Monthly Archives: February 2015

No hay bolsas plastica

“No hay bolsas plastica.”

These were the words, printed on a piece of paper and taped to a caution cone, that greeted me at the door on my second trip to the grocery store in Rincon.  I was a little confused at first and literally thought that they meant that I could not bring in the two bags I had wadded up in my hand, the ones I had intentionally brought back to re-use. Initially thinking it was some kind of shop lifting prevention measure and trying to remember if that sign had been there the first time I went shopping, I put the bags in a recycle bin at the entrance to the store.

Turns out, the sign actually meant that the store itself no longer had plastic bags to put customers groceries in and Rincon’s plastic bag ban had officially gone into effect. Rincon’s mayor, Carlos Lopez Banilla is quoted in this article, Rincon first PR town to ban plastic bags, as stating that, “this is one of many steps Rincón is taking to become an environmental model city.”

Reusable Bag, 25 cents at the Econo

I was, quite honestly, overjoyed. There has not been a day of this trip that I have not seen one, if not multiple, sea turtles in the surf. I’ve also been treated to three separate humpback whale sightings and my absolute favorite thing EVER seen while surfing, a tiny seahorse, floating along just under the surface, it’s tail wrapped around a tiny piece of sargassum.

Unfortunately, there has also been rarely a day that I haven’t picked up handfuls of plastic from the shoreline, including numerous pieces of single use bags. Perhaps it sounds a little naive, but I believe in the rights of ocean dwelling animals to assume that everything floating in the ocean belongs there and is therefore fair game as food. These beings have no concept of ‘plastic’ and  consume it under the assumption of jellyfish, plankton, sargassum and more. According to the Sea Turtle Conservancy, over 100 million marine animals die each year due to plastic debris in the ocean.

The  bag ban not only moves Rincon closer to it’s goal of being an environmental model city, it makes Rincon, Puerto Rico (est. population 15,000), more environmentally progressive than any city in Florida where there is literally a ban on banning plastic bags, at the state level.

I love my beach, do not throw trash.

You read that right, local governments in Florida CANNOT currently determine their own laws or regulations concerning plastic bags. Disguised as an environmental measure waiting to come to fruition, Title 29, Chaper 403, Section 7033, states, “Until such time that the Legislature adopts the recommendations of the [DEP], no local government, local governmental agency, or state government agency may enact any rule, regulation, or ordinance regarding use, disposition, sale, prohibition, restriction, or tax of such auxiliary containers, wrappings, or disposable plastic bags.

What does this mean? The great state of Florida can (and will) take it’s sweet time determining whether  it can or cannot find the resources to adopt any of the DEP recommendations. Meanwhile 60 plastic bags will continue to be handed out daily for every single re-usable bag used.

Thankfully, a few people (who are apparently not receiving any political donations from big plastic corporations) have decided to challenge this and Rep. David Richardson (D Miami-Dade),  has filed HB 661, allowing cities with less than 100,000 people to pass pilot programs restricting plastic bags, followed by studies on the environmental and economic impacts of doing so.

Sea Turtle Hatchlings, Fernandina Beach, Fl

Locally in NE Florida, Fernandina Beach has it own group, Bag the Bag, dedicated to finding ways to reduce the use of plastic bags and hopes to get Fernandina included in HB 661’s pilot program. Fernandina’s Vice-Mayor, Commissioner Johnny Miller is a prominent member of this group and says, “Both of these beautiful areas (Puerto Rico and Hawaii, who also has a ban on single use plastic) are not only calling attention to the damage to our ecosystem by these bags, but are taking effective action! I will continue to follow their lead and fight against these easily replaced hazards until they go the way of leaded gasoline and those polystyrene McDonald’s burger containers. I would love for my grandchildren to see a photo of a plastic shopping bag and say, “what is that?

Still wondering what’s the big deal about plastic? Can’t it just be recycled? Used to pick up pet waste? Disposed of properly? The DEP’s 2010 Retail Bag Report is a long read, but one of the things that stuck out to me the most was a line stating that Floridians recycling and re-use of plastic bags is shockingly low, around 12%. As a native Floridian, I not only believe that we can do better, but that we deserve to do better of ourselves.

It’s time for Florida, home to one of the world’s richest diversities of eco-systems, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, with numerous rivers, lakes and swamps in between, to commit to protecting what is sacred to most of us. A ban on plastic bags is not too much government regulation, it’s a simple step in the right direction to helping preserve Florida and her immense water ways for future generations.

Links with more info:

Surfrider Rise Above Plastics Campaign


Sea Turtle Conservancy



Kelly’s New Quiver


Kelly seems to be using all the freedoms of being untied of a major corporate sponsor to stand up and speak out on some serious issues. The latest is a RVCA collaboration bringing further light  on the issue of killer whales used in the entertainment industry. It’s a bold move and one I applaud him for. Check out the link below for all the details on his newest quiver.

Kevin Ancell x Kelly Slater | The Pod Article

And, if you haven’t seen Blackfish, the film that spurred this move,  it’s now on Netflix. Watch Blackfish

It’s all… Swell?!

Woke up to a fresh swell pushing into Rincon this morning with the buoy slowing working it’s way up to about 7@15.  I’m telling everyone who will listen that in the five previous trips I’ve made down here, I have never seen so much swell! I had even joked with David on the way down that there would be days that he was going to wish he had a longboard. The joke seems to have been on me, as most days it’s simply too big for me to get out. Even the more sheltered breaks up in Aguadilla are seeing overhead waves during the peaks of these recent swells. Can’t a girl just get a cruisy, shoulder high, right point to practice her noserides on?!

