HI Surf Advisory


Kiss of Death -- 7/20/96

Long one--hope you like.

After months of anticipation, I finally made it to Mexico. Had to go through a lot to get this far: car insurance woes, uncertain directions and hope for at least a little bit of swell. But I finally got there.

Found myself at a friend's friend's house, overlooking a small cove (with small surf), somewhere south of Rosarito at 7 in the morning. There, I met a sleepy amateur team of bodyboarders from SoCal. After the rude awakening and intros, we decided to try our luck up north at Baja Malibu.

The surf had been pretty good throughout the previous week, with surf in the shoulder to head high range. Strong onshores and morning fog were the only things detracting from some otherwise good summer conditions.

The surf seemed to be dwindling, going into the weekend, and one look at Baja Malibu confirmed this. The surf was only about waist high, with a few bigger ones. Worth a go out--it always is (especially after all the trouble I took).

Slithered into the fullsuit, and walked down the broken stairway, onto the black sand. The water was pretty cold, but not unbearable, with lots of sparkling bubbles (must be something in the water).

Set myself up near some surfers. The bodyboarding crew I came with was one break up. No biggie. I didn't mind being alone amongst surfers.

Caught a little wave for starters. Pretty much rode it straight--couldn't do anything else with it. Warm up wave.

As I was paddling back out, a surfer decided to catch one right in front of me. He tried taking off backside on an already breaking waist-high wave--didn't stand a chance.

I had just enough time to duck-dive, when the whitewater rolled over me. Suddenly, *thud*--his board hit my head... with authority! I popped up quickly, and felt for a tonkobu (Japanese word for bump on the head), hoping that there was no cut. Felt a lump, but couldn't see any blood on my paddling gloves.

In the meantime, the surfer hopped on his board and nonchalantly paddled away, as if nothing happened.

I didn't feel dizzy--no headache, nothing. But I knew I got nailed pretty bad. However, I came this far, so I paddled back out and waited to catch more waves.

Soon, one of the bodyboarders paddled over and asked if I was alright. She told me I was bleeding. Damn! Just my luck.

The wound apparently took a little time to show itself, but "choke" blood started flowing. It was dripping down my wet hair and going into my mouth. A couple other bodyboarders also came by and showed their concern. I felt like a contestant in Wrestlemania 20.

The kicker was when a surfer I was sitting next to asked me, "Hey man, you're bleeding! You OK?" I said that I was fine. Then he asked if someone ran into me. I replied, yes. He asked if it was him. I told him I honestly didn't know who hit me. He then sincerely apoligized (I guess he knew). That was pretty cool of him to do so, even though it was a bit late.

I decided to paddle in and check the cut out. On the beach, a couple friends described the cut: over an inch long, split wide open, on the scalp, just above the hairline. I sat on the beach, compressed the wound, watched the surf roll in without me, and felt sorry for myself.

Sitting gave me an opportunity to reflect on the past few days. I remembered my last post; how I wrote about paddling out through the crowd, with someone yelling to run over me. Then I mentioned that I understood all about paddling ettiquette.

Right then, it dawned on me that I gave myself the kiss of death. I doomed myself to a dark fate for not being humble about the situation--I gave myself "bachi" (another Japanese term).

After what seemed like an eternity, I finally felt comfortable that the wound stopped bleeding, and made my way back into the lineup.

This time, I didn't paddle right into the fray. I think I was a bit cocky about surfing wherever I wanted--like I was entitled to do so. Well, even if I was, it was still a moot point--the gash on my head was still there.

I went out to a peak of my own and started catching some pretty good waves. Eventually, the fog lifted, the sun came out, and the wind died down. The session started turning around.

The team I was with was ripping up the small stuff. I have been bodyboarding longer than most of these guys have been alive, but it's always refreshing to see how far this sport has come.

Several pods of dolphins cruised by us a few times, providing a refreshing break during the lulls. I swear, I saw one dolphin was peering at us a couple of times, smiling above the waterline. Mammals--are we all connected somehow?

We surfed for more than two hours in the small, but fun surf. The surf seemed to be dwindling down, so we decided to break for lunch.

Coming out of the water, I had cold, tingly feet, cramps on all four large muscles of my legs and a split scalp. But I still felt that I had a good session. Surfing will do that to you.

After talking story back at the house, I decided to head back to San Diego and attend to my wound. My worries about driving around Mexico were unwarranted, and I got back with no problems.

I now have three staples impaled though my forehead. Fortunately, they didn't have to shave the hair around the wound--I still have a decent head of hair, but my genetics tell me that I have to take good care of what I have.

Oops! Hope I didn't just sentence myself to another kiss of death!

"Saludas de Baja Malibu" (or something like that...)

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