3 ways to break the fear barrier and find what lies beyond.

The truth is…

Fear is uncomfortable. Period.

Anyone who decides to practice action water sports on a regular basis will eventually come face to face with fear at one point or another.

It is a simple part of the sports we enjoy practicing and many times, it is in fact, the one ingredient that we seek so we may find ways to overcome it and, by doing so, become stronger, more experienced.


A bit of perspective…

A good example of this is the Billabong Pipe Masters, normally celebrated from December 8th to December 20th. For those who are not acquainted with this very special event, it is one of three events that make up the Hawaiian Triple Crown of Surfing, held at the end of the WSL(World Surfing League) season, in the island of O’ahu, Hawaii.

The Pipe Masters, on its own, is made up of two events, the Pipe Invitational, where local and foreign talent are invited to compete for a coveted spot for the main event, the Pipeline Masters, second part of this event, and considered by many the Superbowl of surfing.

Right, so what does all of this have to do with the 3 ways to break the fear barrier? Well, lets just consider the actual spot where this tournament is held. The North Shore of O’ahu.

A primer on Pipeline mechanics…

In winter, huge storms from as far as the Aleutian islands churn and send on a regular basis very large, powerful swells towards the Hawaiian Archipelago during this time of the year. These swells travel, unobstructed, for thousands of miles, carrying with them tremendous amounts of oceanic energy. In their path, stand the Hawaiian islands, in particular, a stretch of beach, 7 miles long, where all of this energy rises over shallow reef, and is released in one single, incredibly powerful moment.

This stretch of beach is known as the “Seven Mile Miracle” and begins at Sunset Beach, extending all the way to Waimea Bay. The stretch has many famous surf spots but none hold more respect, fear and mystique than the legendary Banzai Pipeline.

Located in Ehukai Beach Park, in Pupukea, the Banzai Pipeline (or more commonly known as Pipeline), is home to the best tube riders in the world. It is also one of the world’s deadliest waves, rising almost vertically over very sharp reef, carrying with it tremendous amounts of water and energy. Taking off from the wave is nearly impossible, almost suicidal.

Hence, the name Banzai Pipeline.

The wave here is so intimidating and powerful that it was only conquered barely 50 years ago, when surfing legend, Butch Van Artsdalen, made tube riding popular, putting in on the map, and bringing surfing into a totally new age. According to many experienced Pipeline surfers, the most intimidating aspect of this wave is the energy it releases when it finally breaks over the reef. That, and what lurks just below the surface of the water.

John John Florence, 2017 World Champion, describes it vividly as a large concrete court, pocked marked with caverns and lava spires which, on a given wave, can hold you down indefinitely. Falling on this surface, Florence adds, is similar to falling on a concrete bed, first taking damage from the impact, and then dealing with the reef’s sharpness, spires and caverns. All this while being churned all over like a giant washing machine.

It is a well-known fact that Pipeline has broken bones of many an experienced surfer. Death is not unheard off at the Banzai Pipeline. Jon Mozo and Tahitian Malik Joyeux are very unfortunate examples of Pipeline’s raw and dangerous power.

Take a look at this aerial view here…notice the shadows and boils of the reef.

These are known as Pipeline and Backdoor. From the perspective of a watcher on shore, Pipeline (First Reef) is ridden when taking off and riding it to the left, where sharp, apparently unmakeable bottom turns must be made to place the surfer just right so that he/she can get barreled in deep, cavernous barrels, in essence, what surfing Pipeline is all about.

Equally famous is legendary Backdoor, which gets its name from skilled surfers entering through the “backdoor” of the barrel and coming out the other side, hopefully, in one piece. Check this video out. Watch exactly what I’m talking about, starting at 00:36 (Pipeline) and then 00:40 (Backdoor).

At 12 feet plus, another reef (Second Reef) starts breaking with longer walls and much heavier waves. Even further out is an extreme size area where huge waves are also ridden. Following is another great video clearly showing (00:60) First, Second and Third Reef (Outer Reef)in full action.

For deeper look at the mechanics of Pipeline, click here.

Faint of the heart need not apply…

Pipeline, Backdoor, Off The Wall, Sunset Beach, Waimea Bay…all legendary surf spots…and all open only to an exclusive elite of fearless, experienced wave chargers.

And yet, even then, ask any of these seasoned surfers and they will all agree that disrespecting these awesome surf spots by showing senseless amounts of bravado and recklessness can only lead to very serious trouble.

A very fine line exists between a burning passion for the pursuit of that one perfect barrel ride, and crossing that line into the realm of irresponsibility and disaster. And in the middle, within that very fine thin line, I believe surfers charging these incredible waves, find transformation.

It’s also what is come to be known as “stoke”.

Ask any surfer or action water sport practitioner, at whatever level, how he feels after getting barreled, or going down that turbulent river ride, or making that ultimate wake boarding jump, or asking a windsurfer or kite boarder about that freestyle jump, or white-knuckled ride, where board, wind and skill just “clicked” somehow, making that one single moment indelible for the rest of your life.

And feeling good all over, even hours after you’ve left the water.

That, my friends, is stoke.

And even after the most harrowing of accidents, like Andrew Cotton’s colossal wipe out in Nazare, Portugal, last 8th of November 2017, or more recently, Dusty Payne’s horrific wipe out at Pipeline, the stoke remains so strong that these super athletes keep coming back for more, even after months of rehabilitation and recovery.

Living life from an unexpected place…

They go back to the same places where they looked at death straight in the eye. And, in spite of the fears they faced at the moment of their unfortunate accidents, they get back on the saddle again, indomitable, showing us that the way to gain that confidence again is doing something that makes them feel good about themselves, and, sooner or later, many of them realize that they are living life from a place of love.

Love for the sport, for the ocean, for the friends and camaraderie, for the wonder and awe that is intrinsic with all action water sports.

This is not to say that they will not be afraid again.On the contrary.

I believe they will feel fear more tangibly now than ever before because they have been through something that only a handful of people have ever experienced. They know the risks involved better than anybody. This gives them a distinct edge.

Each step they take to reach their goal is further strengthened by the activity they love. And here is the funny thing that happens as a direct result of acquiring this attitude. You may want to take note:

Focusing in the things that they are passionate about keeps their fears at bay.

This is the way to be a champion. In sports, in business, and in life. Focus on the things that you love and have that be the major theme in your life.

Now look at the fears that are troubling you…got it? Ok. Now, order them to sit their ass back on the bench!

It’s a mental game. It most certainly is a mental game.

Breaking the fear barrier…

Lets consider the workplace for a moment and compare it to what professional surfers face when competing in an event like the Pipemasters.

At the work place, many times you are caught in a trap of self-doubt. You begin to sabotage your career, falling into bad patterns like self-doubt and comparing yourself to others.

Now consider the professional surfer about to enter the most dangerous surf spot in the world. Self-doubt, and comparing himself to other competitors, not only could leave him out of the tournament. It could lead to catastrophe, resulting in severe injury or even death.

To some measure or other, extreme action water athletes have come to accept and understand the undeniable existence of a fear barrier and also three very powerful ways to get over this barrier.

1. Fear forces you into making decisions.

When facing fear, you have two very clear options. Either act and decide to make your fears go away, or decide to sit back and do nothing. You can go either way, but the fact remains that fear demands that you make a decision.

2. Fear pushes your limits, making you stronger.

Remember the first time you paddled out and, to you, it was “huge” out? Or that time the wind was blowing so hard, you thought you sail would catapult you or launch you in the air, 10, 15 or even 20 meters above the water? And yet, you managed to keep it together, controlling your fear, making millisecond adjustments that came to you almost super-naturally?

Through experience and paying your dues in the water, you realize that fear is now your ally, albeit a fickle ally, always ready to take you down.

And yet, when fear pushes your limits, when it takes you to the edge, but you still remain in control, internally, mentally, spiritually, something amazing is happening. You are growing stronger. And the more you do it, the more you want to repeat the feeling. It’s scary how addicting it can be.

3. Fear makes you feel alive.

Lets go back to you first paddle out when it’s huge out.

What is the thing you remember most?

Perhaps it’s your heart beat racing as you duck-dive that first massive swell, adrenaline pumping, your senses heightened to levels you had never felt before. It’s that pervading sense of fight-or-flight that invades your stomach and fills it up with “butterflies”.

And yet you press onward, now remounting another wave, impossibly, unrelentingly, larger than the last.

Until at last you make it to the take off zone.

When you arrive, the fear gradually lessens and suddenly it is replaced with a feeling of triumph and euphoria. And now you wait until the horizon becomes dark again.

A wall of water approaches, higher and higher, and then, in an instant, you turn around and start paddling frantically, all muscles and senses primed for immediate action.

And inevitably, the leap of faith, the take off, committing to whatever the ocean throws at you. And also in an instant, you are riding the face of wave and in one incredible moment, the wave’s lip starts crashing down behind you.

