Category Archives: Salt Creek

Great White Shark Activity

GREAT WHITE SHARK ACTIVITY

great white shark, art, great white shark painting, Whitney L. Anderson

Whitney L Anderson with Great White Shark Painting

From the near fatal Great White Shark Attack at San Onofre weeks ago and the OC Sheriffs Helicopter warning a paddle boarder of being in the middle of a pack of 15 sharks to personally seeing sharks thrash around the water 10 feet or less from the sand and the OC Register report of a shark at Thousand Steps Beach, the danger has become very real to this South Orange County Body Boarder and ocean enthusiast. A friend in Laguna Beach had suggested that there was a sighting at Aliso Beach several weeks back and I immediately drove up to Aliso to speak with a lifeguard supervisor who was unaware of any sighting.  That day curiosity got the best of me and I headed to Capo Beach where there has been many daily sightings over the last several weeks.  Sure enough, I got to see them in the surf zone at a spot I have paddled out at in years past.  I was moved by the fear of a friend of mine who has been in the San Clemente to Laguna community as a former professional body boarder for the bulk of his life.  I would like to acknowledge Joe Grodzen and I wanted to relay the sentiment of what he said on Facebook.  He spoke of his deep ties to the ocean and those of his wife Keila whom is also a former professional body boarder.  Raising a young boy and giving him the gift of beach and surfing culture, it is not lost on Joe how concerning the rash of shark sightings from San Onofre to Long Beach, California is.  Joe for the most part is a very unflappable, competitive and in the moment kind of personality.  What he said was very raw and very real.  Reading his thoughts, I was affected by the fear he had related to the presence of these sharks in what perhaps is a new normal along our coastline with regular visits.  He echoed the sentiment that he may have to give a second thought to being in the water to keep he and his family safe.  Joe has been at this far longer than I have, and to hear a man that has spent nearly every day of his life since he has been old enough to walk in local ocean waters express a genuine concern for his safety, it definitely caught my attention.

Still trying to process the swarm of so many sharks in the area, I did return a second time to Capo Beach noticing the shark warning signs, and eventually seeing one splash around 10 feet or less from shore.  It is probably not a good idea to be in the water at all at Capo.  Rumor has it that boats and perhaps kayakers are chumming the waters to attract the sharks.  Some of these boats are alleged to be whale boats capitalizing on the presence of these toothy new inhabitants of Capo Waters.  Any reasonable human being should not approve of throwing blood and guts into the water near shore for commercial gain, capturing footage or taking photographs.  This is a really bad idea that may contribute to a fatality and should be stopped immediately.  My hope is the lifeguards and authorities can identify those perpetrators and force them to stop.  As far as I can see that is harassment of a federally protected shark but what do I know.  If this is being done please stop this very reckless behavior.

Since I spend more time at Salt Creek and the coves of Laguna Beach, I felt like I was relatively safe in the zones I like to play in.  Given the explosion of shark numbers close to shore in San Clemente and Capo Beach, the idea that there are no great whites near shore at Salt Creek and Laguna Beaches rests on quicksand.  It simply doesn’t hold.  A Laylan Connelly, Orange County Register Article, shattered my idealized safe zones with a shark spotting at South Laguna’s Thousand Steps Beach and the mention of a shark advisory at Salt Creek.  Say it isn’t so!  I don’t know what I am going to do personally and I am feeling like I may put myself on a self-imposed time out, and as Joe Grodzen so eloquently said, what are we going to do? Ocean enthusiasts have built their lives around washing away all that ails them in the ocean and doing something athletically that keeps them happy.  I don’t know the answer to this question, and I suppose time will tell.  Having paddled way out at Salt Creek and sitting in the kelp paddies, I admit that I have thought about the unseen below that perhaps I don’t want to know is there. The ocean and local waters are home to the Great White Shark, but I cannot say that in over the 30 years I have spent time in these waters, that this is normal in any way shape or form.   How I feel about this situation will in no way dictate the behavior of sharks and where they choose to set up shop.  While I pray that their presence will come to pass and they head out to deeper waters, their continued presence could put a damper on what little ocean time I have as it is.  Having had a fin pop up on me in Baja while body boarding alone at a northern stretch of La Fonda, I really don’t want to find myself in that situation again.  Fortunately, a well-timed set arrival got me out of there before I could stare into the intentions of presumably a Great White Shark…and I prefer that to be the last time I find myself in the water with one.

