My toughest paddle out/most memorable, would have to be down in Rodanthe a few years back. There was a huge south swell, with a good 8 mph south to north current. I didn't want to paddle out, but I let my two crazy friends talk me into it. We paddle out just north of the pier and by the time I made it out, I was just passing S Turns (around 2 miles down the beach). The waves were just freight training rights, a couple feet overhead and more rectangles than round, just throwing out thiiiick barrels. I kept missing waves, half because they were impossible, half because I couldn't bring my self to jump over the ledge. Finally I realized that I couldn't see Rodanthe anymore and that I was going to have to make it to shore at some point. I paddle as far in as a I could and caught a medium sized one, and it was by far the fastest wave I've ever caught.
I was so stoked I paddled out for one more and in the process, took the heaviest lip to the head during a duckdive that I saw stars. My head almost got smashed into my board and I was immediately sucked back over the falls upside down and throughly thrashed, but I didn't let go of my board, even though it was way oversized for me/conditions (6'2 Santa Cruz fish, I only weighed in around 145).
Anyways, I finally made it to hwy 12 and started the 5 mile walk back to Rodanthe with my thumb out, trying to hitch a ride. I must have seen 20 empty pickup trucks drive by (fishermen hate surfers I guess) before a chick in a tacoma with only room on the tailgate to sit, gave me a ride back to town. It took me a couple nervous hours to find my other to buddies by driving down HWY 12 and running across the dunes looking for them up and down the beach.
That's intense man. Had a similar experience in RI during pre-hurricane swell. I tend to agree with Lee that the right coast is self-regulating, but everyone has those moments where the force of the ocean shocks them, and one of the craziest for me was during Irene last year. I was watching the path predictions early, so I went into angry broad deterrence mode. I planned a "getaway weekend" with the girl near the beach (that is generally clean during solid E/SE swell) before she heard about the storm and subsequently wanted to spend the weekend watching point break and listening to the rain... I’ve digressed.
The point I was going to make was I believe it was Sunday right at the end of August, and you could tell the hurricane was passing. The barometer was still all screwed up , winds were ~30mph NNW, it still wasn’t friendly out. I was parked on a bluff overlooking a NE facing beachbreak w/ miles of beach north and south. The ocean was still looking a bit discourteous, and after an hour of convincing myself the waves were shaping into a-frames, although uncomfortably large and most likely unmakeable, I considered suiting up. At this point an SUV driven by a once-hot soccer mom pulled up. Immediately two kids, maybe 17, jump out with bodyboards, sprint down the cliff just frothing and jump in. I’m not kidding when I say within one minute, the sideshore had swept them so far north they were gone - couldn't see them from the cliff. Until then I never thought someone was going to literally get taken into the Atlantic. It must have hit the mom all of a sudden because she stopped smiling, then she started losing her sh*t. I told her to follow me to the next beach, about 2 miles north, because there was no way they were making it back there. Some guys used to intentionally drift the beaches, but not like this. She followed me to the next beach and we just watched. After about 20 mins of waiting we were about to make some calls. Finally two black dots came into view on the beach… from the north. They were panicked and said they tried coming as soon as they got in but they had absolutely no control – they went north and then got pulled into a rip and they were fortunate to hang onto their boards and caught some lucky waves which eventually deposited them on the beach...3 miles from where they went in. Hurricanes carry a lot of power. Anyway I'm sure that would have been my worst paddle out had I made it in haha. Sorry for carrying on and a lack of paragraph separation but thanks for the good stories.
DOH plus at Hermosa. It was brutal. Nobody was out except a couple of guys towing. My friends and i were going out nor matter what being that we just got off the plane and were so stoked to surf...
After 45 min of duckdiving I made it out. Took 1 wave, got the barrel of my life along with 2 of the best turns. I should have kicked out after the barrel but I was too stoked. A 2 story wall of water crashed on my head and I got thrashed for what I felt was 2 minutes, probably closer to 20 sec.. But, when I tell people it's 2 minutes. The black sand made it so dark.
