The Beach


Author: Butler

County Line….

County line has an interesting feel. Its an very peculiar mix of both locals and out of towners.  The vibe is warming and inviting because, well, it has been for the last 60 years. A mixture of people coming from north and south, Ventura and LA.  Looking through the lens of a surfer, it has three breaks; the north right point break that works off a reef, the miscellaneous bay sand bars that provide lefts and rights that change with the seasons, and finally the pitchy left sand bar that accumulates north of the sea wall in front of the condos at the south end of the beach. On any given weekend you can expect to see 30-100 guys out in the water, no matter the conditions, and week days aren’t far off from that either.

It is a famous spot, sung about by the Beach Boys. A restaurant called Neptune’s Net just across the street from the beach provided a sanctuary for bikers and young people to collect and cut loose in the 70’s. Now it is very much the same, with gatherings of bikers showing there stunts most Sundays. Its become a place many PCH travelers and tourists like to stop by. It also provides the local boys like Chris, Ben and Scott with their much needed cold ones. If you surf county often or check it often, you’ll be sure to see those guys there just about every time. They’ve been there for a lot of years, soaking in the sun, watching the tide, and enjoying the best of days, because they never miss them.

From the lens of ecologists or geomorphologists, county displays a very clear change with the season. Its a wide beach in the summer and fall, and shrinks massively in the winter, with the sand nearly completely leaving to expose the huge collection of rocks which lie right under the sand. The sand moves south and off shore to form sand bars. In the spring and beginning of summer, kelp forest bloom and grow exponentially allowing for glassy waves on the windy days. Those forest eventually end up on the beach, where they serve as nutrition and the first link in the food chain, a huge component in wrack feeding sand crabs and flies alike. Its not unusual to see many forms of life swimming around off shore; anything from seals, dolphins, fish to even the occasional whale. In my eyes, county has become a special place. Coming from the cold rugged beaches of the north, this beach welcomed me to the beauty and elegance of Southern California beaches, being one of the first I surfed and became know at after moving down here.

26th Street Santa Cruz and the “Kirkland Classic”

I decided to do my first entry on 26th street, Santa Cruz. This spot along the thin beach south of the harbor is exceptionally iconic and a staple in Santa Cruz culture and surf. I’ve spent many years coming to this beach and getting pummeled in the shore break with my friends who live on the block. On a recent trip back north, during a large south swell, we decided to put on a little neighborhood event for the extreme shore break and wedges forming. The night prior, my close friend and photographer, Stephan and I watched our insane friends paddle out and become gladiators to the crowd that watched them take one after another on the head. It was some of the most exciting surfing I have ever watched, but what caught my amazement even more was the 60 people on the stairs and street watching and cheering. It was a collection of mostly local guys and a few blown away out of towners.

The next day we spread the word and put on an event for soft tops and crazy kids. The idea was to get as worked as possible. The crowd chose the winner, and out of the 25 odd guys that showed up to take part, the local boy Preston took home   the trophy( a ceramic shark fin with “the Kirkland Classic” painted on it).

This event showed me so much about the Santa Cruz culture and the people that call it home. There was a sense of community you don’t see often these days. The type of community where from young to old, everyone knows everyone. Where cops ignore the open can and join on the fun. Where laughs and conversations flow between all walks of life.  It was a night that made me proud to be from the north and feel privileged to call it home. The event got attention from the Costco company Kirkland which is now sponsoring the next event.

To put it simply it was a night I’ll never forget

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