surf session #64

I write this with brown dye soaking into my formerly blonde hair. Monica and I are being each other for Halloween! Tune into Fox 29… some time… to witness.

Now about surfing… Today was about exercise, physical and mental. Did I pick the best spot at the best time? Probably not. But I had a specific chunk of time allotted for the purpose of getting wet – and I wanted to surf the Jetty. The buoy read 7 at 14 when I left KSLG. I pictured head-and-a-half waves, possibly heavy due to the long interval. A check from Bunkers confirmed: yes, there were waves. The familiar sight of black dots among the swells encouraged me. I turned past the “Life and Death at Humboldt Bay” and “The Graveyard of the Pacific” info signs and hoped for the best.

Walking out, the 7.5 high tide waves breaking into the channel and washing over the jetty rocks gave me pause. I propped the beloved Taylor – it’s like the vintage sports car I rarely take out of the garage – against the wall and continued out for a better look. Beyond the mess of whitewater, two surfers bobbed much further inside than I’d expected. The waves weren’t that big. In fact, they weren’t big at all, maybe head-high or a bit over. Because the intervals were far apart, I hung out watching for a while, making sure that I knew what the sets look like. Thinking you’re getting into head-high surf only to realize that the sets are double-over and coming on like freight trains is not fun. The two guys out knew what they were doing. Not flashy, but smooth, turning, cutting back, carving pretty lines down the shoulders they found as the waves swelled up, didn’t quite break, reformed on the inside. The high tide called for greater navigation and skilled wave selection. When they caught long lefts, the two surfers exited the water, then walked all the way back out on the jetty to jump in off the rocks – a chore, but the channel looked impassable. One of them assured me the current wasn’t pulling them out to sea. “Come join us,” he encouraged.

Now, this is surf that did not look particularly fun. No one would have blamed me for shrugging and walking away. But it didn’t look scary either – and that was enough. Except for the jumping off the rocks part. I hate that. I watched the guys jog down the rocks, finding traction on the barnacles, and knew I couldn’t be so cavalier. I watched the ocean drain away, then crash back with a vengeance, and knew I couldn’t hesitate. With fingers mentally crossed, I waited for a pause. Stepped, stretched, jumped, brace as a wave came, then launched off the rock and into the ocean. THUNK!

An underwater rock knocked a huge hole in my beloved Taylor. Fiberglass hung from the open wound. Well, that’s the image that immediately sprang to mind. Miraculously, no damage – the thunk must’ve been a fin, although they all looked fine, too. Whew.

There my luck ended. I scooted into a wave, no problem, but what should’ve been a graceful pop to my feet was instead a delayed half-crouch as I bumped down the face as bumpy as a staircase. I couldn’t stand up; I couldn’t balance; I fell. What a complete kook.

Nobody talked to me after that.

I caught another and made a nice drop, Hallelujah, but the wave quickly churned into a mess o’whitewater.

One more that was a repeat of the first, then a set washed me in, and I called it a day.

So, plus points for braving the rocks and paddling out into a scene typically described as “victory at sea” conditions. Minus points for looking like a far less competent surfer than I actually am.

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