Sunday, February 12, 2006

Brokefoot Bay


I haven't surfed this spot in a few years. I check it pretty often, but generally there are not alot of takers. I'm sure the locals are on it when it's good.

When it gets big, entry and exit can be a little hairy. Very rocky and swirly, bull kelp and boils, barrels and bare reef.

One memorable session there, I pulled up after checking a few other "friendlier" spots and saw a guy out soloing it. It was solid overhead and I saw him catch a few fun, hollow rights off the reef at the north end. The southern peak was working too, only softer and fatter, and much more appropriate for fitting the only board I had with me, a 9'6" Hynson single fin.

I suited up and made my way down the cliff. Jumping in at the channel, I scrambled out to the lineup. The other guy paddled over, and we chatted a bit about what was working. He said the north peak was great, but was breaking pretty shallow. I opted to stay to the south as he paddled back to his choice of peak. It turned out to be a good decision when, about an hour later, I watched him get eaten up on a solid right tube and then get dragged inside by about 3 set waves before he finally escaped and made it back out to where I was.

He said he had been bounced hard off the reef by the first wave and had had enough. The surf was definitely building and he caught a wave in. I watched him scramble out onto a big rock slab and head up the cliff. I surfed for about an hour, watching the north tube open seemed to be calling me. The tide was coming in, and the rock he had exited on was underwater now. I reasoned that the reef was at least a foot or two deeper than it had been when he got bounced, it definitely wasn't coming over as hard as it had been earlier, so I paddled over to take a look.

The 9'6" gave me the advantage of early entry, so on the first wave, a head high right, I was up and out in front of the tube comfortably. I caught a few more and then set up a little deeper. An overhead set approached, I paddled over the first two waves and turned on the third. It was well overhead. Dropping in backside, I came off the bottom and set up for the tube. The board wanted to badly outrace the wave so I crouched and dug my right arm into the wave, applying the brakes. As the lip passed over my head, I pulled my arm out and stood up, racing down the line and popping out into the channel. The guy up on the cliff pumped both his arms into the air. I pumped my fist back at him and paddled back for a few more.

The wave was very consistent and lined up so there was no real worry aside from making an stupid, unforced mistake. I caught about 6 more waves, getting tubes on two of them before calling it a day. The inside was a little thumpier compared to the paddle out three hours ago, and I searched for a likely exit spot. I inched in bit by bit, timing it...a few waves washed through and I rode in on their backs. About ten yards out I slipped off the board and felt for the flat shelf, finding it in about four feet of water. A surge of crumbed surf approached, I faced it and jumped over, washing in closer. Another wave pushed me in further yet, and as the water drained off the rocks I scrambed in across the broken rocks and boulders, wanting to avoid the waist high approaching breaking waves.

As I stepped onto a boulder my foot slid across it's slick surface and I drove my toes hard into the rock below. I was clear of the surf, but my toe was throbbing. I went up the cliff and limped to my car. The other surfer was saying that the tube had rally opened up after he had got out. I nodded and pulled off my boot, grimacing as I did. I turned it over, dumping out a stanky wash of blood and water. I had ripped up the toenail and it was bleeding pretty bad. The dialogue ended as the guy ogled my ruined toe and moaned. I wrapped it in my towel and pressed on it, feeling every heartbeat pulse at this extremity of my body. He tried to make me feel better by describing the battle wounds he had suffered here over the years. It didn't work.

The drive home was difficult, and sleep that night pretty much non-existent. The following day I visited my doctor who, after x-rays, confirmed my worries; a broken toe. It kept me out of the water about a month and a half. I have surfed Brokefoot Bay (not it's real name) many times since...and without injury. But I have never caught it that good since.

Local Report:
The rip was screaming, watched one guy get sucked out about a mile or so, watched from the top of the bathrooms at the cove as the police fire/rescue team and an ambulance showed up. Then they called for the air lift, luckily for him he managed to get to the inside moments before the orange ride showed up.

The waves were thumping first thing, but they lacked definition. Several surfers stared at the waves and waited for someone to make the first move and suit up, but nobody did. The morning passed and nobody went outside, as far as I know. Finally, about 2pm, I suited up with one of the comedy crew and we made our way outside. My buddy caught a couple and we both took a massive set on the head. I was starting to think I was skunked when I finally caught a big right, sped down the face, made the bottom turn and prepared to come up high and race the lip. I had no chance as the beast closed out, so I pulled the ejection handle and dove off the back of the board right before the wave exploded. I had enough and quit, it was a one closeout session.


Chum said...

I think I found that spot working this weekend - not as hollow as you describe, but showing some potential (see my blog). I might sacrifice a broken toe if I got the kind of session you had....