I would like to take a moment to thank my friend and artist Whitney L. Anderson, a brilliant painter and collage artist residing in Seattle, Washington.

Website:  http://www.whitneylanderson.com

Instagram:  http://www.instagram.com/whitneylanderson_art

 

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No Wet Suit December

NO WET SUIT DECEMBER

Well I have finally made it and can say I have trunked it from April to December.  8 months of no neoprene or smoothie with warm water extending into a no wet suit December. When I got out of the car yesterday at Aliso Beach, the offshore wind was howling through the canyon with a bone shivering cool that pierced my new Left Coast hoodie. I had my doubts about wearing trunks.  After getting a cup of coffee in Dana Point and having a brief conversation with the inspirational American Wayfarers, I got to Salt Creek and almost talked my self out of this quest to trunk it until December.

I told my friend and fellow body boarder that I was going to roll down the street and get a wet suit.  He told me that he would head back home to study for a professional exam that was coming up because he didn’t want to paddle out into the 4-8 foot surf alone and without the benefit of a second set of eyes watching over him. So, I gave in and decided that I would deal with the cold water no matter what.  Patrick volunteered to wear his spring suit so that I didn’t feel like an ice cube all alone.

trunks in december

Body Board Gear for December 2015.

When we got down to the sand, I noticed the cold in the grains of sand as I walked towards the water.  I put my fins on and stood at the water’s edge testing the cold and watching big sets stack up on the outside. The water wasn’t so bad and I felt based on my ankle to knee deep experiment that the ocean temp was tolerable enough to green light this no wet suit December. I got to waist deep and a little bit of a chill hit me.  I used my Cartel Board to shield some of the white water rushing towards me in the shore break so that I didn’t have to process the cold all at once.  As I got deeper and my reaction to the water hadn’t changed for the alarming, I plunked down on the board and stroked for the line up.  I quickly had to duck my first wave and it was on!  The waves were a little bit wonky and warbly but their were some good sets with some liquid real estate to play on.

I don’t know why I am so fascinated by trunking it this far into the season. Everyone else is in full wet suits so I might be a little crazy.  Last year my run of trunks ended at the end of November, although I must admit that I sat at the water’s edge last year talking to Ron Pringle who was in trunks at Aliso in December on an 80 degree day.  I could have trunked it last December but chose not to paddle out that day.  The waves just weren’t that good.  It is remarkable to get waves in a no wet suit December.  I don’t know how far this will go but the water still seems to be around 65 degrees despite reports giving a range of 62-64.  I am happy that I am still wearing trunks, and while I know the days of this are numbered, will continue to wear them.

I ran into Stan Moniz in Northern Laguna, and he also was in trunks photographing the shore break.  I have way more insulation than he has if you know what I mean. I was shocked, if not a little bummed, to see someone else in trunks yesterday.  My trunks deep into fall experiment was a lunacy I had hoped to reserve for myself.  It would not surprise me to run into Pringle in trunks so it is impossible to claim the no wet suit December for myself.  I can say, however, that this is the deepest I have been in the Fall Season wearing trunks and I am both proud of that and stoked!  I prefer not wearing a wet suit and El Nino certainly has delivered unseasonably warm water to South Orange County and Southern California.  When the weather reverses and we experience a La Nina, I am expecting colder water to be more prevalent and extend further into the spring and earlier into the fall. We will see!  As for today, it will be one more in the no wet suit December!

