Regardless of your age, expanding your boundaries of physical and mental activities is something I really believe in

By Warren Miller

Immediately after Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese, in December 1941, a blackout was ordered and all outdoor lights and windows were covered with thick blackout material.

At best the headlights on the `37 Buick only penetrated about 75 feet of darkness. With only the parking lights on, visibility was reduced to about 40 feet.

The first priority to get to San Onofre was to find a surfing friend who had a couple of gas coupons because I was only allowed four gallons of gas per week.

When I was talking to a member of the gas rationing aboard I discovered I could get some surplus gasoline for my Coleman cook stove. The guy in the rationing board made a major mistake and somehow I was able to get two gallons a week to run my Coleman stove on the weekend, giving me a total of 6 gallons. With my ration and a couple of friends, we had enough for the trip plus cooking.

It’s really hard to imagine San Onofre as it existed in those days. Today, hundreds of cars and way too many surfboards have changed the entire environment.

Several years before Pearl Harbor, I was really lucky to have had a good woodshop teacher in the seventh grade who taught me to build my first surfboard at the age of 13. Compared to today’s standards of surfboards, it was really crude and inefficient at four feet long and two feet wide. It was hollow and made out of one sheet of quarter inch plywood.

Once, on a windsurfer, I sailed the 11 miles from Maui to Molokai in ground swells that at times were taller than my 16-foot mast. It’s easy to shut my eyes and remember how it felt as I moved across the face of a wave. It seems like I just kept accelerating as I was going much faster than the flying fish that were trying to get out of my way. They were constantly smashing into the sail.

The 11-mile wide Molokai Channel had swells that have had thousands of miles to increase in size and then are squeezed together in the channel and in the process, get taller and taller. On our trip, the wind was not blowing hard enough to make the top of the wave break and blow off. The water was glassy smooth. The speed of the board was much faster than simply riding a wave on a surfboard without the added power of the sail.

On what was an epic journey for me was also one for my two companions Don and Barbara Guild. I was 65 years old at the time and Don and Barbara were a couple years younger.

It’s too bad that the small lightweight waterproof camera era had not been invented then or I could have brought back visual images of these fish flying out of the water and trying to get out of my way.

If you want what could be the thrill of a lifetime, I strongly suggest you spend a month or two on Maui until you have time and enough talent to make this Maui to Molokai passage on a windsurfer.

I do know that 25 years later I don’t have the strength, skill or stamina to attempt something like this today. However, I know I could go to Maui to Kanaha, the beginning windsurfing beach and have a good time recapturing some of my skills.

Regardless of your age, expanding your boundaries of physical and mental activities is something I really believe in. Of course, I do spend as much time as I can staying alive, as well.

A blackout and the dim out were quickly followed by spending four years in the Navy and the rest of my life traveling the world with my camera and skis.

No matter where I am in the world today, I can close my eyes and relive some of those wonderful blackout days.

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