Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mike McPherson


Ray Tyson and I are at Mauna Olu College. It is mid day. One of the first days of the September Semester. We hear some commotion in the central drive of the Men's dorm. A car tooling in. Then we hear a voice at first we don't recognize. Then: 'Hey Bob! Hey Ray!.

We go outside and Mike is standing next to his car with his surfboard on top.
We walk out and he sees us.
'Hey, get your boards Maalaea is going off!'
'Hey Mike. How are you? What's up?'
'Maalaea is going off. At least 12' I shit you not. I ain't going out there myself."
What! No shit!!!

Ray and I run down to the end of the balcony. Mike joins us. We look out toward Maalaea which is like, 15 miles away, but a straight downward eye shot, and you can see this ever so faint white little blips. It's the feathering of the waves.
Wow! Lets go.
Ray and I follow in my car.
We arrive around 2PM. We paddle out and it is a solid double overhead and barrels like you would not believe.

Have you ever seen Maalaea around 6' or bigger? The wind usually is strong.
The wind coming across the waves into the lip of the wave is just blowing it up.
It got bigger and bigger as the day went into afternoon and then evening and then darkness.
I have never ever seen Maalaea as close to this in size, ever since. There must have been a hurricane out directly south of the Big Island. You could actually see the lines all the way to Molokini.

On a long board, I have never ever gotten so deep into a tube as these waves. Mike, Ray and I surfed our brains out in these perfect giant waves.
We were so exhausted when we came in. It is a looong ride! Thank goodness the wind was behind us coming back out.
The next day it dropped down to human size and tailed off through the day. About 10 feet in the morning to head high at dusk.
Shee What were we? Some kind of freaks? Surfing straight through sunrise to sunset. No break. Dawn to Dusk. And And, no leash!!!!
But the long boards are easier to paddle. That's for sure.

That day I saw Mike and Ray so deep in the back of the pocket on 18 footers + I could not believe my eyes. Paddling out over these monster south shore combers! Shee!
VAT A DAY! We were rocketing! Like skipping stones! And loud! Deafening.

Like I say, I never saw it come close to that ever again. That would have been the beginning of our Sophomore year. Early September 1966.

Three Kailua surfers, one KSA, one WSC and one KBSC got the rides of their lives that day.

That was the last time I went surfing with Mike.

Mike died a short while ago.

This is kind of interesting. I am posting this here cause John Day, another old surfing buddy from Kailua was a very close friend of Mikes and 'Hey, not enough space on Facebook! Hi John!!! Like? I can just see it now. Next life: Wow what's all that commotion. Oh Hi Mike! What's Up? Bob, get your board! I got some great spots to show you!!!

Maalaea Bay

These waves have kept their same shape
for who knows how long, rising over
shallow reef and heaving white crests
toward blue recesses of the inner bay.
There are little differences now,
like this backwash off the seawall
guarding a string of condominiums
sprung from parched red dust ashore.
The kiawes were cut back to border
windblown acres of green sugar cane.
Small boats motor out, bound for deep
fishing grounds beyond Kahoolawe.
Across from the harbor the old store
still sells its famous hot dogs,
but the quiet in this evening sky
whispers of a coming dark, expansion
and rock groins to block new waves
from reaching the gentle arc of reef.
This bay is a haven for endangered
green sea turtles, their leathery heads
bobbing along inshore currents,
their flippers extended like wings.
A surfer watches blue waves advance
from the breakwall, feels the first
lift him as it passes under his board,
remembers when he first paddled out
into this bay thirty years before.
He pushes into a wave and feels wind
sear his face as he leans to keep
from falling, holding his edge high
in the wave as he rides to calm water.
His legs feel like taut springs again,
they absorb the quick chatter of offshore
wind dimples under his speeding board.
He guides a line sliding to the blue bay,
climbing in steep pockets of water,
the white crest closing on his shoulder
as he rides beyond aging, past changes
indelibly etched and yet to come,
hurtling toward a place without time.

Poem my Mike McPherson


  1. well man- just got thru writing a long email, hit the button, and lost it, so.........? i'll try again someday in the future,

  2. Seems like yesterday, doesn't it, Bob?