You adjust your speed just at the right moment and what happens next is in slow motion, or at least that’s how it feels to you. The curtain of the crashing wave covers you, and you are in the tube, chandeliers and white water trying to catch up with you. You stabilize, again making millisecond adjustments on your balance, footing and stance.

All of a sudden, the white water finally catches up with you and attempts to throw your balance by exhaling a huge spit ball; but your technique, for that one moment, is perfect.

You come out of the barrel, in one awesome, synchronous exhale, spit ruffling your hair. You are out and the wave rewards you with a clear ramp to exit the face.

As you paddle away, you feel more alive than ever. A sense of accomplishment fills you and you feel exhilarated and complete. You have just crossed the fear barrier and found what is on the other side: FEELING ALIVE!

Acceptance leads to transformation…

So why embrace fear? Really, consider this for a moment.

As I mentioned in the first few lines of this article: fear is uncomfortable. So why should we welcome it?

The fact is that if you want to expand your personal boundaries, stretch your limits and grow as an individual, you actually need fear to add spice to your life. This will set you up on a path of self-discovery which could also open doors to new opportunities. When this happens, and believe me, it will happen, accept it and, better yet, learn from it.

So what are your fears? How has fear held you back from reaching your goals and finding out what is on the other side? We all have personal fear barriers to conquer…which one is yours?

If you want to be more than you are, welcome a little fear. It could very well be that “special sauce” that could set set you on a different path. When it happens, the results can be pretty awesome. Embrace it!

I hope you liked this article and found it useful.

Please leave your thoughts below and share it if you know someone who you think might benefit from this information. I read all comments and will gladly take the time to reply. Thanks for reading!

Does Procrastinating Mean That I Have No Sense Of Accountability?

The squirrel did it!!

Hey Sentinels! Happy New Year to all of you and the very best wishes for health and abundance for 2018!!

So it finally happened.

Got caught in the procrastination trap. My last post was back in November. Initially I felt terrible about it but then decided to research a bit about what makes us procrastinate. T

The results were self-revealing and I am very happy to share them with you here.

I’m presently digging myself out this hole.

It’s so easy to fall victim of the “squirrel syndrome” when starting a business, any business, brick and mortar, online or otherwise.

These distractions can be so varied and all of them have one thing in common: they steal away focus.

You lose focus, you start paying attention to other sparkly things that initially look great, but eventually the sparkle wears off for some reason or other.

These distractions can also be just things, moments, incidents, that life just throws at you, and they can have just as much distracting power (many times more!) than that sparkly thing you saw in the internet (a webinar, a product, an offer, a course, etc.).

And once your focus is somewhere else, procrastination makes its unwelcome appearance and, before you know it, you are trapped, and suddenly you are looking at the work you haven’t done in weeks.

Does procrastination mean I have no sense of accountability

You think “how the hell am I going to catch up with all that I have to do?”.

And you look at your laptop, silent and waiting, and you ignore the calling, making some excuse not to continue.

You turn away from your work desk, feeling guilty, overwhelmed, and yes, even a bit fearful.

And you think “I’m caught. Procrastination’s finally got me good”.

But since you have no one to answer to but yourself, you add another unproductive day under the rug, so no one can see.

But you know it’s there.

And though you may make every effort to not see it, you can certainly feel it, there, in your gut.

You’re in deep…STOP DIGGING!

Time to put the shovel down and stop digging.

So…does procrastinating mean that I have no sense of accountability? It can be very easy to come to that conclusion.

You have no boss. You can do what you want, when you want. Stop and go as you please.

It’s a false sense of liberty.

You want all these things but you want them at no expense to you. Mistake

number one.

With freedom comes responsibility.

And for us that wish to own, create, innovate, and influence others for the better good, it goes beyond responsibility. The name of the game is accountability. Your results depend on you. In typical 9 to 5 work environments, it’s easier. You have your boss cracking the whip to keep you accountable.

If you do this well, you are good with your boss.

But even if you do this half-way decently, which is unfortunately where many companies around the world are, even then, you still get your paycheck and company benefits.

True, this won’t last if you keep half-assing around. But you have the company environment there to give you fair warning.

As an independent business owner, entrepreneur, etc. you don’t get that luxury.

If you decide to procrastinate, you have to own the results of your decision.

Blogging has a very clear-cut result of procrastination. You don’t publish regularly, you lose readership.

You lose readership, you lose your chances for subscribers and eventual buyers of whatever product, service or recommendation you can offer them in the mid and long term.


But most importantly, I think, is that you also lose the unique opportunity to interact and create relationships with them. That’s big.

Procrastination is not a Members Only club…

But here is the thing.

Procrastination, I’ve found, is a malady that serious online entrepreneurs face often.

It is not uncommon and we are certainly not alone when we fall in its trap.

The reason it is more common with online biz owners than traditional brick and mortar owners is the isolation factor.

As an online marketer/entrepreneur, you are dealing with many intangibles.

Once you become seriously involved with the subject matter, the truth is the great majority of the people that surround you just don’t get it.

So you become a bit of a loner.

There are very effective ways to stop the isolation but that is something we will explore in another post.

The point is that procrastination is not an isolated occurrence.

It happens to all of us, at every level of our journey, whether you are a newbie or seasoned veteran.

Here’s the great news, though: you can learn how to break procrastination habits.

Quick story…

A few years ago I took a Life Guarding Certification course. I knew how to swim pretty well, and I felt I was in pretty good shape. So in I go into the pool. The instructor tells all of us candidates that warm up begins with a brisk 20 laps.

Ok, no problem. I got this.

After my third lap, the instructor calls me over and tells me, in layman terms, that my swimming technique pretty much sucks.

I took the constructive criticism to heart and asked him for some tips. He tells me that he would be doing me a disservice by giving just a couple of tips and sending me on my way.

That if I was really serious in making the most of the Lifeguarding certification course (which I had already payed for), that we needed to get to the root of my swimming problem.

And that problem stemmed from my faulty breathing technique.

We worked on it for a few days, learning new habits and techniques. Swimming skills for life guarding are all together different from recreational swimming.

And so, with the help of my instructor and focusing on my root problem, I was able to finish and earn my lifeguard certification.

We are going to do the same with procrastination.

Following are 10 strategies that will help you break away from procrastination.

We will discuss the first 5 on this post and conclude this article with the following 5 strategies on a post which I will publish next week.

Yes, I could give you a few tips on how to handle this bad habit and send you on your way. But to really learn how to break procrastination habits, we must go deeper.

We will identify, own and get to the root of the matter.

1. Getting clarity…

Consider the subconscious for a moment.

Powerful stuff. It can go north or south, and many times you are not even aware of it.

With procrastination, it is no different.

You may have procrastination so embedded in your subconscious that you don’t even realize it. Your subconscious stores the good and the bad, either way. It is totally impartial.

So you may store good things that you are supposed to do and that you know are good for you, but because of procrastination, you keep them there, locked away, and don’t pay attention to them, until there is just too much to do.

You are overwhelmed and so you try to ignore it again, but more things, ideas, projects, keep adding up. When this happens, stop.

Pinpoint where this is coming from.

Write down a list of the things that you have to do.

You may not get to them all immediately. But it really helps to see them on paper.

It restores control and gives you a sense of direction as to what steps you are going to take next.

2. Shine light into the darkness.

The dark, that’s where our fears lie. Ever since we were small, they were always there. The monsters below our bed, in the closet.

As we grew up, the monsters transformed and now they appear as the unknown, as uncertainty.

We all face these fears daily. As entrepreneurs, even more so. Dealing with uncertainty is one of the traits that defines us.

If you are faced with the unknown, with uncertainty, shine light on the darkness.

Why are you afraid of the unknown?

Get to the source of your fear and make it go away by understanding it.

Perhaps you are not sure as to how to proceed or get over a certain obstacle. Well, guess what. You just turned on the light in that dark room. Sure, there are still a few dark corners but just recognizing that you have a problem with a certain aspect of your business, life, personal relationship, is a powerful way to start.

Now that you have your problem identified, bring in the big guns to shine even more light.

Research and inform yourself as to how you can breach the problem.

Give yourself pause and take the time to think how you are going to crush your obstacle.

Perhaps the solution needs a new, different angle. You may have to think out of the box, but believe me, the answer is out there. And once you realize this, it is incredibly empowering.

You are back in control.

However long it takes, hopefully not too long, you will find the answer for that problem.

Once you do, the monsters will disappear until another challenge comes your way. Remember to shine the light into the darkness.

3. Remember your “WHY”.

So important. And SOO easy to forget.

Remember when you wrote in a piece of paper somewhere, or perhaps in you notebook, why you are doing this?

Why are you putting up with all the doubters and the naysayers?

Why are you dealing with all the ups and downs of becoming who you know you were meant to be, the challenges, the bad days, the frustrations, the isolation, the steep learning curves along the way, and all that is yet to come?

Why do you do it? In my case, I have a list of about 30 “WHYs”. All of them are relevant. When I find a new WHY, I added it to the list.

I also try to read them as often as possible to keep myself  motivated.

