“We’ve got two 6’10″s you guys can ride?”
With just over a week to departure and still too many unchecked list items, I started looking at my options. Then call from my dad sealed the deal.
“I have to fly east on business, if you stay a little longer I will get to see you before you fly back?!”
“That works out perfectly, Dad, I’ll try to extend my ticket for a extra week!” I replied with glee, now having more than the just the exciting swell and weather forecast as an excuse to stick around Santa Barbara.
The night before the swell arrived I could hardly sleep and leapt out of bed with a pulsing wave-buzz. After a round of calls and in-town indicator checks, I decided to head north after factoring in the contest at the Con and the crowd potential everywhere due to a coastline of equally surf-starved Saturday morning wave seekers. And to my shift my excitement into total overdrive, one of my favorite surf accomplices, Anna Santoro, had wriggled out of a few work shifts and made her up from San Diego and into my passenger seat! She hadn’t surfed much of this coast, so I was itching to take her somewhere good…somewhere off the beaten path. But as we scanned the Gaviota coast, it appeared that the swell angle was just a bit too north to make it around Point Conception. So at the last minute, as the lanes jogged right, we ditched our hike-in plans and continued northbound.
An hour later we wound through sprawling oaks and rolling grass hills. I recalled the forecasted height and period on this first day of the swell and worried that it would be too big, but I knew Anna could handle whatever I could, and without many other good options, we pressed on. We came over the last hill and the a view opened to unveil a glassy, bright blue, line-stacked Pacific. Stopped just ahead on the road were my friends, Jaime and Brian, so we pulled over behind them.
“Pretty big, huh?” I suggested calmly, although my eyes wanted to spring out of my head. The sets pulsed in–BIG, BIG–but as clean as it gets. I winced at the size and faltered a bit.
“Yeah, it’s cranking…Perfect though!” Jaime said.
“We’re definitely undergunned!” exclaimed Anna.
“To say the least!” I replied. Between her 5′ 8″ and my 5′ 9″, we would only be sun-tanning at this beach! My palms had started sweating and I hopped about anxiously calculating our options as it was nearly eleven o’clock already.
“If boards are your only problem. Then we’ve got you covered,” Jaime said. He clicked open the back hatch to expose the dream quiver stacked within–board upon board of innumerable choices!
“Yeah, I think we’ve got 2 extra 6′ 10″s you guys can use.” Brian offered.
“Are you sure?” I confirmed, part of me wishing he’d change his mind, knowing that if we had these boards, there would be no excuse NOT to paddle out.
“Yeah!” He smiled.
We hopped back in and followed them down the cliff to park, both our heads craned left to watch the massive lines rise up, pitch, and explode into freight trains of whitewater thundering toward the beach.
My image of a pleasant day at a peeling overhead point had quickly been exchanged for a full-on, big wave mission, packed with adrenaline-inflicting lefts and an occasional set to close-out the entire beach.
“We could go back?” I posed to Anna as I nervously stuffed my fullsuit into my backpack. I felt a little guilty, recalling the last time I had dragged her into a big-wave adventure in December of 2005. A rogue set had almost caught us inside on my dad’s little fishing boat off Point Loma. Both she and Katie were injured BEFORE we even paddled out into what might have been the biggest waves I’d ever surfed. Here we were 3 years later, and again I was responsible for our destination, knowing the surf was probably going to be serious. I hadn’t thought it would be THIS serious, though!
“Naw, it seems too meant to be…I mean, we’ve got boards, warm suits, and we’re in it together!”
So that was that, there would be no turning back. Jaime and Brian graciously handed over the 6′ 10″s, opting for their next sizes up, and we commenced the cliff side march to the reef…