There’s No Helicopter Coming

Guest Post by Stephen Mullaney, a recent Wave Tribe customer that will be pulling a Global Boardbag up the East Coast (by bike).

It’s a great day, just got in a bike ride, getting ready for a long trip and the weather outside is “delicious”!

Durham NC, where I currently live, is part of an area known as the Triangle. The Triangle consists of Durham, Chapel Hill and Raleigh, three cities with similarities and polar opposites.

Contained within each of these towns are a wide range of people, incomes, languages, views, beliefs and opinions. I just rode from downtown Durham to South Durham, a short distance by bike mileage, a long way in many other aspects…


I have made this trip for a few reasons, my touring bike needed to go out for a run, it hasn’t had a “day out” in a while. I just wanted to ride, and I needed a few items for an upcoming camping trip.

During the duration of my ride I passed all walks, pedals and glides of life. White, black, latino, asian, skinny, overweight and just right people, racers, slackers, hipsters, Huffy’s to titanium, old and young. We were all out there, and I was happy to be a part of the action.

When I arrived, at the national retail outdoor store I was going to, I locked my bike to a trash can (the bike rack had a motorcycle locked to it) and headed on in. Inside were people buying everything in sight, was this the last shopping day of the year? I dug into my pocket and found my shopping list, stay focused on the task at hand.

My wife does not like to go food shopping with me, I have a tendency to sight see, meander, roam, get lost and then shop in an erratic and forgetful manner. I enjoy the idea of an adventure, survival off of free cheese and other goodies. Just me and the consumer wilderness, who will survive? Sometimes it’s so bad you might witness my behavior and think I have never been shopping before. But I always manage to complete the job.

Now I set out again, with my shopping list on hand I know I have three items to get, a sleeping pad, an inner tube and a new water filter. I am focused and ready to conquer the task and the crowds..

I have completed another shopping trek, out into the sunlit streets again. I unlock my bike and out I meet Randy. Randy looks like a “through hiker” of the A.T or the PCT, neither of which are close to where I am now. Randy is lean, muscular, bright eyed and equipped with hiking poles, a backpack and water bottles. He sits in tranquility on a bench.

“Headed out on a trip?” I ask.

“Been on one for the last few years.” is his reply. “Lost my job my house and my family”

“Sorry man, want an orange?”

“No, ever watch any outdoor shows?”

I answer honestly, “can’t say that I have, don’t have a t.v”

Randy perks up a bit, “I used to watch them all the time, people out in the middle of nowhere, getting into all kinds of stuff, surviving, making mistakes, overcoming problems and then at the end of the show, a helicopter picks them up and they go on to next episode”

I laugh, Randy looks at me and then down at his belongings…….”there’s no helicopter coming for me.”

I ask again, “want my orange?” he takes it, “hopefully you find small helicopters everywhere.”

On my ride back to town I can’t help thinking about all the “Randies” in the world, in my town, my neighborhood and in my life.

At some level we are all Randy, even if for an hour, a day, a week or maybe longer. Who are the people that try to reach out, who are our helicopters.

When we are you we have our parents, teachers, siblings and maybe some friends that know how to think straight and help when the going gets rough. I know I needed to be “air lifted” out of many situations, many times while growing up.

As we grow up the number of people that can lift us out of situations or moods starts to decline. Now we have bosses, doctors, mechanics, spouses and still some friends. But really who is there on a daily basis, face to face the living and breathing people right in front of us who can physically reach out a hand.

As I see the skyline of downtown Durham peek over the trees and bridges I know that being on my bike has allowed me to be people’s helicopter. Whether through direct contact, just a wave, a smile,a laugh given to my wife and daughter riding on their tandem, I have lifted someone up. Walking, biking, living the “slow life” allows me to meet talk to and be influenced by people like Randy.

Stop and talk, influence and impression work both ways.

  • Make a list of people that are your “Helicopters”.
  • Who have you been a “Helicopter” to recently.

