Up and gone before the birds started singing this am. Nobody on the roads on a moonlit Sunday morning.
Enormous waves from a monster storm giving us waves for the first time in months with less than ideal wind. I care not. I need salt water in my veins again.
I said that “I care not” about the wind, but when I got there, sure enough the wind messed up the waves so I went to a more inland spot where the coast was more wind- friendly (but much much smaller waves). The waves were not formed ideally for surfing but going in there got me out of bed, got salt water in my veins again, gave my heart a workout, and began my shift back to surfing instead of bodyboarding (I had bodyboarded to get in shape for skiing for about six months last late fall/winter- it worked well for skiing hard). Transitioning to surfing from bodyboarding was harder than I thought it would be. It took about forty five minutes to get my surfing mojo jump started, then I was good to go again.
Getting into the water here takes place right there on those rocks in my video. It’s easier to get in than it is to get out. When we get into the water, we strap all the stuff on then try to time it so you jump in inbetween big sets. Sometimes the waves here are ******g enormous (3-4-5 times bigger than today), capable of actually crushing your helpless powerless body against and upon the slippery boulders. Sometimes, I stand there waiting, backing up- waiting, backing up again. Then, I just give up and swim like hell- toss the board away, praying loudly for help from above as I combine trying to dive under incoming waves with swimming as hard as I can to get out past the violence. Only once did Mother Nature deny me. I got out of the surf and succeeded on the second try.
Getting out of the surf to dry land is ten times harder than getting in. It’s an entirely different story because you need to beware of in front of you AND behind you at the same exact time. IMPOSSIBLE! I need to see where I am going as I approach the cranium-crushing boulders, looking out for the above surface ones, and hoping the below surface invisible ones leave me alone. All this is happening as I’m sweeping sideways along the shore at a good clip with unknown incoming waves behind me about to jack me up in the air and toss me shoreward like a bowling ball. I can’t see them as I look forward but I know they are there.
I am essentially powerless against this water as I slowly move towards land, and have only my instincts and my experience to help me. Struggling for control is a beginners mistake. Go down the shore a little you suggest? No- I tried that. It’s just as strong down there as it is here. When it’s really big I don’t even try- I just paddle half an hour westward where there is a jetty (but that’s a battle in itself). Every day is different there.
Sometimes, I’m all set to make my move to get out but I always first turn around to check before I do only to see a wave towering above me about to smoosh me. I’ll toss my board away and try to dive underneath the waves. Most of the time that works but sometimes.....
...well, sometimes it doesn’t! My helpless body is jettisoned towards the rocks head or feet first on a salt-watery-cushioned magic carpet. I always manage to channel my panic into swiveling my body around to a feet first approach and try to choose the path of least resistance like the pilot of a small plane whose engine died looking for a place to land before he crashes into a place where he doesn’t want to land.
At first it’s ok but as I get closer the cushion shrinks then disappears and all that’s left is me, my board, my momentum, and the rocks. Scary as hell!!! Not to mention the scary FACT that right behind me is an unknown number of waves just as big or bigger. I just try to survive one wave at a time.
I usually have about ten seconds to slow down, grab the board, stand up somehow, then brace myself against the pounding that is sure to follow by the next wave. And the next. And the...
Its not fun, to say the least. My biggest fear is to place my feet down inbetween the rocks in thigh deep water then get shoved REALLY HARD by the next wave before my feet are pulled up and out of the rocks. If I can’t get them up and out, I’m always afraid that my leg bones will snap like stepped-on twigs.
If that were to happen, then it’s curtains for me because there is really no way that anyone can come to your aid.
I liken this experience to a video clip I saw recently of an idiot who was taunting a crocodile with a chicken that was tied to a stick with a string. This fool was dangling the chicken above the croc’s head when the croc surged towards the chicken (NEVER underestimate Mother Nature). The idiot scrambled backwards really really fast as if his life depended on it (it did), and slipped in the lakeside mud and fell as the croc scrambled towards the chicken. Every time the dude tried to stand up he fell again as the croc got closer and closer. The video ends before the viewer gets to see him get caught in the crocodile roll as arms and legs are dismembered and the croc gets a dinner better than chicken. That’s a great analogy for the scrambling I do when I’m trying to get out of the violent efforts of the waves to eat me (that croc feeder was a total ass- Darwinism at work, but who knows... maybe people will think that of me if I ever meet my untimely demise on those rocks).
I often realize how lucky I’ve been surfing here, and hope my luck hops into the water with me each time I get in to surf at this spot which has a verboten name.
Having said all this, I’m still good with surfing here. I like the salt, the thrill, the exercise, the endorphins. I’ve never played golf, seems way too boring, even though I know millions play it.
Yet I want my heart to beat over 120 for hours at a time. I want to feel the endorphins coursing through my veins for hours afterwards. I like the feel of shredded muscles for a week afterwards. I figure that I’ll transition to safer sports when my mind and body can no longer tolerate risk which I hope never happens.
Like my little story? I did. I like writing about this stuff because I get a functional reason to remember the times I’ve had surfing here and there. When I get the energy I’ll write about actually surfing at this spot- where I like to sit and why. What it looks like when “BLACK MUMBAS” are rolling towards us. What it feels like to paddle against other surfers going for the same wave, what it feels like trying to stand up on a tiny surfboard going 20 mph straight downhill with boulders not too far away, then bottom-turning to the right to continue to ride the wave, and the eventual dismount (intentional or not).
Not so fun to read stuff like this! Going into the ocean has its drawbacks. You can get killed if you are not smart/in shape/aware/experienced. I’ve been to half moon bay and would choose my days there VERY carefully. Going into the water anywhere in the world might just be the last thing you ever willingly do in life, so you gotta be smart! Everyone should know that. So sad to read about this promising young man’s death. Today’s paper:
Hi, my name is
David Benjamin and I started swimming in Chappaqua, NY., swam for Badger swim team, Mercersburg Academy, NC State University, then Westport YMCA masters. I got bored of the ol' back and forth of competitive swimming and the high cost of skiing. Surfing took over and I never looked back.