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Ralph's Pic Of The Week

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February 14th, 2009 Valentines Day

I really feel left out. Left out of what you ask? The tropics. Like a lot of you, I stayed put this winter. I sucked it up, and dealt with the cold weather and surf. Yes, I got a few good days in the water, and some good snow days snowboarding (and it's still good by the way), but I miss the tropics. And I know I am not alone. I feel that each and every one of us deserves, yes 'deserves' at least a week in the tropics. And honestly? The tropics can be anywhere from Florida-south and beyond.

Yes I said Florida. Trust me, it's a hell of lot more tropical in FLA than this frozen tundra we're all stumbling around in. The snow banks in my driveway are still frozen solid. Those things won't be melting until May. I don't know why it's getting to me. I mean, it's not like I travel every year. I guess it's all the photos landing in my email incoming box, and the beautiful tropical pics in all the mags. Hawaii this Hawaii that. It's painful to look at.

I miss it and want it.

There's nothing quite like leaving this ice block we call home in the dead of winter, and going to a warmer destination. I mean, it just never gets tired. And quite frankly, it does heaps of good to our basic stoke. We appreciate home that much more, and we certainly appreciate the tropics. I mean, how the hell could we not? Smelling that warm tropical air when you step off the plane. Feeling the warm tropical tradewinds in your face. Seeing the blue green ocean again.

Dam...I miss that.

And when you hit the water for the first time...oh man. Feeling that warm water, on your arms, as you paddle out. It does not get any better than that...but then again, yes it does...and that's when you catch that first wave. And feel the glide and looseness, of not wearing a 50mil wetsuit, with a hood, boots and gloves. So loose, you feel like Corey Lopez or some other tropical Kelly Slater like wildman. Your imagination taking over.

Dam I miss that. I really do.

Thinking about your buddies at home, freezing their asses off. Calling them on your cell, and asking them how the weather is back home. I miss that. The hot sun beating down on you, causing you to coat that white butt of yours with #100 sunscreen. And accepting the inevitable sunburn, because you don't care. You are in the tropics, and that's all that really matters. Thinking about the next day, and how good it's going to be. Catching a glimpse of the news and weather on TV and seeing that New England is getting blasted again, with yet another winter storm.

But you don't care.
Because, you are in the tropics.

Then you start scheming in your mind. "How can I move here permanently? How can I pull this off? Spend the rest of my life in the tropics. How can I do this?" Then reality sets in, and before you know it, you have to go home again. But that's OK. You got your fill. You got that taste, and, it should sustain you for the rest of the cold winter back home. And then, you think ahead, to next year, when you do it all over again. The tropics. I miss it.

For the hardcore winter surfers in New England, there's nothing better, than getting away for a short trip, to some tropical destination. Anywhere but cold. Even Florida. Now I am not knocking Florida. Hardly. My buddy Phil just spent a couple of years there, and he scored waves all the time. He's since moved to Southern Cal, where he's scoring more waves(the bastard), but for a while there, he was getting into some fun surf all Winter long. And it sure looked tropical to me.

I miss it this year. Whether it's some Caribbean Island, or Centro America, or the Hawaiian Islands. I miss it. I remember thinking that I will ALWAYS get away each winter NO MATTER what. And that was the case for many years. I did. When I was single it was way easier. Then we got married and had a family and that thing called "responsibility" came into play and before you knew it. It was every other year, and then we waited for the kids to get older. And we did travel each winter.

But it became most exspensive. So the trips became fewer and farther between. The next thing you know...we're spending the whole winter at home. Sure, we put on the brave face, and say it does not matter. But we all know it does. Because once you get a taste of the tropics. You need more. Like I said, we all need it. We need it for so many different reasons. One of which, is to make sense of why we live here in the dead of winter. When you step out of the box and look back into it. You can see the beauty of these New England winters. You can justify why you live here. You can see it all, like in some tropical crystal ball.

But having said that. There is a limit to what kind of Tropical level I can take. First of all, the images we see in the magazines of places like the North Shore of Oahu. I stare at some of those photos, and think to myself. "No way I could paddle for a wave that big, and drop into something that steep, and pull into a barrel that hollow!" Like a lot of you, I try to imagine what it would be like. That one fleeting moment, when that lip comes over, and encases you in a tropical...nightmare.

Don't get me wrong here kids.