You may have one WHY and that’s fine. Let it fill. Get laser focused on WHY you do what you do.

4. Don’t beat yourself up.


Hey, it’s alright to screw up once in a while. Really.

Don’t be so critical with yourself. You are learning new skills, including a new way to look at things. You are learning a new mindset.

And that, my friends, takes time to learn.

Expect bumps along the way. It’s ok. Just accept your mistakes, brush yourself off, and move on.

Be humble. Ask for help. The key is to keep moving forward.

5. Time to get serious. No excuses.

Self explanatory here.

You want more time to do the things you enjoy most, and earn passive income on the side, you have to get serious and commit in body and mind to whatever business model you want to be successful at, online or otherwise.

It’s that simple.

Here’s a guy who knows a thing or two about comitting body and mind to the accomplishment of a goal…

Once you begin, you have to commit to being a finisher.

6. Own it.

Ok so you have challenges in your business and some of these challenges you have brought upon yourself.

We go back to accountability on this one.

Your decisions. Your results, for better or worse, are your responsibility. Own up.

This is one of the greatest lessons you will learn from leadership.

It’s a tricky business.

Your decisions will affect you, positively or negatively. Eventually they will affect you and your team.

You are the leader. You must own up your to successes and your failures.

7. Be aware of your work environment.

Look around your work area.

Is it tidy? Does it inspire you? Perhaps you have nice view to your garden. That’s great!

Many of us, however, have challenges keeping our work areas tidy.

The better you feel in your work area, the more productive and motivated you will feel to sit down and commit to those two or three hours of solid work you promised when you decided to develop whatever project you had in mind.

A quick recap…

For now, it is plenty to ponder and reflect on.

Next week I will have the second part of this article ready for you with more useful, practical information.

In the mean time, try to apply some or all of the strategies mentioned here.

Remember, get clarity first…pinpoint the source of why you are procrastinating. You do that, you are already well ahead of the crowd.

Shine the light on your fears. They are normally not as bad as you think.

When feeling unsure of how to overcome an obstacle, remember why you are doing this. So important. And instant fuel you can always rely on.

Decisions will always be part of your journey. Some will be good. Others not so much. By far. You have got to own up, learn from that experience and keep moving. It’s a huge part of being a leader. And it’s not as simple as it sounds.

Be tidy in your work surroundings. This will not only improve the quality of your work, but it will also allow you to increase your productivity, helping you keep motivated.

I hope you liked part one regarding procrastination and how to deal with this very insidious habit. Please, if you have found some of this information useful, leave me your comments below or share with someone you feel might benefit from this article. Thanks again and see you next week for part two!

These are NOT your typical outdoor activities for adults…

Step into the rabbit’s hole please…

Flyboarding, coasteering, creeking, ice swimming. Definitely not your typical outdoor activities for adults. Yet, the lure for risk, danger and the reward for that one moment of pure adrenalin, have made these very unusual sports ever more popular.

These activities demand a very different approach for their practice.

The expression “thinking out of the box” has very fertile ground here, where alternative activities such as these can not only grab hold, but flourish.

Enter wave surf skiing, for instance.

Put two water skis together, two poles, one super conditioned waterman, and some of the world’s biggest waves, and you have a new, spectacular sport as a result. Check this out:

The dare devil/waterman in the above video is Chuck “The Ripper” Patterson. He excels in big wave surfing, SUP paddle boarding, kite surfing, and snow skiing (off cliffs 100+ feet high).

And now, wave surf skiing.

The Journey Begins…

It all began with an idea shared with long time friend (now passed) Shane McConkey. Together, they came up with a “why not” moment: using water skis to surf waves.

Patterson’s versatility as a water and alpine athlete made this experiment even more feasible.

First tries were done with jump water skis. The experiment took place in a Central California break, off 12 mt. slabs. Patterson did very well, going on for 20 more successful take-offs.

Convinced that he could take the experiment to the next level, Patterson traveled to Maui, to face one of the world’s biggest and most dangerous waves: Pe’ahi (a.k.a. Jaws).

With support from respected watermen like Robby Naish and Dave Kalama, Patterson was able to complete 3 rides in massive Pe’ahi, in front of an unbelieving crowd. Later, he would reflect about his very first ride in Pe’ahi:

“The first drop was nuts – I barely made it, and dropped the lip just like a cornice, going faster than I’ve ever gone. I got three rides and called it a day. The next day we went back to smaller but cleaner waves and just had a blast – big S-turns, fading back into the wave…”

And when asked how do the wave skis work, Patterson explains:

“Much like snow skis when you’re skiing powder. The big difference is you’re steering from the middle of the boot to the back of the ski, not using the whole ski like you do in skiing. The front of the ski is out of the water”.

This sport, as mentioned before, requires definite out of the box thinking. Specially where Patterson wants to take it next. Balharra, France, and Teahupoo, Tahiti. “This”, he says, “would be the pinnacle”.

Thinking out of the box…

Who is out there, now, leaving a mark in the rabbit’s hole? Think about that for a minute. Elon Musk? Richard Branson? Michio Kaku?

Outdoor activities for adults like going to Mars...
Elon Musk

This group of very special people are the vanguard of innovation and invention. They are also immensely successful, both financially and in their personal lives.


They all have one thing in common and that is their willingness to think

Virgin Galactic and Outdoor activities for adults...
Richard Branson

outside the box, regardless of what other naysayers may think. The following quote from Eleanor Roosevelt sums it up very nicely:



Do what you feel in your heart to be right- for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.

And in the water realm, where we feel most comfortable, who or what has left (or is currently leaving) a wake of innovation and vanguard? Here are just a few examples of some of our heroes, leaving their mark on this very exclusive club:

outdoor activities for adults in an endless summer.The Endless Summer

Surf travel and the search for perfect uncrowded waves in exotic surroundings, some very, very far away, like Cape St. Francis, paved the way for traveling surfers around the world. But more importantly the impact this visionary movie had on Africa would be felt for decades to come.

From balsa to foam.

Old timers may hold a nostalgic view about their heavy, wooden boards, times gone by, including uncrowded beaches. But the fact is that if polyurethane foam hadn’t come about, modern surfing (and all its derivatives) would never have existed.


O’Neill, Bev Morgan, Bob and Bill Mistrell…

Creators of closed-cel neoprene rubber wet suits and vests. Later on this would evolve into the O’Neill front zip seal suit.

The surf leash.

Many take credit for the creation of this accessory, but in fact, functional versions were originally designed in Santa Cruz, by Steve Russ and Pat O’Neill, in the early 70s .

Today, surf leashes are a mainstay part of any surfing quiver, beginner, or otherwise.


The introduction of fin technology revolutionized the surfing industry. No other accessory has impacted or innovated surfing as much as this tiny, unassuming accessory. Fins influence mobility, stability and the overall “feel” of the board and also allow for much better control on the wave’s  surface. Getting into more technicalities regarding how fins work would take another article altogether.

Fins have been, and continue to be, that all-important accessory for any surfboard.

Tube riding.

So…who stepped out of the box (which at the time was the bowl at Ala Moana, in the island of Oahu Hawaii), and set the stage for modern tube riding as we know it?

Gerry Lopez? Rory Russell? Buttons K? Shaun Thompson?

Gerry Lopez

Even though these legendary surfers were the elite of the Banzai Pipeline during the 70s, the real pioneers were early barrel riders Conrad Canha and Sammy Lee.

Conrad Canha
Sammy Lee






For surfers around the world, tube riding became the holy grail of surfing, going to the ends of the earth in search for that elusive moment found between the lip and the face of the wave.

outdoor activites for adults in new zeland
Somewhere in New Zeland…

Once again, The Endless Summer only made this search even more mythical.

Surf forecasting.

Trial and error was the name of the game in the pioneering days. Also, a big part of the mystique of surf travel. Nowadays, Surfline and Windguru let you know before you go.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding.

At first glance, SUP boarding would appear dull, boring and too passive for the active waterman.

But its versatility for casual users, yoga enthusiasts and open water paddle boarders around the world have made it incredibly popular.

SUP boarding also has recently acquired a mean, extreme streak, having being tested at Pe’ahi and Teahupoo, resulting in wide acceptance as full fledged action water sport.

Surf resorts.

Nicaragua, El Salvador, Mexico, but heading the list since 1986, Fiji’s Tavarua Island. If you have the cash and the time, Tavarua has the perfection and resort services you are looking for.

Personal water craft.

Essential for water rescue and tow in on some of the world’s heaviest waves, the wave runner has also allowed surfers and watermen alike to break away from the limitations of traditional surfing, allowing them to really step out and look beyond the box (a.k.a. Teahupoo, Shipsterns Bluff and Nazare).

Hydrofoil Surfing

Riding an unbroken wave for nearly an indefinite time, across vast distances. Now that is going deep into the rabbit’s hole. In fact, you are now looking outside of the hole itself, if that can be even interpreted.

And the person spear-heading this concept is none other than Laird Hamilton, waterman and innovator.

