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Ralph's Pic Of The Week

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January 25th, 2009

I knew I was going surfing this cold morning, long before I struggled into my stiff 5/4/3. Tuesday, January 20th, 2009. The Day Barack Obama would take the oath of office of the Presidency. I was going surfing for the first time in 2009.

Was it cold? Hell yes it was. Were there waves? Oh yea. Good waves. Real good waves. But it was overcast and it was cold. Especially the water temp. Now, I'm not exactly sure how cold the air temp was, and I'm not aware of the precise water temp. But that's not really the point. It's all relative when it drops below freezing, air temp wise. And as far as the water temps...anytime it drops below 38 degrees...well, that's cold.

So yea, I was cold from the onset. But I was determined. And slightly stoked to be back in the water. I stood there in the snowbank, watching these empty waves peel off, and felt a slight 'second guessing' coming on. But it was too late. I was in my suit. I was going to get wet. You see, I may not live on the ocean, but I am close enough to hear the surf. I could hear it that morning. I knew I was going. And living close enough to the ocean, I do what a lot of the locals do in the winter.

I get dressed in my wetsuit at home.

It's so much easier. Getting in that suit is a feat in itself. Doing the task at home, makes for easier maneuvering and cursing. It's just eliminates the twisting and turning in the vehicle. Or the cold towel change in the winter. We use waterproof seat covers that work great. It's so easy really. We get in our suits, and drive down the street, we go surfing, and then drive home. Then we simply step out of the vehicle, and walk into a hot shower.

No fuss no muss. Easy in and easy out.

But getting back to Tuesday morning. I stood there in the snow and felt my feet getting cold. I've been told that, the older we get, the less circulation we get to our extremities. Our body, and it's natural process of keeping ourselves alive in extreme temperatures, does what it needs to do. Keep the main body and heart warm. The hands and feet are expendable. Still, the new boots and gloves that are available at all the shops, have eliminated most of the cold feet and hands problems of yesteryear.

So why were my feet freezing?

Well, at first I thought it was because I was standing in the snow. And maybe I let my active imagination get in the way a little bit. But once I hit the water and started paddling, I knew I was in trouble. My feet remained cold and got colder. By the time I reached the line-up, I could not feel my feet. I kept quiet about it and did the check list of cold feet syndrome. I tried moving my toes. I laid on my board and lifted them out of the water, and did the banging of the booties, trying to establish some kind of feeling in either foot. But none of this was working.

Then the first of many sets came.

It should be noted that, I was on my short board. Or as I am fond of "Magic Board". In hindsight, perhaps a board of length might have been a better choice for several reasons. This was my first time back in the water in weeks. Coupled with the obvious rust, that I would be dealing with, and the overall coldness that I was facing. But that was not the case. I was sitting on my shortboard. And like I said, the first of many sets started marching in.

Now I have been out in waves way bigger than this day. Way bigger. But these waves were decent size. Head high with bigger sets. And the tide was sucking out as fast as the feeling in my toes. So duck diving in January, was not exactly what I had fantasized about the day before. Hardly. I mean, the last thing anyone wants to do in January, in Northern New England, is Duck Dive. But there I was, duck diving 2-3 waves right off the bat. To quote the infamous Jerky Boys..."Ahh ya see, we're off to a bad start here."

Yet, I was still quite reserved about my worsening situation. After a few uncomfortable moments like; water rushing past a slight opening in my hood, causing the ice cold water to go down my neck and back, a wave popped in over the outside reef and loomed up in front of me. It was all mine. There were only four of us out. Myself, Steve, Brian and Kyle. 3 shortboarders and one longboard. So there I was, alone in the lineup, when this nice, head high left, jacked up in front of me.

I instinctively spun and dug deep. I caught the wave with surprisingly ease. Waiting a few seconds before pushing to my feet, I stayed in the push-up position, while the wave took shape. At the last second, I pushed up and sprung to my feet. Except I could not feel my feet! It felt like I was standing on two stumps. With little or no feeling, I collapsed in a heap, and went forward. I hit the water with such force, that more cold water shot up under my sleeves and sent streams of cold water into my warm suit.

