I’m actually glad there’s no surf this morning, since I can see my breath and the ocean resembles some sort of Siberian ice bath. Walking across the Cardiff bridge, I watch Rob Machado and NCP master paddle board maker Mark Szymanski stroke out on sleek racing boards, where to my surprise they spin around and ride waves as if their craft were twice as wide, coasting from the outside, nearly to the bridge. It’s a good day to stand up out of the water, but lacking the necessary craft, I begin my migration south.On the sand is a Jet Ski with some high-tech looking equipment attached to it. Walking toward the ski operator, I inquire as to his intentions, as those motorized vehicles have been long since outlawed in the surf. He tells me they are testing to see what has happened to the sand that was deposited on the beaches of Cardiff earlier this year. “What’s the result so far?” I ask. “We lost quite a bit during the last swell,” he replies. “Everyone’s wondering at the wisdom of dumping sand just prior to winter,” I say as he laughs and nods in agreement.
I’m not sure if the sand will help widen the beach long term, but it has helped our beach breaks for now. While today is an exception because of the lack of swell, last week some of North County’s finest were getting deep on head-high plus waves, our improved sandbars. I didn’t recognize anyone in the lineup, but they were flying.
The pump had been turned on about a week before Christmas and sent the swell from head high to a few feet overhead into our window until last week, when the hose began to kink and, eventually the faucet dripped dry.
I never surfed farther north than Swami’s or farther south than Seaside, but those two bookends and each page in between revealed A-frame peaks and ruler-edged reefs that spread before us like some aquatic smorgasbord. Lefts and rights on waves that rarely make a splash opened themselves up, day after day, to the frozen faithful.
One afternoon, I stood on the beach with a friend discussing the surf. “When it’s like this, I don’t even think about going anywhere else,” he said as I agreed, watching a lined up right do its best Rincon imitation.
Today, it all seems like a dream as I wander the sand, occasionally glancing seaward as dolphins break the water, chasing fish and I break the sand trying to stay limber for the next round of swells. Back at the bridge, Machado is cruising through another long section. I’m rubbing my hands together and hoping his car heater works.
Walking home, facing inland, the Pacific Ocean no longer exists as anything but a memory. Those days from mid-December through mid-January will be logged in my memory like some exotic surf trip.