Redwood Stringer #2: F#@%ing Kelp

Redwood Stringer #2: F#@%ing Kelp

Redwood Stringer #2: F#@%ing Kelp
by Tom Mahony

In early fall, before the big winter swells hit, some reefs along the central coast are so dense with kelp that you could almost walk across the fronds. It gets even thicker at low tide. I’ve seen egrets standing on mats of kelp as if loitering on dry ground.

The stuff is a bitch to surf in. When paddling through the worst of it you have to grab the fronds and pull yourself along as if climbing a rope. If you duck under a wave and surface in the kelp, it pulls you down and you’re forced to bushwhack out of the jungle. It’s irritating and vaguely creepy.

Surfing through the tangle entails a bumpy and brutal ride. It’s quite entertaining to stand on the bluff and watch people race down the line and hit the kelp at full throttle and stop abruptly like they’ve nailed a massive speed bump. They’ll flounder and face-plant and kook-out in countless different ways. The carnage is hilarious and curiously satisfying to watch.

But I’ve noticed that when I’m racing down the line and hit the kelp and kook-out badly, it doesn’t seem quite as funny or the least bit satisfying.

F#@%ing kelp.

Tom Mahony is a biological consultant in central California with an M.S. degree from Humboldt State University. His fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in Surfer Magazine and dozens of other online and print publications. His short fiction collection, Slow Entropy, has just been published as an ebook by Thumbscrews Press: He is looking for a publisher for several novels. Visit him at

Related posts: