Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Oceans of Hope

Unfortunately, the fam couldn't make it to Manhattan Beach last Sunday because of the Wife's possible hip surgery. Treading through sand did not exactly sound like fun after the MRI results came in. Fortunately, ODAT was able to make it. She provides her report below:

one day at a time said...
"I attended the Ocean of Hope Event this weekend in Manhattan Beach where I had the opportunity to meet some wonderful people from the Sarcoma Alliance Organization. Even though I was there for only a short amount of time, I had the opportunity to speak to some of the volunteers and board members of this wonderful organization. I had a chance to share Marco's courageous experience fighting soft-tissue sarcoma and his continued determination to beat this.

Two people that stood out in this event was Dave Murphy, board member of the organization whose wife had sarcoma and Marites Tullius. They both took the time to listen to my story and offered me words of encouragement and support. This event has done alot to open my eyes to this disease. Even though it is something that we never expected or ever wanted for our wonderful brother, Moshura, we hope that organizations like this are available to help him get through this."

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Up Close and Personal...

With the wife's hip sockets. We'll wait for the Dr's opinion on the 31st! Click on image to zoom.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Hips Don't Lie!!

So this is not a Shakira posting - although I am sure the wife and DLP have had their share of hip shimmying - but this serves as a posting to let The Wife know that we are all thinking about you and hoping the best outcome on the unfortunate news of possible hip surgery. Wow, 2007 has been a ^&^&$! Keep us posted on what happens. We're all praying all goes well!!! In the mean time, some not so pretty - but informative - pictures of hip anatomy.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Map of Manhattan Beach

The main reason I wanted to post this is for public parking access and for a legend to stores in the area... (Click on map to enlarge, [interactivity only on hyperlink].) As if you needed more things to do that day! If you click on the hyperlink, you can hover over locations on map and see what shops and places are there. The paddle boarders are supposed to arrive back near the pier so looks like you should seek out a Sarcoma Alliance tent/booth nearby. Have fun!!! No t-shirts on my side. But take your cash or checkbook in case you want to get some from the Sarcoma Alliance, they're supposed to have some shirts on sale that day. Also, the greatest spa in the world is nearby (Monica does the best facials, Kristin best massage), so if you feel crispy and need some pampering, call ahead....

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Oceans of Hope: The People Behind the Paddleboards

Profiles of a few of the paddleboarders and fundraisers for Sarcoma Alliance:

On August 26th I will enter the waters off Catalina Island and embark on a 32 mile open-ocean paddleboard race, finishing at Manhattan Beach. The Catalina Classic paddleboard race may be one of the most gruelling endurance events on water, but shadows in comparison to the daily fight against cancer. Every day, courageous cancer patients devote hours in treatment, preparing for surgey, or resting up for another week of radiation. It is this dedication and strength that motivates me. My involvement in the Ocean of Hope and dedication to this cause is in honor of everyone affected by cancer and to all those who have the strength and courage to face insurmountable challenges on a daily basis. Through the Ocean of Hope campaign, we hope to raise awareness about Sarcoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer. 100% of the proceeds raised are donated to the Sarcoma Alliance, which helps provide guidance, education and support to those people and families with this deadly disease. Last year through the Ocean of Hope we were able to raise $50,000 for the Sarcoma Alliance! We hope to exceed that amount this year. Your support and donations are greatly appreciated and will endure far beyond the 32 mile span of the Catalina channel. Mahalo!

