So there we all sat on Friday morning August 9th, 2019. Myself, Aaron, Chris, Charlotte, Anthony, Harry, and a couple of Vermont kids. Surfing fun waist to chest high waves, and basically yakking it up. Somehow the conversation got around to how long each of us had been surfing this particular break. Clearly I had the longest run by far. But then as we all shared waves, and talked shop, my mind drifted off and it suddenly dawned on me.
This summer is my 55th year surfing. I started surfing in 1964!
As you all know, I'm no mathematician, but according to my addition, this summer is 55 years. Holy crap. Here I was celebrating 15 years of Blogging back in April, when I damn near let this significant date slip by me. Fifty five years of doing anything is a big deal, let alone surfing.
Yet there I was, still scratching into a few decent chest high waves.
And if you didn't know any better, you'd think I knew what I was doing out there. You know, I hate to coin the phrase "like riding a bike" but it kind of is. I mean honestly, I surf by complete instinct. Like I've done it a thousand times before. Which reminds me. A fellow surfer/artist and I spoke on Saturday morning and the subject came up about waves, and we were trying to guesstimate how many waves I have seen in my lifetime. I couldn't tell you how many waves I'd see in a single day, but it's got to be in the hundreds. If I spend 6 to 8 hours on the beach and there's surf, and I'm either shooting those waves, or riding them, there would have to be hundreds in a single day.
So my friend said "Do you think it's in the hundreds of thousands?" And I said "Yes. I think that would be possible." After all, I did two surf campaigns when I surfed everyday for a year. That's two straight years of surfing. Those two years alone would "jack up" those numbers. Then as he was walking away, he turned looked back at me and said "You know what Ralph? It could be in the millions." And I just nodded my head in agreement. It could very well be in the millions. I'd be curious to know approximately how many waves I've seen.
Any way, my wife sat on the beach on Friday and took a bunch of pics of me.
The one above is one of them. When I saw that pic it reminded me of a photo the late Ed O'Connell shot of me back in 2008. This is it (below).
Clearly you can see the similarities.
Same stance. Same arm placement.
Hell it's even the same
spot. I saw this pic and felt blessed. I am still able to do this thing that I love. Surfing. After all this time, I can still paddle out and catch a few waves and experience that incredible feeling of riding along on this living liquid matter. There's nothing on the planet that comes close to surfing.
People have asked me where do I get my ideas for the blog each and every week. Well, I try to stay topical and I do try to stay in the surf zone, but I have a tendency to drift out of the surfing area into other subject matters. But this week? Shit, once I knew it was my 55th year of surfing, I changed course and jumped right on that topic. And the fact that this 4 day swell coincided with my 55 anniversary well, it was a no brainer.
I did create a photo gallery of my surfing over the last 55 years.
If you click on the image in the YESTERDAY section (directly under the Blog) you will be able to see about 50 images of me in and around the ocean. I know, it sounded torturous to me as well. I had to pretend I was someone else just to go through all those pics. I think I found some good ones though.
So it's worth it. I say this because I was surprised at how many comments and likes I received on social media after I posted a few pics that Cory shot on Friday. It seems that my "friends" both real and on social media really got a kick out of seeing me out in the water. That made me feel good. So I put together a comprehensive photo gallery of the last 55 years.
Unfortunately, I don't have a single photo from 1964.
The first photos of me surfing are from 1965. (Like this one above). That's me with my favorite board standing with my late sister Evamarie on the North Shore of Massachusetts. You'll just have to take my word for it as well as a few close friends and family members. I started surfing in 1964. I actually discovered surfing the summer of 1963. But it took me a whole year to get a surfboard and to actually try surfing.
One thing's for sure, once I caught and rode my first wave? I was all in.
I do wish I had the very first pics, because that would complete the whole package for me. I do remember many of my surf trips both here in the states and abroad. I've always said, that I am not a Big wave surfer. I have been out in Big waves, but I've never laid claim to being one of those big wave surfers. Though I've ridden some big ones.
But again, I'm not a big wave surfer.
This pic above is probably one of the biggest waves of me actually recorded on film. The biggest waves I ever caught were on the North Shore of Oahu. There are no pics of me surfing those Big waves. Too bad. I wish I had a couple just to say that I did ride a few big ones. Instead this pic (above) is from a video frame grab of me surfing in Tortola BVI in 1979. You can't really see the bottom of the wave so it's even a little bigger than this image.