 

 

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No Wet Suit No Problem

NO WET SUIT

65 degree water at Salt Creek on a day with the sun out and light winds translates to no wet suit.  I have been boasting over the last three weeks about how I see no need to wear a wet suit.  With all of the surfers and body boarders that wear wet suits with the slightest of chill in the water temperatures, it is always difficult to gauge what local water temps are like.  I realize that I am holding on to warm water and daring it to drop in temperature so severely that I don’t make it through a half hour of water time.  I did my research though and two reporting forecasts had the temperatures at 63-66 degrees.  Mysteriously enough, Surfline had the Salt Creek water at 66 degrees and promptly changed it to 63 to 65 degrees.  It was if someone threw a fit with their reported temperature after finding out the water felt colder than was reported.  Chances are the dude was skinny and weighs 100 pounds when wet with salt water.

Derek McClean

Derek McClean at Salt Creek in a BMW LOL!

I am not the only crazy guy thinking he can wear trunks well into the winter.  In fact, the plan we have devised has us wearing trunks into December just so that we can say that we did.  When we paddled out today, I had my reservations because the closer we get to winter, the more likelihood we will have to become wet suit minded.  The water was a tad chilly entering the water and I took my time wading before diving in.  I honestly thought I would go back in after a short while but the water turned out to be comfortable and the ocean breeze stayed mild enough not to make it feel colder than it was.  Derek McClean, whom I have known for 25 years, called me as I watched the waves from the bridge at Salt Creek.  We were anticipating waves from Hurricane Sandra out of the southeast.  Small waves from the reports prompted Derek to call off an early mission of 6:00 am.  I was grateful because apparently I really needed a good night’s sleep.

Responding to his text, I told him that I would watch all day hoping that Surfline’s promise of waves from Sandra came true. I have two Hurricane Sandra’s competing for my attention right now.  One is an adorable Golden Labrador that can’t get enough of a game of fetch with a rubber pig and the other is a Hurricane that we are hoping delivers on a 50-50 odds of delivering decent waves for tomorrow.  One Sandra will chase a plastic toy till I am blue in the face and she tracks mud all over the house from the recent rains.  The other is a hurricane that we are praying delivers us 4 feet of swell or better for waves that have produced more yawns that stoke over the Thanksgiving Holiday.   While on the bridge and seeing a few sets come out of the south, I was about to call Derek when he called me.  The first thing he said to me was that he was grabbing his trunks and coming to Salt Creek.  I told him I was already there and that I saw a few sets.  I had no idea that he would  show up with only trunks.  I had no choice in the matter because last year’s wet suit wasn’t going to make it another season and I have refused to buy another.  Any day now, the normal presence of cooler waters off our coast could very well change that but I am holding on for dear life with this fascination with wearing trunks into the beginning of winter.  Even better would be if I had the opportunity to wear trunks all winter and never wear a wet suit but that is a fairy tale and probably isn’t possible.  Who knows though, Fukushima radiation, El Nino, and Global Warming on a massive scale could very well do the trick.

So Derek not only trunked it, but also bear backed his session.  I am sure to many that saw us coming our bravery was comical.  We didn’t care though, as we review local water temps and choose the no wet suit option when the reports tell us that it is unlikely we become human popsickles as a result of forgoing a wet suit.  In my mind, water that is 65 degrees and higher is worthy of not wearing a wet suit.  To most of the wave riding community in Southern California that is pure lunacy.  Derek and I don’t care and we will wear no wet suits if we want!  That is how we do it!

The plan is to wear trunks into December which may run into a decent shot of swell out of the northwest middle of the first week of December which could change the water temperatures here locally.  I am going to give it  a shot determined to trunk it into December just so I could say that I did.  I know water temperatures are going to drop!  65 degree water temperatures and sunny skies are not going to bully me into thinking that I have to wear a full wet suit.  It just isn’t happening.  Wet suit retailers shouldn’t worry though!  I am going to be forced to do what everyone else does when the water drops.  Feel free to test our theory that local water are not cold enough to wear a wet suit if you have the guts.  If you want to deck yourself out like a storm trooper in full neoprene and smoothie that is okay too.  Just don’t be mad if I slide around you for a wave in just trunks and a rash guard.  And by the way, don’t waste any time feeling sorry for Derek and I, we survived 2 hours of water time in marginal surf at best without thinking about being cold.

