It’s a wonderful life. On May 13 I drove down to TR John Lull’s house on the Northern California coast in El Granada. Hung out for a few hours catching up and then headed over to TR El Rey’s place in Moss Beach. Had a great salmon dinner courtesy El Rey with his family and Capt. Kakuk and his lovely gal Patti. Super fun!
We had a Plan: meet at 10:00 the next day (early for the Rangers but we’ll miss the wind) to catch the surf at Pillar Point, or Microwave as we used to call it because of the old radar scope. The microwave tower is gone and in its place is a large golf ball-like object. Regardless, the lagoon, the point, the reef, and Mushroom Rock are still there offering us kayakers an ideal playground.
As you get older you start getting your shit together and so amazingly, when John Lull and I pulled up to the put in at Princeton Jim and Patti were already there with El Rey and TR Commander Michael Powers as well as TR John Dixon, boat designer extraordinaire.
These days Dixon does mostly downwind surf ski paddling in between doing mysterious things with lasers and 3D printers for his work, but he was down to check out the new X-Caliber aka the X-C recently designed by Jim. Dixon surfed the X-C on some small waves that were coming in to the beach and then Lull and I took off for the point. We portaged over the berm and launched.
As per our buddy Paul McHugh’s rehash on FB the next day, the conditions were as follows: 4′ at 19 seconds predicted, 4′ at 15 seconds recorded as main swell on the Monterey buoy. The tide was dropping and as Paul wrote the swell was developing two and sometimes three peaks. Certainly not coming in with machine-like precision, but then it rarely does in my experience out there. It was a great day anyway.
Pretty soon there were five of us messing around in the active surf. Everyone caught some nice waves, so a good time was had by all. Our buddy Paul McHugh went outside on his surf ski for the walls, and Honorary Ranger Kenny Howell blew by in his surf ski on his way to parts unknown, so there were lots of us out there and a feeling of hail-fellow-well-met was in the air. There were also about five paddleboarders with those Laird Hamilton foils out surfing by Mushroom Rock. Even Jeff Clark showed up to take a few rides. Check out the photo above. See the guy standing up on the outside? It was really weird to see those guys so high above the water. One of them got a really long ride and came way inside. He was pumping that board like a skateboard to eke every bit out of his wave.
My first ride was a really good one, but I wanted to take some photos so I set up where I could observe without getting in the way. But managing boat, paddle, and camera together in the chaotic conditions was too hard so I beached the Princess and waded out to about chest high in the surf to see if I could capture some shots. It was actually super fun trying to keep my balance on the reef with one hand held high to keep the camera dry (as if! and yes, it’s waterproof) and not get tumbled in the pummeling surf. With the help of the kelp wrapping around my ankles in the surge I could anchor myself pretty well, but the next day I felt like I’d done two hours of low tai chi stances, or about 500 squats.
While I was taking face enemas and getting pushed around by waves, the guys were catching some pretty good rides inside. After a couple of hours the tide ebbed and the waves flattened so we packed up and paddled back along the jetty and across the harbor to the take out. As we made the turn by the foghorn we saw three seal pups high up above the tide line, waiting for their moms to return. The wind never manifested as it usually does in the afternoon and we paddled leisurely back to the take out. A perfect day!
We’ve all been to Microwave a million times but the Point never disappoints. I’ve paddled there in every condition imaginable and there’s always something to do. This day, however, was a highlight. Having so many buddies out on the water together was totally cool. Everyone got good rides and the weather could not have been better. We’ll be back!
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