Buoy Alarm


I moved to Oahu in December of 2002 after serving on a Navy destroyer for a couple of years in San Diego. I really wasn’t too keen on that city, but only because most of the people seemed very “dude bro” in comparison to the Europeans I had lived with the previous five years. I had a hard time adjusting. I actually never adjusted. 

Hawaii was like the baby bear’s bed for Goldilocks. It had all the benefits of America — no more long distance calls, driving a car is a breeze and no language barrier. It also had everything I didn’t see on the Mainland — stronger family bonds, fewer violent crimes and people looking out for each other. Hawaii is just right.

My move wasn’t stressful at all. It was like packing up your life to move to heaven. I was so excited that the Navy was going to ship my vehicle: a bright orange 1971 Volkswagen Westfalia camper bus. It was the second one I owned and one of my favorite things in life.

Camping to people who grew up in Washington is what I imagine surfing is to people who grew up in Hawaii. Pretty much all of us did it. The bus was perfect for overnight trips, day trips, road trips, even random 20-something nights on the town when we wanted to drink and not drive. I couldn’t wait to discover the entire island of Oahu in it, with my arm hanging out the window, to the backdrop of that glorious, perky engine putter that is the signature Volkswagen sound.

The first weekend it arrived, I drove around Portlock and Koko Head, around Sandy Beach and all the way up to Laie, just to drive. I stopped here and there along the coast and backed in, opening the back, lying on the bed just watching the water.

I just wish I surfed. But I know so many people who do. There is a great website, buoyalarm.com, that my friend Chris Ka-lima built to help you figure out the wave situations by watching buoys.


Buoy Alarm allows you to set an alarm on any condition, or combination of conditions, reported by a station. He has tons of stations all over the Mainland, as well as Hawaii.

After that first day, I spent every weekend at Sandy’s in my van, just sitting there and watching and sitting there and watching. I eventually started to see the same group of people, who eventually came over to see who this girl with the hippie van was.

“I just moved here! I love it here!” I told them, as they offered me a Heinekin and smoked fish. I had made my first friends.

The shore break was frightening to me at Sandy’s, and I never made it past the parking lot too often.

Instead, I had my own little house, and now I had friends to share it with. They would come inside and sit at the table to talk story or lie in the back with me. I admired their ability to have a great day doing nothing. It reminded me so much of the little town I lived in in Italy, where all we needed was some food to have the most entertaining night ever. A simple yet fulfilling life.

If I had made it into the break at Sandy’s, Buoy Alarm would have been useful. On the site, you can choose swell height, period or direction, wave height, period, wind speed, direction, or even temperatures of the air, water or dew point.

I imagine these are all very important factors in determining where you’re going to go surf. One day I’ll go with you.

Christa Wittmier is “SUPERCW” on all social media. Find her on Snapchat, Soundcloud, Twitter, Vine and Instagram. By night, she is known as DJ SuperCW. By day, she is known as senior marketing director for Young’s Market Company of Hawaii. Her nightlife blog SuperCity runs every Wednesday on HonoluluPulse.com