Monday, November 11, 2013

I just had to fit in a post, perhaps for fun. Not sure really.

Great Ocean Quarterly is now up and out there, sales are anecdotally good, and we are beginning to receive correspondence from potential contributors, which is very heartening. Some very good writers and photographers are coming on board, with all the excitement good work brings as we start to sift through and Make a Plan.

In parallel, I've been over to Western Australia working towards bringing The Reef to the big screen, with a view to returning to the far North West in the middle of next year to make good an already wonderful recipe. 

Nothing signed or sealed yet, but the smoke signals are good.

For my home waters, we are now in the middle of our first run of real rubbish surface and swell conditions for some months, on shores howling away and the surf empty bar the odd aberration of a day that creates some magic out of a sea of popcorn.

With that in mind a memory still lives of a weekend just two weeks back, a day of days in a winter of winters.
The waves peaked at a strong Victorian 10 feet... and the picture here is after I came in, the wave not far off half the size of the sets that had been on offer just an hour or so earlier. The pic is in an onshore swing from a perfectly aligned glassy/offshore, so with this wave as the bad, imagine the good.

Onwards, pals and buddies.

Keep your fingers crossed as this barb wire canoe I continue to paddle seems to be having leaks plugged and gathering a head of steam.

To Marky and Jock, my new partners in dreams, thanks for keeping my meanderings on course, and fingers crossed for what's up next….

PS: the next issue of GOQ is looking wonderful, but no tasters just yet, and I should save them for our website anyway...

PPS: and the bottom shot is what was given away as an beautiful art print to our first subscribers. A beautiful art print by Jon Frank of the entrance to Port Philip Bay, affectionalelly know as The Rip, though it is a body of water sailors worldwide regard with some awe. Mad place when it is angry and mad when still, too.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Great Ocean Quarterly is Alive.

Another long break from posting but the excuse has been hinted at in many previous entries.

Yesterday we finally sent the first edition of Great Ocean Quarterly to the printers, with it hitting the news stands, and off to subscribers, in two weeks.

It has been a massive effort, I've never been so tired and worked such long hours for such an extended period. The result is a beautiful magazine that we aim to make better and better as we learn, grow, and our community grows with it. Our contributors include the work of Jon Frank, Rod Hyett, Jack Finlay, Dean Gorrisen, Rebecca Olive, Gregory Day, Favel Parrett and Dan Crockett, of KOOK magazine fame, with one of my favourite poems ever.

The other day Mark, Jock and I sent out our first electronic direct mail to our list of family and friends to get our first burst of subscriptions. They are starting to roll in, and we are in the throws of getting our international subs coding done so that any of you far away can join in the fun. 

If you'd like a copy, drop me a line at and I'll send it to you too.

We are now looking for contributors, naturally, so if you are a creative person of any description please get in touch. We have a desire for top quality writing, and will pay!

Just remember it is not a surfing magazine. 

My premise is the 'sea affected life'. Put simply if you have a coastline near you , be it ocean, lake or puddle, and it means something to you, then GOQ will work for you, and your work will work for GOQ.

That being said as all three of us are surfers there will creep in that love of ours from issue to issue. It is simply not the centre though the love of the briny is definitely keeping our hearts pumping.

Our next challenge is to build our website so expect that to be populated by more and more very quickly. I just have to get my head around the Wordpress interface... The poor brain is a bit fried at the moment and even typing this is a challenge.

To finish off, and just to emphasise how much dedication has been put to this project, this has been one of the most relentless winters for surf ever, weeks of off-shores and swell after swell, and I've had not much of it at all… 

Below some grabs from GOQ as a taste, with more to come.

If you already have the yen to subscribe, you can get to our page here, and keep visiting the website as it grows and grows.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Well we're about 9 weeks away from sending Great Ocean Quarterly off to the printers! Holy snapping whatchamacallits!

Time to panic.

I have websites to design, photography to shoot and pictures to draw (sort of) as well as choreographing the real talent contributing to our first issue. The hair is falling out too, so my head may soon resemble a follicular metaphor for One Hand Clapping.

Or one hair flapping.

All the above though is, for the moment, an investment with a long payoff period, so luck flapped my way with a lovely job up on the River Murray, a nature shoot of sorts, which allowed a lot of moments waiting for the sun to rise, or set, or deliver the odd jewel. 

Overall we 'got skunked' as it rained a lot, and was overcast even more, The Moods we were briefed to capture were too often a trifle sombre, though sombre does have its place when it is of the happily low key, which fits the shots below.

Accompanying them are a couple from this evening, taken just three or so hours back, at my local favourite stormy beach, where the light shafts through a split in the hills just on sunset. 