In words we can understand, the concept of hydrofoil surfing is similar to whales gliding on an ocean swell. Hamilton has reached speeds of up to 80 km/h.

Like minds think alike…

People who think out of the box are certainly a breed apart. Their minds are wired a bit differently than the rest of us.

Some can be wacky, even eccentric. Many, like Albert Einstein (king of the rabbit hole!), are natural loners.

That is not to say that there your exceptions. Richard Branson comes to mind.

Shedding light inside the rabbit’s hole…

The good news is that you can retrain your mind and make this skill your very own.

Follow these few simple tips:

  1. Once you have the solution of a problem insight, don’t stop there. Search for alternative solutions that allow for a different approach to solving the problem.
  2. Don’t be afraid of criticism. In fact, do the opposite: embrace opposition and critique.
  3. This one is a bit of a challenge for most of us. Try to change your daily routine.
  4. Creativity is a very important part of outside of the box thinking. Try to give your creativity the opportunity to grow and expand by doing things you aren’t very good at.
  5. Mind your thoughts. Be flexible. Avoid saying things like “This is the way it is” or It’s always been done that way”.
  6. Go back to an old project and try renewing it using a completely different methodology.
  7. Enrich your mind by watching and reading articles and programs that you usually wouldn’t read or watch.
  8. Dare to be experimental with music, food, art, etc. Explore and reward your senses.
  9. Failure will happen. It is a part of growth. When this happens, write down all that you have learned from this failure as soon as you can. Reflect and make the pertinent adjustments in your journey.


Let’s think about the above tips for a minute. I would venture that some parts of our life style go hand in hand with at least one or more of these tips.

“Naturals” at thinking outside the box?

I think watermen and surfers around the world who love the ocean, and are actively a part of it, are constantly thinking outside the box.

It’s the environment where we display our creativity and skill.

The ocean requires that we shift, move, change and adapt to its rhythm.

And that is also thiking outside of the box.

It is good.

It is growth.

And it is free for the taking.

Hope you liked this article. Please leave your comments ans/or critiques below. I will be very glad to read them and get back to you. Thanks again for reading!




Define Triumphant: Gabriel Medina Hossegor 2017

Hot coffee, buttery croissants and sexy sandbars…

I sat down on my usual spot, at a local french patisserie, waiting for a freshly made cup of coffee and hot, buttery croissant. As the waiter arrived with the steaming cup of Chiapas magic, my friend Eduardo joined me, also asking for another cup.

The patisserie, a lone star and true survivor of a notoriously fickle restaurant market, has been our spot for well over two years now. Tuesday is normally our day off. Weekends in Cancun are mainstay working days. So yes, Tuesday coffee and croissants, in Cancun, may be bit corny. But it’s the company that makes this quarterly get together work.

Eduardo and I have known each other for almost 12 years now.

We have families and understanding wives who know a thing or two about this “guy thing” going on between my best friend and I. And so, we sit down, drink our hot coffee (and croissants) and talk about our week. We both continue to work for the vacation club industry in Cancun, which gives us plenty to discuss.

But our thing is talking about anything that has to do with our real passion: surfing and action water sports.

Exhilarating win for Brazil and Latin America!

As the croissants arrive, Eduardo goes for the butter and jam, spreading it over half of the roll, previously sliced in tidy halves. This by habit. Never fails. I go “viking style”, breaking the roll in two and spreading butter and jelly generously over the croissant. We both know that something quite extraordinary has transpired over the weekend.

As I look at Eduardo, I ask him: “Lalo (term of endearment for Eduardo), define triumphant for me”.

As he finishes putting half of the roll in his mouth, Eduardo pulls out his cel and shows me a picture of an exuberantDefine trimphant: Gabriel Medina Hossegor 2017 surfer, arms up in the air in victory, his face clearly showing signs of happiness, relief and exhaustion. I recognize the picture immediately. Gabriel Medina.

“Just won Hossegor again!” Eduardo informs me, putting the cel down, beside the bread plate holding half of the croissant waiting to be eaten. I sit back and think for a minute at Gabriel’s feat. At barely 22 years of age, Gabriel Medina is the only Brazilian (indeed, the only Latin American) to ever win the Quick Silver Pro France for the third time.

He also made history by being the first Brazilian ever to win the Hawaiian Triple Crown of Surfing in 2015 and landing a first ever “back flip” which earned him another historical first and a perfect score of 10 on May 14, 2016, during the Oi Rio Pro.

The very same year, Medina won his seventh WCT event, and his second in heavy Cloudbreak, in the Fiji Islands. He is considered as the most victorious Brazilian surfer of the WCT at age 22.

So what defines a champion?

What characteristics, traits, attributes, sets these individuals apart from the rest?

As we continue drinking our coffee, Lalo adds an interesting bit of information to Medina’s journey to victory. “Kelly Slater had Andy Irons…Medina has JJ Florence”.

I look at him, understanding in part what he is implying.

“Competition can drive you to become better at literally any activity” Lalo stated. “You are right”, I conceded. “Nothing to do with surfing, but in F1, Senna had Prost.They were excellent examples of true competition. Again, away from the water, current, legendary rivalries, like Nadal and Federer, are invaluable for the individual and great for those watching!”.

I take my cel out and look for the WSL site. The image of Medina comes up again. I think for a minute. “You know, a lot of it I think also has to do with your background. Where you come from and the challenges you have had to overcome to reach your goals. This has a lot to do on how successful you will be in your adult life”.

“Take Gabriel, for instance”.I continued, taking a small sip of my coffee.

“His life from early on, was competitive surfing. Did you know he began surfing at 9 years of age and at 11 he won his first national championship? From there, he began his rising career, facing the challenges and financial struggles that all would-be pro surfers face when aspiring for sponsorship and ranking at the highest level”.

Lalo considered for a moment. Then questioned:”If you had to choose a trait that sets not only Medina apart, but really, other champions apart from the rest of the heap, what would that be?”.

I thought about his question for a moment.

Deconstructing the profile of a champion.

“I would have to say mindset, Lalo. The power of the mind is everything. We are barely tapping it’s full potential. And already look at what has been accomplished. Mindset has allowed us to finally conquer impossible waves like Teahupoo, The Right and Shippies. It has allowed surfers like Garrett McNamara to ride the biggest wave ever recorded in Nazare, Portugal. It’s put Peahi on the map. Its gone as far as finally allowing Maverick’s to be included in the Big Wave Circuit for 2017 and 2018. And this is all due to mindset. How we control and master our emotions when facing risk, adversity, insurmountable odds, and such. Yeah. Mindset wins out. Everytime”.


Lalo took a sip of his coffee. He sat back on his chair, reflecting and considering my emotional explanation of mindset and champions.

Making a case for discipline and consistency…

“But Xavier, isn’t discipline and consistency just as important? I mean, just look at any world champion today. Let’s say, Roger Federer, for example. Sure, nothing to do with surfing, but it still remains relevant since singles tennis remains an individualistic sport. Federer has mindset, agreed. A steely mindset that has helped him win many grand slam tournaments. But he couldn’t have had such success without iron discipline and consistency. I mean, look at the guy. He just beat Nadal again this last Sunday, at the Shanghai Masters, in one hour and 12 minutes! And the guy is 36 years old! Mindset, sure, but discipline and consistency weigh very heavily on the end results, in sports, at work, man, in life!”.

We both sat there, each considering each other’s views. One thing was certain. Unlike many sports, surfing had one unique aspect that set it apart from other sports with worldwide appeal. The environment in which the sport actually takes place in. The ocean is unpredictable and always in motion, demanding a healthy amount of creativity, adaptability and cojones!

We both laughed, agreeing in between guffaws, clearing our eyes from laughter tears. This remained the one true aspect of the activity we loved so much. In this point in particular, we both really felt no other sport in the world could hold a candle to it.

“So we agree, then” Lalo said. “To be a champion, to set yourself apart from the rest, you must, first and foremost:

Have the right mindset.

Fixed Mindset:

Basic qualities, like intelligence or talent. Qualities are documented and not developed.

Growth Mindset:

Basic abilities can be developed through discipline and hard work.


Jim Rohn once said that discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments. Think about this for a minute. Now think of the incredible people that have reached success by being disciplined individuals. Who comes to mind? How about this guy:


Or this gal:


Doing something, whatever that is, over and over again, regardless of the challenges or obstacles that may present themselves. This will temper your character and yield great results.

“Humor!” Lalo said out loud, breaking the silence between us. “A good sense of Humor is fundamental as part of a champion’s profile. Taking any sport too seriously is a mistake, I think. Those athletes that don’t take themselves too seriously usually do better than others. Just consider some of these champions: Taj Burrow, Peter Mel, and, lo and behold, his Highness himself: Kelly Slater!”. We both agreed, no argument there. You must be able to laugh at yourself. Otherwise, you risk going crazy!


Lalo and I finished our last cup of coffee. We looked outside the window. Outside was a typical Cancun autumn day: still hot and humid, with a slight breeze. Things were starting to cool down a bit.

