In Between Days -- 2/28/99

Caught in mid-flight (all land photos by Buddy--check out his writeup)

Buddy put it best. "It was one of those days where the Westside was too small, and the North Shore a little too big."

We were in the empty Laniakea parking lot just after dawn with Justin, and was looking at the chaotic swell marching in. It was just unappealing.

The day before, the North Shore was rocked with a huge swell that pushed 20' (Haw'n). Only Waimea Bay and the outer reefs were rideable. The waves came off a strong low that swept across the North Pacific, and amazingly, we were only seeing its fringes. But consequently, it quickly declined into relatively short heights and wave periods (10 ft, 14 sec by the time we headed out).

However, Pipe was worth a check. So we headed to the "upside" of the NS, in search of something better. And that's what we found.

Her royal badness was in a very sultry mood: peaky, ledgy, but still very, very beautiful. Some of the bigger sets popped on Second Reef, but most came marching right to the main reef. It was breathtaking to watch the half-dozen riders jock in the lineup.

Buddy, who recently broke both his boards, was on a different ride and wasn't really keen on risking his brother's stick in such a sketchy environment. Anyway, he had already scored some prime Westside action on the big day, and was fairly content. So with no small subtlety, I asked Buddy if he would take some stills (photos) from the shore, which he enthusiastically agreed to.

I, on the other hand, had been jonesing for a week without surf, and was just itching to paddle out and at least enjoy the view. Of course, I wanted to challenge myself anyway, so I was rarin' to go. I grabbed my sponge and quickly waxed up, with Justin hot on my tail.

Me being the eager beaver, I told Jus that I would meet him in the lineup. I jogged way down the beach and did my stretching routine, making extra sure that my calves were ready for the high endurance test.

The paddle out was challenging, as I got swept too far over in the rip, and had to break through the shorebreak fronting the beach park. Fortunately, I got through.

The surf was absolutely beautiful in the morn. There was a hint of offshore winds buffeting the peaks, with overcast skies. The lighting was not ideal for photography, but was still an aesthetic pleasure to behold.

I got off to a rocky start by catching a small wave. The following waves clocked me and forced me around the loop before making it back out again. Decided to be a little more patient.

Little did I know how peaky it was. A solid set swung in, and I went for it. The entry looked good right up to the point the bottom fell out from under me. I just freefell eight or ten feet into the trough, landing flat on my board. Somehow made the drop, but could not pull off a bottom turn. I remembered hyperventilating a bit as the whitewater started enveloping me, did a relatively quick tumble, and got back out without incident.

Did I go because Buddy was shooting pics on shore? Probably. Would I have gone even if he wasn't? Possibly. Sometimes you can't control bad judgment--sometimes it's just a leap of faith.

I didn't fare well for the rest of my session. Remember catching a couple of really big peaks, but nothing exceptional. Ended up dodging bullets, waiting valiantly for a big, open-faced peak to take off on while much braver souls were hooking up with some insane barrels sitting inside.

The lineup crowded up a little, but was filled with minor leaguers like myself. Some of the international bodyboarders were charging hard, just pulling into these big tubes. One guy actually paddled out to Second Reef and caught a couple of bombs a good 75 yards outside of everyone else. One nonlocal surfer was absolutely slotting himself perfectly--very inspirational.

In the meantime, I waited... and waited... and waited.

Finally, I decided that I was missing all the action by staying outside (especially it being a declining swell), so I paddled to the inside, looking for a nice, small, round barrel. Big mistake.

Just a few minutes later, this mountain of water that pushed over from Off the Wall, just steamrolled through Second Reef without cresting, then unloaded 20 yards outside of me. Did a fruitless duck-dive, then bear-hugged my board for dear life. Ended up bobbing up and down in the froth, for the most part completely underwater for what seemed like an eternity.

When I finally surfaced, I knew it was time to exit. The ocean told me I was not worthy, and I believed her.

Came back to Buddy and Justin, who were taking it all in on the beach. Justin decided not to follow my lead, and just relaxed on the sidelines--he wanted to leave all the folly to me. Buddy was having a blast behind the lens--will we have a new surf photographer in our midst? Only time will tell.

It was still pretty early (8:40 AM), so I decided to do another round, this time swimming out to the lineup and shooting photos from the water. The surf was tapering considerably, but still was in photo studio quality. I was surprised no other cameramen ventured out.

Caught some good stuff on film, got caught inside a few times, and nearly got my head axed by a set, but swimming out was well worth the effort. Sometimes it's just so liberating without a board--you can cruise on the bottom unmolested as the water explodes and plumes up above.

After only an hour, I came in, fully stoked on my dual session. I got worked on my bodyboard, but got a chance to push myself in challenging conditions. The water photography was fun, and very rewarding.

Guess in-between days can work out.

I love this kind of shot showing how it sucks out over the reef

This one almost took my head off!

The smaller ones were so clean

Another Guillerme (not Tamega) was ripping (hey, my scanner's going bad!)

This guy, probably from Brazil, really wanted me to shoot him

Some sets swung right on top of me

Meaty one--no escape for me or him

Aloha from Paradise,