 

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Trunksaholic

TRUNKSAHOLIC

turnksaholic, warm water, warm ocean temperatures, warm sea temps

Body Board Gear for a trunksaholic.

My name is Rob and I am a trunksaholic. It has been 6 months since I have worn a wet suit, and as long as the water is above 65 degrees, I have no intention of wearing one. We have had the better part of 2 years worth of the warmest water I can remember in Southern California.  It has been wonderful.  Last year I got to the end of November wearing trunks.  Although I did not make it into December because of the quality of waves for body boarding, my friend Ron Pringle, an exceptional body surfer, was able to trunk it into December. My goal is to trunk it for as long as I can.  Not a huge fan of wearing a wet suit, I will eventually be forced to do so with the changing seasons.  Adding a couple pounds of neoprene is overrated.  It sucks…it really does.

The weather was incredible today.  The sky was clear and the winds were light with a smooth ocean surface.  It had to be 75 degrees on the beach today. In need of a new wet suit, I haven’t given much thought of buying a new one, so in essence, a  big drop in water temperature is the only chance of curing my trunksaholism.  Seeing all the surfers and body boarders leave their cars in the parking lot in their full wet suits, you would think that the water was 50 degrees.  Wave riders in general are hyper sensitive to the smallest fluctuation in water temperature.  It is comical!  After looking at the water from the bridge over by Ritz Carlton, and asking a few surfers returning from the water about the water temperature, I was convinced that trunks and a rash guard would work just fine.  I watch the local ocean temperatures on the Aliso Beach Cam so I knew I would be good without wearing a monkey suit.

So I changed into my trunks, threw on my rash guard, tucked my Cartel Body Board under my left arm and balanced my Ally swim fins from 662 body board shop, keys and a towel with my right hand and headed for the beach.  When I got down there, friends verified that it was warm enough to trunk but that water may have dropped a little.  I waded into the water after putting my fins on to about waste deep when I said screw it and just dove in.  Truth be told there was a little chill to the water, and I am sure the guys and gals who got up at first light had a tougher decision to make than I who leisurely showed up at 10:00 am on a Saturday after waiting for a big tide to drop a little.  Either way, that water was warm enough to trunk it, or at least that is what this trunksaholic thinks! The water was warm and visibility was exceptional.  The sun was reflecting the ripples on the sand beneath the surface like a swimming pool does.  It was entrancing and awesome to be a part of.

Who knows how long the warm water dream lasts.  Being able to avoid a wet suit is like my own version of the endless summer.  I was talking to a surfer in the water who had friends in the San Francisco area.  With the first big northwest swell the water went from 68 to somewhere in the 50’s. Ouch!  There is no part of me that wants anything to do with water that frigid!  With San Francisco water temperatures dropping, Southern California is due for the same.  It may take a big swell to bring the cooler water but there is always the possibility that a couple of days of steady rain would do the trick.  That will be a sad day for me!

I have not looked for a new wet suit because I don’t like wearing them.  I do it begrudgingly because I feel like I am wrapped up like a mummy in those things.  The extra weight and restricted movement really are a pain in the ass.  Winter does not care what this old trunksaholic wants so cooler water will return to South Orange County whether I like it or not.  I hope that I can delay purchasing a wet suit for 3 weeks but we will see what Mother Nature thinks. Until then I am just a happy camper wearing trunks in warm water hoping it will stick around a while.

 

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Sunday Checklist

SUNDAY CHECKLIST

This Sunday Checklist is all that I need to enjoy my weekend. The only unfortunate part of this is that Aliso Beach didn’t have the conditions to make it part of my Sunday, but it has its days!