And we both looked wistfully beyond the heat, the humidity, beyond the borders of our minds, letting our imaginations carry us to windswept beaches, hollow a-frames, red wine, cheese and baguettes; we dreamed of sexy sand banks and La Graviere and experiencing the whole surfing scene, french style.


At that moment, Lalo and I made a pact that we would be there, at Hossegor, in two years time. Drinking coffee and hot, buttery croissants at a local patisserie at La Graviere. Add one to our bucket list.



If you have liked this post, please comment below. Share it and also tell me what being champion means to you. What sets these individuals apart from the rest? Give us your thoughts below. I read all comments, positive and critical. I would be glad to share opinions on this topic with you. Talk soon!

Transformation: Accepting The Laws Of Change

“Hell hath no fury…”

Hey everyone! Been away for a while. My apologies for that. See, where I’m from, earthquakes are a very serious matter. They are dangerous and very deadly. And we just had two of them a few weeks ago.

I live in the Mexican Caribbean. Our concern is more centered in tropical storms and hurricanes, of which 3 of the later, have already impacted on US territory, mainly Texas and Florida.

And Let’s not forget the brutal pummeling that Puerto Rico, Dominica and the US Virgin Islands got with Irma and Maria, this last one having the dimensions of a 50-mile wide tornado, destroying anything and anyone that stood on it’s way.

Transformation: The Laws of Change
No town, no city, indeed, no island or country could withstand such unbridled energy. Puerto Rico took it in the chin…twice.

And meanwhile, back in my country, 3 states got hit with a 7.5 earthquake, and then the big one happened in Mexico City, which even today we are still recovering from both psychologically and emotionally.

Blind eye to the laws of change...
Many people have died.

The news media try to keep the numbers under control. But the truth is that the exact death toll will never be known.

What makes this disaster even more painful in the psyche of many Mexicans, is the fact that many of the victims were children and teenagers, caught in this disaster while attending school.

Of course, questions remain in regards to structural integrity of collapsed buildings, especially the schools where whole roofs collapsed on top of innocent students. Who is to blame? Who is responsible?

Who will pay for the suffering of the broken families left behind?

As is the case in many Latin American countries, no one knows, no one takes responsibility. At times, it would seem that the authorities involved have turned a blind eye to the undeniable laws of change…

“Time may change me but I can’t trace time” – David Bowie

And so, it made me think a bit about life, how precious, and fragile it can be, against nature’s wrath. It may sound dramatic. But I think wrath is the right choice of word here.

My wife and I went through Wilma, back in 2005, and got our first taste of a category 5 hurricane. An experience which I would encourage anyone to avoid, both before, during and after the storm.

Anyway, life is precious and short. Buddha once wisely said “The problem is that we think we have time”.

My friends, time we have, but it is finite. We must make the most of the time we have here, surely live the present, but also prepare for the future.

Take an active stance towards what is important to us, our ocean-loving community, and how to impact positively in the now and in the future.

This blog has been an attempt to appreciate, understand, and enjoy all the goodness that comes from safe responsible practice of ocean water sports. The last 10 posts published have thus far made up this blog and it is my hope is that this at least has been accomplished.

It is now time to turn to more valuable topics which I sincerely hope will help you in your personal development and growth. Action Water Sports (AWS) have influenced my life in a very positive manner. Many of you have experienced this growth, this “stoke”, after a great barrel, planning on your kite or windsurf board, or doing a perfect bottom turn.

Something very special happens at that moment when everything “clicks” and you are in the zone, deep in a barrel, flying high above the waves, or diving deeper than you ever had before.

I believe this is the growth part of the activities we so cherish. So entranced and excited are we, that we can’t wait to tell our friends and loved ones what just transpired in our lives in those few, brief seconds. Whether they understand it or not is besides the point. But growth is like that.

Sometimes it is only something that you, and you alone, understand.


In the next posts that I will be publishing, you will find continuation of interesting articles about the AWS. This will always be so. Surfsentinel, above all else, will remain a blog about AWS found around the world.

From Mexico to Argentina, from Hawaii to Morocco (yes indeed, and you will be amazed how active the surfing community is there), from Australia to Mentawais, Sumatra, Java and beyond.

This blog will also be a bridge of communication, focused on educating and involving “sentinels” around the world who also share a deep love and respect of our planet’s oceans.

Self Development through Action Water Sports

But you will now also have access to articles, posts and videos that will help and inspire you to reach your full potential, strive for that goal, that dream that, for some reason, you have yet to accomplish.

Think about this for a minute. Where would you like to be at this precise moment. Really. If you had a passive income stream that allowed you to be anywhere in the world, without having to worry about where the next pay check is coming from, where would that be? What would you be doing? Where would you go next?

It sounds inviting and, I know, for some of you, it might be the time when you are saying “OK, here we go with another pipe dream. Luis, please stick with the cool videos and AWS articles. Heard all before. Not interested”.

Ah, but here is the thing, my fellow Sentinels, this lifestyle can be yours. There is no doubt in my mind. No doubt whatsoever. It all comes down to MINDSET. And together we will reach for this star, for this objective.

Together, through trials and tribulations, failings and accomplishments, we will get there.

“Calm seas do not make an able mariner…”

You need skills.

Attributes that will help you guarantee the continuation of your lifestyle, even when you are away from whichever activity you enjoy most.

Like I mentioned before, life is short and precious. We must take care of our bodies and minds being ready for that next dive, that next barrel.

We must also remain mindful of our emotions. We must learn to be masters of our emotions. This will give us great power over ourselves and enhance our relationships with others we know and love to no end.

Financial independence. This is the key to the lifestyle we want to achieve. Perhaps many of you have already achieved it. Kudos! Now, think of ways to guarantee its continuation. For the rest of us, the path to financial independence is financial education.

Think of your health. You must invest time and discipline to maintain a healthy body to function properly in the water. Healthy eating habits goes hand in hand here. What will you do to fuel your body properly and help avoid injury?

Think of your financial IQ. The mind is the largest organ of the human body. You must develop it just like any other muscle. You will now find posts and articles that deal with improving your financial IQ. Mind you, I am not a financier, but over the years, I have read quite a bit about personal finances and strategies on how to improve our financial IQ.

I will be happy to share this valuable information with you.

Strategize and apply…

Passive income. Another cornerstone that will allow us to enjoy the lifestyle we want.

Simply put, passive income is income you are creating while doing other activities, hopefully activities you greatly enjoy, like AWS!

Passive income can come from activities as varied as learning how to invest in the stock market, investing in real state and collecting rentals from tenants, or having different income streams from different online business models.

We will touch on all these at a later time. But the fact remains that, whichever passive income strategy you choose to implement, to have success, you must be BRUTALLY CONSISTENT!

 And so we turn the page…

So there you have it. A bit of a change, to be sure. But the winds of change are here to stay, and many times, they bring good things.

It is my heartfelt wish that the information I will be providing you in the near future will be of some value to you, Sentinels around the world.

Surely, sometimes I will tend to ramble on a bit (perhaps I’m already there!). But it is with the best of intentions. Please offer your comments, your critiques. It’s OK. I will gladly follow your advice whenever it is offered to improve the content I publish. Thank you and talk soon!

How “Jago A Life Underwater” Made Me A Better Salesman

Away from the waves to tell a story…

Consider storytelling for a minute.

Now consider GREAT storytelling.

Walt Disney…

In my years as a professional sales executive, the most consistent and successful sales people were nearly always great storytellers.

Those few individuals who could place you “in the picture” with their details, emotions and descriptions of something that had happened to them, however trivial it may have been.

Whether to make a sale, or doing something as random as trying to get to work on time, good storytellers could grab your attention and sell you their idea.

Once, not very long ago…

Storytelling is also universal.

And this to me has never been more apparent than watching an incredible documentary which puts the power of storytelling at the forefront of how we, as humans, have communicated with each other for countless generations.

And how storytelling is relevant, whether it be in modern society, or in a tiny community of sea nomads, in the middle of the Southeast Asian Sea.

This is my review off the documentary: Jago A Life Underwater, and the impact it had by making me a better salesman.

The gold nugget…

I must confess that I was looking for some inspiration. As a writer, “writer’s block” is common malady that you must accept and overcome.

So, I started to look for articles and stories that would take me a bit away from surfing and other water board sports in my blog, which, currently, make up almost 90% of my website.

I looked at magazines, surfed the internet for a couple of hours, but nothing intrigued me. I decided to take a break and went to my Netflix account.

As I went from program to program, and series to series, I began to feel that this was also a waste of time. But then, going over the documentary listings, I found it.

A thin boy, standing above a multicolored brain reef, sun rays making magical lights through crystal clear waters. The title of the documentary immediately intrigued me: Jago A Life Underwater.

It was late so I decided I should set a time to watch this promising piece and give it my full attention. Next day, my wife had the evening shift at her hotel, so this would be the perfect time to watch the documentary without any interruptions.

