day. So mark your calendars.
be more on this as the summer winds down.
HIT THE BEACH XII on August 30th, 2019 from 8AM to 2PM.
The DVD's are available at all the local surf shops. Or by
sending me an email. firstname.lastname@example.org or send a check for $20.00 made out to ADLANTIC and send it here:
c/o OC Studio Suites
703 Ocean Blvd Suite C-4
Hampton, NH 03842
Or RENT or BUY it Online. You have spoken and I have listened. You don't have a DVD player so I made it available Online. Watch it on your Smart TV, your computer, or your cellphone! I can't make this any easier my friends.
GRANITE GIRLS and The RIVER WOMEN from Ralph's Pic Of The Week on Vimeo.
NOW AVAILABLE on VIMEO ON DEMAND.
KSM Photoshop of the Week
How many of you remember when I did this KSM photoshop about 5 years ago? Well, I'm recycling it again this week. only I added some special affects (blood) in this one. I was trying to get more realistic. You know Hollywood. DAMN Khaliddy you sure put yourself in some funky situations. My guess is, if this really happened, this shark would spit his terrorist ass right out of his mouth. Sharks know better than to eat that kind of shit.
And so my friends, please take advantage of this weekly photo shop of the mastermind who planned 9-11 and resulted in the deaths of 3,000 innocent civilians by KSM (Khalid Sheik Mohammed).
*Note to self -must pick up a case of Shark Repellent
at Home Depot this week.
CONGRATS TO KAINALU NICHOLS Going PRO!
*Look for the full story in a few weeks. Sorry this got moved
due to the large volume of events this past week and
HAPPY BIRTHDAY John Savastano August 1st, 2019!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY John Carden August 3rd, 2019!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Tom Brady August 3rd, 2019!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Melinda Ferreira August 4th, 2019!
GET WELL SOON Jody Wiles Goucher!
GET WELL SOON Kim Grondin and Lilly too!
FYI Lenny Nichols is looking for someone or someones to take over the ESA-NNE District. Please contact Lenny Nichols
by calling his cell (603) 944-2418
Support ALL The photographers who contribute to
Ralph's Pic Of The Week every week for the last 13 years.
** BUY a HIGH RES Photo
from any of the weeks on RPOTW.
my friends... Surfing Heals All Wounds.
Pray for Surf. Pray for Peace. Surf For Fun.