As most of you know, I will be competing again in the prestigious and grueling Catalina Classic Paddleboard Race this August. For those unfamiliar with the event, “The Classic” is a 32 mile open ocean crossing from the Island of Catalina to the Manhattan Beach Pier. Using only your arms to paddle long "surfboard-like" boards, it is a test of strength, endurance, and will, which can take anywhere from six to eight hours, depending upon conditions. Now with two “Classics” under my belt, I am looking forward to my 3rd consecutive. The experience is both humbling and rewarding. Like the previous two years, I will be paddling for both personal reasons, and for a campaign called the Ocean of Hope. The Ocean of Hope consists of a group of both national and international paddlers who dedicate the Catalina Classic Race to raising awareness for the Sarcoma Alliance, in turn sarcoma cancer. Sarcoma is a rare form of cancer that mainly attacks the connective tissue of the body. Through the Ocean of Hope, I have had the pleasure of meeting Sarcoma Survivors at the finish line. Hearing the stories about their fight and putting a face behind the cause, is what continues to drive me every year to compete. Truly, they are paddling a Catalina Classic almost every day.

Last year I was proud to have raised $4615.00 for the Sarcoma Alliance as a fund raiser. This year I will paddle the 32 mile race from Catalina Island to the Manhattan Beach pier. The Ocean of Hope campaign is a group of paddlers dedicated to supporting families with a loved one striken by this deadly cancer. Please help me reach my goal to complete this grueling paddle and support those with an even more grueling life experience.

Hello and thank you for visiting my fundraising page. I will be paddling again this year in the Catalina Classic, as a part of the Ocean of Hope team. The “Classic” is a 32 mile paddleboard race across the Catalina Channel. As most of you know, last year’s race did not go too well. With strong winds, large swells and my lack of experience in the sport, I struggled for nine and a half hours to finish the race, but with a little luck, I made it. I’m back again this year to challenge the Catalina Classic one more time; not to try to better my time, but to once again join the fight against cancer, raising much needed support for the Sarcoma Alliance. The fight against cancer continues to be a difficult one. Now 5 years after Suzanne lost her fight to synovial sarcoma and with the sudden and shocking loss of aunt Mercedes to leiomyosarcoma, the importance of the services provided by the Sarcoma Alliance and groups like it, could not be more clear. The passing of Mercedes Capati, my wife Ria’s dearly loved aunt was a shock and a tremendous loss to us all. She was much like Suzanne and others who have had to face cancer, in that she fought the disease with the courage, determination and positive attitude that I admire so much. So I dedicate my race to the memory of this wonderful woman. Though I had the privilege of knowing her for only a short time, the impact she had on me was truly profound. The Sarcoma Alliance provides much needed guidance, education, and support to anyone affected by sarcoma. Early and appropriate intervention can make a difference in survival. Together we can make a difference. The survival of this organization is due to the generosity of supporters such as you. Any amount that you can contribute to the Ocean of Hope campaign to help me reach my goal of $5000 would be greatly appreciated. As a member of the board of directors of the Sarcoma Alliance, I thank you on behalf of the many people we serve for your kindness and support.

On Sunday, August 26th, I will be paddling the 32 mile Catalina Classic in honor of the Ocean of Hope campaign. Please help me reach my goal of helping those people affected by cancer. I am also paddling this year's race in honor of my dad. He is the one who taught me about strength and courage. Again, this one's for you, dad! (Pictured above.)

On Sunday August 26th, Team O2H, will for the eighth year, paddle the 32-mile Catalina Classic, from Catalina Island to Manhattan Beach pier, in honor and support of those who are afflicted by cancer. In my 2007 campaign for the Catalina Classic Championship, I have joined in this great team of paddlers to help those who aren't as fortunate as I to paddle this great race. The Ocean of Hope paddlers dedicate the race to everyone affected by cancer and to all those who have the strength and courage to face insurmountable challenges on a daily basis. All donations go directly to the Sarcoma Alliance, which helps provide guidance, education and support to those people and families with this often deadly disease. Your support and donations are greatly appreciated and will endure far beyond the 32 mile span of the Catalina channel. On behalf of the entire team, I thank you for your continued support of our campaign and those that we paddle for. I hope that you will again take this opportunity to support the Ocean of Hope (O2H) and the Sarcoma Alliance.

