A baby boomer’s wisdom about California surfing

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We are always happy here at BoomerCafé when Boomer Wisdom (note the Capitalization of these important words) shows itself in spades. That’s why we were happy just the other day to hear from our old friend Mike Petrie of Laguna Niguel, California, a lawyer, author, and surfer (yes, you read that right) who has turned a little wiser in all his years. This time, it’s his baby boomer’s perspective on the Southern California surf.

I remember, several years ago, being awakened at 3:00 in the morning by what sounded like the loud roar of cannon fire; it actually shook my house a little.

Mike Petrie - dog

Mike Petrie with his dog.

But it wasn’t from a cannon; it was huge breakers crashing onto the shore outside my home. In the pitch black of night I got out of bed and turned on the TV surf report, where they talked about 10 to 20 footers. I anxiously awaited the sun to rise so I could head out on the sand to check out these monster waves for myself.

Mike surfin.

Mike surfing.

That was a day surfers still refer to as BIG WEDNESDAY, and tales are still told of paddling out into some of the biggest waves Southern California beaches had seen in decades.

I was among them back then. Well, lo and behold, Hurricane Marie, down south in Mexico, is currently dishing out series after series of aquatic behemoths here on our local shores … treating us to an entire week of Big Wednesdays. Cowabunga Dude!

[Mike's book - You're the Only One I Can Trust - is available at Amazon.com]

But with age should come, at least, a modicum of wisdom. I have a real respect for the power of the ocean. As Clint Eastwood’s character Dirty Harry once famously said, “A man has to know his limitations.” I’ve been surfing since my teens, but I know when to paddle out and when to just sit on the beach and watch.

16 Comments

  1. Very nice story and pictures. Sure, with age usually comes a bit of wisdom. But becoming a parent will cause a man to really reevaluate his priorities. Mike is daddy to his two young children. I’m guessing those kids are a big reason for living life a bit more cautiously. But he’s still sort of a wild & crazy guy. lol

  2. Michael, my darling husband, loves to surf, to sail in heavy wind and even rain, comes back from riding his mountain bike with scrapes and cuts all over his arms & legs … so this common sense attitude of not surfing absolutely insane killer waves is much appreciated by his family. LOL

  3. My friend, Scott Lawton I am sure would have remembered this and he would have been out surfing for sure in the recent one, but he died while surfing at County Line a few years ago. Scott mentored a lot of young surfers to the joy of surfing and to the joy of Buddhism. He was a member of the esteemed Malibu Surf Club and they acknowledged his contributions to the surfing community. Look up his name and you will find Scott catching a wave.

    1. Lorraine, Though I surfed County Line & Surfrider for many years before relocating southward, I never knew Scott. Your friend Scott sounds like someone I would have enjoyed knowing. I Googled him and he sounds like an amazing person. Thanks for reading this article and for introducing me (though posthumously) to Scott. Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.

      1. Yeah , Scott was awesome, always happy and never down about anything. He has been not only missed by his family but also the SGI Buddhist community as well.

        1. A buddy just returned from a surf trip to Nicaragua where he surfed 10 to 18 foot waves every day for a week straight, so coming home to tackle the huge surf we were experiencing here in Southern California was just more of the same for him. But he says he remembers Big Wednesday of 2007 (that I mention in the piece above) was even bigger. They were certainly the biggest waves I’ve ever surfed.

  4. Wow! Great story to remember! I love this author’s writings, His book, “You’re the Only One I Can Trust” was an awesome read! Pick it up, if you haven’t already read it!

    1. Thank you CJ, so glad you enjoyed the book. After more than a decade of writing for various publications, YOU’RE THE ONLY ONE I CAN TRUST is my first full-length novel – a murder mystery set in California & Hawaii – based upon a fictionalized compilation of actual cases and observations over a 20 year legal career. I’m currently working on book number two. Hope to have it completed by early next year. You will find updates as well as synopsis, reviews, etc. at http://www.CalWriter.net Thanks for reading!

  5. I think Boomers like Michael are proving that there is no reason to stand on the sidelines just because you reach a predetermined age. As long as you are in decent shape, living life to the fullest is always wise. And with so much experience, he probably has less chance of getting hurt than he did in his wild younger days. I know that I stay very aware that I don’t bounce so good any more!

    1. Thank you, Charlie. I think you are probably right.
      By the way, in my book, a murder mystery titled YOU’RE THE ONLY ONE I CAN TRUST, almost all of the characters are Boomers … none of them standing on the sidelines – they fall in love, they surf, sail, ride motorcycles, make love … and, apparently, commit murder!

  6. Once again, Michael Petrie captures the action with words and makes it a virtual reality for people who, like me, live in the Midwest! Without his unique storytelling ability, I would never have known that the sound of waves crashing on the beach would sound like the “loud roar of cannon fire” and possess enough power to make a house tremble.

    In his book “You’re the Only One I Can Trust,” Michael demonstrated this ability by describing the main character’s life and experiences in a way that I felt I was safely peeking over his shoulder as it was happening.

    As I read his book, I would occasionally do an online check to see if a place he mentioned actually existed because his writing enticed me to want to know just a little bit more and see a picture or scout the location of something he mentioned.

    Michael has an excellent way of telling a story so that the reader is able to use their imagination as they read. I look forward to his second book!

  7. Really enjoyed Michael E Petrie’s murder mystery book You’re the Only One I Can Trust. He nicely weaves things like surfing right into the story. As a lawyer, a surfer and a writer he’s got it down!

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