My review…

Jago A Life Underwater is the life account of Rohani, an 80-year old sea nomad living in the Southeast Asian sea, in a spec of an island located in the Togian Islands, in the Coral Triangle.

Through Rohani’s very particular perspective, we get an intimate glimpse at his life, from his childhood, romping and enjoying life with his island friends, through his adolescent life, preparing to be a sea hunter, on through his adulthood, as a full-fledged sea nomad, arriving at his golden years, a grizzled, old man, with a vast knowledge of the sea.

Throughout the documentary, we have the unique opportunity to observe the importance of storytelling in Bajau culture, and how important this part of their culture is to preserve their traditions through generations.

Rohani is a master storyteller and that alone bestows uppon him a privileged position in the village; however, his first and foremost passion is the sea and that’s where the documentary’s production strength really shines.

The underwater shots are breathtaking.

The Togian Islands live coral reefs, teeming with multi color underwater life, are astounding and literally come to life before you, specially when viewed in 4k.

The crystal clear waters and lush jungles surrounding the islands, at times seen from Rohani’s perspective as he snorkels and sails from coral head to coral head, are beautiful and mesmerizing.

But it is when the production takes to the sky, very possibly through the use of waterproof drones with camera, where the islands’ waters become the main protagonist.

Turquoise blues, crystal clear atolls, myriad-color reef breaks and drop offs, and the list goes on. Jago A Life Underwater is a joy to watch, both underwater and above it.

And through it all, Rohani’s simple, yet powerful account of his trials, from adolescence to manhood, allow the reader an intimate glimpse at a life style nearing extinction.

Places like the Togian Islands remain under real threat of disappearing completely due to global warming and climate change.

This is why it remains relevant to anyone who is advocating for ocean awareness and care for our oceans to give this amazing documentary an opportunity to reflect, enchant, and educate.

Do you have a documentary that has left a lasting footprint in your memory? Did it teach you to become better at a certain activity? Perhaps it inspired you to become a better person or professional, as was my case in sales, after seeing Jago A Life Underwater. Please feel free to share your thoughts on the comment box below. I will be very glad to answer back and share opinions with you. Thanks for reading this article!


The Hidden Mystery Behind Scheck Exley

When Myth Becomes Legend…

Every sport has personalities which trascend and go beyond the ordinary.

These individuals, with their unwavering courage and persistence, their incredible vision and steadfast commitment to their beliefs, have left an undeniable footprint in our hearts and memories.

In basketball, Magic Johnson & Michael Jordan, in Football, Tom Brady & Peyton Manning; in Soccer, Pele & Messi, in Formula 1, Ayrton Senna & Michael Schumacher.

In the ever evolving world of action water sports, legends, both living and dead, have also made a positive impact, leaving a legacy of excellence and commitment.

They may not be as famous as the mainstream sports heroes mentioned above. But their contributions cannot be denied.

In surfing: Laird Hamilton & Kelly Slater; in windsurfing: Peter Cabrinha and Robby Naish; and in extreme deep SCUBA diving, Jack Cousteau & Sheck Exley…when myth becomes legend.

It is because of this very reason, for their efforts, vision and courage, that they stand out from the rest. That is why, when one of these bright luminaries’ lives are suddenly, inexplicably snuffed out, the entire watermen community suffers, mourns and saddens.

For these are the rarest of individuals, almost super gifted, and to see their like again is very unlikely. Sheck Exley was such a rare individual.

Calculus Teacher, Karate Expert and Seasoned Cave Diver… At age 23!

Sheck Exley was born on April 1, 1949. His first cavern dive was at barely 16 years of age.

Diving has always been an expensive sport to practice. Cavern and cave diving even more so, since it demands special equipment and redundancy (two of each piece of equipment, in case of an unforeseen event).

Exley financed his passion by teaching math and calculus at a local high school in Florida. He also served as an aquanaut for 8 days aboard a Hydrolab Underwater Habitat in the Bahamas.

By the time he was 23 years old, he had accumulated 1000 cave dives under his belt.

At age 42, near his unfortunate passing, he had amassed a total of 4,000 dives.

He was also one of the few divers to survive a 400 ft dive (120 m) in open water, on simple compressed air.

He is one of eleven people, and the first, to dive below 800 ft (204 m), doing multistage decompression of up 13.5 hours, never suffering from Decompression Sickness.

Exploring The Deep Corners of The Earth…

Sheck Exley pushed the limits of extreme deep diving.

Like Reinhold Messner, Exley became famous by pushing the limits of the possible.

His expeditions into Nacimiento de Rio Mante (Mexico) and later on in Bushmansgat (South Africa) paved the way for extreme technical diving, advancing our understanding of diving at great depths“. 

Bushmansgat South Africa

In fact, Exley was so dedicated to the perfectionism of extreme deep diving, that he actually purchased Cathedral Canyon Spring, in Florida.

Once installed, he began the exploration of the spring system, which resulted in a world record penetration of nearly two underwater miles.

This alone was a tremendous accomplishment for the young diver. The fact that he made it solo in eleven and a half hours was a testament of his technical ability and sheer courage.

Rio Mante & The Sink Hole at El Zacaton…

For a few years after Cathedral Canyon Spring, Exley excelled at pushing the barriers of extreme deep diving, both in depth and distance.

His incursion and experimentation with Trimix  diving El Nacimiento De

Nacimiento del Rio Mante

Rio Mante (Mexico) allowed him to descend to a depth of 881 feet (another world record) without feeling the effects of nitrogen narcosis or oxygen toxicity. Trimix also shortened decompression times significantly during ascents.

It wasn’t until his expedition to Bushmangat (South Africa) that Exley suffered his first deep diving incident.

In 1996, he reached the bottom of Bushmangat but soon after he experienced a severe case of high pressure nervous syndromeHe suffered from uncontrollable trembling and blurred vision.

Having recovered from his bout with HPNS, Exley soon joined Jim Bowden, a 52-year-old adventurer and dive instructor from Austin, Texas, to sttempt a descent into the world’s deepest sinkhole: El Zacaton, Mexico.

El Zacaton…

This was it. If the Andrea Doria was considered the Everest of technical deep diving, due to its complexity and multi faceted approaches, El Zacaton was considered the K2…treacherous, unforgiving and deadly.

Into the Abyss and Beyond…

And so, on April 6, 1994, two of the world’s most skilled extreme deep divers plunged into the dark, murky waters of El Zacaton. (For an unsurpassed, detailed account of the Zacaton dive, please refer to this article by Sports Illustrated).

Suffice to say that Bowden and Exley were both determined to reach the 1000 ft milestone. This was their descent; their K2.

Many months of detailed planning and logistics had come to this moment.

The proportions were staggering: if you were to place the Empire State building inside El Zacaton, one could step onto its main observation deck where the observers and reporters were standing.

And thus began their descent into darkness.

After eleven minutes, Bowden had reached 898 feet when he noted that his gas reserves were lower than expected. Deciding to abort the dive, he ascended, going through a 9-hour decompression period.

Exley went on, the water so dark that he never knew of Bowden’s decision to abort. He would remain alone to the very end.

18 minutes into the dive, one of the safety divers, closely watching the bubble stream of both divers, noticed that Exley’s stream had stopped. What followed remains one of sport’s greatest mysteries.

The Mystery Unfolds Before Disbelieving Eyes.

Exley’s wife, Mary Ellen, descended to 279 feet to verify if the flow of bubbles had been diverted by some obstructions or ledge but they had not.

El Zacaton had taken a singular human life and left very few clues.

What happened to Sheck Exley during those 18 minutes?

Typically, a demise of a solo diver, under such adverse circumstances, left very few leads to go on. The people that knew Exley were certain of one thing: he did not panic.

Cave diving is to open-water scuba as flying an F-16 is to piloting a Cessna, and Exley was the ultimate definition of grace under pressure, even under the most harrowing of circumstances.

Breaking The Sheck Exley Code.

As if to defy El Zacaton’s deadly clutches, three days later, Exley’s body was recovered when the guideline was pulled from the cave.

What the rescue team saw left them speechless: Exley’s body appeared to be wrapped intentionally with the guideline, around his arms and valves of his dive tanks.

His dive computer read a depth of 879 feet.

It is speculated that Exley, seeing his imminent death, proceeded to do this in order to prevent any rescue attempts. At these depths, it would be suicidal.

It was also concluded, after a careful analysis of the incidents leading to Exley’s death, that he probably suffered from HPNS (oxygen induced tremors and incapacitating).

But where the mystery really tightens its grip is with the primary dive tanks.

For reasons which remain unknown even today, Exley’s primary dive tanks became depleted sooner than calculated. It is conjectured that he had to switch to his “travel mix”, clearly not suited for such depths, exacerbating an already dire situation.

It is also believed that he also tied the surrounding guideline to stabilize a failed ascent attempt. His BCD (Buoyancy Control Device) was unable to fill with air from his “travel mix”, making things even worse.

At some point, many experts believe, Exley lost consciousness, eventually leading to his death.