 

  • Sun………………………………………………………….Salt Creek Beach was 75 degrees yesterday with light breezes.
  • Warm Ocean Water……………………………………Despite all of the wave riders overreacting to Fall with their full wet suits, the water at Salt Creek was 68 degrees and comfortable without a wet suit.
  • Light Crowd In the Water……………………………Entered the water around 11:00am after most wave riders had come and gone leaving plenty of waves for myself and friends.
  • Waves………………………………………………………There needed to be enough swell to make the waves fun and it was 2-3 feet plus with some driving round barrels over the Middle’s sand bar.
  • Body Board……………………………………………….Working with a new Cartel Board that my childhood friend Paul hooked me up with and it is performing really well in good surf.
  • Fins………………………………………………………….I never thought I would be happy with fins other than Redleys but Ally Fins which are product of 662 Surf Shop in Dana Point are solid.
  • Trunks……………………………………………………..November 8th and the water is still closer to 70 degrees than 60 degrees which requires trunks. Who wants to wear all that neoprene and smoothie anyways.
  • Rash Guard……………………………………………….On a warm water day this helps fend off the slight onshore breeze a little bit.  Who wants to see my pale, uneven, farmer tan anyways.  Got to have a rash guard!

The only other thing I can think of that I could put on the Sunday Checklist is that smart card that allows me to get a daily parking ticket without the hassle of remembering to feed the machine with dollar bills and coins.  These are great if you don’t have one and can be picked up through the County Of Orange. It represents beach parking made easy and is good for both Aliso Beach and Salt Creek among other places.  Well into my 3rd decade of body boarding I have to be grateful for my health. I have not had any major injuries and the sport continues to give me an athletic outlet and exercise in tranquil, salt water environments that balance, de-stress, and rejuvenate me.  What you see above is the perfect Sunday and although the waves could have been better, they were good enough to quench my thirst for being in the ocean and catching a couple of good waves with little or no crowd, warm water, and 75 degree weather.  You just can’t beat that on a Fall day headed towards winter in South Orange County, California.

beach gear, body board, trunks, fins, rash guard

Riding Gear!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Big Fish In The Weed

BIG FISH IN THE WEED

There was big fish in the weed yesterday at Salt Creek.  Over the last month or so, the water at Salt Creek has been packed full of seaweed that has died off as a result of El Nino driven warm waters. It is kind of pointless for weather gurus to deny the warm water event at this point with all of the strange creatures showing up in local waters from the yellow-bellied sea snake and pelagic red crabs, to hammerhead shark encounters fishing kayakers and whales that are foreign to these waters.

The seaweed was so thick at Salt Creek that when you rode a wave got thrown in the tube you barely broke the surface of the water landing on a giant pad of sea lettuce.  I came up from every wipe out with a new weed hairdo as well as trunks and rash guard full of the remnants of kelp.  It kind of sucked to be honest, although it did keep most of the frothing crowd down at gravels.  While waiting for waves, I noticed big fish in the weed. There were many and I could see there silvery bodies as they navigated through the thick patches along the shore.  If I were a fish I think I would seek refuge in the patches of kelp along the shore.  If it was hard for me to paddle thru I can imagine it is somewhat of a deterrent to predators looking for a meal.

Speaking of predators, while keeping one eye on incoming waves and another fascinatingly watching fish below me, something really big approached.  I didn’t get a good look but it was startlingly enough for me to move in a hurry.  Fresh off the Grind TV post with a hammerhead shark riding a wave  along the shore of Newport Beach, I wasn’t going to stay in that spot to find out if I indeed saw a shark.  It occurs to me that it may have been a Mola Mola or a sun fish as some call them.  I have seen them before and upon initial glimpse was equally as jumpy as to what it could be.  The odds of getting attacked by a shark is extremely low, but all of these out of ordinary sightings of hammerheads, great white sharks, yellow-bellied sea snakes, whales and who knows what else has me keeping a watchful eye in the water.  There are some big fish in the weed these days, and let’s hope those aren’t of the shark, jagged, toothy kind.

 

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Elephant

ELEPHANT

elephant at salt creek, elephant, salt creek, dana point

Elephant At Salt Creek

When I first saw it, my eyes told me that an elephant was walking up the path at Salt Creek Beach Park in Dana Point, California.  How could it be?  Standing on the bridge overlooking the waves, a large animal led by a man and woman ahead of it and another with some sort of tool that looked like it was used to keep it moving up the hill.  The guides and the elephant were dressed in what looked to be traditional Southeast Indian clothing, and as a friend pointed out, it could be that it was there to be a part of an Indian wedding.