Be a “Helicopter” to your community.


Stephen Mullaney, public school teacher in traditional settings for about 15 years. He realized that his students weren’t getting what they really needed. He won teacher of the year several times other teachers and students really loved his classes….but the system was making radical changes in what “school” should look like. Less hands on, less flexibility, less compassion for the students right in front of you. He decided he needed to go, keep teaching but in a way that he was proud of and that he knew would impact the students in the most powerful way. So, he left behind a consistent paycheck, tenure, health insurance and security. Everyone told him not to do it…except his wife and daughter. It’s been five years since that day. He has now worked with prisoners, ex cons, students, homeless families, etc , etc. His work has been in the wilderness, in the ocean, on rivers and in classrooms. No, it has not been easy, but the reward has been beyond what gets counted by the bank tellers and bill collectors.


Locals: Rafael B, Surfer-Soldier

wounded warrior projectHooah! Lead the way! To the current swell.

Maybe from the outside surfing looks mainly athletic. It may look like hard work. Or to some observers, it may seem like play. Or perhaps to other shoreline watchers the activity in front of their eyes appears like a graceful dance. It’s all true.

As surfers we are somewhat aware of how our surfing might appear on the exterior, but we are often more aware from the interior of kinesthetic experience – the sensing, the feeling, the fine adjustments of body-mind-emotions-spirit to the surrounding watery playground or challenge. Though we may keep it simple and speak of surfing in simple descriptive terms or as a narrative of an especially fine or of an especially awkward moment, I think that most of us also have some bit of philosopher in us. We can’t help but connect the dots over time and see patterns of general and special meaning.

Our local surf comrad, in Ventura, Rafe, Rafael, Major Rafael B of the US Army Special Forces, a wounded warrior, is no exception. Being a surf buddy, he agreed to talk with me for a short article about his experience as a local surfer. During the interview at A Secret Garden flower shop and coffee place on Main Street, Rafe came momentarily to one of those places of recognition that sees that the art, discipline, and play of surfing expresses the play of opposites. For him, as a man who was suddenly drawn to surfing in his early thirties, gaining control and his sense of need for control stood prominent as he attacked the surprisingly difficult challenge of standing upon a shakable plank upon a shaking sea. And, he has recognized that paradoxically and sometimes simultaneously there is a letting go of control.

In a similar way that he has attacked the need for highly dependable control of military skill sets that have some demanding athletic elements – rappelling, climbing, shooting, moving fast yet carefully on ground and water, jumping from airplanes in risky conditions, being ready to defend yourself, your brothers in arms, and home country with hands – he has attacked the surfing challenge as a discipline. Yet, it turns out that there are moments of fun, rush, stoke, and pleasing serendipity that suddenly trump the step-by-step learning process and show it also to be art and play, not just a mission to be accomplished.

His unique mixture and approach is working well for him, though sometimes he expresses frustration that he isn’t yet skating and driving hard up and down the mounded surface of water like local live-wire, short-boarder, Kimo. Rafe knows he hasn’t been surfing long, but still…he smiles. It is fortunate that there are many valid ways and styles and speeds of learning. All good.

In one description of what he has been working on to improve his surfing, he spoke initially of learning to “control” his board and his body to drop into a bubbling wave shoulder in just the right spot, and then turning at will his board with all the instantaneous complexity which we know that entails. Yet then he also adds that it is a fluid “integration” with the wave face, as it unwraps itself in front of him. In listening to him mention this latter phrase, “integration with”, one can hear that he has in a sense momentarily disappeared into a whole flow experience in which he and wave movement and the entire dance of the moment feel close to unified, and distinct from a common separation of the doer and the done to. The need for control is again trumped by the immersive beauty that transports us, like poetry, in between our intentional endeavorings.