There was a time, when I actually paddled out in surf that I had no business being in. I can remember days with Kevin, Zappy and Lenny on the North Shore back in the early 80's. Crazy big. 8-12' Hawaiian Scale surf. I was freaking. Lenny lived there and was used to the bigger surf. Not me. Kevin went to school there and he too was acclimated to big Hawaiian surf. And Zappy just charged it. Not me. I was never a Big Wave surfer. I have been out in big waves, but I am NOT a big wave surfer.

Yet, there are times when I look at a big Pipe barrel in the mags and try to imagine what it would be like. If only we could pause the wave. And have someone pick me up like a toy, and place me right in the barrel at that most critical moment. Then start the wave again. Then I would consider it. Otherwise, I would be on the beach, shaking in my trunks. And wishing I was back home, in the freezing, numbing cold, immersed in the icy winter surf, where I was safe and sound.

Then I would feel safe again, knowing that I am home.

But dammit people, I miss the tropics. And I guess it's part of our dilemma of living and surfing here year round. If you can't get away, you live your tropical trips through the magazines, and photos from our friends and neighbors. And you use your imagination. Especially, the next time we get surf and you paddle out in this cold ass Atlantic ocean.

Pretend you are someplace warm and tropical. And when that first wave, hits you in the face, like a cold, wet slab of ice, and you are still thinking about the tropics...?

Well... you have a much better imagination than I do. Either that, or you are in shock, and need to get out of the water ASAP. You need help.

I need help too. I miss the tropics.







Well I did it. Did what you ask? I bought a new Digital camera. The NIKON D-90 with a 18-200mm lens. I had to. I had been suffering as of late, with lens and camera envy. Granted, I am primarily a videographer. That's my forte. The still shooting is better left to those who shoot stills all the time. But, as many of you readers know and see each week, I still shoot my share of stills. Albeit with an inferior camera. I had been using my trusty point and shoot G-5 Canon. And while I have no honest complaints (how could I? It's a dam point and shoot!) I felt as though I needed a somewhat better rig. I have it with the D-90.

I was hoping for a new clean swell this week to start shooting. Looking at the WetSands and Magic Seaweed sites it looked like we would get surf on Thursday. There was surf out all right. It was just heading in the opposite direction. I bet France was good though. I still went down the beach this week to shoot something. I don't have the patience of someone like Lenny, who's looking down, more than out in the surf, when he's shooting. And guys like Nevins who stalks around like a seasoned sniper, aiming only when the moment is right, before he squeezes off a shot. Or the others like Carden, O'Connell, Wade, Doherty and the others...there was no surf. So I could not compare shots with these guys. I so badly want to though.

I can taste it. I want to take a decent still shot.

I used to shoot my still camera back in the day. In fact, I have recently found some old images that I shot some 30 years ago using that old Nikon Nikkormat. What a great camera that was (is). And honestly? There's nothing quite like the quality of film. Although, the quality of digital imaging has clearly stepped up as of late. And that is precisely why I have purchased this new rig.

Digital has come of age.

I was one of the last holdouts back in the day when I shot ONLY Movie film. I refused to shoot on the naked VHS tape when those old clunkers first came out. Dam I hated that look. Then they (the Viddy guys), slowly but surely, got their act together. The first 8mm cameras were just OK. Then they went into a higher res 8mm. Finally, the DV boon was born, and the 3ccc cameras came out and when I saw Joe Carter's footage I was convinced. It was time to switch. So I bought my CANON GL-1 3cc video camera.

I did not need the same coaxing this time around.

The images I post every week speak for themselves. It (the digital camera) is here to stay. So my favorite old camera from the 70's, my Old NIKON NIKKORMAT, now has a new roommate. The NIKON D-90. Now if only we could get some surf...I'm dying to shoot.

Now for some of my weekly observances:

The BIG news this week is the same as last week's big news. The $Gazillion Dollar Stimulus Plan. By Monday, President Obama will undoubtedly sign this massive stimulus package. And I for one, hope it works. I know we all do. And I also hope, that someone I know, gets something out of this plan. Cause that is a lot of money we're going to have to pay. That's a Spicey Meat-a-ball!

The sad news department is clearly the Continental Plane crash in Buffalo NY. All the great stories of heroism, and remarkable stories of escape from a certain tragedy a few weeks ago, from the Miracle on the Hudson is on the back burner, with this latest disaster. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the families and friends of those, who lost their lives on that ill fated flight.

