Had a fun day out here in late January– was a good mix of smaller rolling waves off the point by the Marine Room and 14 foot Monsters rolling in near the Cove.
Took this as an opportunity to try making the Paddle-Cam work again– seems with a little editing the movement isn’t such that viewing ends in motion sickness– especially with the changing perspectives. (Although I learned at 1:20 that hotdoggers get punished, right?!).
So you tell me, love it or hate it?
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Speaking of the Monsters, thought it was an interesting piece of footage watching a 14 foot monster unexpectedly collapse prematurely into a solid 8 foot wall of white-wash, not once, but twice to yours truly (1:25 and 2:00). The first one caught me by surprise (you can see it collapse in the background), the second one happened far enough away that I could only resign myself to the punishment I was about to receive, and give the viewers a real treat– no one would choose to stand there and get whomped by that size wave with that kind of force behind it– we’re talking 5-10 tons per square yard! It is one thing to describe it to people, it is another to let them see it for themselves.
What do you do, you might ask? I’m lucky in this case– I’m at a standstill– if I had been riding one of these Monsters, I’d be travelling in the same direction as the wave at speeds in excess of 30 mph (the speed* of this wave)– even without a wave I would tumble a considerable distance under my own momentum. With the wave… wow. But anyway– on to the anatomy of the Washing Machine.
Let’s say we start at the 2:00 mark: Gulp air deeply and quickly and hold that breath, because you are about to enter Nature’s Washing Machine on some crazy Tumble setting for the next 45 seconds… and when you finally do surface, quickly gulp air deeply again, because this is a rinse and repeat cycle — the next 8 foot wall of whitewash is about to hit you as you float helpless in the water. By diving deep under the Monster waves (you are limited by the length of your leash), the sensation is that of somersaulting backwards out of control down a hill when the turbulence grabs you. If you just let the Big White Wall hit you, it will actually pick you up, and then the sensation is more like being tied with your back arched to the outside of a wine barrel backwards, and then shoved down the hill by someone’s boot. Once you stop tumbling, it is not over: you still need to fight the wave to give you back your heavy board which is now quasi-surfing, being pushed by the the Wall of White Turbulence at some incredible speed. You, of course, are being towed along at the same speed underwater, feet first, strapped to your leash (think like being keelhauled) which is (hopefully) still mounted to your quasi-surfing board. In order to escape this predicament, you must create drag enough with your hands, legs and paddle to overcome the curiously strong suction on your board created by the “oddly timed” (you muse from a few feet under) demonstration of the Bernoulli Principle in Nature by this wave. If I’m able to, I angle the paddle like a rudder so that I am at least being steered toward the surface while being dragged (amazingly, this steering with the paddle while being dragged backwards at 20 mph can actually be seen in the PiP from 2:03 to 2:08, at which point you’ll see the back of my head pop up in the main viewing window at the same time the board breaks free of the wave’s grip. Notice another Monster wave looming in the distance– at 2:14 I can see that it is going to break: time to gulp air again, we’re going for a ride in 5-4-3-2-ulp!!). Don’t forget that the “hold down” is going to feel longer than it actually is… so don’t panic– but also keep in mind that you are fighting very hard for survival the whole time which tries to kick in the panic instinct– that alone makes the heart race and use up oxygen. A 100 yard dash only takes 11 strenuous seconds, and all but the top athletes would probably keel over if they had to do it without taking another breath and being chased by a lion! Nevermind if they were only allowed 5 seconds of breathing before having to do it one more time, with a fresh lion. Also, it is fair to say that the violence of the tumble is underestimated by the narrative above.
When you finally get on your board again (only 45 seconds later, in this case– but trust me– time dilation looms large), you’ll notice that while it is fantastic to let your pulse rate settle down a bit and gulp those huge breaths of air, that air is very pungent with the fishy smell of Sea Lion– but don’t worry– that is just because your tumbling has applied the ancient principles of Archimedes’ Water Screw and your sinus cavities are absolutely and completely filled with Ocean water that has been freshly churned up off the seabed– when you stop shaking, just bend down and touch your toes– much of the water will just drain out. You’ll need to do this repeatedly before you go to sleep, or you’ll wake up in a couple of hours in a puddled pillow and with a sore throat, feeling like you’ve just been waterboarded.
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Finally ended with a decent ride (2:55)– was almost a great ride (if I had made that last cutback), but caught my rail on a boil** that was shooting up from the reef underneath. And then of course, time to gulp air once again…
*wave speed= (swell period * 1.5) for kmh. Multiple by another 1.2 for mph.
**boil: A circular bubbling effect that occurs when a passing wave churns over a segment of reef or large rock not far from the ocean’s surface. Because they appear in shallow water, boils indicate a hazard to surfers looking to avoid reef and rocks.