And last but not least, but in the middle below) a couple from a particularly special surf at a semi secret break nearby that is my new favourite wave. These pics were taken on dark, after the swell had dropped off a lot. 

On a couple of waves I was young again.

Back soon for more, with luck.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Be careful what you wish for.

I thought I'd better stay true to promise and place some more frequent musings up here so perhaps the time lapse between this and my last log-in is not as great as those monthly maximums of late. Perhaps only just. 

After a long run of on shore winds that followed the last post we have suddenly been hit by a relentless succession of swells, with offshores and good to near perfect conditions for days and days. Of course the strange thing about living here is that familiarity does breed contempt, and self imposed work discipline has meant late sessions in underprime times. Like the late go out on dark. 

Why the self imposed denial? Well, in truth, all my project meanderings of the past few years, filmic and otherwise have given me, apart from some accolades and many friends, a rather deep and terrifying hole to dig out of, at a late age when digging is the last thing I expected.

It has meant the blog, which as I've said before has been a cathartic place to connect with near and dear, and dear and far, has become a place I've tended to avoid because of fear of emotional exposure.

I was thinking about this this evening, and then decided… bugger it, as I'm not that anonymous, and I can hold my head up in many ways as I keep on giving it a crack, successful financially or not. It doesn't help the terror, or perhaps it does. Ask me in a year or two.

As our editor Jock says, when we're cigar chomping magnates we'll look back on all of this and laugh.

Jock you are rather epic.

So today I find myself alone at home, errant son away somewhere being errant, older son not so but catching up with devil boy to coax some sense into him and trying to change university courses at the same time. My dear Sue is up in town working and chasing work to keep us afloat as I sit here in a down moment in between working on sub edits on our magazine, have anxiety attacks and try to allay them by this blog post. By now you'll realise this is rather stream of consciousness, but that is how I've been working in Safetosea since it began so no need to change now.

The one thing that has kept me alive, and I mean this seriously, is the sea and its proximity. My wandering up to the headland at Bells or Southside, a long look out to the horizon and those deep breaths of connectedness to something great, coupled with enough paddle outs to keep my body fairly strong has made the other stuff weighing me down bearable. 

When I started this blog I had a house, assets, and family. I still have the family. Risks, and expectations... have their risks. 

Lesson learned, and as I said to Sue yesterday, when we met nearly 30 years ago, we had nothing. We built something, it's gone awry, but we can do it again. And we're still together.

Last Sunday Bells was big and perfect, and local photog Steve Ryan took my picture on the second wave of a lovely session. I'm six months short of sixty, and I never expected to be riding such beautiful waves passably well, so many years later. Of that I'm thankful and the sun is still shining.

Thankyou and goodnight.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

I must apologise for the past months of not posting much.

The fact is the blog has taken a big back seat to life, good and bad.

Way back when I began the thing the reason was connecting to a family in LA after seeing a memorial to their son, a lad lost while on an Indonesian surf trip, and my acute sense of what they must have been feeling given I had a couple of my own.

It evolved quickly into both a diary of sorts, and an ongoing letter to my Dear Old Dad . After he left us the fire went out a bit, and the other stories, about kids and what they get up to, started to get a bit too personal to share, as one, in particular, started to get up to more than I expected, more than I could bear, and more than I could fairly let the big wide world become privy to.

Is that improving? Perhaps, but I will be trying to be here more often. There are some good things happening.

As I have written earlier, the Reef, our collaboration of film and orchestra, is on a trail to becoming a feature of sports.

That it is taking longer than one would expect is no surprise if you know anything about the machinations of the film world. It is not easy.

My other project, and hopefully my later life career, is as Creative Director of Great Ocean Quarterly. 

This was an idea I've been ruminating on for about three years now. I'd wanted to do something about "living Near The Sea" for quite a awhile, but as a businessman I really do fall short and decided, for this particular bright idea, to find partners.

Happily I found them, in Mark Willett and Jock Serong. We incorporated a couple of weeks back and have begun the build for a launch in November.

Mark is a great business head, a former round the world yacht racer, manic surfer and an old friend. Jock, as editor, brings some heavy writing skills, a planet brain, and again, his connection to the sea is strong.
His first book, Quota, is being released later this year.

The whole idea is a Sea Informed Life. Arts, ideas, very good writing, all connected by proximity, be it emotional or physical, to the sea. We have some great contributors on board with more to come, including a few friends from blogland who have the writing chops to help me fill a brief to myself of having "other coasts' as companions to the area we will feature most, this glorious Great Ocean Coast of Victoria, way down here in Oz.

As we progress I'll keep you posted with enough to make everyone want to subscribe because we are very serious about this, and fully intend to make it fly.

On top of it all the surf has been pumping, though for the past few days the Big Wet has set in, and the Devil Winds too.