I lost my mother to cancer and know many others who have been affected directly or indirectly by this awful disease. I’m grateful for the opportunity to join team Ocean of Hope and marry my love of paddling with their fundraising efforts on behalf of the Sarcoma Alliance ( On August 26th, 2007, team O2H will compete in the Catalina Classic, a 32 mile, open ocean paddleboard race from Catalina Island to Manhattan Beach. This is the eighth year team O2H has paddled on behalf of the Sarcoma Alliance and it will be my first as both a team member and a competitor. I’m dedicating my race to all who have battled cancer and I’m confident that their fighting spirit will give me the extra gas to make the crossing. Please join me in supporting this great cause. Thanks, Scott.

My dear friend Suzanne died of synovial sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, in August 2002 at the age of 35 after a 10 year struggle with the disease. After a brief remission, the last 5 years of her life were spent with chemotherapy, radiation and 8 surgeries to remove recurrent tumors from her right lung and around her heart. She also spent that time working as an RN, going to graduate school to get her masters degree and forming an organization called the Sarcoma Alliance. It was during that time that she realized how alienating the rarity of this disease was and wanted to do something about it. She opened a website, gave it a name and tirelessly answered phone calls, emails and letters from the living room of her home.

Suzanne worked hard, laughed a lot and she never complained. She was truly inspiring and amazing. So when she asked me to help back in 1999, how could I refuse? It has been a roller coaster ride ever since. We weren’t sure the Sarcoma Alliance would survive her loss. But 5 years after her death, the organization has grown tremendously and has helped many, many people nationally and internationally. I continue to volunteer for this organization in the memory of Suzanne as well as in honor of many others whom I’ve had the privilege to know and who continue to inspire me as they live with this disease.

The Sarcoma Alliance provides much needed guidance, education, and support to anyone affected by sarcoma. Early and appropriate intervention can make a difference in survival. Together we can make a difference. The survival of this organization is due to the generosity of supporters such as you. Any amount that you can contribute to the Ocean of Hope campaign to help me reach my goal of $5000 would be greatly appreciated.

As a member of the board of directors of the Sarcoma Alliance, I thank you on behalf of the many people we serve for your kindness and support.

See many other fundraiser profiles at

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Scarybration

For more comments see previous posting, excerpt from the wife:

The Wife said...
ok you guys, it wasn't that bad.
i mean we just had to hear all 4 big wild voices till 3am (salt n pepper, jesus, moshura, surviving3under5)some cars that would pass by , not to mention the motorcycles that would rev as they passed by.

At least(not that we would know)we didn't get to sleep near a fire ant hole. (CVSKid did)

i thought putting up a tent was easy 1,2,3 yeah right.(2 and 1/2 hours later) maybe if salt n pepper had all the right connections in the right place it would have taken a half an hour.

But just think of it this way if we didn't have all this, we wouldn't have our own camping stories. (this was our first camping trip together)

So let see lets turn this adventure around, shall we.....damn the carne asada was good, the chile, torts, rice and beans were delicious.

Seeing Jesus bring in the just caught catfish to the camp site to cook was a treat ,not to mention delicious(all 3under5 attacked Jesus for some of the cooked catfish and Machini was not far behind.)

And what about the melting JACKPOT cake that was funny, salt n pepper had to take it home to put in the fridge till we needed it. All the boys took off fishing while the girls relaxed, ate, and drank. Till it was time to put the tent up that was funny and a neck choking experience.

Pictures speak louder than words and I think we all had an amazing time together in the wild.

HP Momma seemed to love it all. The night got even better with the camp fire and clear night shooting star entertainment was breath taking. Then what about the fish on the grill we forgot about , they didn't look to the same the next morning.

What about being woken up my DLP at 3:30 am to say that Moshura was MIA after leaving on a nature call and didn't return to the nest. DLP ran to call me just to find Mushura (MIA) at the foot of the camp fire like a sleeping little bird with his head leaning forward.

Then we couldn't go to sleep ,so as soon as weezy's tummy said i think we need something to munch one,so we all agreed and started to make smore's at 4am that was great we all enjoyed smore's and we got see the sun rise.