Speaking of sad news. The Australian brush fires last week that took 180 lives now has a person in custody. That's one of those stories, that leave us all completely bewildered. How can a brush fire cause that much damage and loss of life? It does not seem possible. Yet it happened. Makes you appreciate the role that Firefighters play in our country. Just an awful scene in Australia. So sad. I'm sure the person of interest, is in protective custody. Those Aussies must be fit to be tied. Again, our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of those who lost their lives.

Did any of you see the photo of the Mother from California who gave birth to 100 kids? Oh my God. It was a few days before she gave birth. That was one of those images, where I wished I hadn't seen it. But I did. Now I can't shake that image from my head. I may need some kind of therapy, to help me sleep at night.

And will someone please tell me, what the hell is going on with these "Snuggies?" Please, don't tell me any of you readers have one of these? Please...don't tell me. OK tell me. Better yet, send me a photo of you wearing one. And if any of my friends have one, and I find out...? I am coming to your house, with all my cameras, and the world will know what you have done. You Snuggie wearing fool.

Snuggies? Lord help me.

Finally, Brett Farve retired again...ahhhh No comment.

These are the websites pertaining to the Children of Nicaragua that was brought to all of our attention through Brian Nevin's recent work.
This organization deals directly with the plight of the

The other is a great organization that helps poor farmers in Central America, including Nicaragua. was founded by NH native and UNH grad, Florence Reed (read about Flo in UNH magazine: SHI provides tools, knowledge, and assistance in implementing sustainable farming methods that dramatically improve people's lives.

If any of you readers of Ralph's Pic Of The Week would be willing to donate to SHI, an anonymous donor, would match these donations up to a total of $5000.
Readers can go to for more information or to donate. PLEASE put a note in the comments section of their online donation page saying this donation generated from "".

Thank you again for your support. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact SHI by email or 207-669-8254

Don't forget "GREETING SEASONS" and "Groovemasters" are in the shops!
There's still time to score one of Brian Nevins's canvas print orders. Brian Nevins 949.295.9390
Kevin Doherty and Chris Shipley both have 2009 Calendars in the Shops Check em out!

Check out Hannah Vokey's amazing surf art at:

QWILL is available on

Please Support ALL The photographers who contribute to Ralph's Pic Of The Week every week.
Happy Presidents Day!

Happy Birthday Jesse (QWILL)!

Rest in peace in Mr Savastano.

Remember my friends...Surfing heals all wounds....
Pray for Surf. Pray for Peace. Surf For Fun.







Yesterday- 1979 The Empty Tropical Wave...30 years ago this month.
(Below) This wave is 30 years old. You'd never know it by looking at it though. Isn't it funny how old surf
photos of surfers look dated. But throw an old empty wave photo in, and it looks as fresh as today. This was
shot with my old NIKON NIKKORMAT. I happened to be walking by this reef break when this wave
unloaded in front of me. It's overhead by the way. So I did what any surf photographer worth his salt
would do. I turned and fired. This is still one of my favorite empty wave shots of my life. And this is another reason why I miss the Tropics. Look at how warm and inviting this looks.
Photo by Ralph

Today- 2009 The Empty Tropical Wave...30 years later, this week.
(Below) This wave below is one week old. You'd never know it by looking at it though. Isn't it funny again?
I don't know what kind of camera Bernie used, but I know this is a beautiful tropical wave and I could really
use either wave right now. This week in the tropics...30 years after the wave above.
Photo by Bernie Baker

2009 Today February 14th 2009. Not so Tropical New England

(Above) My first ever wave photo with my New NIKON D-90. But as you can see, there were NO waves.
I think when the surf does come up, this new camera will work fine.
Photo by Ralph

(Above) My new camera and old camera. *Note my old Movie camera the GAF and my dad's 8mm.
Photo by Ralph

(Above) The Wall. Oh I get it...this is why they call it the Wall.
Photo by R. Fatello SFOD

(Above) Look it was flat. I needed to shoot something with my new camera. Looks like a wave. A cement wave.
Photo by R. Fatello SFOD

(Above) I was pretty desperate. These waves were tiny...maybe knee high. My buddy Buck would of
surfed it though, and he would of been stoked.
Photo by R. Fatello SFOD

(Above) How many times have we all walked over these? My version of stopping to smell the roses.
Photo by R. Fatello SFOD

(Above) This looks like a battlefield. Empty and flat, and not a soul around. If these cement slabs could speak,
What horrors and magical moments would they tell?
Photo by R. Fatello SFOD

(Above) Then I came home and found this..."What the hell is going on?" Scout and Comet in my chair.
Photo by R. Fatello SFOD

(Above) OK this is New England boy Brennan Natoli. And this is out west. We won't say where...
but this sure looked a fun day.
Photo courtesy of Brennan Natoli

(Above) This is another one of three paintings Hannah dropped off on Thursday, Feb. 4th 2009.
She calls this Northeast Surfer. Check out Hannah's surf art at:
Oil on canvas by Hannah Vokey

*To order by check go to
*To order by credit card go to

Movie to see Trailer. Poster Design By ADLANTIC

*To order by check go to

*To order by credit card go to

Movie to see Trailer. Poster Design By ADLANTIC

VIDEO by SFOD R. Fatello

(Above) CLICK ON Video (photo) Frame Grab of this Unknown Rider from a scene from Valentine's Day of
last year from the movie GREETING SEASONS.
Video Frame grab by R. Fatello SFOD

2009 From The TROPICS this week of February 8-14, 2009

(Above) The tropics. Oh how sweet the sound. And the feel of the barrel. I want it. I need it.
Photo by Bernie Baker

(Above) Blue green envy.
Photo by Bernie Baker

(Above) Tropical turn and burn.
Photo by Bernie Baker

(Above) Alright come on outta there with your hands up.
Photo by Bernie Baker

(Above) Again to pose last week's question. How can something so tropical looking, be so dangerous? I don't
know...maybe ask her boyfriend?
Photo by Bernie Baker

(Above) Tropical elegance. The Northshore is all about breathtaking beauty.
Photo by Bernie Baker

(Above) This photo is very deceiving. Sunset Beach.
Photo by Bernie Baker

(Above) OK...this is (believe it or not) Sunset at Sunset.
Photo by Bernie Baker

(Above) Speaking of the tropics...Julia Nichols sends these tropical images from the Garden Isle. Kauai .
Photo by Julia Nichols

(Above) Not exactly a walk in the park. Kauai.
Photo by Julia Nichols

(Above) Case in point. Kauai.
Photo by Julia Nichols

(Above) I don't know about you, but I can feel the mist on my face. Kauai.
Photo by Julia Nichols

(Above) Julia and Makala burning calories the hard way. Kauai.
Photo by Julia Nichols

(Above) Now hold on a second...this looks inviting. Kauai.
Photo by Julia Nichols

(Above) Tropical opposed to our melting glaciers.
Photo by Julia Nichols

(Above) A closer look at the falls. Kauai.
Photo by Julia Nichols

(Above) Tropical sunsets are just that...tropical. Kauai.
Photo by Julia Nichols

(Above) Flying back to Oahu...the Punchbowl emerges from the clouds.
Photo by Julia Nichols

(Above) Looks like some action on the South Shore. Both in the water and in town.
Photo by Julia Nichols

2009 Now Something From The PHANTOM this week of February 8-14, 2009

(Above) Those who follow this column every week, know that the Phantom is notorious for his water craft
assaults. While he is clearly a master of the High Seas, the Phantom is also equally adept at taking on
ground assault missions. This is one such mission. As per request of the Phantom code. No names or
locations will be divulged.
Photo by The Phantom

(Above) Check the lone rider walking down the rocks to the break.
Photo by The Phantom

(Above) Think you could handle this soul session? Just you and a buddy or two?
Photo by The Phantom

(Above) Here? Or the next nook and cranny? A loyal follower of the Phantom with his back to the camera.
Photo by The Phantom

(Above) Here's something you don't see very often. A kneeboarder. Dam it's overhead on this dude.
Photo by The Phantom

(Above) Just one guy out here. Sure it's small, but it's empty!
Photo by The Phantom

(Above) Oh oh, it's getting crowded. There's two guys out there now! Dammit! I hate crowds.
Photo by The Phantom

(Above) You've seen these boards on those little boats. Now you see em on the SUV. Phantom craft.
Photo by The Phantom

(Above) OK help me out here. There's ONLY two guys out why do they have to drop in on each
other? Are you kidding me boys?
Photo by The Phantom

(Above) Just two California? How is this possible? Only the Phantom knows for sure.
Photo by The Phantom

(Above) Phantom scoring again...
Photo by The Phantom

(Above) A lone SUP rider enjoying the peace and tranquility.
Photo by The Phantom

Today 2009 PARTING SHOT- Rare Valentine photos of Abe Lincoln
and Abe Surfing!

(Above and below) Abe Lincoln showing us all why he was considered to be the BEST president of all time!
Quite the surfer for his time, and apparently, quite the ladies man.

(Above) Happy 200th Birthday Mr President!









































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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