He got his first surging rush upon surfboard in the whitewater at Mondos in the fall of 2008. Later, after deployment to Afghanistan and Iraq he got to take a 10 day R&R in South Africa, where “phase 2″ of beginning this royal Hawaiian craft occurred. Under the spontaneous one-day tutelage of a young local, he began to stand and ride waves more reliably, along those many sweet southern beaches. This was 2010. He was in heaven. In 2012, during his intensive physical therapy for war-wound recuperation, he was able to move to Ventura. He has been so stoked to be close to the water, ever since.

For almost 20 years of a focus-demanding career as serving member of both Coast Guard and Army, with two Purple Hearts, earned rank advancement, specialty colleges, and a master’s degree in security management administration, he has applied himself with tenacity, capacity, and intention to learn well and quickly, via the powerful human tools involving self-control. The reliance upon control, particularly in life-death situations, automatically becomes reinforced.

He has been blown up, so to speak, and injured in various ways, and he has each time diligently rehabbed. This naturally toughens a person and teaches certain things. He suggests that through surfing he has sometimes been lead to learn very new things, to reframe his language and understanding to sync with the broader current of life, and he has been pulled into other fresh facets of being on planet earth. This includes the power of sometimes letting go of control in service of flow and simpler being. Hah – he might think that how I describe what he says and what he does is a bit flowery, but he doesn’t oppose it.

I learn bits and pieces and flavors of surfing from many of the people I surf around. I learn from and I enjoy seeing big Rafe on his 7/2, 8/0, or recently acquired 9/6 drop in, tuck and crouch his long torso into a fast moving curl or along a steep moving face, allowing his broken and recuperating body-mind to release, conform, and answer nature’s specific invitation on that specific wave.

It seems that when we are exposed to careers and to long immersive cultural experiences we are deeply affected and even molded. It also seems that societies have always needed warriors, though thankfully there are times of local peace as well. Fighters are willing and organized to, at least, defend the family, clan, tribe, state, country, and maybe the world. The tasks, skills, and mind-sets necessary to perform in exceedingly stressful and challenging situations is specialized. One needs to attend to, with intensity, various features of a situation, and one has to curtail attention to many natural features of self, like fear, curtailings that get to express themselves only when security is assured and belonging and trust are present. We, at peace, get to relax when those at a battle’s edge can not. Staying keen on that edge can take its toll in different ways.

B sees surfing to be various things. Among them, surfing is spiritual. Though he is hesitant to over-define it, he acknowledges that his healing, of body, mind, spirit, and living in the world outside of missions and checkpoints and readiness, has been due to the blessings of surfing. On the pulsing water, he can forget so much of what has necessarily occupied him during 12 years of combat when he is applying his potent intentions to learning surf skills or when inadvertently he is letting go to the beauty of wave and flow. Rafael says that surfing (he smiles often when he speaks of it) and his lovely fiancé, Lori, have been two huge influences towards a slowly returning faith, a broadening vision, and a reopening of some of his childhood personality. I can relate to that – now deep into my second childhood – hah – thanks much to surfing.

If you know or have seen Rafe, you know he is a good guy, and he is in love with surfing. He says he feels grateful. Not only is it his physical healing balm that maybe saved his life, but it is a delicious rallying point for self, a place of social camaraderie, and a source of great spontaneous laughter, chuckles and smiles. He sees himself in “phase 3″, a long way from Mondos’ phase 1, and he is barely imagining what phase 4 could be like. Hah.


Rafael B, Surfer-Soldier

Thanks, Rafe, for your being willing to put yourself in harm’s way for others, and thanks for being one of the tribe along the water’s edge, keeping the sweet stoke peppy. Though he can philosophize and thereby can take on greater meaning, mostly Rafael is thinking and sometimes shouting a rallying cry in his head, Hooah! Lead the way! To the current swell.

- the beginner, doug honeyman


A Surfers Guide To Cabo


Click The Map For Download

Feel like some WARM water?