"What the hell is going on?" I yelled.

At this point, I figured I needed to bitch out loud. Otherwise, my current surf buddies would think that I have lost whatever it is we think we all have when we paddle out. And that is, the ability to surf. I hate to use the K-word here but, that is exactly what I felt like. "Why are my feet so cold?" I asked the lineup "It's Winter?" Brian answered. "I know it's winter Brian, but my feet are freezing."

Then Steve spoke up saying 'he had felt the same in the beginning of his session, and if I hung in there, my surfing would improve.' While I know he meant well by his warm advice, he was wrong. My feet were freezing. And that could only mean one or two things. (A.) There's a hole in my boots. Or (B.) There's really something to that circulation deal with older surfers.

I was hoping it was the former.

Another wave came through, and once again, I caught it with ease, and once again, my feet felt like they belonged to someone else. "This is embarrassing" I thought. It wasn't until the the third wave I caught, that I was finally able to struggle to my feet, and make a series of adjustments, and then perform a series of half assed turns. Surfing, but hardly at the level that I should be surfing. To say that I was frustrated is an understatement.

To make a long story short. I actually only rode 3-4 waves out of maybe a dozen, that I caught. I am quite sure that I did at least 5 times that amount of duck diving. Again, it's not what you want to do in January around here. There was maybe one wave, where I did a turn that felt OK. And I did manage to salute one wave, that I rode for quite a distance. But overall? It was a semi disaster of a session.

Later, while walking up the beach in the snow, I could see that there was a slight tear in my boots at the top of the seam. I could see air bubbles escaping the seam. That could only mean one thing. "Max!" My son who wears all my clothes, and my booties, had somehow ripped these booties and not told me. "Doh!"

So what did we learn here?

Well for starters, we learned to have a back-up pair of booties hidden somewhere in the house, that only you know where they are. And maybe, pour some hot water into the booties before you paddle out. But most importantly? I learned that I still have enough stoke at my age, to pull on a wetsuit that Harry Houdini would have a hard time getting into, and drive down the street in a freezing cold vehicle, and wade through waist deep snow, and jump onto a "shortboard" and paddle out into decent sized surf, on a cold, blustery, day in January and catch a few waves.

I learned... that I am still a Winter Surfer.






One thing I did learn from last week's surf session is this:

All the exercising in the world will not prepare you "enough" for surfing. The only thing that get's you in shape for surfing is..."surfing". It's true. Look, I am not saying to stop working out, or stop stretching, and doing yoga, or whatever else it is you do in between surf days. I am just saying, that the only real way to stay in shape for surfing, is to surf.

Surf. Surf. Surf. And I mean surf it all. (Think Kelly Slater)

Good days and the bad. Because the muscles you use, and the timing you have, can only be honed with time in the water. Everything else is just fodder. You need to surf.

I know most of you already know this. And honestly, I should of known this myself and adhered to it. But I reluctantly passed on a few days, here and there, the last month and I paid for it big time, with my rusty, futile attempts, to ride by memory. Although the cliché of "Just like riding a bike" comes to mind here, it is not the smart way to stay on top of your game.

The only real way to stay in shape for surfing-is to surf.

Thanks to Brian Nevin's amazing photos of Nicaragua the last few weeks and a bunch of others who truly care about the children portrayed in those compelling photos, I am keeping the links to the websites posted about the plight of the children of Centro America up again this week. In fact, I may leave them up for quite some time. If this weekly blog can save one child in Central America, then it is worth it.

The way I figure it is...this is the least that I can do. Some of those faces of the children haunted me for days afterward. I can't imagine what it did to Brian.

The first website is This is the organization that Brian deals with directly and there is plenty of info there for anyone to donate and or get involved with. This is the other 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.