One thing that everyone who has studied his untimely death is that there is no single factor that leads to tragedies like these, but more likely, a series of disastrous events.

These events result in situations that not even experienced individuals like Sheck Exley could have foreseen.

Reckless daredevil or pioneer and visionary?

Whatever you want to make of Exley’s life, one thing stands true above all. He left a legacy of safe, responsible practice in an inherently dangerous activity.

He pushed the limits, and thrived in extreme situations. Like Shumacher, Hamilton, or Baumgartner, Exley knew exactly the risks of his craft.

Just like an experimental jet pilot, a great measure of his job was pushing the limits of what was possible.

In the end, Exley payed his awesome, jaw-dropping intrusions into the deepest places of the world with his life.

But isn’t this search for the unknown, this fiery curiosity, to see what is just beyond the next cave, part of what sets us apart as a species? We are explorers.

And as long as there are watery chasms to explore, there will always be that thirst for exploration. Like Sheck Exley? Probably not. He stands in a different dimension, in the halls of human exploration, along with Messner and Scott.







What do you think? When do you push to trascend? Or would you rather take a step back and let others take the risk?

Reckless risk is suicidal; some say, however, that this kind of risk is it’s own reward, whatever that means.

Calculated risk, in the other hand, is the path taken by explorers, pioneers and visionaries throughout human history. Where do you stand on this?

Please offer your thoughts on the space below. I am looking forward to reading your comments on this!

Thanks for reading and I hope you liked this article.






The Truth About Rubber Ducks And Ice Hockey Gloves

Abundance…at a price.

High season is finally over. Cancun and the Riviera Maya go through this period every year and without fail (thankfully for all of us making a living here), tourists from all over the world, but mostly mexican nationals, come to visit our incredible beaches and vast vacation offer. It’s a time of abundance and work. Unfortunately, it also comes at a price.

A few days ago, I finally returned to the beach which my wife and I love very much. It is located 10 minutes from our home. It was our day off so we decided to go early with our dogs and later on for breakfast at a small local restaurant we like very much.

Having lived in the area for nearly 20 years now, we knew that with our walk, would come the notorious appearance of trash washed up on shore. This has just been so for the amount of time living here.

This season, however, was starkly different.

The amount of plastic objects washed up on shore was more than we had ever found before. Now, I realize that, due to our current jobs, we don’t get out to the beach as much as we should to make a more current reading on just how much more trash and refuse there was this time, in comparison to other visits we had made in the past.

But we did make inquiries to the local life guarding staff and the beach clean up crew. They confirmed that the amount of trash washed up during this 2017 season was alarmingly high. They even showed us what they had recollected that morning.

A midst the plastic bottles and bags and other refuse in general, 2 rubber ducks and one ice hockey glove…whaat? The duckies we could understand as to how they probably got here…but the ice hockey glove?? So I decided to investigate a bit further as to how an ice hockey glove ended on our favorite beach.

And what I found out was pretty frightening.

Hard facts to consider…

More than 300 million tons of plastic are produced around the world each year. 10% of that is only being recycled. Billions of plastic bottles, and trillions (that’s with a “t”) of plastic bags make up literal mountains found in our planet’s largest landfills.

Many of these bottles and bags (10 to 20 million tons, according to a report from the Worldwatch Institute, an independent research institute devoted to the analysis of global environmental concerns) find their way into our world’s oceans.

More alarming facts:

50 billion plastic water bottles are produced in the US alone every year. If you were to stack these bottles end to end, they would stretch the distance from the earth to the moon more than 26 times or wrap around the earth more than 250 times. And nothing seems to be slowing down this plastic binge.

The Big Gyre…in fact there are five.

So how does 3.5 million tons of garbage (80% being plastic) end up floating lazily around our wold’s oceans and where does it all end up eventually? Have a look at this amazing GIF taken from the scientific website plasticadrift.org.

Consider one of the locations of this natural occurrence: the Pacific Ocean.

Shipping lanes traverse these vast waters and everything, from food to plastic bottles, wrappings, bags, and all kinds of refuse, fall into these waters.

Now imagine a large cargo ship loosing its containers to a storm (not a frequent incident, thank goodness, but it does happen). All those items, including rubber duckies and ice-skate gloves, are lost in the storm and eventually end up in the vast pacific gyre.

They may remain there for years (the pacific gyre completes a rotation every 6.5 years!) until they reach the outer bands of the gyre, where they are snatched by other oceanic currents and eventually end up washed up on many of our world’s beaches.

Such was the case with the refuse we were shown, having washed up somewhere from the deep Atlantic on to our local beach, 10 minutes away from our home.

Ravenous hunger for plastics result in other serious consequences.

It would seem that our endless hunger for plastics would only be harmful for our ocean’s health. If only that were true.

Unfortunately, life, from microscopic scale, up to the largest species in the world, are being affected directly from our indiscriminate consumption of plastics.

At the microscopic level, the use of cosmetics and cleaning products have also had an adverse effect. They are made up of micro-plastics (tiny beads of plastic which are added to improve their abrasiveness). These micro-plastics end up being flushed down drains.

They are so small that modern sewage systems are unable to remove them from drain tubing. Instead, they flow out and end up in shallow waters, mostly on the surface, where they collect contaminants which affect the planktonic food chain.

According to another report from Worldwatch Institute (2015):


“Approximately 10 to 20 million tons (9.1 to 18.1 million metric tons [mt]) of plastic ends up in the oceans each year. A recent study conservatively estimated that 5.25 trillion plastic particles weighing a total of 268,940 tons (243,978 mt) are currently floating in the world’s oceans. This plastic debris results in an estimated $13 billion a year in losses from damage to marine ecosystems, including financial losses to fisheries and tourism, as well as time spent cleaning beaches.”

Other ways plastics threaten our ocean’s wildlife, such as seabirds, sea lions, whales, fish and dolphins, is through entanglement in plastic matter such as netting, ropes and packaging materials.

Also, the micro particles and microbes adhere to floating debris which can enter local ecosystems, damaging wild life in non-native regions.

So what can we do?…really.

Restrain our unnecessary use of plastic bags and increase our efforts at recycling…really.

Easier said than done. I myself have tried to commit to a serious recycling effort, but have fallen short. After this article, however, I found that there is not turning back.

The numbers are staggering and its not getting any better.

We must commit, in heart and soul, to reduce our plastic footprint and do all we can to acquire a recycling culture, not as a fad or trend, but as a lifestyle.

Do you have a recycling program where you live? More importantly, are you actively finding ways to be informed and aware of how to help our oceans’ evironments? Please leave your comments here. I will be happy to follow up on them and thank you for reading my post!










5 Universal Truths When Pursuing A Diving Career

The Magic Of A Dream…Nevermind The Free Wake Up Call!

I got my PADI Open Water Diver certification in Puerto Vallarta, back in 1995. Sometimes I wonder where my professional life would have led me if I had decided to continue my search for scuba diving career opportunities.

The Magic Of A Dream.

When I arrived in Cancun back in 1998, a literal “Green Horn” to the region, all I wanted to do was spend as much time as I could in the warm, crystal-clear waters of Cancun and the Riviera Maya, which, I confess, still manage to take my breath away.

I settled into my job as an executive sales rep. for an airline catering company. And would stay there for the next 3 years.

Not the best job in the world. Far from it, in fact. But it payed the bills. And, yes, I did learn a lot about how to run a big scale business, with the challenges and drudgery found in your typical 9 to 5 job, plus all the rigors, rules and regulations found in the aviation industry.

I learned a lot throughout these years, but it nearly killed my dream to have a job that would find me 100% involved with the ocean, which I had always wished for. Well, you know that saying “be careful with what you wish for you just might get it”? It came true for me. Allow me to explain…

Time Is The New Money…Then And Now!

Like any resort town around the world, living in Cancun is expensive. Getting in the water, to practice the sports I really enjoyed, like diving and surfing, were luxuries. They remain luxuries even today.

70.00 US for a dive was simply out of my budget, and surfing (whenever there were actual waves, which was not often at all), also carried a hefty price for the board and the sun-chair rental (in a public beach things have a tendency to disappear…you were really paying for security staff to look out for your stuff).

So for sometime, I turned to free diving and snorkeling. Eventually, when my economy got a bit better, I gave windsurfing a try. That turned out great, and amazingly, it was cheaper than diving.

And thus it went on for about two years or so, until I left the airline catering business and decided to try my luck in vacation club ownership, also known as time-share. Cancun is well-known for its many time-share projects. Some are notorious for their high pressure tactics and low integrity. To my fortune, I was accepted in a project where both integrity and honest sales and marketing were the core values of the company. Rare indeed.

And the reason I did this change? Simple: Time.

As a marketing rep. my work hours were a vast improvement from my previous job. I only needed to show to work 3 days out of the week. If you did your job well inviting people to see “the club”, the rest of the week you would work for half of the day and be on your merry way to do whatever with your personal life.

The only catch was that the job was commissioned based. No salary. If you invited families, you got payed. Otherwise, no paycheck.