Imagine surfers, body boarders, and beach visitors with family and children encountering an elephant at their favorite beach.  That is something you just don’t see every day.  A few people dropped their beach gear and just stood there and stared.  I can’t say as I blame them as seeing an elephant at Salt Creek is something I would have never expected. If you were going to use an elephant as a part of a ceremony in the Dana Point and South Laguna Beach area, Salt Creek and Aliso Beach would be the only two places convenient enough to bring one along. Apparently you can get the permits to do that at Salt Creek and I have no idea if that could be done at Aliso Beach. If the county would consider one for Aliso, the permit process would be rather lengthy and a decision would have to be made as to whether or not the large animals represented a violation of the marine protection areas in South Laguna Beach.

The elephant didn’t look stressed or unhealthy.  It leisurely followed its guides in a straight line without breaking stride. Even when the Las Golondrinas catering truck that could not wait for the elephant to pass before driving down the path to the beach didn’t seem to phase the animal.  Part of me wonders whether the elephant is happy or sad.  Was it a performing elephant that is pimped out for special events?  Does it enjoy its unnatural surroundings and human friends?  Just like Sea World has trouble with Orcas, the Circus has trouble with elephants every so often. My feeling is that perhaps we shouldn’t use elephants in this role, but then again, human beings know no bounds when it comes to money and greed.  I don’t know if the animal enjoys its work or if it lives in perpetual sadness.  What I do know is that it walked up the hill without a peep and allowed itself to be loaded into a trailer that resembled a horse trailer.  The animal was then driven off as if it never happened.  I think my friend Jack said it best.  “That is cool, but that really sucks for the elephant.”

 

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High Surf Advisory

HIGH SURF ADVISORY

San Diego, Orange and LA County Beaches have a high surf advisory with riptide warnings.  I left the water of Salt Creek yesterday looking at a shoreline getting beaten up by heavy waves and dangerous rip currents.  A father was throwing a football into the waiting arms of his young boy.  A dad was knocked over like a bowling pin with his daughter cradled in his arms.  Conditions were not and will not be good today for the inexperienced and children.  Salt Creek has a powerful shore break and from what I saw yesterday, and with expected increasing surf, keep out of the water.  It is way too dangerous and lifeguards have their hands full.

In late July, a video was produced showing over 400 rescues in dangerous conditions and rip tides along LA County Beaches.  At the end of  August, a Fox News Video shows a dramatic and traumatizing video of lifeguards pulling swimmers from rip tides. Just yesterday a Go Pro video surfaced showing lifeguards plucking a distressed swimmer from the turbulent waters of Huntington Beach.

Parents, this message about a high surf advisory is really for you because you are the guardians of your children.  You are fortunate enough to have the backing of OC Lifeguards at Salt Creek and Aliso Beach.  The problem is that it is Labor Day Weekend and they have a lot of people to look after and protect.  They are good but their job of keeping us all protected is massive.  It takes one wave sucking a child out into high surf conditions for a family to lose a child.  I see you walking your kids dressed in bathing suits and rash guards while carrying boogie boards down the hill and I think to myself, “Oh no.  That looks like trouble.”

Waves are expected to reach as high as 8 foot today. I know a little something about being a kid and being excited to get in the water.  This weekend isn’t one of those weekends for your children to be in the waves in Southern California.  Last week I was told by a young boy that he was a great swimmer after helping him on to my board.  He was in trouble and had gone under twice before I got to him. I don’t know if he would have made it had someone not reached him prior to the next set wave crashing through. Orange County Lifeguards will warn people all day today to stay in waste deep water and they will bring back any swimmer without fins due to the high surf and dangerous conditions.  My hope is that we don’t lose anyone this weekend.  When I left yesterday the recipe for trouble was brewing with the large crashing waves and treacherous rip currents.  The best advice I can give related to kids is keep them out of the water and have them live to enjoy the water another day.  Please remember for every man, woman and child that has to be rescued eyes and manpower are taken off the rest of us.  So keep it safe beach goers!