This pic (above) is again, probably the biggest wave I have on record of me surfing here in NH. It was taken on October 11th, 1988. The day after my 1st wedding anniversary. And like the other image, I have caught and ridden bigger waves here in NH. Unfortunately, there's just no photographic proof. But this wave? This is pretty big. And I remember this day like it was yesterday. Why? Well for starters, the waves were insanely good, and the other reason is, the wave before this particular wave almost killed me. That's right, I almost drowned. For real. Hell every surfer goes through that. Some of us go through it a few times. But I do remember with complete clarity almost dying out there that day. I can't look at this photo and not be reminded of the horror I went through just minutes before this photo was taken.
But hey, I'm still here.
I've been fortunate enough to make some lifelong friends over the years because of surfing. Some of them are still in my life. While others have since passed on. I cherish the ones that are still in my life. And you all know who you are. The best thing about this surfing lifestyle is I'm always making new friends. And again, I feel blessed to be able to still share waves with them. Whether we are actually out surfing together, or I'm shooting them surfing, or we just talk and reminisce about those past days. It's all good.
This is me during my Hawaiian winter days. I used to love to go to Hawaii.
It was (and still is) the proving ground for most surfers. For me it was more of a humbling experience coupled with some of the the most thrilling days of my life. There's no place on earth like the North Shore. No place comes close.
And yeah we did the whole "Surf Family
Vacations" as well. And they were some of the fondest memories of our lives. Costa Rica and Puerto Rico were great surf family destinations.
I've surfed in a lot of different countries all over the Globe. And for the most part, they were all worth the aggravation that comes with surf travel. Lugging surfboards and your gear around the globe via the airlines, or in old vans and trucks is not easy. But we all did it. And it was an experience I wouldn't change
for anything. There are still a few places I'd like to see and surf before I punch my ticket, but my travel destinations in my later years have changed priorities. I no longer think like the single rabid surfer who can live off a few cans of tuna fish and sleep anywhere.
Yeah, homie don't play that game anymore.
I'm into semi luxury of air conditioning and room service. And most importantly, I travel with my wife and partner for life. So even though we both love the surf world, there are other destinations that seem more appealing than the old hardcore surf destinations. Like for instance, the magical coast of Sardinia in Italy. There is surf there and we both loved Italy so much we want to go back. The Amalfi Coast is a MUST RETURN ticket for us. And believe it or not, Vietnam is a possible future destination. It would be nice to get two monkeys off my back. Get rid of those ghosts from the war, and to finally get to surf there. Because as EVERYONE NOW KNOWS, There's Surf In Vietnam.
So from 1964 to 2019 I'm still that same young surfer in my mind.
This is 10th Street in 1973. I still do this from time to time. Why?
Because I'm a damn surfer and I'll always be a surfer!
Please join the friends and family of Surfer Curtis T. McGadden
NEXT Sunday August 18th, 2019 at 4:00PM to 6:00PM across from
Cinnamon Rainbows on Ocean Blvd in Hampton, NH
Let's Give Curtis a proper Surfer's Send Off.
Thank you to all of you surfers and non surfers who I have shared waves with over the last 55 years. Remember my friends.
"Surfing Heals All Wounds."
This is me during the the summer of 208. I'm riding my new custom board for the first time and as usual Ed was there to make great memories for me. The only difference between this pic and the one on the left is, I'm riding a shorter board in this pic. My goal is to try and ride a shorter board again. Just gotta lose a few lbs and stay the course in my work-out routine. 1,500 push ups a week and walking/hiking 10-15 miles per week. Need to shed pounds though. I'm getting there.
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 is an anniversary that needs mentioning. It was 50 years ago that the BEATLES made this legendary photo that ended up bing the cover for what many believe (myself included) their best album of all time. And make no mistake about it, the Beatles made some amazing records during their incredible short time together. 1963-1969. The ABBEY ROAD pic.
"And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make."
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.
Speaking of The Beatles...This show is worth seeing.
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
This old photo was sent to me many times this last week. It's the oldest known photograph of a Hawaiian surfer. Yet, somehow, Ole Khaliddy managed to get his (then) skinny ass into this historical photo. Though it appears that the Hawaiian is hip to this fraud. I wonder if the Hui were around during this time. Because if they were, I'm afraid this terrorists would be getting one serious beat down. Da Hui Hates Terrorists KSM!!
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 Hawaiian Punch
at Home Depot this week.
CONGRATS TO KAINALU NICHOLS Going PRO!
*Look for the full story next week.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Kainaulu Nichols August 24th, 2019!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Duke Kahanamoku August 24th, 2019!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Hannah Vokey August 24th, 2019!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Johnny Fatello August 25th, 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.