The pics following range from last Sunday to yesterday afternoon, with the bad winds in the middle. Enjoy your fill of chill.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

An amazing run of swell hereabouts over the last week or so. Relentless and perfect at times, with one big raw evening touching big enough for some rather long boards to get a run without seeming silly. 

Bell's when it gets over a certain tipping point becomes rather hard to catch. At a size somewhere around maybe three to four times overhead, the big fat lumps have a habit of going from zero to hero in a very sudden second. An early hook in makes it all the easier, and for a while I wasn't getting it. A six ten and old bones meant a couple of cartwheels down the face, but somehow the old rheumy eye dialled in and I managed four or five giggles before dark by sitting in, and under the lip, letting the fates guide me down.

For the rest of the past week the endless perfection allowed, amidst the crowds, quite a bit of fun.

I also did some filming, albiet not that successfully as I was having camera operator issues, which means, really, that I'm a bit better at directing than shooting, though I am working on it. Jon Frank. Respect.

The shots are from the smaller, more shapely yesterday morning of the larger night before. I do have to say it is not a bad set of reefs to have just up the road.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

There is something very different about long period swells. On Saturday and into Sunday past we were raked by zephyr groomed lines caressing the reefs. Conditions had fallen into place in a way they rarely do. The power was a level up, with speed to burn, and Bells was beginning to look more like Indo than Vicco.

It was even arguably hollow.

And everyone knew it. The internet drums had been banging away, and it was packed. Everywhere. A couple of 'secret' spots were reeling, but alone a couple of hundred metres out just didn't feel right. to me, much as I would have liked to paddle out and explore.

So Bells it was, with dozens out, but somehow, if you knew how and where, you can find waves.

How I went is sort of irrelevant, as others in the water were providing some fine entertainment. The Gudauskas brothers were doing impossible things, Ross Clarke Jones sat waiting patiently for the two bombs he carved like an angry chef with a six foot blade, and I attempted to pull into a frothy barrel that I was completely crushed by right in front of all of the above and their water photographer Ed Sloane. 

My 6'2" MC was largely behaving, but my experiment of smaller fins was not working to plan as I was sliding a little on the larger waves which puzzled me until I checked them pre surf on Sunday and saw I'd not tightened them enough. All three were flopping about in their boxes like drunks in a bar. Once tightened the problem went away, and in the slightly less perfect conditions with half the crowd my three hours was epic, exhausting fun. I ran out of arms for the first time in ages, and actually shined a late afternoon surf.

Still ten hours in the water in two days is not bad for an old coot.

The pics are snaps from the Saturday, lightly overcast skies and empty waves amidst the crowds, and there were bigger waves on offer too. This was not the best of it. True.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Some good waves around today. 

I just got out of the water from some absolutely cracking Bells. Both it and Winki busy but very consistent and some fun ones coming through. For some reason I was catching a few too, despite being on just a six two... somethings gotta give soon I suppose but I am not complaining. My last wave was a best ever, a bomb from way out back through to the Button. Full width of the Bells bay. Plus some. Never happens. Still don't believe it.

The other good thing that happened recently was just before the Reef Tour I received a call from Surfing Australia inviting me to attend the Surfing Australia 50th Anniversary Hall of Fame Ball up in Sydney. We'd been nominated for an award for the Reef so up I went, fortuitously in a way as the next day the Reef rehearsals were to begin.

Anyway but blow me down and we won the Hall of Fame Surf Culture Award for 2013. So stoked given two that one of the other nominees was the Gra Murdochs wonderful White Horses project. I'd have loved a draw.

The other great thing was catching up with some old friends and making some briefly new ones. Had a chat with MR, Parko, Simon Anderson, Bob McTavish, Tommy and Nick Carrol, and  Nat Young, who is an old mate so it was old home week there.

Plus Cheyne Horan who still looks as fit as a flea and is a really lovely guy.

The highlight though was seeing Westerly Windina (formerly Peter Drouyn) who looked amazing, has had 'the op' and to see the love and acceptance in that room on the night was very, very special.

Nat giving his old contest rival and 'new best girlfriend" a hug and kiss on stage says it all. Just great.

Pics today.

Bells and Winki, our trophy and my iphone snap of Westerly, with Steph as she was inducted in to the Hall of Fame.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Finally some decent waves. It's been a long flukey summer down here, the water warm as toast and the waves on the Torquay coast pretty damn miserable. The beaches to the east and west have been firing, the boys and girls there with smiles wide and cheery. 

Alas, not so for us, until today.

Today it is firing, the swell being caressed by a schizoid wind that refuses to settle into one direction, though it has remained light and, if anything, has served to make the waves 'interesting' in a good way.