So, in exchange for the inevitable income roller-coaster ride, I was given more free time than I had ever experienced. And this gave me the opportunity to seriously start looking at SCUBA diver jobs, and the exciting possibility of a new career change.

SCUBA diver jobs and career change

Decisions, Decisions…Time To Get Wet!

As my learning curve in the time-share industry began to level-off, I began to have better income and the time had come to put this income to good use. I decided to re-take my diving education in earnest. My free time was dedicated to learning the intricacies, techniques and rigors that would eventually lead to reaching the title of PADI Open Water Rescue Diver.

This was a decisive moment where my next decision would take me into professional dive training and all the responsibilities that came with it. Amateur time was over: Dive Master training was the next step and I took it without hesitation.

A few months later, I had my PADI Dive Master credential. I could now begin my next objective: Dive Instructor.

And just like airline pilots, the way to progress and become a skilled and confident Dive Master was to start accumulating dive time. I began to look for marinas where they needed help to take people out to dive. And this is where my journey got really interesting.

I encountered the 5 truths a beginner Dive Master must face (and accept) in order to choose diving as a full time career. Mind you, this is what I experienced in Cancun and the Riviera Maya. But I think these truths are pretty much universal.

Truth No. 1 – No one is interested in offering you dive time.

As mentioned before, to become a confident, experienced Dive Master, you require dive time. Hours spent underwater, honing the very skills which will allow you to aspire for higher level dive practice, instruction (and better pay). In case of a Dive Master wanting to reach Assistant Dive Instructor, a minimum of 60 hours of actual diving are required.

That’s a lot of diving, considering that each dive takes approximately 45 minutes.

Having connections with your local marina was essential. In my case, I was able to get in the door to one of the largest marinas in Cancun, with help of my dive instructor. It was a great opportunity and it would’ve been a phenomenal place to acquire the necessary skills due to the amount of people the marina took out diving every day.

However, the staff really had an attitude problem within their ranks, and they would make lame excuses to avoid having me on-board, even when all I wanted to do was help out…pro-bono. So it didn’t last long and I left.

I found myself once again knocking on doors of other marinas to offer my assistance. It took a while, but I settled in a smaller marina where I was given the chance to help out, again, pro-bono. See where I’m getting at?

Truth No. 2 – There is no pay for beginner Dive Masters.

Ugly truth, but there it is. Your pay is getting wet and accumulating dive hours. That’s it. This can be somewhat tolerable if you have a part-time job to fall back on. But I met a few dive masters who were there with no financial back up of any kind. Real brave (and real crazy). They lived off the tips tourists left to the boat crew. Many didn’t last long and ended up waiting tables or as sales reps for time-share projects in Cancun and the Riviera Maya.

Truth No. 3 – Get ready for stubbed toes and bruises.

Not underwater. But above it. On the dive boat.

As a beginner Dive Master, you will normally be put in charge of dive tanks, vests (also called BCDs) and fins.

Consider an average group consisting of 12 beginner divers, the boat crew, the dive instructor and you. In a relatively small dive boat. It gets cramped. Real fast.

Sometimes, dive gear becomes loose. More often than not, the ocean does not cooperate. It can get really choppy. Tanks are pretty heavy. Accidents inevitably happen.

You deal with it and move on. Remember, the customers’ have payed good money for you to take them diving. They expect a great time. So you have to bite your lip, smile and keep going.

Truth No. 4 – Motion sickness and diesel fumes. Learn to cope.

If you are sensitive to motion sickness, diving can be a challenge. But when diesel fumes are added to the mix, you have a sure recipe for disaster. And the thing is, it is inevitable.

All marine engines run on diesel. When they idle, whether waiting at the dock for everyone to climb aboard, or looking for a dive spot, the fumes cover the boat, the crew and divers. It is a very intense, pervasive odor. The experience is intensified by the inevitable motion found in open waters.

The fastest way to solve this is to get everybody in the water, as fast as possible, before anyone spills their lunch all over you, or all over the deck area. Even then, you are not guaranteed that motion sickness will go away.

One time, a beginner diver, a lady, threw up while being already in the water. It was rough and waves were making everyone sick on board. She was the first one out in the water, but the up and down motion got her really sick. She emptied out her lunch right there and then. Needless to say, she felt better afterwards and the fish had dinner that evening.

Truth No. 5 – Diving becomes a job.

Above all, you are there to guarantee the customers’ safety and enjoyment.

Regardless how clumsy, heavy or nervous they are, you are the professional. The responsibility falls squarely on your shoulders. Even if you’re just a beginner Dive Master. They don’t know that. They don’t care.

There is much psychology applied on board dive boats. You are there to still their fears and anxiety. And even then, it’s not a sure thing how the beginner diver will react once exposed to open water diving. Sometimes they do an excellent job; most times they don’t.

And you get so busy trying to keep the group together, you barely have time to enjoy the dive itself.

The enjoyment now stems from handling group dynamics. This is the real challenge. This is where you really find out whether you have what it takes to become a professional Master SCUBA Diver…or not.

Diving becomes a job. The enjoyment part of it is, in great part, exclusively for the customer. You are there to make sure they get their money’s worth. Your enjoyment becomes an afterthought.

A special kind of mettle…

Now, these truths, although quite real in my experience, may not be powerful enough detractors for those willing to look for a career in recreational diving. And that’s awesome. This article is meant merely as a “heads-up”; a glance at some of the real life aspects of this somewhat misunderstood and often times glamorized activity.

Being a Dive Master carries a lot of responsibility. After all, taking care of people above the water is complicated enough. Taking care of people below the water…well…that takes a special kind of mettle. That’s why I always look up to the men and women who do this activity for a living.

And that’s also why I always leave them a nice, hefty tip!

Are you interested in pursuing a career in recreational diving? Perhaps you are already an established Dive Master and have met with some of these challenges. Please tell us about them and share your experiences and trials in the comment box below. I will certainly do my best to offer feedback on your opinions. Thanks for reading!


Surfing Waves: Mutants Unmasked

What doesn’t kill you…

Riding waves, whether it be standing, knee, or prone, carries an inherent amount of risk and injury to those who practice extreme ocean sports on a regular basis.  Knowing and facing these risks remains an essential part of the extreme ocean sport experience. What doesn’t kill you  will only make you stronger. And this is very much the case for watermen around the world, surfing waves at their local beach break, perhaps no taller than their waist, or those that take the sport to the very extreme, riding giants and mutants around the world. It is this last type of wave I wish to address in this post.

But first, a “pinch” of Oceanography…

Below are surfing waves which I have categorized, from lowest to highest intensity and danger. It’s important to note that the wave’s power and energy is determined, in large measure, by its swell period. The longer the swell period, the more energy the wave will receive via wind transfer. There are two types of swells: Long period swells are affected by the ocean floor’s bathymetry; they are also called ground swells. Short period swells are usually created by local winds and travel much shorter distances than long period swells: less distance traveled means less accomulated energy.

Wind Waves – Waist high or lower.

Waist High Waves – Longer swell period intervals are aprox. 3-6 seconds.

Head High Waves – Swell event originates from ocean storms. Swell period intervals are aprox. 6-10 seconds.


Ok, so now we get into the heavy weights…

These waves are sought out by some of the best surfing pros and experienced, amateur surfers out there. The energy they pack is tremendous since they originate deep in the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean, traveling for thousands of miles before discharging all their energy on surf breaks around the world.

Swell period interval: 12+ seconds.
Surfing waves of this size and power demmand a healthy amount of respect even from the most seasoned surfers.
Swell period interval: 18+ seconds.
Into the rabbit hole…

Incredibly, wave categories do continue after this point. We enter the realm of the bizarre. Surf breaks on steroids; mutants and ocean abnormalities which have gained notoriety as being some of the heaviest waves in the planet. These waves are best seen and appreciated in full motion. Witness below all their strange, mind-bending beauty. Though I only mention three here, like exotic singularities,  many more remain to be discovered. Enjoy the videos!


In Tahitian, it means “The End of The Road”. In 2000, legendary big wave charger, Laird Hamilton, surfed the “Millenium Wave”, considered to be the heaviest wave of all time. Huge accomplishment considering that Teahupoo’s bottom is mostly made up of very sharp reef. This session set the standard for future big wave riders.

Shipsterns Bluff (Tazmania).

Also known as “Devil’s Point” or “Shippies”. This is Teahupoo’s weird, twisted cousin. You be the judge:

And finally, the strange aussie kid from next door, known simply as “The Right”. Upredictable and dangerous…

Is there anything beyond the bizarre?

Well, consider this: 71% of our world is covered by water. The Atlantic Ocean is huge, and even grander in scale is the Pacific Ocean. Somewhere out there, abnormalities are being engendered…nature’s way of showing us her twisted sense of humor. These places must exist. And they are there for  the taking, but only by the boldest and the bravest…the pioneering. Beyond this…yes: Cortez Bank, Nazare, Ghost Trees…and beyond that…who knows.

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