Now for some of my weekly observances;

I'm back in IDOL mode. That's right. American Idol. I know a lot of you watch The Idol, but you won't admit it. But I have no problem saying this. I watch it and admit to it. And I watch it for all the many reasons why everyone else does. The sad and funny auditions. And the amazing talented singers. I keep thinking, one of these contestants is really gonna lose it and attack one of the judges.

OK, they will attack Simon. He's clearly at risk.

I watch it every week thinking...Ok this is the week some nut job lashes out at Simon and bites him in the neck or something. I would have to imagine, that there's some serious security standing by. And at the very least, they have Tazors. And really, who among us doesn't like a good tazing on TV? "Don't taze me bro!" Come on. We all would love to see a tazing on the Idol. I know I would.

Still, the show itself, is still very compelling TV...
Hey, it's the Idol. Watch it..

January 20th 2009 the United States of America Inaugurated the first Black President in our Nation's History. Barack Hussein Obama became our nation's 44th President. As a nation we have come a long way. I was happy to be able to see it live on TV. MLK was surely smiling in Heaven.

I watched it while standing there in my cold wetsuit. And it was quite the show. Even with the stumbling over the oath. It was historic in every sense of the word.

So many people. So many smiling faces. I know he's got his hands full. And I also know that he truly wants to bring everyone together and get us back on our feet. And judging by the Missile Strike in Pakistan a few days after, BHO is serious about taking out the bad guys who want to hurt us. And I am all for that. You paying attention to this Osama? Obama wants your ass!

And once again, I want to reiterate what I said after the November election. I support President Obama 100%. Because he's our president. PLEASE Support President Obama and pray for the hope and the change he promised us all.

OK I'm picking The ARIZONA CARDINALS over the PITTSBURGH STEELERS in Superbowl 43. Why not?
I love the underdogs. And let's face it, the CARDS are the underdogs. 13-10. Read it and weep.

And once again we have lost another TV icon. I'm afraid to tell you this my friends, but Bob May has passed away. Who the hell is Bob May you ask? In the name of Billy Mumy. Bob May was the Robot in "Lost In Space". You remember..."Danger Will Robinson"..Bob was 69.

And for all you art lovers. Andrew Wyeth passed away. A great artist who painted "Christina's World" was 91 years old.

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!

QWILL is available on

Please Support ALL The photographers who contribute to Ralph's Pic Of The Week Especially: Ed O'Connell, John Carden, Brian Nevins, Bernie Baker, Jamie Wade, Kevin Doherty, Lenny Nichols, Chris Shipley, The Phantom, Ross Kunkel, Bob Consentino, and Chris Thompson and all the others.

Rest in Peace Bob May "the LOST IN SPACE robot"

Rest in Peace Artist Andrew Wyeth.

Happy 17th Birthday Kody Grondin January 25th!

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







Yesterday- 1975 One more of The Late Steve "Neddie" Nelson
(Below) I posted a pic of Neddie surfing last week and lots of you commented on his unique surf style.
Believe me when I tell you guys. The images posted here do no justice to his real persona out in the water.
They say that surfers are Rebels and characters. Well, Neddie fit that bill and then some. But underneath
that flamboyant surf style and wild out of the water antics, he was a good guy. And that's what will be
missed by those who really knew and loved him. Rest in Peace Neddie.
Photo by Jay Hammer

2009 Today Sunday January 25th 2009 Winter

(Above) Outside my living room window. Taken 10 minutes ago. All you Cali guys seeing this? 1-25-09
Photo by R. Fatello SFOD

2009 Today Another COLD Day in New England
The Inaugural Swell January 20, 2009

(Above) Tuesday morning around 9:00AM. Cold dark and cold...did I mention it was cold? 1-20-09
Photo by R. Fatello SFOD

(Above) Common men doing uncommon things. Tuesday morning 1-20-09
Photo by R. Fatello SFOD

(Above) Brian heading out of a classic VW and into classic NE surf. 1-20-09
Photo by R. Fatello SFOD