 

Fox Video of lifeguard saves

 

Channel 5 Video on 400 plus LA County Rescues

 

 

 

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Car Break-Ins

CAR BREAK-INS

In June of 2014, Orange County Register Staff Writer Fred Swegles wrote an article talking about car break-ins at Salt Creek in Dana Point, California. Fred is among my favorite writers at the Register and he called these thefts a “criminal rite of summer”. In the article he details a spree of car break-ins at Salt Creek that resulted in wallets and cell phones taken with credit cards being used to purchase tens of thousands of dollars of Target Gift Cards used to buy electronics and then resold for cash.  It sounds like a fairly sophisticated operation. Where these thieves are having the most success, and this still holds true today, is watching beach goers and wave riders hide their keys on their cars. I have heard about this type of car break-in for years and until recently, have never had anyone close to me experience it.  I will get back to that in a second.  Roughly a week before Fred wrote his article, there was a couple of arrests. The names of the distinguished gentlemen were not released at the time under the belief that they could help take down a much wider group of thieves.  The 2014 summer increase in car break-ins all had the same story. Hidden keys were retrieved and thieves made off with wallets, credit cards, cash, phones and any small valuables they could walk away with. These issues were so rampant that the city of Dana Point started their “Hide It, Lock It or Lose It” Campaign.  The website asks at the top of the front page, “Did you know that theft – usually from an unlocked car – is by far the most common crime in Dana Point?”  I have heard talk and rumors about these break-ins for years and have even heard police warn people about it in the parking lot. A friend of mine had $5000 worth of electronics including his professional camera, laptop and cell phone taken from his car at the Starbucks location on PCH in Dana Point earlier this year.  It happens and it continues to be a problem for unsuspecting beach goers and people in the beach community.  We are a target and ironically, I covered these car break-ins in Laguna Beach in January of last year.

Yesterday, I saw two friends go on a Facebook rant expressing their displeasure with having their cars broken into.  Both of them routinely hide their keys in their cars.  One of them I am in the water with often and I typically lock my keys in his car which could have been a huge bonus for the thieves that found his hide a key yesterday.  It is important to note that I do that for a reason.  Twice in the last 2 years I have had my towel taken from the beach with the keys tossed into the sand.  I was lucky enough to find them but I got sick of disrespectful people on the beach increasing the likelihood of losing my keys to the sands of Salt Creek for good.  I don’t want to be stranded like that.  As wave riders, we lay a towel down and hope that the towel isn’t taken or have someone pile their stuff on top of it and you can’t find it.  All of this type of behavior, intentional or not, makes it a gamble to leave stuff on the beach as well. It appears though that it is far riskier to hide keys on cars and some crafty thieves have made a living picking off valuables from people who do that.  They are watching us!

Fortunately for one of the friends the keys were left in the car.  The second friend wasn’t so lucky.  The key was nowhere to be found which creates an expensive fix to change the locks and reprogram the keys.  The other friend had his credit card taken and they tried to use it at Target for $900.00.  Sounds familiar doesn’t it?  The attempt was unsuccessful and it sounds like they have images of the thieves trying to rack up the stolen cards.  In a private message today, the one whose credit cards were stolen said that he wanted to exposed this guy from the surf community. I have asked for clarification but have not heard back as to why he thinks it is someone from our own community.  It makes complete sense though.  Someone who is a surfer knows all the tricks of hiding a key and they know it is the last thing someone does after putting a wet suit on and paying for parking is hiding car keys. We have probably all walked right by these guys a dozen times with amount of time we spend at Salt Creek.  Several surfers from the community acknowledged their being a victim to the hide a key break-ins that they experience yesterday and apparently these clowns are at it again.  The friend was told that there were 20 calls to the police  yesterday related to thefts at Salt Creek.  It seems like there is a common thread between these thefts and Target stores.  Does that mean these guys take the purchases to their friends at registers who grease the wheels for their thefts?  Does this mean that Target doesn’t require Identification on these purchases?  Either way, they aren’t doing people any favors with their intentional or unintentional involvement.