Then we couldn't convince CVSKid to call in sick to work to enjoy the rest of the camp out and so we all started to pack up our camping area and left all the wilderness behind with alot of stories to take back.

I think we can hang once a year and then we know we will be more prepared the next time around.(yeah right) Till next year
(I think it will be fun).

Family time well spent!
Thank you all for coming out to camp and being brave little indians.

2:49 PM

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Wild Things at the Lake

Hope the Birthday Camping party for Momma Bear went well. Were there any cry babies wanting to go back home at sunset? I know I would have...

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


I hear Tio B was pushing the Aloe cure at the quinceañera. Well, my mom is probably out at la Superior and possibly consulting with el indio amazonico for gallons of the stuff. So here is a monograph from Natural Standard explaining some scientific evidence on the uses of Aloe and the "grade" recieved based on results.

Aloe (Aloe vera)

Related terms: Acemannan, Aloe africana, Aloe arborescens Miller, Aloe barbadensis, Aloe capensis, Aloe ferox, aloe latex, aloe mucilage, Aloe perfoliata, Aloe perryi Baker, Aloe saponaria, Aloe spicata, Aloe vulgari, Barbados aloe, bitter aloe, burn plant, Cape aloe, Carrisyn, hirukattali, Curaçao aloe, elephant's gall, first-aid plant, Ghai kunwar, Ghikumar, Hsiang-Dan, jelly leek, kumari, lahoi, laloi, lily of the desert, Lu-Hui, medicine plant, Mediterranean aloe, miracle plant, mocha aloes, musabbar, natal aloes, nohwa, plant of immortality, plant of life, rokai, sabilla, Savila, Socotrine aloe, subr, true aloe, Venezuela aloe, Za'bila, Zanzibar aloe.

Background: Transparent gel from the pulp of the meaty leaves of Aloe vera has been used topically for thousands of years to treat wounds, skin infections, burns, and numerous other dermatologic conditions. Dried latex from the inner lining of the leaf has traditionally been used as an oral laxative.

There is strong scientific evidence in support of the laxative properties of aloe latex, based on the well-established cathartic properties of anthroquinone glycosides (found in aloe latex). However, aloe's therapeutic value compared with other approaches to constipation remains unclear.

There is promising preliminary support from laboratory, animal and human studies that topical aloe gel has immunomodulatory properties which may improve wound healing and skin inflammation.


Uses based on scientific evidence
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Constipation (laxative)


Dried latex from the inner lining of aloe leaves has been used traditionally as a laxative taken by mouth. Although few studies have been conducted to assess this effect of aloe in humans, the laxative properties of aloe components such as aloin are well supported by scientific evidence. A combination herbal remedy containing aloe was found to be an effective laxative, although it is not clear if this effect was due to aloe or to other ingredients in the product. Further study is needed to establish dosing and to compare the effectiveness and safety of aloe with other commonly used laxatives.

Genital herpes


Limited evidence from human studies suggests that extract from Aloe vera in a hydrophilic cream may be an effective treatment of genital herpes in men (better than aloe gel or placebo). Additional research is needed in this area before a strong recommendation can be made.

Psoriasis vulgaris


Early evidence suggests that extract from aloe in a hydrophilic cream may be an effective treatment of psoriasis vulgaris. Additional research is needed in this area before a strong recommendation can be made.

Seborrheic dermatitis (seborrhea, dandruff)


Early study of aloe lotion suggests effectiveness for treating seborrheic dermatitis when applied to the skin. Further study is needed in this area before a strong recommendation can be made.

Cancer prevention


There is preliminary evidence that oral aloe may reduce the risk of developing lung cancer. Further study is needed in this area to clarify if it is aloe itself or other factors that may cause this benefit.

Canker sores (aphthous stomatitis)


There is weak evidence that treatment of recurrent aphthous ulcers of the mouth with aloe gel may reduce pain and increase the amount of time between the appearance of new ulcers. Further study is needed before a recommendation can be made.