(Above) Tuesday morning. It wasn't HUGE but it was solid. 1-20-09
Photo by R. Fatello SFOD

(Above) Tuesday morning looked so good. I couldn't wait to hit it. Little did I know how cold it would be. 1-20-09
Photo by R. Fatello SFOD


(Above) That is not a smile on my face. That's a frozen grimace. After my miserable session.
Tuesday morning 1-20-09 Photo by Brian (Kingshighway)

(Above) Later in the day, the sun came out and things were a bit more manageable.
Sashi managing the section at Leftys.
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) Barack Obama was marching towards the White House when this photo was taken. Leftys 1-20-09.
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) Back hand rock reef dance. Leftys 1-20-09.
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) Mike Stanek missing the Inauguration but not the lack of crowds. Leftys 1-20-09.
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) The Inside section at Leftys had plenty to offer. 1-20-09.
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) The sun may have come out but it was still cold. Who da Blue Leash Guy? Leftys 1-20-09.
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) Markey J could care less about the History being made this day. He was writing his own
historic findings. Like this nice right hander. Rightys 1-20-09.
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) Sashi up and under the lip. Leftys 1-20-09.
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) Fun for all. Young and old. And boy was it cold. Leftys 1-20-09.
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) Bugging out at Leftys 1-20-09.
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) Tuesday Night. Another local Northern New England dilemma that you never hear about.
And that is...we're running out of places to blow the snow. This snow bank is at the end of my upper
driveway and is head high. 1-20-09
Photo by R. Fatello SFOD

2009 Today Wednesday January 21, 2009

(Above) The next morning broke with a new president and a new sunrise that Jason Issertell had all to
himself for a few hours. Getting empty surf can still happen in January 2009
Photo by Jason Issertell

(Above) No one out. Jason had it to himself. January 21, 2009
Photo by Jason Issertell

(Above) Dam this is a pretty shot. Can't even tell how cold it is. January 21, 2009
Photo by Jason Issertell


(Above) Mikey Murray is 12 years old. Most kids his age are playing Hockey or indoor Basketball. Not surfing
a Rocky point break in Northern New England in the dead of winter. He's riding his new POD he just picked
up from CR. January 21, 2009
Photo by Mike Murray

(Above) For a 12 yr old, I'd say lil Mikey Murray has pretty good style. January 21, 2009
Photo by Mike Murray


(Above) More cold winter beach scenes from Lenny Nichols. "Ice Lava" January 2009
Photo by Lenny Nichols

(Above) Are these alien crop signs? Wild. January 2009
Photo by Lenny Nichols

(Above) Lenny's space shuttle photos that he took here in Hampton. January 2009
Photo by Lenny Nichols

(Above) Ice Twirls and spirals. January 2009
Photo by Lenny Nichols

(Above)Cold Winter Peaks. January 2009
Photo by Lenny Nichols


(Above) Cold snowy morning outside my office...I have to shovel again???? January 09
Photo by R. Fatello SFOD

(Above) Thursday Night. Local Surfer MVF (left) beats Rival in WHS vs Exeter Wrestling Meet.
Photo by R. Fatello SFOD

When our friend Jimmy Dunn is not telling jokes, he likes to restore
old pinball machines. He's got this one close to finished and is
looking to sell it for $750 if anyone is interested.

*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 Markey J from GrooveMasterS for a clip from the
NEW SFOD Movie. Video Frame grab by R. Fatello SFOD

2009 Pics from Beyond New England this week January 2009

(Above) Somewhere North of Malibu.
Photo courtesy of The Internet


(Above) "Hey ! Hey! Hey!!!!!" Later these two got into it pretty good and this Dolphin kicked this guy's
ass for calling him off the wave.
Photo courtesy of The Internet

(Above) It's OK to ditch your board here...but not around here (John).
Photo by Bernie Baker

(Above) Think about it. I mean, think really hard. Do you really want to paddle out? Waimea Bay.
Photo by Bernie Baker

(Above) Looks perfect. GIANT and perfect. Waimea Bay.
Photo by Bernie Baker

(Above) For reasons unbeknown to us mere mortals, it is OK to drop in on someone when the wave is this
big. But it is not OK down the road a piece. The mystery of the bay.