I am hoping we all get a good look at this guy.  I am thinking he has been among us all along.  He is brazen enough to text the numbers for parents of the victims phishing for information that will allow them to perhaps to commit a much bigger crime.  As far as advice goes, here are things that the OC Sherrif Department and the City of Dana Point are recommending:

1) Leave Valuables At Home

2) Lock Valuables In the Trunk Out Of View Of Thieves

3) Take Your Keys Down To The Beach

4) Be Aware Of People Around You

5) Report Suspicious Activity

Let’s hope they nab this guy.  He didn’t just piss my friend off with the theft, he pissed off an entire community of beach goers and wave riders that are tired of this crap.  While Aliso Beach would be a tougher place to do this because of the close proximity of the coastal lot to the sand and water’s edge, it is not immune from this type of criminal activity.  Laguna Beach is also ripe for this behavior with beaches far removed from the parking areas along South Pacific Coast Highway and on surface streets above the coastal route.  At this point I feel like the hide a key strategy is one to avoid.  Thieves have gotten smart so let’s not help limit their stolen treasure so they will stop targeting beach goers and wave riders.

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Lightning Strikes

LIGHTNING STRIKES

Lightning strikes twice in South Orange County today.  I started at Salt Creek after my morning juice run.  It was overcast, warm and muggy with threatening skies but the surf looked okay.  The parking lot was full and the surf looked good enough to paddle out.I decided to throw the wetsuit on and run down the hill at Salt Creek to get a few waves while anticipating building surf from Hurricane Delores.  It started to rain as I got ready in the parking lot.  I stopped to help a tourist from Holland locate the address for her whale and dolphin adventure with Captain Dave in the harbor.  It was interesting she said that my being nice and helping her was how friends in Holland said we would be if she needed help.  It does feel pretty to hear that people in other countries think favorably and I have to say that with our position in world affairs, I was rather taken aback.  As she walked away and I got closer to locking the car up, the tropical rain started coming down.  Moments later, those in the parking lot saw the first crack of lightning and booming thunder of the approaching storm. I realized that despite my helping the lady from Holland out that although my gesture was kind and helpful that there was a likelihood that they would take people out on the water in the deteriorating conditions.

lightning strikes. lightning shelter, aliso beach

Aliso Beach Lightning Shelter

As I got down the stairs and headed under the bridge towards the beach, I noticed masses of people were coming up hurriedly to avoid the rain.  When I got to the bottom, there was nobody on the beach except for a few surfers that were defying the orders of lifeguards to clear the water and sand.  At least I got the exercise of coming back up the hill.  I watched the waves for a little bit up by the snack bar watching a squall unleash rain over the ocean towards Catalina Island.  I gave up pretty quickly as it became apparent that there was more weather to come.  I walked back to my car.

Since I cover Aliso Beach, I decided to change and drive north to see what was going on under storm watch at my favorite beach.  When I pulled into the parking lot on the coastal side from the north bound lane of South Pacific Coast Highway, I realized that the gate to the beach had been shut and locked.  I was struck by how empty the parking lot was so lifeguards I assumed and later confirmed that they gave an order to clear the beach.  I parked up on on the hill along the south bound lane of the highway and walked down a soggy trail down to the parking lot.  There was nobody on the beach and on one in the water.  Not even a local skim boarder was doing his or her thing in the corner down at Aliso and yes that is a rarity.

There were two lifeguards sitting in a compact car.  They confirmed that an order to get off the beach was given and indicated that they were instructed to be in the car and keep watch.  A group of beach goers had left all of their beach gear on the sidewalk as if they were chased by the lightning strikes and were huddled under the awning of the Sands Cafe out of the rain and reasonably safe.  I stood and watched for awhile looking for increasing surf just along enough to be soaked.  I was over it and decided to go home. It continued to rain well into the afternoon with partial clearing up off the beach a couple of miles but I never went back.  It is nice to get rain like this considering  the drought and how dry everything has become under water restrictions.  I will start over tomorrow in hopes of getting waves from Hurricane Delores minus the lightning that accompanies this tropical weather.  Be safe out there.

 

 

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