Some nice sets amongst it too, with a bit of power to boot. Naturally the weekend has brought the crowds but you can't begrudge a wave can you? The general demeanour in the water has been controlled. A fair bit of dropping in going on but tempers remain calm. For me... I'm sitting out the heat of the day to give it another hit in an hour or two, get some more crumbs thrown to the side for coots like me, and with luck I'll get a couple of hooters, just like this morning.

As for the rest of the news over the past month, well that's why the blog has gone begging.

We toured the East Coast of Australia with the Reef, sell out crowds everywhere and all bar one performance went seamlessly. Great receptions universally and kudos to all involved. It has been an epic run. 

Now for the test of time.

Next week it is off to Hong Kong, and with luck, the world will get to see it over the next year or two.

Shots for today: Winki this morning, and me giving a pre concert talk at the Sydney Opera House. 
Who'd have believed? And it was my birthday last week too. 59. Now that I simply cannot believe.

As the old saying goes.. Life sneaks up on you like a windscreen on a bug.

Monday, February 11, 2013

It's all on down here at the moment, and the big news is pretty big.

The Culture and Arts Minister of Western Australia announced the other day that Screen West would be backing The Reef to be made into a feature film.

A statement from the Australian Chamber Orchestra said:

The Reef – the recently released concert from world renowned violinist Richard Tognetti and the Australian Chamber Orchestra, is to be made into a unique feature film in Western Australia. The Reef is an immersive experience in music and film.  With no spoken dialogue the film journeys us through a Mythic Day on the awe-inspiring Gnaraloo Reef, and the coastal inland of Western Australia’s Coral Coast, creating an analogy for our entire lives – dawn to dusk, birth to death, with all the joy, hardship and beauty in between.

“Developing The Reef was one of the most adventurous mind and body expanding experiences an orchestra could ever have. To travel to this region with the purpose of creating a project, and then embarking on a tour that exceeded all our expectations, was a life changing experience. The idea of the film is to take us higher and deeper into this amazing journey. The inspiration for the entire project has come from Western Australia and it is fitting that the film will be realized in WA, with the wonderful support of the WA Government.” Richard Tognetti

The concert version has and will be playing to worldwide audiences (Australia, Maribor in Slovenia as part of the Maribor Festival, and soon Hong Kong, Europe and the US), and will now be translated to the big screen. With substantial material already filmed in WA, the next stage of filming will be mid-year back at Gnaraloo and inland from there, with a predominantly WA crew.

The Reef will be produced by Richard Keddie of the Melbourne based company - The Film Company;  and co-produced, written and directed by Mick Sowry; along with Perth producer Cheri Larsen. Mick Sowry, Richard Tognetti and Richard Keddie teamed previously to make the multi award-winning film MUSICA SURFICA. The ACO is also a producing partner."

Which in a nutshell means we have a big year ahead.

Pretty damn cool too. 

Preceding this we are about to embark on a REEF tour of eastern Australia, seven performances in total in this phase of the ever evolving Reef Redux. Tickets selling fast so anyone on East Coast Oz who reads this better visit the Australian Chamber Orchestra website to get a ticket now. 

Another series of journeys that started with a random email back in 2007. Check back to that far in this blog and you can read how it unfolded. Crazy stuff.

As for the rest of life, the occasional surf led to an experiment yesterday when I borrowed the board at bottom and was lightly mind blown. Of course I fell and goosed out but found the joy eventually. Given the relatively crappy conditions all I can say it is very fast, very agile and a bit of a thought machine. It also paddles amazingly well, at 5'8" it picks up waves like a board 8 inches longer. That I'm as old in numbers as the board is long think about your board choice if you think being 'a certain age' is limiting you. There are alternatives that lead to a lot of carvy fun.

Shots today, some Reef screen grabs, a return to Rachmaninoff, and that board.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Just over two weeks since the last post, a new year stretches its arms and we begin again.

No holidays away for us over Christmas, so its been kicking back at home, babysitting a little white dog called Sonny Jim, and his scruffy brownish pal Roo, getting the occasional surf amidst the endless summer on-shores, having the odd sunset beer, worrying a lot as that is what I do best, and preparing for a new tilt with The Reef.

As a few projects are needing my computer gear in good working order, and since I've not updated software for ages I thought I'd do the right thing and do so with those tools I like to use most.

Naturally after no updates for four years or so, there are some new tricks in the code so I've been revisiting some shots just to see what it'll do. No pyrotechnics mind you, just noodling about getting a feel and trying to rescue some exposure disasters or make some silk purses from my usual sow's ears.

Digging through my Reefy snaps, taken while scouting about or waiting for waves, here are a few to start.

The chap in black and white is the wonderful Warren Pfeiffer, while the two at bottom are Ryan Burch and his little white foam slab under repair. The rest are just things I saw while wandering about.
The crab is still undergoing therapy.