Snakers

I was not happy when I read the surf report this morning. It called for FAIR TO GOOD conditions, which happens only once in a blue moon and was bound to attract the crowds. Not exactly what I needed on my first day back after the accident and the staples.

But my buddy said he wanted to go, and we went. 9:15, an unusual time, trying to get in after the morning mass and before the lunch crowd. The latter being notorious for pushiness: all the guys trying to squeeze as many 6-footers as they could in the lunch hour they got.

Conditions were amazing: a perfectly calm ocean, no kelp debris, light winds from the West. The water was strangely cold (the report said 63F, much colder than the 68-70 we had gotten used to). The crowd was hanging out fairly concentrated at the peak (from now on called The Zoo for obvious reaons).

I told my buddy that he should feel free to go into the water wherever he saw fit, but that I would have to avoid the crowd. The last thing I wanted was to have someone else’s find slice me open again, possibly on top of the slice I already got. (Would it be a parallel slice? A cross? Something fancier?)

We ended up a little North of the Zoo. There were only a few guys out there, and there were off-peak waves to be had that looked amazing.

Getting in, an unusually strong North-bound current. It was so strong, it made it hard to shuffle against, so we paddled from thigh-high water. Not too terrible. I was out of shape (those surfing muscles are gone for good in a week!).

The configuration of everything was really odd: big 4-6 footers were coming in at the Peak, and nowhere else. North of us there were only smallish closeouts. South of us there was absolutely nothing – an occasional one foot.

The current that had dragged us North was the outwash of the big Peak waves. Since they were the usual Peak lefts, the current went in the same direction, after reflecting on shore. Instead of the North-drift we were expecting, we drifted South, towards the crowd. That of course explains why everything was South of there.

Things were not going well. Each incoming wave had at least four guys on it, all of them vying for the top spot, the snakers choosing to ignore those with priority. I hear lots of whistles of people trying to claim their wave, but I didn’t see anyone giving up. The snakers loved the day, and nobody was there to stop them.

Personally, I was involved in two close calls on my way out. The first time I was trying to get under a wave when this dude came rushing towards me. He cut it close for no reason – other than showing off. He could have gone below or above, but chose to rush right at me.

The second time, and again on my way out, two guys were fighting over a wave. An older guy on a green board and a second one that I didn’t quite see. They were close enough, they were actually arguing while riding, and coming towards me. That’s when I simply turned around and left, trying to catch some waves on a less crazy spot. I ended up North of the Waterfall, but there was nothing to be had there.

Getting out, I continued seeing the same snaking going on. I wonder how many accidents happened, and wonder why nobody said anything. I told my buddy that I didn’t quite understand why nobody said anything to the dude that sliced me up: they were just as likely to be run over than I was. But that’s just the way it is at Black’s. If you want to be safe, don’t go there. Or at least wait until tourist season is over.

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