Cabo is one of the few spots on the planet where you are exposed to two major swell directions within a one hour drive. It’s usually not flat in both windows, north and south.

It’s April 2014 and I am updating A Surfers Guide To Cabo, this living guide for the 5th time after my, yes you guessed it, my # five trip in the last few years.

I have surfed all over the world and ridden some of the best waves on the planet…AND I have to say that getting on a plane and flying for 2 hours from LAX to ‘warm water, two swell windows’ and Mexican cuisine gets more and more attractive each year!

I’ve been traveling to Mexico for a few decades now and every time I go, I am reminded of the jewel just south of the border. I used to travel to mainland Mexico every year and surf the beaches of La Ticla and the surrounding region, but as violence has peculated in those areas I have diverted my surf energies to Baja, mainly the tip.

The Basics

Ok, first lets check the surf right now:

Book your airline ticket for about $350—you’ll want to fly to San Jose Del Cabo (airport code SJD). I like Alaska Airlines because they treat surfers right at $50 per board bag—no matter what you put in it or how many surfboards you stuff your bag with. The Cabo airport sits about 20 minutes from downtown San Jose and about 30 minutes from San Lucas. If you are into the party thing then you’ll want to head towards San Lucas and hang out with the college trippers, strippers and overweight cruise ship peeps. However, for a more relaxed setting check out San Jose—which is located closer to the Eastern Cape and also has plenty of waves right in town. You can be surfing within 40 minutes of landing.

Going through customs is easy and you don’t need a visa if you are an American citizen, but you will need a valid passport. For information on getting a passport head on down to your local US Postal Office or check out this link.

The three main breaks in town are Old Man’s, Zippers, and The Rock. All of them are within paddling distance of each other and offer a progressively faster wave, check out the names and you’ll know which is which. You can see all breaks from the road (just head towards San Lucas). Below Zippers there is a dirt parking lot below the bridge and for Old Man’s you need to park behind the Cabo Surf Hotel. Word on the street (April 2014) is that they are going to privatize the access to Old Man’s with a new development going in, so that break might become less accessible in the near future.

There is a hotel right in front of Old Man’s and right next to Zippers and The Rock called Cabo Surf Hotel—if you got the cash (like $250+ per night) this is your best location because you are steps from the surf. It’s a really nice hotel with a pool and good food. Watch your bros hit the lip while you stuff your face with excellent Mexican food. Check other hotels here on Trip Advisor. When you land you’ll need to rent a car. If you can afford it (you can) get something more 4x4ish than not. I’ve gotten stuck and had to be pulled out on 2 of the last 5 trips, not bad odds for Baja.

Camping in Cabo

Big Blue at 9 Palms

The road out to the Eastern Cape is dirt and can be full of potholes. Get the insurance—if you don’t, the roads will rip apart your wallet and you’ll be faced with an unexpected (‘mordidas’) fees at the end of your trip. The drive out to the Eastern Cape is about one hour depending on where you go, it’s not a bad drive at all. You might want to consider camping out on the beach a night or two if the swell is pumping. Camping is free in most places and totally safe, but you’ll need to take some shade with you to protect yourself from the relentless heat during the day. Trees? Nada.

The winds tend to come up around 9 and mess with the lineup, so you’ll want to get on it early. The good news is that they also tend to back off around 4pm, allowing you a few hours to get in a good evening session. Here is a great resource for the wind on the eastern cape, I used it my last trip and planned several good sessions based on the data, it is very accurate: Eastern Cape wind conditions. Anything under 5 knots is acceptable and watch out for those nasty easterly gusts.

The Surf Cabo San Jose & Eastern Cape

Depending on where you surf you can find all types of waves in Cabo, from beach-break on the Pacific side to endless points breaks on the Eastern Cape. As I mentioned before, within one hour driving you have two coasts (and swell directions) to choose from. The Pacific side is exposed to north swell and will pick up most wind swell or ground swell from the north. San Jose and the Eastern Cape pick up anything with a south in it—any kind of south.

