I apologize in advance for any errors, omissions, or outright mistruths. I drank many margaritas and took a few knocks on the head. All photos are courtesy of and copyright Bill Becher
It’s 3:45 AM on Friday, and I drag myself out of bed. I think to myself, “Far too many of my Trip Reports start with that line.” I stumble to my truck, and drive to Chris Russ’s house, and we carpool in his truck from there. Lively conversation and Chris’s unbridled enthusiasm make the trip pass quickly. 8:30, we’re in the water. We catch a few rides in the campground, and then decide to paddle south to Tarantula. It’s not big, shoulder to head high on the boardies, but it’s fun and we get some good rides. Chris, Sage, Wayne, John B., and I are all out there. It’s a cool scene, lots of hooting and hollering and having fun. A great vibe, and John Bonaventure was showing us how good surf kayaking is done.
Tearing it up on those waves. Fun. Taylor Burch shows up a bit later, and some people start to head in. Taylor and I are out there until almost 3 with this perfect right break all to ourselves. SUPER fun. Size picked up a little, but the waves were forming really nice and had these awesome long shoulders that put you into a spot for an easy paddle out. I paddled untill my arms were Jello, catching more waves in that one session than I sometimes do in a month. Fun Fun Fun!. I was really diggin the way my boat was handling. Byron shaped a set of twin fins, 7 inches long by 2.75 inches tall, that gave me plenty of holding power, good speed, and snapping power.
Chris suffered a broken boat while paddling in, but was able to do a duct tape and goop repair job that lasted the weekend.
Taylor and I finally admitted tiredness and took the long hike back to camp. It was here I was wishing for an Airex boat! Hung out, talked, had a great dinner in Bill Becher’s RV, and I was in bed by 8:30.
It’s early saturday, and the roar of the surf is clear. Chris wakes me, he and Taylor are debating paddling out. From our camp on the hill, the surf is clearly huge, but we convince ourselves to give it a go.
We thought we would get through that. That was a small wave. We were delusional.
We suit up in the cold, misty weather, and hike to the beach. Fifteen to twenty of the west coast’s best surf kayakers (and one from the east coast) are standing on the beach, apparently waiting for some “test units” to assess the feasibility of a paddle out. We got Shut Down by the whitewater. At one point, I’d struggle past the whitewater only to stare at a breaking wave that I knew I’d never make it past, that I also knew was smaller than many others behind it. I was done. For the first time since I started surf kayaking, I retreated to the beach without catching a single wave.
While watching our struggle, there was apparently a consensus vote to head south around the point to check some more protected surf spots. After a few tries, a large group ends up at some break I don’t know the name of, near La Refugio. Twenty or so kayakers descended to the break, and it was few hours of surfing, joking, jockeying for positions, and tearing it up. Scott Eaton, Vince, Randy (or is it Randi? ), Preston, Jason, Galen, GRaham, Dennis Judson, Dennis St. Clair, Sage, Wayne, Taylor, Chris Russ, Rick Starr, Charles form the east coast, several others whose names I can’t think of, and I were having a grand time surfing and having fun. The waves weren’t big but some of them had pretty decent shape, and everyone was having fun. There was some ripping going on, and as long as you didn’t get too far inside, the waves were forgiving. I bounced off the bottom twice, hard enough to be surprised I didn’t break my boat.
Back to Jalama, and the food was being prepped. Clean up, relax, and visit with people. Randy and the Surfdogs outdid themselves, setting a new standard for event food, with multiple BBQ meats, beans, rice, tortillas, salsa, salad and margaritas! Best $5 I’ve spent in ages! We watched Vince’s DVD, then footage from the waveski worlds (I was inspired), then footage Mike Heinz had shot Fri and Sat. It always amazes me how small waves look on film compared to how they feel in person. Jason was very self complimentary, and had good things to say about all the other surfers, too! The party dwindled around 10:30, but a few hardcores carried on into the night. The Teva guys had shown up, and many thanks to them for the really nice visors and kick-ass t-shirts. I’m proudly sporting my new t-shirt with a surf kayaker graphic on the back right now. NICE!
Sunday morning the swell had dropped a bit, and the young upstarts were roaring to go. Galen (15), Graham (15 also?), Jason, and I (20-some things), and Charles from the east coast (grandpa at 30-something). Paddled out. It was still big, and the paddle out was a bit tough, but far more doable than Sat. Graham was in a slower boat, and seemed to have the worst luck with the waves, getting some pretty good pummelings while the rest of us stayed outside and cheered him on. After a truly heroic battle, he made it, and our little Posse headed down to Tarantulas. Board surfers were dominating the main peak, catching some waves that had to be approaching 20-foot faces. We sat a little to the south, catching shoulders they missed, and a little secondary peak that was forming. 10-14 foot faces is my guess. They felt big. The drops were steep and tricky. Blowing them would suck, but once you made the drop, the wave was amazingly forgiving for it’s size. Lot’s of time to carve turns up and down the huge face, and as long as you turned out at the right time, you could have a dry-haired paddle back to the lineup. Amazing. Galen was charging hard, catching- I think- as many waves as the rest of us put together. Jason and I were being cautious, but I saw him get some good rides, and I know I got some of the most memorable rides ever in a surf kayak. Graham got some rides, but he got worked on the inside. He went in, rested a bit, and paddled out again. Those two were awesome! Charles from the east coast got caught inside of a big set, and washed all the way to the beach (a long trip). It was the last we saw of him.
After a bit, Dennis Judson showed up, and then Dave Johnston, but at some point it was me and Jason sitting out there, debating whether or not to paddle back to camp or walk, my legs were aching, but it’s a long walk, so I hadn’t made up my mind.
I caught a big one. Screaming along, cutting turns, it was awesome, and I milked it. Turned out. Shit. SHIT. SHIT! There’s a big wave coming and I’m not going over, under, or around it. It picks me up and hurtles me into the near shore area, which consists of huge exposed rocks. I manage to stay upright, and get off the wave, but the water there was crazy. Felt more like a river, with ripping currents, huge boils and eddyline, and rocks everywhere. Some furious paddling and I made it into the little cove. I decided I’d call that good and not press my luck, so I started the long walk home.
Spent some time talking to Scott, Dennis J., Vince, Chris R., and John B. We were were tossing around ideas for rankings, and classes. It was interesting and fun.
Said Goodbye to everyone still there, and headed home. As Chris and I were passing C-Street, it was looking good. Head high, long rides. HMMMMM. We’re in no rush, so we stop, and surf a few hours till sunset. Another good session, and then it’s on home. There was a wreck on the 405, so I didn’t get home till late.
Fantastic, unbelievable weekend. Too much fun. Thanks to Randy and the SurfDogs for putting it on, and thanks to everyone else for being cool fun people!
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