Every one in a while, I receive a dose of humbling experience. Today was one such day. I knew it would get big today, but usually when it is big, I can watch the ocean and tell. When I saw the Jetty on the way to a dawn patrol, it did not look that big, though the buoy was reading 8 ft at 20 seconds. The winter N swells must be in the full swing of things. But Montara was something else, it was throwing at least triple overhead tubular waves? Like the ones you see in surfing magazine pictures. I was definitely not going there. So back to Linda Mar beach.
At the first look, it did not look too bad. Looked very usual stuff with occasional close outs and then there were some ridable looking waves in the high shoulder type range. The surface looked clean, and it was easy looking to get out. So I took out the JC Equalizer 7'5 length, thinking that there still might be some bigger stuff out there.
As usual, as soon as I start to paddle out, bunch of set waves come in. That's not a problem, I get to practice more duck diving! And there were some close out sets that were at least overhead on top, it all white so I could not tell. I would normally try to ride the reforms, but today with the low tide it did not help, and the tide was out-going so it was becoming even worse as the session progressed. So one white water after another and I was starting to get tired of them. I was frantically trying to find a channel, but by this time, the waves were coming and breaking the entire length of the beach, so it was difficult.
I rode a couple of reforms but it was so broken up that before I got any speed, I was surrounded by the white water.
Then the whole beach calmed down, and I dashed out as quickly as possible. I finally made to the outside where there was much less commotion. By now actually the sets started get really big, about 10 ft. They were the kind that won't jack up that fast but once they are up, it just closed really hard. Of course, I should know that, this is a result of a long-period swell, there is a lot of water being pumped. I still wanted to see if I could catch any, so I paddled a bit inside, then another a bit smaller set came up. I was actually happy to see it coming, but then it was not giving any ridable waves (at least for me.) So I decided to go back inside and see if I can still catch some closed out reforms.
That's when another set came, and I was frantically trying to get back out, but it was a bit too late. It was a kind that if I held on to the board, it would have been too dangerous so as the wave started to curl, I threw the board as far shoreward as possible, then I was thrown all the way up, forward then I was tumbling down spinning around like the clothes you can see from a front-loader washer with the leash pulling me down. Eventually, I have felt the bottom and the worst was finally over. Glad this was not on some coral bed in Hawai'i! Still it was about 10-12 ft deep in the water, so I try to relax a bit and let my body float up. As soon as I find out which way I was going, I started to kick and swam toward the surface. The surrounding get suddenly brighter and I pop the head out of the water. There is no other time you'd appreciate that you can breathe again!
Now I look towards the ocean, and, oh man! Another big set was on the way, so I grabbed the board, but it was too late. There was nothing I can do, not paddle out, try to ride, or paddle in, but again let the wave take me where it wants. Another tumble, tumble and tumble.
As soon as that was over I deiced that this session must end now, so I paddled in. I caught white water and belly ridden almost all the way to the shore.
Throughout this time, I was not scared, I knew what was going on, I practice in swimming pools for 30-40 second hold downs so I was confident, but it sure was not as pleasant as catching and riding.