Diabetes (type 2)


Study results are mixed. More research is needed to explore the effectiveness and safety of aloe in diabetics.

HIV infection


Without further human trials, the evidence cannot be considered convincing either in favor or against this use of aloe.

Skin burns


Preliminary evidence suggests that aloe may be effective in promoting healing of mild to moderate skin burns. Further study is needed in this area.

Ulcerative colitis


There is limited but promising research of the use of oral aloe vera in ulcerative colitis (UC), compared to placebo. It is not clear how aloe vera compares to other treatments used for UC.

Wound healing


Study results of aloe on wound healing are mixed with some studies reporting positive results and others showing no benefit or potential worsening of the condition. Further study is needed, since wound healing is a popular use of topical aloe.



There is preliminary evidence that oral aloe vera does not prevent or improve mucositis (mouth sores) associated with radiation therapy.

Pressure ulcers


One well-designed human trial found no benefit of topical acemannan hydrogel (a component of aloe gel) in the treatment of pressure ulcers.

Radiation dermatitis


Reports in the 1930s of topical aloe's beneficial effects on skin after radiation exposure lead to widespread use in skin products. Currently, aloe gel is sometimes recommended for radiation-induced dermatitis, although scientific evidence suggests a lack of benefit in this area.

*Key to grades: A: Strong scientific evidence for this use; B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use; D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work); F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).

Uses based on tradition or theory

The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Alopecia (hair loss), Alzheimer's disease, antimicrobial, antioxidant, arthritis, asthma, bacterial skin infections, bowel disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic leg wounds, congestive heart failure, damaged blood vessels, elevated cholesterol or other lipids, frostbite, heart disease prevention, hepatitis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), kidney or bladder stones, leukemia, lichen planus, Merkel cell carcinoma, parasitic worm infections, protection against some chemotherapy side effects, scratches or superficial wounds of the eye, stomach ulcers, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), tic douloureux, untreatable tumors, vaginal contraceptive, yeast infections of the skin.


The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

Adults (18 years and older)
Pure Aloe vera gel is often used liberally on the skin. Creams and lotions are also available. There are no reports that using aloe on the skin causes absorption of chemicals into the body that may cause significant side effects. Skin products are available that contain aloe alone or aloe combined with other active ingredients. The dose often recommended constipation is the minimum amount to maintain a soft stool, typically 0.04-0.17 gram of dried juice (corresponds to 10-30 milligrams hydroxyanthraquinones) by mouth. As an alternative, in combination with celandin (300 milligrams) and psyllium (50 milligrams), 150 milligrams of the dried juice per day of aloe has been found effective as a laxative in research. Cases of death have been associated with Aloe vera injections under unclear circumstances. Oral or injected use is not recommended due to lack of safety data.

Children (younger than 18 years)
Topical (skin) use of aloe gel in children is common and appears to be well tolerated. However a dermatologist and pharmacist should be consulted before starting therapy.


The U. S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

People with known allergy to garlic, onions, tulips or other plants of the Liliaceae family may have allergic reactions to aloe. Individuals using aloe gel for prolonged times have developed allergic reactions including hives and eczema-like rash.