I washed up in to water I can stand in, got my **** together and walked outto applause on the beach. I thought they saw my barrel and I felt like Slater. Then I pulled my leash to grab my board and realized why they were clapping. My shorts were on the other end of my leash. Thank god it didn't snap or my walk up the beach a lot more embarressing.
when it gets big on north costa beachies its about a 1/2 mile paddle out. went at it for a half hour just to have a clean up set come through and break my leash. lucky my buddy was headed back out when it happened to assist. still pretty scary
Agree with the Ocean Beach/Moss Landing guys. It gets crazy out there!
My scariest *moments* were all in Hawaii paddle-outs, but more because of huge freak sets than the setup's themselves. I usually found the paddle-outs to be quite comfortable, even on the big days, so long as I scouted the terrain before getting in the water. That was actually a curse in some ways, because it was easy to get in WAY over my head at a time when my false confidence often surpassed the skillz.
All in all, however, it's still those Jan-March days in good ole MD, when the waves are barely overhead but the water frigid, the air even colder, and the winds howling. I get so cold duck-diving that I literally feel my sanity leaving the body. Sometimes I'll start screaming profanity because it's just so damn agonizingly cold and I don't know what else to do about it...probably really funny for those watching, but whatever.
[QUOTE=zaGaffer;147936]How do you think people get guns or long boards out into big waves? I don't know how tall or strong you are or how much you weigh; but it doesn't matter, just about anyone can duck dive just about any board. It's a question of mechanics, not muscle.
hey i have a 6'8" board and i weigh 150.. i cannot seem to duck dive i just get the nose into the water and it wont go down anymore..
Try tipping it over on it's side and driving the rail down and under with like a scooping motion. That gets the nose down... then use your foot to sink the tail as best you can. This technique works best when approaching the oncoming wave at an angle.
This is a fun thread, I've never had the pleasure of an Ocean Beach thrashing but as a long boarder, have had a few days where you can't believe how far and long you have to paddle. I can recall several days at Boca Barranca where if you don't find the right gap, you are thrashing through some very push long-period swell. The bigger it is the farther out it breaks, so you're talking about quite the ridiculous paddle. Probably 1,000 paddle strokes on a longboard to get outside. It is a point break so you have the alternative of paddling around the break, but that can be 1/2 mile.
For me, my most memorable paddle out was an October day at Assateague, MD. It was a hurricane swell and I stood on the beach with a couple of buddies intimidated by the walls of whitewater pushing across the trough and then re-forming to create some incredible shore pound. After watching for a while we decided to suit up and head out. I was a relative newby, had been surfing a lot that year, but not for a long time. I saw what I thought was a gap and started to head out and suddenly I went from being in thigh deep water to being on dry sand and looked up to a huge shorebreak wave that detonated on top of me flinging me and my board up onto the beach.
I've always been a bit hard-headed (ask my wife) so I picked up my board and chose another gap and started paddling. When the first wall of whitewater hit me, I couldn't believe the power in the water and how it thrashed my body as I tried to fight through it. I kept digging hard to get outside as my heart pounded. I was almost completely out of gas and almost outside, when my buddy Hank looks over and yells that a cleanup set was coming. I dug deep and put my chin down and gave it everything I had left to scratch for the horizon. I made the first two waves of the set but the third wave loomed large and looked like I was a goner. I was totally spent yet found a way to keep paddling and just as I was cresting the top I felt as if my leash was tugging me backwards. With two last strokes I broke loose from the grasp and was outside.
I was completely exhausted and wound up sitting outside for an hour before I had the gumption to try catching some waves. I wound up getting some nice rides before I broke my board and had to swim the two pieces in. My buddy Hank graciously offered to loan me a board, but I declined and went birding the rest of the afternoon.
Duppies, Barbados @ 10+ feet. The currents are weird out there even when its smaller, this was insane with waves breaking through the channel and a constant current trying to draw you back into the cliffs of death. I even got knocked back on my ass in the keyhole trying to punch through the 6' Waimea shorebreak-esque craziness.
If you've seen it that big out there, you know what I'm talking about.