I love surfing alone. Looking back, I was lucky in those solo CR sessions.
Those waves looked big. The middle pic looks like a surfer getting ready to make a big drop. what a surprise when I clicked on it to see it was a sponger.
Didn't have time to write anything earlier. Post your travel stories/pictures about surfing in lands where there are few/no surfers. To answer the questions:
Yes, I paddled into the first wave pictured. Warm water waves are never as heavy as they look, compared to cold water hammers. The heavy part of that wave was finding a way down the 100ft cliff in the foreground. The middle picture is me in shorts and a t-shirt. Lost my boardies/rashy and good luck finding any sort of surf gear where that wave is. Last one is a view of a pointbreak from up in a mountain temple. The blue box is a shipping container (18-wheeler type) for scale. Now, a story:
Anyone travelled somewhere where surfing was a foreign concept? Considering that even the most frozen or flattest lineup in the United States is clogged with boards, and there are even nutjobs who surf the great lakes in winter, it's hard to believe, but there are many places around the world where there are so few surfers that you can still find that awesome pointbreak or hidden rivermouth that's never been named, and probably never been surfed. Without giving it away, have you ever found such a place?
One such place is a rivermouth near a farming/fishing village somwhere East of Guam. I first spotted the place on a random cross-country drive when we took a turn down a random backroad and ended up on a huge black sand beach with fishing nets and various kinds of equipment and trash strewn about. Where the road ended, the surf slammed into a sandy ledge at the water's edge in a ugly boiling shorebreak that wasn't even skimmable. However, looking through a telephoto lens far down the beach toward the aluvial fan of a rivermouth, I could see, what looked like, an awesome a-frame break, smoking in the offshores breezing down the semi-tropical valley. At a distance of 2 miles, there was no way to tell how big it was or if it was even makable.
Seven months later, I rediscovered the spot on a day when a sizeable swell was sweeping down the coast from a winter storm. On the drive down the coast, I had been high up in a mountain tea house, driving out the cool damp by sipping scalding local tea while spotting the swell throwing up fountains of spray at the huge seawalls of the shipping harbor below. My goal was some better-known breaks downcoast a bit, but I thought it was worth killing off a day making a pilgrimage to that potential secret spot.
After a hour or so of driving the winding cliffside road, I was down in the same mountain valley where I had first spotted the rivermouth break. I drove up onto the beach and parked. Mine was the only car (actually sort of a truck-van "Delica Starwagon" ) around, and probably one of the only enclosed 4-wheeled vehicles in the agricultural valley. Low marine clouds were threatening more misty rain as I grabbed my boardbag and locked everything else up in the van. I could just barely see the break firing in the distance as I set out along that volcanic sand beach.
I walked past endless rice paddies and shrimp farms, which gave way to scrub and piles of loose stones as I passed the levee that protected the fields and villages from the typhoon floods. Navigating the aleuvial fan took some doing as it was full of huge boulders that had washed down from the steep surrounding rainforest-covered mountains. The river was flowing well, and I eventually had to pull out a board and fins to paddle across progressively deeper and more turbulent channels of chilly, steely rainwater. After more walking and paddling, I--at last--made it to the far side of the river delta, and the break.
It was incredible. I can't liken it to any other break, because it was like no other place I've surfed. Maybe a little bit like a heavier, shallower Hammerland in reverse. The swell mounted up and peaked just a few dozen yards out from the cobblestones and sand of the riverbed in a huge detonating closeout. 100 yards down the line to the right, the shoulder went from insane to a possibly makable, well overhead and grinding down the beach in a long steel-grey barrel for another 200 yards (!) that whuffed tube spit like a steam piston. The right-hander that recovered from the bomb closeout in the middle was more pint-sized. A barely head-high clean foamball that futzed out after 50 yards into the same bodyslamming shorey that made up the rest of the beach.
I sat and watched it grind for about 30 minutes before I worked up the courage to paddle out. There was nobody around. This was between giant flood control levees and a mile from the nearest field, let alone the nearest structure. The whitewash was full of cobblestones and sand ripped from the bottom; clearly dangerously shallow and heavy. But that wave looked good and I had walked a long damn way not to paddle out.
I started out on the left-hander to get a feel for the water. The air was mid-70's and the water mid-80's. Eventually I paddled around the closeout and hopped the shoulder well down the line after watching and watching and watching.
It was a hell of a lot faster than I anticipated. I dropped in, executed a speed-line bottom turn, and immediately that grey wall started warping. I pushed the nose down and drove straight down the line. First there was a grey curtain, then a hushed grey tunnel, then a spin cycle of cobblestones and sand.
When it was makable--which was not that often--it was an insane full-speed barrel. Big and long and beautiful. Not the best wave I've ever ridden, but damn good. Punishing, though. After two hours I had a split lip, a couple of noggin lumps, a shiner, and a whole lotta bruises. It was a long walk/swim in, and it was a long limp/swim out. You might have a better time getting there on a scooter or bicycle, which can navigate the narrow paths between rice paddies or get up on top of the flood control structures.