Side Effects and Warnings
The use of aloe on surgical wounds has been reported to slow healing and may cause redness and burning after aloe juice was applied to the face after a skin-peeling procedure (dermabrasion). Application of aloe prior to sun exposure may lead to rash in sun-exposed areas.The use of aloe or aloe latex by mouth for laxative effects can cause cramping or diarrhea. Use for over seven days may cause dependency or worsening of constipation after the aloe is stopped. Ingestion of aloe for over one year has been reported to increase the risk of colorectal cancer. Individuals with severe abdominal pain, appendicitis, ileus (temporary paralysis of the bowel) or a prolonged period without bowel movements should not take aloe. There is a report of hepatitis (liver inflammation) with the use of oral aloe. Electrolyte imbalances in the blood, including low potassium levels, may be caused by the laxative effect of aloe. This effect may be greater in people with diabetes or kidney disease. Low potassium levels can lead to abnormal heart rhythms or muscle weakness. People with heart disease, kidney disease or electrolyte abnormalities should not take aloe by mouth. Healthcare professionals should monitor for changes in potassium and other electrolytes in individuals who take aloe by mouth for more than a few days.Aloe taken by mouth may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia, and in those taking drugs, herbs or supplements that affect blood sugar. Serum glucose levels may need to be monitored by a healthcare professional, and medication adjustments may be necessary. Avoid aloe vera injections, which have been associated with cases of death under unclear circumstances.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Although topical (skin) use of aloe is unlikely to be harmful during pregnancy or breastfeeding, oral (by mouth) use is not recommended due to theoretical stimulation of uterine contractions. It is not known whether active ingredients of aloe may be present in breast milk. The dried juice of aloe leaves should not be consumed by breastfeeding mothers.


Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

Interactions with Drugs
Aloe taken by mouth may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when taken with medications that may also lower blood sugar. Patients taking drugs for diabetes by mouth or insulin should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional. Medication adjustments may be necessary. In addition, insulin may add to the decrease in blood potassium levels that can occur with aloe.

Due to lowering of potassium levels that may occur when aloe is taken by mouth, the effectiveness of heart medications such as digoxin and digitoxin, and of other medications used for heart rhythm disturbances, may be reduced. The risk of adverse effects may be increased with these medications due to low potassium levels.

Caution should be used in patients taking loop diuretics, such as Lasix® (furosemide), that increase the elimination of both fluid and potassium in the urine. Combined use may increase the risk of potassium depletion and of dehydration.

Use of aloe with laxative drugs may increase the risk of dehydration, potassium depletion, electrolyte imbalance and changes in blood pH.

Application of aloe to skin may increase the absorption of steroid creams such as hydrocortisone. In addition, oral use of aloe and steroids such as prednisone may increase the risk of potassium depletion.

There is one report of excess bleeding in a patient undergoing surgery receiving the anesthetic drug sevoflurane, who was also taking aloe by mouth. It is not clear that aloe or this specific interaction was the cause of bleeding.

Preliminary reports suggest that levels of AZT, a drug prescribed in HIV infection, may be increased by intake of aloe.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Based on the laxative properties of oral aloe, prolonged use may result in potassium depletion. This may be worsened by the use of licorice root.

Theoretically, use of oral aloe and other laxative herbs may increase the risk of dehydration, potassium depletion, electrolyte imbalance and changes in blood pH.

Oral aloe can reduce blood sugar. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.

Aloe may increase the absorption of vitamin C and vitamin E.

Last updated: November 2006.
This patient information is based on a professional level monograph edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Paddleboard Racing

Correction: I kept writing paddle boat (those are the one's we have here in the Tidal Basin!) instead of Paddleboard, my bad...

Looks like the Oceans of Hope Campaign is part of a larger competition! So the few paddle board racers that will be participating will be raising money for the Sarcoma Alliance. All of the racers will be taking off at yawn dawn and the race is supposed to be about 6 hours long? Will provide more details about the Sarcoma side. I wonder if they'll have a booth or will be visible there. Here is more info on the details of the race itself.

Here is a nice old L.A. Times story from 1997 recapturing the spirit of the race:

Racers Make Their Own Waves

69 Paddleboarders Use Only Their Arms in 32-Mile Race From Catalina


The sky was dark, the sea cold and, off in the far distance, the lights of the mainland twinkling apparitions.

A cannon boomed.

Cheers rang out--and nearly six dozen hardy souls flopped Sunday morning onto long, skinny paddleboards. Building to a full sprint, they edged out of the protected cove of a Santa Catalina Island harbor and into the restless sea, accompanied by the gurgling of escort boats and the steady slap-slap-slap of the waves beating on their boards.

