There was no one out from Tyson to Harbor. A rare occurrence! There were some bombs coming through, but it wasn't worth the paddle-out. As soon as you made it out there, you could whirl around for a wave, catch it, kick out because of the close-out (nowhere to go) and get hammered by the next one, all while getting yanked down the beach by the current. No takers...!
I drove south to Carlsbad thinking the waves would be more shapely there. With such a steep swell in the water, the less direct the coastline is to its angle, the more the wave has to refract and decay in order to break. Since Carlsbad is almost all beach break, I was hoping that it would make the waves less powerful so as to make them more than just a drop followed by a beating.
I almost paddled out at Cherry Street. There was no one out and I was jonesing to try some roundhouse cutties on what appeared to be six foot faces with juice. I talked myself out of going there and kept driving. Tamarack looked makeable, but there were a good thirty people out. I went down and checked the cliff spot just south of Palomar Airport. The coast bends more west there and the surf reflected that. It looked about shoulder-high and decent, but I wasn't about to waste a double-overhead day on a shoulder-high spot!
I circled back north and finally settled on North North Tamarack or South South Cherry Street depending on your political inclination. There were only a couple of dudes out and the waves that sectioned off were a whole new peak in that spot. I was on it. The waves didn't look that big from the cliff (altitude tends to make waves look bigger than they are) so I was glad I didn't stray from my normal board. On the way down the stairs, I had to wade through a peanut gallery of about ten guys. I said, "Excuse me" to one as I was having trouble getting through and I couldn't understand what he was saying but his tone made it sound like he was talking ish. I bounded down the stairs and paddled out.
I didn't take any real beatings on the paddle out. I saw one of the two guys I'd been spying from the cliff take off pretty late. Judging by his posture and composure and the radical drop, I thought he was toast. I have to hand it to him because he made the drop backside.
I wasn't gnarled out by the waves. When there's this many people out, it can't be all that heavy. I set up a little deeper than the two guys and heard one say, "Yeah, this is my big wave board. It duckdives really well but still catches waves blah blah blah". I was thinking these are not big waves.
I caught a left a little late and rode it for a ways. A roundhouse cutty crossed my mind but seeing so many closeouts I decided against it. I kicked out and caught air with all the speed I had.
I paddled back out and I had two waves that were almost exactly the same: Quick drops and quick kick-outs. After paddling back out from these, I noticed that the main peak which had been plagued with dudes had thinned out, so I went for it.
Unfortunately, there was a lull that lasted about a half-hour. During this time this kid who'd had a mad-dog look on his face before, paddled past me and said what I thought was, "Let's get a fresh one out here." Not understanding why he would say that to a stranger I asked him to repeat himself and he said, "I'm the only Freshman out here." I gave him a smile and a "Niiiiiiice!"
I was getting a bit bored so I paddled in a ways. I had noticed that there were some juicy waves breaking a bit inside of me. I start paddling and about fifteen seconds later, I happen to look back mid-paddle and I see a massive black line on the horizon. I turn and scratch furiously. As it and I came closer together, I thought, while paddling ferociously, "I'm toast." I keep paddling and as I'm submerging for the duckdive, I see the lip crashing down. I make it under and through but I can definitely feel the power of the wave through the slight turbulence I feel and how the wave's energy pushes me down and then past me.
I surface and let out a hoot, all while seeing the next wave of the set start to jack up. I start paddling at about 75% of max speed, knowing that it isn't as big as the one that just narrowly missed me. A third wave came through and closed out, all three of them went unridden. The first wave of the set is the biggest wave I've seen break since that massive winter swell that hit its peak on 12/21/2005 and the most gnarled out I've been in the water since my sole Pipe session almost one year ago..
About two minutes later I caught a right, did a couple of pumps, went way down the wave face and had a decision to make. I can either try for an off-the-lip which most likely will end up in disaster or I can kick out and try to salvage my place in the lineup. I opt for the latter, but my fins disengaged on the bottom turn and I fall. Somehow I manage to avoid going over the falls, but my board and my body are pulled inside quite a ways. The same result would've probably happened with an off-the-lip, though my trajectory would've been more towards the trough, meaning I probably would've gone over the falls!
I jump on top of my board and see lines of whitewater. I duckdive the first couple, and then decide to bail.
What a way to start the month!