Posts Tagged ‘california

10
Nov
09

November Waves

Fort Bragg Waves

The first big swell of the season hit the Mendocino Coast this past weekend.  The faces of the waves were 25 to 30 ft, with occasional larger sets–quite entertaining to watch, from land.  The height of the headlands (a coastal bench) allows people to look out over the waves and see the giants breaking on the outside, from a safe position.  A person on the beach couldn’t see that far out because of the waves near shore blocking the view, and it can get dangerous when surges sweep up the beach and lick everything back to sea like a giant frog’s tongue.

but the view to be had is from the water–that is were you really experience the size and power, and hence the fear that is part of the traditional interpretation of the experience of awe.  I have literally felt my legs trembling while paddling a surfboard over the shoulder of a big wave while looking down into the maw of the tube, and at the falls driving with the sound of a freight train into the still water at the bottom of the wave .  Big waves make wind as they pass; in silence until they begin to break, and then they explode.

but on this weekend we couldn’t surf.  Waves this size don’t allow themselves to be ridden here, like they may in other places. Penetrating the break is impossible, but even if you did get out, this size of a swell this size will break all over, making it extremely difficult to be in the right place at the right time, and extremely likely they you’ll be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and get your butt seriously kicked.  this is possible death even for the conditioned big wave surfer.  That ilk of men gather at Point Arena on days like this, where the waves can be ridden.  Up here, we just stand on the headlands bathed in the mist created by the abundance of airborne spray that hangs along the bluffs like the smoke from a battlefield. We wait for a big set, and after it wows us, seeming to break in slow motion, we decide to wait for just one more; to feel that fear-free awe tingle in us again as we admit being defeated by the sea by simply declining the fight.

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