As the first flecks of pink light painted the eastern sky, the Catalina to Manhattan Beach paddleboard race roared into steady throttle--a 32-mile test of skill, strength, will and endurance as well as a celebration of Southern California's unique surf culture.

To win the Catalina Classic, as the race is called, is to achieve nearly godlike stature at the beach.

To finish is to gain the immense respect of one's peers.

To compete is to be accepted into a fraternity of "watermen," those men--and almost all are men--equally adept at swimming, surfing, diving, boating and paddling. And to carry on a culture that dates to such venerable icons as Tom Blake, who some 70 years ago shaped the first modern paddleboard from wooden planks.

Nowadays, boards are made of fiberglass and foam. But contestants still paddle with their hands--no oars--while they sit on their knees or lie flat on their tummies on special boards 12 to 20 feet long, shoulders churning with piston-like repetition.

The race takes 5 1/2 to 9 hours. From Catalina, racers head almost due north toward a buoy off the Palos Verdes Peninsula, then to the Manhattan Beach Pier.

* * *
"It's like doing a marathon with your hands," said veteran paddleboarder Mickey Munoz--with the added challenges of seasickness, hypothermia and the crossing of a crowded shipping channel.

Leaving Catalina's Two Harbors at the island's isthmus, the sea was glassy, the winds calm.

Through the San Pedro Channel, the wind picked up a bit and the sea gained a slight chop.

Nevertheless, conditions were good enough that it became obvious early on that the paddlers had a chance to break the race record, set in 1987 by Gene Rink, now 32 and a Los Angeles County firefighter: 5 hours, 21 minutes.

As Ventura County lifeguard George Kabris, 32, rounded the buoy nearly four hours into the race, he was on record pace.

The stretch from the buoy to the pier, however, is the toughest part--with paddlers forced to fight another condition, a swift current.

Meanwhile, the remainder of the field stretched out behind him for 9.8 miles.

Who would volunteer for such punishment? So many people that entry to the event was limited to those who had qualified in one of four prior races this summer off the Southern California shore.

Why? It's not for fame or fortune. Top finishers get trophies, no cash.

Instead, paddlers said, it's a spiritual thing. "You start and you get into this aura," said Giles Douglas, 46, of Encinitas, who works as a contractor. "You keep your arms rolling and your mind tuned, and you go."

* * *
Fueled by the enthusiasm of Douglas and others, paddleboarding is in the midst of a renaissance. It's a resurgence with strong roots in Southern California's past.

In the 1930s, after Blake revolutionized the shape and weight of boards, making them smaller and lighter, it "caught on like wildfire," said Craig Lockwood, 59, of Laguna Beach, who's something of the poet laureate of paddleboarding--a newsman and playwright as well as accomplished waterman and paddleboard designer.

"You see these old photos, you see these lineups of boards, an infinite line of guys, all getting ready to take off in a race," Lockwood said.

The Catalina Classic was begun in 1955, launched by a young Los Angeles County lifeguard named Bob Hogan. Initially, it was known as the International Paddleboard Championship.

A few years later, in the early 1960s, the surfing boom began in earnest--and paddleboarding all but "hemorrhaged and died," Lockwood said.

* * *
A storm forced cancellation of the 1961 Classic, and dampened enthusiasm for any more contests until 1982, when two more county lifeguards, Karl "Buddy" Bohn and Weldon "Gibby" Gibson, revived it.

Ten paddlers turned out for that 1982 race, according to a story a few weeks later in the Easy Reader, a South Bay weekly newspaper.

After a few years, the race grew to a consistent field of about 30 or 40 paddlers. The 1995 field amounted to 43--including Hogan, then 63 and battling glaucoma. He completed all 32 miles.

Since then, the field has grown significantly. Last year, it was 64. This year, 69.

"I never figured [paddleboarding] would come back this strong. You really make the old guy proud," Bohn said earlier this summer at ceremonies after one of the qualifying races, a 14-mile mini-marathon from Cabrillo Beach to Torrance.

A combination of factors has turned increasing numbers of surfers to paddling.

