By Steven Delgado, WC&P Senior Editor

The combination of the end of century’s e-commerce media dogpile, followed up by some panic-fueled, last minute Y2K binge acquisitions, has left me with more than a stockpile of portable water filters, canned goods, ammunition and books on how to make money on the web. It has left me with a definite need for some ocean beach, and the longer the better.

Therefore, with the help of the World Wide Web and in conjunction with the Water Quality Association’s annual convention held in Long Beach this year, we present you with the best in virtual ocean mini-vacations. What better way to continue your emotional downramp from the pre-2000 hysteria than with a virtual visit to some of Southern California’s most popular beaches, courtesy of the Internet?
The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting oceans, waves and beaches. This site is quickly gaining popularity and features coastal updates and daily U.S. surf/beach reports—complete with images. It also acts as a coastal pollution-reporting hub by hosting several formats to narc-out illegal dumping or if you were sickened from swimming in polluted recreational waters. The organization also acts as a government watchdog during legislative sessions by posting reports on any bills that affect coastal areas.

An online gift shop featuring cool California surfing stuff lets viewers do some beach shopping without having to step one foot on any tar-coated sand.
Not much for the social redemption department here, but some good clean virtual fun that’ll make you feel like you’re right on the beach, killing time while waiting for Annette’s return from a beer run. Touted as “The World’s Biggest Beach Party,” there’s a little something for everyone at this site, including articles on beach sports, fashion, travel, health, beauty, music and an animated dress-the-supermodel game. You can send an electronic bikini gram to your friends or download beach-themed cursors for your computer.

Serving suggestion: When working weekends (off the clock, of course) you can set your computer on this website’s Bikini Slide Show, which automatically changes screens every few seconds. This, in combination with a CD of Hawaiian slack key guitar, is an effective way to make it seem like you’re on vacation and not working overtime.
The Los Angeles area and Mother Nature are two seemingly contradictory terms until you visit the Santa Barbara Outdoors website, which offers tide charts, surf and weather reports in addition to campground maps, hiking trails and, more importantly, golf courses. Who says outdoor stuff can’t be fun too?

The virtual tour of Santa Barbara-area beaches here is informative and speaks plainly about their access and available public services. A good rule of thumb when searching for beaches to visit here: Beaches offering more challenging access and less public services are the more popular locations with the locals (I don’t know about you, but I eat Chinese food where I see the Chinese eating). Also on the site is a “Celebrities” page to assist non-Californians with their Hollywood-lead pop culture worship, Santa Barbara-style.
The Ocean Beach Surf Shop hosts live surf cams updated with surfing conditions from around the world, from Brazil to South and East Australia. U.S. Navy regional ocean wave model graphs and recent earthquake reports are included here at no extra charge. Oops. I said the “e” word in the same article as “WQA convention.” Sorry about that.
Southern California Bass Fishing with Jeff Burke offers not only the longest title in this review, but an opening page that involves immediate dialog on the subject of bass fishing. His cover article “Chunks,” covers such topics as the great lengths one may need to go in finding “the zone” where “Fatty is kickin’.” Other topics include the importance of total boat control when bass fishing and using ambush points to find and hook “the Chunk.” (Site warning: “Chunk” and “Fatty” are slang for bass. One almost needs to attain a Wakem- or Sayler-level of fishing accomplishment in order to understand some of its dialog.)

“We Southern California anglers have to go to great lengths (and sometimes great distances) to find the largemouth,” writes Burke. “We get up very, very early and haul the boat, fortified by nothing more than bad mini-mart coffee or a cold Frappuccino… Sometimes we just take off the night before, sleep in the truck for a couple of hours, get up and launch.” Regular water industry trade show attendees should have no problem matching Burke’s recommended fishing schedule.
Pier Fishing in California, “dedicated to the thousands of pier rats who fish California’s piers on a weekly or even daily basis,” includes tackle tips, pier reports and fish of the month feature. A comprehensive links page will jump you to individual pier, ecology, angler group, or reel manufacturer websites.
Features information on day dive trips to surrounding Catalina Island, San Clemente Island, Santa Barbara Island, Farnsworth Bank, Palos Verdes Peninsula and Santa Monica Bay. Extended pages on great Southern California diving sites include links, maps and quality color photos. Deep offshore reefs, shipwrecks, islands and more are visited. Operated by Tim Burke, brother of Jeff. An open boat day trip to Catalina Island is scheduled for Sunday, Mar. 21. Now all I have to do is figure out how to get the company to pick up the invoice. Let’s see, the trip does involve water…

This magazine typically tries to cover the social and recreational aspects of trade show attendance, but this month’s website reviews go a little further than that. Please forgive me, and don’t forget to enjoy your annual convention. You deserve it.

Websites: Which way’s the beach? The Surfrider Foundation’s politically active website Santa Barbara Outdoors. A great view of Southern California, past the tired L.A. imagery.

Ocean Beach Surf Shop. Stirred not shaken: wave graphs and earthquake predictions included here.

Self-titled website offers good clean fun for all.

Southern California Bass Fishing with Jeff Burke. The Burke brothers tag-team the Internet with outdoors-based Southern California information (see below).

Pier Fishing in California. Pier rats have fun too, y’know. Self-titled website put together by Burke number two, Tim.


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