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Re:the stories - 2007/02/23 21:22 C'mon boys,

How about you both give each other a hug and cheer up eh?

What's with the trash talking?

Aren't you fellas mates?
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Re:the stories - 2007/02/24 01:12 I went to Palmas-Santa Catarina-Brazil...i got about 7 days with perfect waves about 3 - 4 feet with thight barrels. It was sunny and it was looking like those spots in california that the sun shines on the water, so incredible!
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Re:the stories - 2007/03/21 23:46 Okay, here's mine. Believe it or not, Indo-style surf on the Gulf Coast of Florida.

This was a bizarro hurricane hunt to a secret shoal near an uninhabited mangrove island somewhere in SW Florida. Me and the other guy who did this swore each other to secrecy on pain of death, so I can't say more than that and to say it was within the last 5 years during conditions which may never come again.

So, about five days beforehand, I'm checking the NOAA website as usual, and see an interesting track for a hurricane currently churning it's way up the Caribbean. I call up my friend and see if he's interested in a hurricane hunt. He says he is, so I call in some vacation time and we start tracking this monster as it hooks into the perfect position. With the track firmed up, we snag a couple of last-minute tickets, and we're off.

It took flying and traveling for a full day out of LAX to our final destination where an empty beachfront condo awaited us. I had been in the area before and had scouted out some sandbars thinking that a perfectly-positioned hurricane might light them up. It was a little eerie, because the island we were on was under a voluntary evacuation. The cops barely let us over the causeway. Luckily, the boards were out of sight.

I couldn't find a place to rent a boat or jetski with a cat-5 hurricane churning up the gulf, so we went scouting down in the storage area below the condo. We found two sit-on-top kyaks and strapped them to the tiny rental car with rope and duct-tape, driving them about 2 miles to a launch, and plopping them in the intercoastal waterway at dawn the next morning.

The scene was totally eerie, because it wasn't exactly the high tourist season, plus there was the evacuation order so this resort/retirement community town that was our base was practically deserted. We rolled out before it got light and there was zero traffic. I actually had to chuck the kyaks and boards over the fence of the boat landing when we arrived because everything was locked down and I wasn't gonna try launching from the beach--since that would require getting out through the surf in the dark, and I'm no surf kyaker. Plus, we had to tether the boards to the kyaks and tow them along behind us.

So, after two hours of steady paddling our two old funyaks down the deserted intercoastal on that warm tropical morning, we reached the rivermouth shoal about 45 minutes after sunrise. We beached the kyaks, and we could see whitewater in this big bay to the south, but the shoal was hidden behind a mangrove-covered sandbar. With the sound of surf roaring from the other side of the little mangrove island, we sprinted over to the gulf side and...

F---ING SCORE!!! Best conditions I've ever had on the EC! Maybe best on the mainland. Consistant HH to OH with occasional OH++. It built until about noon and we later said DOH on the sets, but I'm sure you guys would never believe DOH in the Gulf. This is California scale, not Florida scale. Faces on the outside sets were at least 12' crest to foot. Winds were light offshore and skies were clear. The water was near 85 degrees clear and blue as f---. The sand was churning up on the inside but this place is REMOTE so there wasn't any silt to stir up and the bottom was all ground up shells, so even the sandmonsters on the inside were powdery white and blue. The air was 78 in the morning and about 90 by noon. The only hint of trouble was a purplish haze on the horizon to the West and a thin high overcast.

The waves were coming in looking like absolute courderoy (I had to climb a tree to get a good look/photo because the little island was flaaaat) from the SW along this sandbar. It was peaking up in a tall a-frame about 150-200 yards out. The rights were a steep-shouldered foamball with no barrel chewing down the edge of the shoal that was practically ruler-straight. It looked like the right along the boat channel at Kaisers. The lefts were perfectly lined up grinders that got faster and more wally on the inside before ending in a booming closeout. To say that the shape was perfect is an understatement. It looked like a painting, groomed by just a puff of offshore air. We were both freaking out, practically stepping on our own feet in our rush to get out. We paddled out along the channel to the left (along the edge of the steep rights) out to the peak. Dry hair, as if that mattered in 80+ degree water.

My first wave was nothing but simple cutbacks on the right-hander just to see if I was dreaming or if this setup was real. I swear, it felt like it was an hour long. Later on I'd actually time myself and the rides were about 50 seconds long. Haha. About halfway in, I started laughing hysterically. Finally, the wave fizzled out into the channel and I turned to paddle back out alternately laughing and swearing. My friend was on the next wave doing the exact same thing. He kicked out right next to me flipping me off with both hands, eyes bugged, tongue hanging out.

The lefts were even better than the rights. Crystal-clear thin-lipped almond-shaped barrels with pure blue water on all sides and sick tunnel vision of the green foliage and white sandy beaches of the Everglades. The line was a little warbly, so I wouldn't call it pipeline or anything, but it was loooooong with several shifting barrel sections, so you could hook up several in-and-outs and overall barrel time was definately longer than first reef even on a decent day. I tried timing how much time I spent shacked and promptly got axed for not paying attention to the wave, so let's just say 5 hour barrels, because that's what it felt like.

