Thursday, March 10, 2005

Session 5047: Going to the Hell and Back

Well, I did go out this morning despite the big condition we are seeing at the buoys. The sun was out fully and no fogs. But these big W swells at the significant swell height of 14 ft at 17 seconds period going at were some of the most treacherous condition I have ever thought of venturing out in Half Moon Bay. Compared to Tuesday, it was even worse.

When I got to the beach, the waves looked semi-OK on the outside, and I did not really feel like driving further north, I thought I'd paddle out here for a bit, if not anything to keep my paddling muscles in shape. I was supposed to meet my local buddy, but after him seeing the breaks, he decided to work on his back yard (poser!). Then I saw another local buddy and his wife too, they seemed to have posed out too. But I did not pose out! I did not. I did some quick Yoga warm up as I watched the waves from the top of the sea wall, put an extra care and attention on my leash hookups, made sure that the helmet straps are on tightly and went in.

From the moment I went in, I knew it would be a long battle getting out since this was basically the repeat of Tuesday. First, with so much water coming into this corner, the water was hitting the sea wall and bouncing off. According to my buddy's accounts, there was a surfer who took off roughly at the same time as me had been pounded onto the sea wall! I have nearly escaped that from happening. But once I have started out, the side current was so much so that in just a few paddle outs, I was already swept down several few hundred yards down in front of a cliff where the waves were bouncing off it. Now, a bit of fear sets in my head? I might not be able to get back out nor get back in. Luckily there was some white water coming at me, so I rode it almost all the way to the cliff and caught the board just in time before the board and myself would be smashed onto the cliff.

But at least I can touch the bottom now and I can now walk back to where I started from. Glad that this is the sand bottom. If it was in Santa Cruz or the Trestles where there are just bunch of rocks underneath? I walked back carefully never turning my face away from the ocean. So I tried to get out more times, get swept and then walk back up again. Now above my head is a red Coast Guard Helicopter passing by. They must be combing the area for any possibly lost boaters, or even surfers!

Sometimes, I made to further out combining turtling and duck diving, but one after another of gushing white water had so much power that my duck diving skills would not meet the challenge, instead the board shot up from a too shallowly of a dive and then the board and myself are reflected back on the next white water. Another short boarder guy, however, passes right by me, paddling at a rather relaxed pace and stance and making a good progress. Basically the same thing happened at the Ocean Beach last fall but at that time, a girl short boarder on my right and a boy short boarder on my left passing right by me like me on a grand-pa mobile doing a 45 on at lane 2 on the I-280. So for me, I still am not up to his or her level, and on a day like this will clearly demonstrate who has the wave skills and who does not. OK, I am working on it, damn it!

Once I miraculously punched through half dozen inside break zones, things get gradually calmer and calmer and when it is totally out, it is rather peaceful.

Riding on them was another story, since most waves were closing out, even if I take off, I just fell off in bouncy white water mess, or thrown into a huge tumbling mechanism and I was tumbling, tumbling and tumbling while being held down in the water. If not that then I will be met up on a back wash which is breaking backwards onto me. At least today, I have learned enough about this that I can just stay relaxed, holding the breath, until the spin cycle and everything is over. But I must tell you, when the surrounding brightens and the head pops up the water, there is nothing comfortable and assuring like the first breath of the fresh air.

When I decided to take a rest, many people who came after me were already getting out. Probably it would have been a good idea.

I won't be doing this kind of a challenge again for a while. But this week has been good in terms of observing and challenging me a bit as to where I am when it comes to the "getting out" skills. If anything I've learned, there still is a bit of a way to get better at this, but at the same time, I also feel that I came a bit further in being comfortable and confident even in a situation like today, and sessions like this are needed from time to time.

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