Saturday, November 22, 2008
Day four is hereby declared to be in the bag.
And a fine day it’s been.
Solid eight hours of sleep, awoke well rested and ready to go. No earaches, or any other untoward mementos from the cesspool session at Schoolyards.
Once again, it’s choppy up this way and we determine to roll on over to Rincon where it will be more to our liking, and since the swell has dropped, we’ll take advantage of as much size as we can get in the process.
Down the road we go, again.
To Maria’s, of course.
Down from yesterday, and crowded. But it’s Saturday and the word has been out for days on this swell, so what would you expect otherwise, hmm?
But the water still has that crystal clean look, the sunlight dances and sparkles upon it, and the crowd is strung evenly along from down past Dogman’s almost all the way up to the lighthouse, excepting those places toward the Indicator’s area where exposed rock becomes problematic, and there’s no really distinct knots of people anywhere along the line. So perhaps this might work.
The waves, despite being down, are still a couple of feet overhead on some of the sets. The previous day’s chunkiness seems to have disappeared, and in its place there are some nice walls that look plenty workable off of the peak. Ok then, I guess we’ll paddle out and give it a go.
For some damn reason, I get hung up paddling out and have to slog my way through an endless series of smallish soups that just won’t let me through. Yesterday was noticeably larger and more consistent, but the paddle today is a lot worse for some stupid reason, and the southbound drift is relentless.
Eventually I get the relief I’m looking for and I’m now outside among the swarm, but I’m well down point from where I want to be.
In the distance, out at the head of the point, right next to the rock that demarcates the northern end of the Maria’s lineup, waves are wheeling around, steaming downline in my direction. But, as always with Maria’s, there’s a bit of a dead zone not so very far downpoint, and the guys riding the head of the point are kicking out or bogging down before the wave reforms for the peak at Piston’s.
And me, being me, I’m sizing up the lineup and crowd to set myself up on the peak at Piston’s, as I patiently work my way up point from where I wound up making it outside.
I’m in no hurry.
The more time I spend paddling up point, the more time I have for studying the overall dynamic of the situation.
At first glance, it looks impossible. Guys are all over the place, snagging everything in sight.
But every once in a while, a fat set will stand up and break outside, catching them all napping as it comes churning through the pack, giving them all a good tumble.
So ok, maybe we’ll be able to set it up to take advantage of things, hmm?
I’m wrapping up my initial paddle to my chosen location, near the vicinity of where I want to be, and as the next group of fat ones pours through, I get myself a good navigational fix on things, lineup-wise. After the set’s energy is spent, there’s a lot of people sitting outside just about right where it broke.
But the wind, the current, and the inconsistency of the largest sets are all on my side.
I’m a patient man.
Or at least when I’m sitting outside waiting for the next plus-size set.
Standard-issue waves are constantly pouring through, head high to a foot or so overhead, and the crowd, as I was hoping for, is unable to resist the urge to grab them. And who can blame ‘em? These are really nice waves, and the thought of letting them slip through unridden is anathema to all of the people out here in the water with me.
And so I sit and hold to my fixed position as I watch most of them go scrambling after these waves, allowing themselves to be drawn farther inside while doing so.
On top of that, the wind and current are working to push people downline, out of position. Some of them allow themselves to drift on down, while others work themselves upcurrent towards the head of the point. But there’s a bit of a sneaky effect at work here with the guys working up point against the current, and more than just a few of them are overcorrecting, being drawn, as if hypnotized, into the eyes of the waves spinning downpoint from right in front of the exposed rock.
And so, as the clock continues to tick, and as I continue to sit tight paddling just enough to stay where I belong, edging ever so slightly farther outside as I do so, being very careful to never make it look like I’m seeing anything at all coming in from way outside, the people all around me have finally thinned out to the point where I’m now looking quite foolish all by myself, like the old fat longboarder that I am, sitting too far outside, bobbing around stupidly, wavelessly, well off the mark.
And who wants to sit near a foolish old longboarder who’s obviously way off the mark, too far outside to catch any of the waves that continue to pour on through?
Nobody, that’s who.
And this is exactly what I want.
I do dearly love surfspots with shifting peaks and an ill-defined takeoff zone.
I check my watch.
And I see that enough time has passed.
So I’m now in scanning mode, carefully examining the horizon as I rise over every bump, but being careful not to look directly at it any more than is absolutely necessary, and when the one I want finally shows way out there, as ever it must, I take the quickest possible glance to size things up, and then look away, back up point, or even toward the pack now sitting well inside of me, giving no sign of the move I’m about to make.
Outwardly showing every indication of simply readjusting my position to counteract the normal downpoint drift, I begin easing toward the approaching set even as it’s still a bit too far outside to attract the notice of those less vigilant souls in my vicinity.
But as I languidly paddle face-down, staring into the wax on my deck and giving nothing away via body language, working my arms slowly and deliberately, I’m actually edging farther outside and farther away from all those bobbers sitting still-obliviously inside of me.
Another couple of waves pass beneath me and finally there’s nothing more for it, the thing is now obvious to even the most dull-witted in the group.
But it’s too late for them, even as they all begin frantically churning for position from starting points way too far inside.
At which point I drop all pretense and stroke vigorously for my spot directly underneath the now-looming peak of the wave I have chosen for myself, which is quite a bit larger than the typical waves that have been coming in recently, secure in the knowledge that nobody, nowhere, is going to be able to interfere with me.
When things have all come together precisely as planned, which they do now and then, I’m actually a little bit too far inside and have to really paddle like hell in the last seconds, whipping the board around just as I arrive at the wave’s base or sometimes even partially up the face, and then stroking like hell into the rapidly-steepening scarp of water, scanning quickly ahead of me to ascertain the position of all those people inside of me who failed to take heed, giving it the last couple of deep pulls with my arms, and then springing to my feet with the nose of the board pointed downward at the beautiful deep blue-green water directly in front of and below me.
And once again dance to the tune of my liquid master.
It never grows old, it never gets stale, and I never tire of it, despite a thankfully long lifetime of doing it over and over and over.
The board is everlastingly rock-solid and fast, and for me there’s nothing else to be desired from that which intervenes in the few centimeters between the soles of my feet and the living water beneath them.
I don’t catch very many, but I like the ones I do catch to count, and today they’re counting nicely. I ride them all with no company on any of them, ahead of me or behind me.
On one particular wave this day I see that my line must inescapably take me between a pair of paddlers, stroking for the outside, and very close to one another. Flying down into the trough ahead of the wave, still gathering energy for the coming bottom turn, I split the difference with no room to spare on either side of me as I hurtle between them, close enough to have touched them both, simultaneously, had I crouched down and stretched out my arms to do so. Their eyes are wide but neither one panics, and the thing is done and over with, in the twinkling of an eye, as my ride lays itself out before me, downpoint into the silvery shimmer.
Following the ride, paddling back toward my chosen location, I encounter one of them and apologize to him for the closeness of the call. He returns an understanding smile and advises me that “it’s nothing” and I am glad to have not fallen foul of him as I continue on my way, paddling up point.
One must always be conscientious toward one’s fellow surfers.
On another wave, the wall out ahead of me behaves itself perfectly and I find myself racing at top speed down the line for an extraordinary distance with no soft spot, no irregularities, and no time for so much as a single cutback the whole delicious way down that unusually long pumping run of speed.
Ahhhhh. Just what the surf doctor ordered.
And after a couple of hours have passed, I decide to call a finish before soft-encroaching fatigue has a chance to detract from the least element of things.
The waves keep right on coming and laugh heartily at me behind my back as I depart.
It is good. It is very good.