After a while, we stopped freaking out and settled down just ripping the f--- out of those perfect empty waves we'd been gifted. Maybe because the storm was so close, it was so consistant, you would never wait more than a minute after paddling out, and after each ride, you'd see 2 more sets come in on the way back out to the peak. I have never been so thankful to be a bodyboarder, as my standup friend had to take a break after the first two hours. He literally tried laying on his board and kicking his feet to get back out to save his arms, but it was 100-150 yard paddleout each ride, even though you could do it with minimal duckdiving. He tried bodyboarding with my spare lid, but the fins hurt his feet and he pretty much sucked at it, riding straight down the line like a tourist. Rather than waste waves, he sat on the beach shot a few photos, and willed his arms to un-noodle. I have never seen such a hangdog look. I'd wave to him after a sick ride and he'd flip me off.

Eventually I had to take a break. When I got in, I saw we had a dilemma, the little sandspit we beached the kyaks on was being torn apart by the high surf and rising tide. Waves were washing into the mangroves and our stuff was in danger of getting washed away. We ended up hauling the kyaks into the mangrove on the back side of the islet which we figured was high enough. The overcast had gotten thicker and there were some towering clouds out over the gulf, but it was still HOT. I ate and drank a little bit while the other guy paddled back out. I burned through the rest of the film and killed the battery and most of the spare on the camcorder. This was around noon. Just watching someone surf those waves was enough to stoke you out for a month, I swear. I paddled back out as soon as I had pounded out the kinks in my legs. The swell seemed to be shifting around a little bit and the lefts were getting more warbly and walled. Some of the bigger ones sectioned off, so the right became a better option. We were slowing things down, being more choosy as the waves deteriorated. It was still epic, but it was getting lumpy. The wind picked up, and the implication wasn't lost on me. Since it hadn't turned onshore like normal, it must have been the hurricane messing with the winds. Around 2, I was floating on the outside when I heard a hoot. The other guy was paddling up the channel and pointing. He turned to the left and deep water and started scratching like a madman. I looked and saw a macker set stacking up on the horizon. It looked ugly, lumpy like a wave messed up by boat wake, so I paddled wide into the channel and off the peak and watched the monster sweep by. I barely made it and had to duckdive the unbroken face to keep from getting sucked over. After that things settled back down and no more rogue waves came through.

By 4PM we were done. We were letting waves go whole sets at a time without even paddling for them. The offshores had swung around out of the south and were putting some texture on the surface. It was over.

Ever get a great ride, and then take the next three sets on your head trying to get back out? I think that the ocean is somehow offended when you get a really sick ride and so it punishes you. I didn't know it, but we were about to get the supreme punishment for our all-time session.

I caught one last right-hander in and washed up on the sand. I just layed there getting washed around in the sand before I could even get to my feet. I stumbled over to where we left the kyaks and saw a sight that made my stomach drop. Our sh*t was f--ked. There's no other way to describe it. One kyak was in two pieces, the other one was upside-down on a dead tree with three branches poking through the hull. The cooler was gone, the camcorder was gone, and the camera was half-buried in sand. It looked like somebody really big had purposfully stomped our stuff into the ground. I can only figure that the rogue wave must have washed clean over the island and messed our stuff up. I was still so stoked on the all-time waves that I kind of shrugged it off at first, not realizing that our lifeline back to civilization was pretty much cut. I hadn't brought a radio and there was no cell reception so that was back at the condo too. Not that anyone would've come out to pick our stupid a$$es up anyway.

We sat there in a daze for a little while trying to figure out what to do. Neither kyak would float, they were the cheap kind without the foam filling, so putting them in the water just made them sink until they were impossible to paddle. He had a pair of shortboards and I had a pair of lids and sets of fins but we were waay too tired to even think about paddling 6 miles back along the intercoastal. So there was only one choice--walk along the gulf-side.

Normally, it would be just a 5 mile hike along a thin strip of sand with a few channel outlets to cross. You could probably do it in less than two hours. But the surf was washing over the tiny beach and into the tangled mangroves. What followed was the biggest bullsh*t of my life. We'd wait for a lull, then charge through knee-waist-chest deep whitewash with all sorts of sticks and crap beating on us as it was sucked out to sea. Then when the wave came in we'd pull ourselves up in the mangroves and suffer the beating a second time as the whitewash came in and kicked the crap out of us. We tried climbing through the mangroves, but that was slower going and the mosquitos ate us alive. It was now solidly overcast and getting late. The wind was blowing strongly out of the south along the beach and it was raining off-and-on, but it couldn't penetrate the mangroves and keep the f__king mossies off us so we took the beating instead. We were tired, but a little waist-high whitewash wasn't going to stop us. It just made us miserable. A big thunderstorm did come through at one point. THEN we stayed in the woods with lightning cracking all around. That was pretty intense, but the rest of the time was just rain and rising wind.

