It was a rendezvous with destiny after first date on the waves
By Terry Rodgers, San Diego Union Tribune Writer
February 19, 2002
Amid the vastness of the ocean, strange and bizarre things happen.
Occasionally, as the story of Doug and Carolyn Jopes offers proof, the ocean acts as a love potion.
Doug Jopes, a lifelong surf rat, is rough around the edges.
One look at him and you immediately think: Shaka, bro. His string-bean body is reminiscent of Barney Fife, but his hypnotic eyes are as sky blue as Paul Newman's.
Carolyn is refined, educated and, as a song by the Eagles says, "terminally pretty."
Her tanned face is offset by a shock of shoulder-length white hair.
A little more than three years ago, Carolyn was riding her bike past the Encinitas Surfboards shop, where Doug is a savvy surfboard salesman.
"Stop!" he screamed. By some miracle, she did.
In typical surfer style, he persuaded her to go on a date with him. They agreed to go surfing together, even though at the time Carolyn didn't know a cross step from a cross stitch.
At the appointed time, Carolyn showed up at the beach with a new surfboard, new wetsuit and a gung-ho attitude.
Doug swallowed hard. Carolyn's expectations were apparently, ah, very high.
"I had decided that since I was living here, I was going to learn to surf," Carolyn recalled. When Carolyn decides to do something, she puts heart and soul into it.
She's originally an East Coast girl who lived the early part of her adult life in Washington, where she worked as a congressional staffer. She has a college degree in Spanish literature. She's an environmental activist and often testifies before government bodies in defense of our vanishing coastal wetlands.
Doug grew up in Upland, at the base of Mount Baldy. His father was editor of the local newspaper. In addition to selling surfboards, Doug is a chef at a Leucadia restaurant. He does his best cooking, however, on waves about head high.
When Caroline showed up on that first date wearing a huge smile and a tiny bikini, Doug was seriously smitten.
He took her into the surf, gently pushing her into waves and urging her to paddle. Bouncing in the frothing whitewash, Carolyn thought Doug was a pretty groovy dude.
From that initial surfing lesson, their feeling for each other began to build like a northwest groundswell.
The more they surfed, the more they fell in love.
They were married on March 18, 2000.
Today, Doug and Carolyn are fixtures at Beacon's Beach in Encinitas, where they surf together nearly every morning at a spot they jokingly call "geek peak."
To earn travel money for their surf trips to Hawaii, the Jopes teach private surfing lessons. As instructors, they are as entertaining as they are skillful.
On any given morning, you can hear Doug barking like a sea lion, cajoling Carolyn to paddle for a wave on her 9-foot-long surfboard, which she calls "pinkie."
"He yells at me all the time," said Carolyn.
"It's coaching, honey, coaching," Doug insisted. "But, hey, I've yelled her into some real beautiful waves."
On a recent morning, the guys in the lineup were mocking Doug, hoping he would stop being such a back-seat surfer.
They freely admit their personalities are as different as fire and ice. But they like the contrast.
"He's bossy, but charming," said Carolyn.
Carolyn, the intellectual, goes into a rant every time she discusses the problems besieging the environment. Doug is pretty much apolitical.
"I am so proud of her," said Doug. "She has really paid her dues. She's paddled out when it's big, brutal and cold."
At age 56, Carolyn has become something she never dreamed she would become: a very competent surfer.
"Surfing is the toughest thing I've ever had to do," she said. "I wanted to surf so bad, I had to marry the guy."
And Doug, at age 45, his rough edges finally are a bit more rounded.
Nodding toward Carolyn as she slides across a wave, he said: "Man, did I ever get lucky."
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