Thursday, September 14, 2006

A thick pitching lip

As Hurricane Florence exits the scene, I'm feeling sore...and lucky. Over the last few days she had churned her way up through the N. Atlantic, delivering some epic surf to the coast of Maine.
It's been a while since we've seen it this big - and I mean BIG - so most of us were a little rusty. As I drove up the coast on 1A, the place was a zoo. All the usual spots were crowded with all sorts of surfers so I kept looking. I found a new spot and paddled out to where there were just a few dudes - mostly on longboards. I can't tell you where this place is, but I can tell you it was going off! The guys out there were super friendly and we all felt encouraged by the hootin and hollerin.

But as the tide dropped, the wave got steeper, hollower, rockier, bigger, and meaner. It transformed from a friendly wall of fun into one of those waves that suck up the water from in front of it, pitch out a thick lip, and explode onto an exposed pile of rocks.

It was a scene kind of like this but quite a bit bigger:
So to make a long story short, I dropped in a little late on what felt like a monster. I probably should not have gone but with all the hootin and hollerin I felt invincible.

That's when I got reacquainted with the awesome and brutal power of the ocean.

I remember seeing seaweed covered rocks, free-falling, barely making a bottom turn, and hearing this hollow roar behind me. Next thing I knew, I was skipping effortlessly, gracefully down the face of the wave - on my back. I had gotten lipped in the face, hard and high. I then got swept back up the face and sucked over the falls. It was curtain-call extraordinaire. The impact in the pit sent me ragdolling along the bottom. The roar was replaced by a strange and scary sound I had never heard before. It sounded like a rock-slide except deeper and...thunkier, like a car crash. With my chest firmly pinned to a big rock, I realized I was getting hit by boulders all swirling around me. This was the sound I was hearing. I opened my eyes for a second - bad idea - then hunkered down, protected my face, and hoped for a minimal pummel.

It's probably a good thing I was pinned against the rock. If not I would have been swept along, helplessly bouncing around with the rocks until one hit me in the head. I just conserved my breath and tried to stay calm until the violence subsided. My leash broke and I eventually washed ashore disrespected, exhausted, and completely humbled. It was awesome.


Anonymous said...

Im glad to see the storm finally reached you.... ordered it special just for you.

Tom Clark said...

Glad you survived to tell such a gripping, pummeling tale! Be careful out there, OK?