The crossings were rough. The currents around the little channels that cut through the mangroves to the gulf were wicked and the surf was really washing-machine now. We'd stop in the trees, pull out our boards, I'd hand him my spare fins, then we'd paddle across with our bags on our backs. We'd get sucked out and then pushed back in by whitewash, paddling straight for the next island and riding the whitewash in a little way if the current sucked us too far out. Most of the crossings were only 30-60 yards acrosss, fortunately.

It was getting late and the weather was turning really really ugly. We still had one big mile-wide rivermouth to cross at the end. I started worrying about what would happen if the hurricane had recurved to the East. It had been forecast to pass by a few hundred miles to the east, but we had been out all day and had no idea what was going on with the storm. At first I had thought we could always hunker down and wait in the coastal mangroves for first light, but if the hurricane was headed toward us, the storm surge would sink those. I knew I could deal with any water condition if I kept my head, but I wasn't so sure about 100+ mph winds and a storm surge that could float us miles inland along with all the debris and crap. We agreed we needed to hurry the f--k up and try to make the last crossing before dark.

It was almost 7 by the time we made it to the rivermouth. There was still a little storm light left, but it was blowing and raining. Still, the lights were on in the buildings on the other side of the rivermouth. The paddle across was surprisingly easy. At first we caught every little bit of whitewash pushing in from the gulf, afraid that the river current pushing out would carry us into open water. The wind basically pushed us across. It must have been a pretty crazy sight, two guys sitting on boards using their boardbags as sails, floating across this wide bay in the middle of a storm. The tide or storm surge must have neutralized the river current, because the current didn't push us far toward the gulf. We ended up against a seawall in front of one of the condos facing the intercoastal waterway not far from where we launched. I practically could've walked on all the debries that had piled up against that shore. I paddled over to a dock and used the stepladder while the other guy climbed out over the rocks.

It was coming down in buckets when we got to the car and we were freezing. For a second, I thought I had left the keys back with the kyaks, but I found them after a moment of panic. As we were stuffing our bags in the back of the car, who should show up but the f**king police! The guy gets out of his cruiser, and looks at us, two shivering drowned-looking surfers out in the middle of a hurricane, and gives us the biggest "WTF?" look. Luckily he had something better to do than hassel us too much. We did find out that the evacuation had been made mandatory, but that the bridge out was already closed due to high winds, and that we were just catching the tail of the hurricane.

Back at the condo, I could barely stand up while I showered all the crap from the last 15 hours off. I made a huge mess fumbling around with hydrogen peroxide and bandages for all the bloody cuts and scrapes from the trek back. I shoved a couple of frozen pizzas in the oven because I was f--king starving, and went to work on the camera to keep myself awake long enought to get some food and drink in me. All the other film canisters got washed away with the cooler. The camcorder was gone, there was just the one roll left in the camera. I had saved a few exposures for post-surf photos, but there were a few surf shots on it. It had been buried in wet sand and repeatedly submerged on the trip back and was all froze up. I broke the handle trying to forward-wind the film and ended up having to pry the camera open with a screwdriver in the dark. I still ended up exposing most of the film, but I did get one sort-of salvagable shot out of the whole damn trip. I'll think about posting it.

All in all, it was the most unforgettable surf trip ever, and I don't think I'll ever top it. It was stupid and dangerous, and I probably wouldn't try it again knowing what I know now, but I survived with some incredible memories.
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Re:the stories - 2007/03/22 01:14 That is just the best.... crazy crazy shit...!!
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Re:the stories - 2007/03/22 06:57 Okay here is my story.

Last month our coastline recieved some pretty sizeable swells. Most of the breaks that are normally were way too big and blown to pieces by the howling gales. As a result some of the sheltered breaks that rarely break were working consistently. However, on one day the wind swung round easterly and dropped to about 5mph. My surfuing buddy chris offered to take me to a break that only raely works and it would be a real hit or miss 2 hour drive. I agreed to go on the promise that I would never disclose the location to anyone else..and I won't be doing so here.

We arrived at the location at about 10am, about 1 hour before low water. To my utter disbelief I watched a monotonous cordoruoy ocean deliver wave after wave in perfect form onto two points and an A-Frame. Needless to say I was into my 5mm wetty faster than superman can put his pants outside his trousers. At the break the waves were peeling for about 250-300m form perfect hollow barrels in the head high range,interspersed with walling shoulders like something from and indo surf movie. Two other guys were on the peak and we spent the next three hours kicking the arse out of surf, and cheering each other into glassy perfection.

The only reason we left the break was arms like overcooked spaghetti and the rising tide reducing the wave. I drove my van home in a euphoric haze with both talking total shite immersed in stoke. I can safely say this was the best session I've ever had in the UK.
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Re:the stories - 2007/03/22 21:46 I am totally agree with scruffblue first post. At the beggining all of us tend to be some irreal in our stories in the water. After many years you become more serious.

Post edited by: Paulov, at: 2007/03/22 21:47
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