(Above) The Westside is typically a lot mellower. But you had better check the guest list before driving all
the way out there. Photo by Bernie Baker

(Above) Although, there's nothing mellow about this. Westside action.
Photo by Bernie Baker

(Above)...Or this. Westside SUP action.
Photo by Bernie Baker

(Above) SUPB Chop hop . Westside action.
Photo by Bernie Baker

(Above) Westside paddle action.
Photo by Bernie Baker

(Above) Brian K and Kathy Terada in a Westside tradition that lives on.
Photo by Bernie Baker

2009 The Phantom Mission KELP 09

(Above) There's no mystery here. The Phantom and his crew launch their crafts from an undisclosed location
and seek out perfection.
Photo courtesy of the Phantom

(Above) Boards secured once again. Ready for Air Assault.
Photo courtesy of the Phantom

(Above) Little boats big balls...
Photo courtesy of the Phantom

(Above) Blue green and clean. The action begins.
Photo courtesy of the Phantom

(Above) If you could score a wave like this, just once in your lifetime, what would you be willing to give up?
Photo courtesy of the Phantom

(Above) The fruits of their labor. The Holy Grail. The perfect wave.
Photo courtesy of the Phantom

(Above) It is what it is. But it's so dam worth it.
Photo courtesy of the Phantom

(Above) This one? Or the one behind it?
Photo courtesy of the Phantom

(Above) They pull up, drop anchor, and commence to enjoy what has been the right's of boaters for years.
Photo courtesy of the Phantom

(Above) Can't we all jest git along? This dude looks warm enough.
Photo courtesy of the Phantom

(Above) Hell yea we can git along...
Photo courtesy of the Phantom

(Above) This is one of those photos that I would stare at for hours when I was a grom.
Photo courtesy of the Phantom

(Above) A turn for the ages.
Photo courtesy of the Phantom

(Above) Mission accomplished. Kelp 09 contact. Matador El Jefe De Champee Laine Kelp cutting.
Photo courtesy of the Phantom

(Above) "One rider was approaching..."
Photo courtesy of the Phantom

(Above) No words need be spoken here.
Photo courtesy of the Phantom

(Above) Getting late in the Day...The Hunter harvests one more liquid beast.
Photo courtesy of the Phantom

(Above) The end of the day.
Photo courtesy of the Phantom

Today 2009 PARTING SHOT- ...Barack's Shaka Brudda!

Above) President Obama is from Hawaii. This is a legit photo from his Inauguration. He's the real deal
Hawaiian son. He may not surf but he is a body surfer. The only other presidents to actually surf/body surf
were Kennedy and Nixon. So, The third time's the charm right?
Photo courtesy of the Internet.

(Below) A letter to Bobbye, a Black Jamaican woman I met in 1997...
(Below) Last November, a handful of you accused me of being someone that I am not. That hurt. A few days
before the election, this old friend called my house and said that I had predicted this election result back in
1997. I remember the day I met her.

It was in Boston where I had attended the 100th Anniversary of the Memorial Depicting the 54th Massachusetts Vol. Infantry. The 54th was an All Black regiment commanded by a White Officer Robert Gould Shaw. My whole family at the time, were really into the Civil War, and more importantly, we were really interested in the 54th.
I had taken my son Max into Boston to see Colin Powell speak at the rededication.He was only 5yrs old.

This woman was standing in front of me as I tried to video tape the speech and the whole ceremony.
I became friends with her. And asked her, if she would allow me to stand next to her to video tape, I would send her a copy of the tape. I had forgotten all about the whole day. When she called a few days following
my Election column, I asked her if she would send me a copy of the letter. She did.

Here it is in my own hand writing.

Letter by Ralph Fatello











































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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