Hazy Maria’s at dawn…

Marias, 02/17, Buoy 41115 6.9@15.4

I cruised up to the Lighthouse (Punta Higueras) to get some shots from above.  The monster on the right is pushing in from outside Indicators and then wrapping around the point to Marias. (David’s actually inside the wrapping wave on the left, he’s just so tiny, you can’t see him.)

Lines Wrapping, Marias, 02/17, Buoy 41115 6.9@15.4

We had a brief rainbow pop up over Indicators this morning.

Rainbow blessing the fresh swell

Another view from the Lighthouse, showing all the different peaks from Marias to Dogmans.

Lines, wrapping. Marias, 02/17, Buoy 41115 6.9@15.4

Wave, sucking up on the point at Marias.

The Point, sucking up. Marias, 02/17, Buoy 41115 6.9@15.4

The swell is supposed to peak around noon today and I don’t think I’m the only one hoping this afternoon and tomorrow have something a little more manageable.

Freaky Friday Swell

With the forerunners of today’s swell starting to trickle in late yesterday afternoon, I wanted to run into Aguadilla and check my favorite ‘the waves are huge, I need a sheltered spot’ wave. Turns out the direction must have been just right to push into my spot because I expected some fun little loggin’ waves in the thigh to waist range and was greeted with head high perfection. I scored about a dozen beauties before the wind and crowd each wreaked their havoc.

We drove straight up to the Maria’s lot from Aguadilla after my surf to see how much swell had filled in throughout the afternoon. Rincon had basically doubled in size from the morning and David thought he should paddle out at Dogman’s, “just to get a good look at what’s going on out there.” He’s the tiny dot in the 4th pic down with waves pushing into the double overhead range.

We woke up this morning to a buoy reading of 9.2@15.4 seconds and after checking Maria’s and the Tres Palmas look out, went straight to my friends at Mar Azul Surf Shop to rent David something bigger than his 6’1″. The owner of Mar Azul, Bobby (super cool, knowledgable guy with rental boards, a shop and apartments to rent) told David not to even think of anything less than 9′ and told us with the high percentage of breakage on Tres board rentals, you pay the price of the board up front and get a refund when you bring it back in one piece. Slightly ominous?

Just after he told us that another friend stopped by and pointed out that it was Friday, the 13th.  Freaky Friday!  The waves were freaky, freaky big and freaking beautiful.

The following images were all taken this morning, 02/13/2015.

When Tres is breaking, traffic gets a little backed up on the 413.

I didn’t have quite the equipment I needed to get a good zoom on the line-up, but I saw David charging a few during both his sessions. Hopefully someone with a bigger lens got a few of him and we can share them in a future post.

Why didn’t I run back into Aguadilla to my not so secret spot? I was pretty excited to see David surf Tres for the first time and I’ve got a little chest congestion I’m trying to kick so I can enjoy the rest of the trip. The forecast is pretty solid for our last eight days, so I’m sure I’ll be putting in my time around the Rincon and Aguadilla breaks.  Anyone who’s ever seen Tres break (or Waimea or Pipe or any giant challenging wave) knows that it’s enthralling just to be a spectator when the ocean decides to put on a show.


Here we go, again!

After a lay day yesterday that took us over to San Sebastian for the Gonzalandia Waterfalls, the forecast is calling for increasing swell and favorable winds this afternoon, with another BIG day on tap for tomorrow (not to mention what’s currently lined up for next Tuesday!). Full report and pics to follow…

Puerto Rico Living

Waves, everyday?!

Coming in with our Florida goggles on, David and I pretty much feel like we’ve scored the jackpot thus far.  The waves have  been rideable everyday, with everything from waist to chest to double overhead. Today and tomorrow are the supposed smaller, flattest  days in the forecast and yet we managed to find Middles doing this, this morning:

Middles, Puerto Rico, February 10, 2015

We’re up before dawn each day for a quick pre-surf yoga, followed by a couple cups of coffee for me and a giant bowl of oatmeal for David.  We’re in the water by daybreak and as long as the wind cooperates, try to surf until noon. Afternoons are brutal in the sun, so we use that time to relax, prep things for dinner and catch up on work.  The image below is Maria’s from last Monday… hard to tell in the pic, but basically 8-10 ft.

Maria's, Rincon, PR February 02, 2015

While David would be happy if everyday were 8-10 ft, I prefer something more like the image below, say in the 3-5 ft range. I did have someone tell me yesterday that I dropped into a “triple story” wave, but I think they were trying to say triple my size.

Maria's February 02, 2015

The late afternoons and evening sessions have been nice, with mellower crowds and enough clouds to keep the setting sun from blinding us.  Surfing until dusk, we saute up some fresh veggies to go with the rice and beans we made in the afternoon and are asleep by nine, ready to wake up and do it all over. I must say, it hasn’t started to get old yet.

Good Morning Maria’s

Maria's, Rincon, Puerto Rico

Well, we didn’t actually ‘wake-up’ in Rincon, because we never went to sleep.  After two flight delays (SO thankful that our flight delays aligned themselves so that we didn’t miss our connection), we didn’t wind up in touching down in Aguadilla until 5:00 a.m. Pretty much perfect for getting the rental car, driving to Rincon, stopping at the bakery for coffee (Punta Mar,  my personal favorite) and pulling up to Maria’s just as the sun started to sneak over the hills and light up the horizon.

Maria's, Rincon, PR February 02, 2015

There was a hightide at dawn, but as soon as it started backing out, Maria’s was ready to show off all of her goods.