First and foremost are the crowded conditions and resulting tensions often found at surf spots, called "breaks."

* * *
Paddlers can avoid that antagonism. In addition, surfers obviously need waves; paddlers don't.

"The surfing environment is now so cutthroat," said Charlie Didinger, 52, an assistant principal at Banning High School in Wilmington. "In this group, though, everybody helps everybody."

Added Mark Levy, 40, co-owner of a Redondo Beach coffeehouse: "We call that the 'waterman's spirit.' It's what surfing should be about--what it used to be about."

Capitalizing on that spirit, paddling clubs have sprung up in various beach towns--just as local surf clubs were popular in the 1950s and 1960s.

"The whole thing has an old-style feel to it, a real old bitchin' flavor," said Tim Ritter, 36, a Redondo Beach painting contractor. "In the '90s, things are so different than when I was a kid. But paddling is like surfing was when I was a kid, and that's what's fun about it."

The race is not always fun.

The 1996 Classic was described in The Surfer's Journal magazine as the "paddleboard race from hell." Winds gusted to 20 mph, swells rose to 6 feet; a third of the field dropped out, many from seasickness, some from sheer exhaustion.

Conditions this year were far more favorable.

* * *
Rink led the race early Sunday. But he dropped out after about 2 1/2 hours, explaining to those on his escort boat that he'd hurt his arms Saturday in a fall and didn't want to risk severe injury.

Kabris, who took over the lead, never relinquished it, finishing in 5:23, a bare two minutes behind Rink's record. Kabris said he was not disappointed: "I'm always amazed I can do it. My first goal every year is to finish. It's an added bonus to finish first. And cream of the crop to almost break the record."

Second was Brian Zeller, 27, a San Diego County lifeguard. Third was Buzzy Kerbox, 40, who lives on Maui and paddles to stay in shape for what he likes to do best--being towed into 40-foot waves, then surfing the towering giants.

* * *
As the morning gave way to afternoon, as family and friends surrounded the racers just south of the Manhattan Beach Pier, the top finishers stayed on the beach to cheer for the others--even the stragglers.

And as Catalina disappeared into the afternoon haze, Zeller, nibbling at cubed fruit in a plastic cup, squinted out at the sea and shook his head in amazement. "You can't even see Catalina from here," he said. "It's just amazing to think that all these people paddled on these skinny boards all the way from there to here."

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Ocean of Hope 2007

There's a Sarcoma Fundraiser / Paddle Boad Race happening in Manhattan beach soon. Thought you all may be interested in checking it out. Any time's a good time to hang out at the beach, might as well do it for a good cause. Details here:

Visit the The Sarcoma Alliance and click on page O2H website for details: Here is a blurb from the site.

Ocean of Hope 2007
Dedicated to the Sea of People Affected by Sarcoma

Please join the Sarcoma Alliance on August 26, 2007 in celebrating the 8th annual Ocean of Hope campaign (O2H). This is a day dedicated to the sea of people affected by cancer, and specifically those with sarcoma. It's a day filled with optimism and hope. It's a day where sarcoma patients, friends, families and their caregivers meet, share stories, and bond with supporters like you. It's a day when you know that "You are Not Alone." Team O2H is a group of paddleboarders who dedicate their race in the Catalina Classic to the Sarcoma Alliance. This dedication honors those with this rare and deadly form of cancer and assists them to find the guidance, education, and support that they need. This team of courageous men and women will be individually paddling 32 miles in the Pacific Ocean, spanning six to eight hours in the waters from Catalina Island to Manhattan Beach. On that day, many courageous patients with sarcoma will devote similar hours in treatment, preparing for surgery, or resting up for another week of radiation. Every year the Ocean of Hope paddlers travel across the unpredictable seas while navigating waves and unknown treachery. They are steadfast in their determination to reach the shore. Similarly, sarcoma patients navigate the unpredictable seas of diagnosis, treatments, and uncertainty. Read more...