Afterward, I drove on, stopping to describe this spot which I named ("Speed Bump's") and claimed over a big meal with some of my local friends further downcoast.
120 scary-lonely minutes of @$$-kicking tubes probably wasn't worth the huge hike to get there, but that's my spot now. I'm pretty certain that I was the first to surf it, but I bet I won't be the last.
I THOUGHT we were pioneering a spot once: We were in the boondocks of NS on a firing swell, driving down back roads looking at the endless possibilities that coast has, when we saw this left in the distance, across a huge field and around a swampy area, way out alone. Two of us trudged through all the snow and swamp to get there while our 3rd buddy, who was really sick at the time, hung at the car to rest, maybe snap some long distance photos. I thought for sure we were the first to surf this place, there was nothing around, terrible access, plus there are tons of well known waves within an hour's drive south, which by most anyone's standards, are not crowded at all...we got back to the car and our buddy told us some random guy ambled down the road from out of nowhere, informed him he'd been surfing that spot alone for 20 years, and tried to vibe the sh*t out of him. True pioneer sessions getting harder and harder to come by.
Wave itself was borderline unmakeable, especially for me on my backhand. I'll be taking a look at that one again on the next trip though...different swell angle or tide, the set-up seems like it could be just insane.
Deep down the coast of Baja. Surfed alone a lot on a few trips. Didn't have a map. Didn't know if certain spots would even break or what they were called. At certain points, I wondered, has anyone else every surfed here, then I snapped out of it and thought, of course they have. I'm not the first genius from california to venture down here.
But there were a few spots that I surfed alone that were really not meant to surf, and I figured out why very quickly.... Found a sick reef point that was wrapping into a little cove. You could walk all the way out on this elevated reef and jump right out. Couldn't tell how deep it was, or what was under the water, but it looked like a perfect, peeling left hander. I had camped out in the area for a few days but never saw anyone enter the water. The swell was running a little bit overhead. I stood on the point for about 5 minutes water consistent sets running. Finally just suited up and jumped off the point. Paddled into a perfect left wedge up off the point, as soon as I dropped in, it started sucking up and draining out, I stalled for a second to time a barrel ride and then I saw giant bars of exposed reef sticking up a good 2-3 feet out of the water, right in the face of the wave about 10 feet ahead of me and then I noticed the jagged bone yard in front of me, had to weave in and out of the bars in the face and pump down the face and then laid down and weaved in and out of the boneyard to the beach. Climbed a giant cliff to get back up. Walked over to my girlfriend, who had a camera and said... Ohh, I found out why no one surfs this point. Let's get the fu** outta here. I actually have a picture of that wave and that moment caught on camera. My GF, now wife took a picture of me, from behind the wave. She was up on the point so you can just see a few shots of me going down the line and then I disappeared... I'll look through the old photos if I have time later. This was back in 2003 I think, before I even had a digital camera. She had a 35mm and all the photos were developed at a local CVS. I would have to say, I "probably" was the first to ever surf that point and probably the last... Wouldn't call myself a pioneer, I would call myself a reckless fool who didn't watch the wave long enough from the right angle. Any person who would have looked at it break even once woulda said, okay, lets move on for sure.
I know surfers all seem to love the solace and serenity in being in the ocean alone, but I MUCH prefer having a Homie or two in situations like that. I would always get a little of the heebie jeebies down in Mexico, in the middle of winter. Knowing that the closest town is 2 hours away and the closest paved road is a good 30 miles. Hospital? Maybe 5 hours... Lifeguards? Haha. Not a chance... You get a completely different feeling when a Giant Mexican dolphin rolls up on you in the middle of no where. A nice sign of relief, like ohh, it's only you....
Couple that with the impending thought of the sketchiness of a third world country, run by drug cartels and banditos. Hoping that if a vehicle approaches your general area, you are not about to get hogtied, kidnapped or worse. Passing through checkpoints, hoping the dudes with AKs aren't in a bad mood and search your vehicles, cause then, for sure you are going to end up in a Mexican jailhouse somewhere. Sliding a 6 pack of Tecate cans to the young men usually does the trick.....
But all in all, at this point in my life I would not go to any of the places I used to and put myself in any of the situations I once would have... It was all about "The Wave", "The Search" and all that crap... Now, I just want to surf. I don't care if its crowded. I don't care where I'm at. I just want to surf. I have no desire to trek through a jungle somewhere, or hike through the desert in search of "the perfect wave".... Maybe in 10 more years, I can get to that mid-life crisis point and want to scour the earth again, but for now, yall can have that. I will go to the beach right by my house, surf when its on and be happy as a pig in sh**. Round here, most winter days that I surf, i'm the only d-bag in the ocean on the whole island.... So, with that being said, yeah I guess I still do surf alone. A LOT