I haven't stopped posting, but I have stopped surfing due to the dismal conditions. The morning high tides have been wave-killers as of late and it is frustrating.
My cousin Tom was in town from D.C. and, because he doesn't get to surf much (one session in the the last fourteen months) I decided to give them the most intense surf experience by taking him out before the sun. I grew up in El Salvador with him and we are very close. He was the best man at my wedding after a close vote (HA).
He came in on the late-ish flight on Thursday night and I talked to him about it. He was in. I chose Lowers at this time as it's less crowded and we were somewhat close to the low tide.
I woke him up at four and we left the house at 4:17. We got there at 4:50 and parked. As soon as I opened the car door, I was hit with a stiff offshore breeze. The car said it was a brisk 50 degrees outside. We geared up and started our walk.
I had purchased a waterproof headlamp on Amazon and was itching to try it out...!
While we were the first guys on the trail that morning, we were passed by a two-bike party after the bridge. Once we got to the dirt road portion of the trail, the kneeboarder passed us. If you're an avid reader of this blog (and chances are you're not) you may remember that EVERY time I've surfed Lowers this year that kneeboarder has been out. He was as friendly as he usually is, though he is a wave-catching beast once he hits the water.
The walk to the break was bitterly cold. My hands took the worst of it, but I took solace in the experience/hope that the water would be warmer. While on the walk, I told Tom that I wondered if I would get any beef for having a headlamp.
We leashed up and I turned my headlamp on high. I knew there were at least two guys in the water due to the bikers, but Victor (kneeboarder) was still gearing up and was taking his time doing so.
My headlamp was still on as we hit the water. This was my first time surfing with one and I was enjoying the experience. I could see the sea mist whirling in its beam and it was a cool feeling. While paddling out, a set came and I thought a guy was on it. I instinctively looked to see the wave and quickly realized I was shining my bright 14 lumens beam right in his fully-dilated eyes and face.
I sat there for five minutes, paddled for a couple when I sensed a set on the horizon. There was a boat way out on the horizon which had lights that became obscured when a set came. I heard a "What's with the light, man!?", to which I replied, "I'm trying something out. Is it f'ing with you?". I didn't get an answer, so I switched it off.
A jacking wave materialized at that point and I duckdived. The wave immediately ripped the headlamp from my head, never to be seen again. Had I not turned it off, I'd have had a shot at finding it. I was a little bummed, but I couldn't help but smile... Goodbye $14!
I was forced to adjust to no light and it happened more quickly than I expected. A few more waves came and I paddled like hell and missed. The stiff offshore wasn't helping things.
I finally caught a screamer of a right. I caught it late, as happens often with strong offshore winds, pumped a couple of times and watched in horror as a ten-foot (horizontal, not vertical) section in front of me collapsed. I tried to flop over it and salvage the paddle but I failed and got pounded down into the trough of the wave.
It took a good half-hour before my next wave and it was a left. I thought about doing a snap but I wasn't feeling the more vertical part of the wave as it was rather fat. I did a slash on it, pumped a couple of times and laid into a little cutty. Nothing special, kicked out.
I caught a left less than five minutes later and did a cutty, then a pretty good roundhouse cutty.
The crowd started pouring in as the sun made its existence known this morning with just the edge of its light shining against the backside of the high peak behind the nuclear plant off Camp Pendleton.
It took quite a bit of time before I caught my next wave and I had to ditch the main peak to get it. The high tide was fast approaching at this point, and the fatness of the waves showed it. The outside sets were coming in insconsistently and there were twenty guys I had to beat to get one of these beauts. I stayed on the inside and hoped for some mid-sized ones coming in.
My cousin went in and I knew he must have been freezing his ass off after coming out of the water and being hit with that wind.
I caught two quick lefts. One sectioned off on me quickly and the other fattened up to the point it was unsurfable. I bailed and we faced the stinging cold air together. Within five minutes, parts of my hands were purple. Taking my wetsuit off was an exercise in mental fortitude as my hands stung from the cold. It felt oh so good to get in the car and partake in some Pipes burritos.