Waves 9 Palms Baja Mexico

9 Palm Solid South Swell

I shouldn’t have to remind you, but please be respectful to the locals. Every surfer that visits Cabo is an ambassador and you need to remember that we are visitors in their home. Most locals are really cool and they will go out of their way to help you—if you get snaked in the water it will usually be by another gringo.

If you need a guide or some help finding your way you can check out and ask them to take you around. I met the owner and he was a nice guy that rips a SUP. They got boards for rent and will take you out to the waves along with a few friends, if you desire. Right in town (San Jose) hit up Old Man’s for a meow session or paddle down to The Rock or Zippers for more challenging waves. To the east and at the end of hotel row are some waves at The Estuary. This was actually the first wave I surfed in Cabo and it can get really fun. I did learn later that it is one of the most polluted breaks.

I had an epic session at The Rock, one of the best I have had in a while. Super fun! You can paddle to The Rock from Old Man’s or check it from the cliff. For best positioning, sit just behind the big rock and pick off the sets—watch the locals, they’ll show you how it’s done.

Once you are ready to experience the Eastern Cape, head east towards downtown and cross the large concrete bridge towards La Playa. You’ll make a few twists and turns along the way but just keep following the signs for Eastern Cape.

The road turns into dirt about ten minutes in and you’ll start to see the swells slamming into the coast. The first fun wave you’ll come across is called Shipwrecks, about 40 minutes out of town to the East. Shipwrecks is a nice right-hander off a beautiful point. There is a left in the middle of the beach too. When you see the Virgin Mary library you know you have found it. Really, I am serious. Oh, and the ship is gone, so don’t look for that.

Nine Palms is another break another 15 minutes down the road. It is a super fun point-break with some long rights an the occasional left.

Between 9 Palms and Shipwrecks is another fun waves called La Fortuna which offers a few options in the bay and also a right that breaks fast off an inside rock.

There is a good restaurant at La Fortuna and has better camping than the other locations. If the swell is huge (or if there is a hurricane) you can continue on past 9 Palms and you’ll find a few more waves. The further along the cape you go the smaller the surf will get.

Cabo San Jose Surf Shop & Food

Did you forget wax or sun block?

The best surf shop in town is  Costa Azul Surfshop. I bought a rash vest that I used every day while there and a pair of booties that I never put on (I’ll save them for Bali). There is another shop in town next to the Kiss Brew and Rock bar on the main drag. There are also a few shops popping up near Zippers, so if you snap your board and need one you’ll be able to pick one up.

Shooters downtown has a really good vege burger and cold Coronas for 10 pesos. The best place to eat in town is the Guacamaya. This is of my all-time favorite Mexican eateries EVER.

You’ll love it!

las guacamayas

Best Mexican Food in San Jose Del Cabo

People tend to like The Drunken Sailor in La Playa area (across the bridge) for good seafood and some nice chill atmosphere. I thought their Margaritas were tops. This entire area is growing and has a nice feel to it, they just put in a beautiful hotel called El Ganzo right on the marina, might be worth taking your lady there for a drink or a night away from downtown.

If you are chilling with your woman or want to go out and have an excellent organic meal, then head for Huerta Los Tamarindos out in the fields towards the Eastern Cape. Finding the place is not easy and I am not going to even attempt to explain it, but it’s worth taking the effort to visit. They have a great wine list and some of the best views possible, and this is by far my favorite place to eat in Baja. Mexico isn’t known for its wine, but there are some nice reds coming out of Northern Baja; and though I have found it hit-and-miss (mainly miss), I do like the reds being produced by La Cetto and I have been pleasantly surprised by their quality. Los Tamarindos has it on their menu and it’s worth getting.

For some good Italian food cooked to your liking check out Rustico and say ‘Hola’ to Perla and Javier, the owners. Sit at the bar, you’ll enjoy talking with the owners and sharing their passion for food.

For the best coffee and Italian ice cream in town, check out the The Dolce Villa, they got organic beans from Oaxaca and a real Italian coffee machine.

If you are looking for a surf instructor while in Cabo ask for Victor at La Dolce Villa and he’ll find you one.

Surf: The Pacific

I know you came for warm water and point breaks, but sometimes you just got to go where the surf is and that might very well lead you to the Pacific side of Cabo. I had done several trips to southern Baja before I ventured onto the Pacific side and I have to report that I really enjoy both the atmosphere and surf in this region.

You’ll have to trade your long points for beach break and cobble stone reefs, but when you pull up to A-frame peaks or barreling green mountains, you’ll be stoked that you ventured over to the Pacific. From San Jose head toward San Lucas and just before you drop down towards the spring-break marauding streets of San Lucas, you turn right towards La Paz and Todos Santos.

About 30 minutes later, thanks to the newly paved four-lane highway, you’ll find yourself at Cerritos. Cerritos is located off to the left of the highway and it is the first major establishment (if you can call it that) since leaving the suburbs of San Lucas. You’ll see several hotels out on the beach and you need to head north toward the right that you’ll see breaking off the point. This is a fast wave and can be very ledgy at any tide and I find that it tends to get better at low tide with more markable sections. You can park at the restaurant on the beach as long as you buy a cold beer after you surf—worth the peace of mind you’ll have knowing all is good with your vehicle—also worth the cold beer and delicious guacamole they start serving at 11:30am.

Cerritos, Baja Mexico

Cerritos, Baja Mexico

Just before Cerritos there is a break called the curve. I have never surfed it, but I could see from the road that it had a good set-up. Past Cerritos is Pescadero, here you will find a great right point-break called San Pedrito which is a rippable wave and can hold some big swell that swings off the point.

Todos Santos is my new favorite town in Cabo. It’s a bit artsy and rustic with just the right amount of hippy. Todos Santos reminds me of what northern Baja used to be like when I was growing up, before the narco problems invaded the Tijuana surroundings. There is a feeling of things being a bit wild-west like, yet with enough comforts of home that you don’t feel totally disconnected (though you can unplug easily if desired). In town you can find some great food, a good cup of coffee (Baja Beans) or an internet connection to check the swell.

la esquina todos santos

La Esquina, Todos Santos

Two places with great grub and an awesome atmosphere in Todos Santos are Café Santa Fe and La Esquina. La Esquina is a more casual hang-out and conveniently located near the beaches to the north of Todos Santos. Café Santa Fe is where you go to take your gal or to have an excellent meal after a long surf. It is a little pricy but WAY worth every peso. Hotel California is also worth a visit with some excellent local dishes and live music most days during the high season.

There is surf to the south and north of Todos Santos and likely tons of waves I don’t even know about, it’s the end of the road but in many ways feels like the beginning.

I think that’s it for this trip, I’ll be heading back down in a few months and stay tuned for more updates and lots more stoke.
Derek, Updates From Cabo April 5, 2014

Cabo Resources

Spas and Massages

There is nothing like a good deep massage after several days of surfing. Every time I return to Cabo, I see more and more spas springing up. The one I have been going to for years is next to the Pescadero mall (where Rock & Brew is located). The spa is called Moonlight and they offer one hour massages for $40. I highly recommend this place—no happy endings here, I am sure you can find those types of ‘treatments’ elsewhere in Cabo.

Tel. +52 123 51 40

Real Estate

Did you love Cabo so much that you’d like to move there or maybe build a surf shack to escape the winters?

Check out these site for real estate investment opportunities:

1) For properties all over Mexico: Investment Properties Mexico

2) For properties in Cabo and surrounding areas: Baja Smart

3) For properties around Todos Santos and the surrounding towns: Ricardo Amigo

Surf Forecasts

Surfline Cabo

9 Palms Video



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