A Place Called Crashboat (PR) -- 12/12/96

Our last day on the island (Puerto Rico). Got the morning off, so Jerry and me decided to dawn patrol the west side. From the looks of the reefs off of San Juan, we knew that there was some swell.

Reached Gas Chambers and Crashboat in Aguadilla at about 4:45 am. Chambers wasn't showing, but Crashboat was reeling down the line nicely. Since there was lots of time before sunrise, we decided to make a run to Rincon.

A half hour later, we found ourselves looking at overhead crumbly waves between Domes and Marias. We decided to pass and head back to Crashboat for cleaner conditions.

It was still dark when we got back there, but there was a carload of locals prepping to jump in. We hit it out just before them.

Crashboat is a peeling right that looks to be sheltered by a large groin. There seemed to have been a series of piers beyond the end of the groin, with four sets of pillars forty yards out. The setup just didn't look like a wave magnet, but somehow it works.

North swells would wrap around the point, then do another wrap around the groin, before peeling off on the sandbar. On a good ride, you could go over 75 yards to the beach. The takeoff was somewhat like Waikiki's The Wall, but more intense, and the rest of the wave peeled like a good day at Queens.

The end of the groin was filled with baffles, and when the waves slammed into it, air would be compressed inside. Once the water subsided, the air would be expelled out like a last gasp from a cadaver's lungs. Spooky!

Some of the locals had the takeoff wired, launching from around the end of the groin, and trimming on takeoff to just clear the corner. The wave exploded as it broke on the end of the groin, and they got firehosed by the spray before racing down the line.

We caught a few in the early morning light. However, in no time, there were a couple dozen bodyboarders with a sprinkling of surfers, all battling for one peak.

Competing in the lineup was like driving in downtown Puerto Rico. If you're not assertive and loud, you won't get anywhere.

In every lineup, there is one "Kainoa McGee", and this one was no exception. Kainoa is an exceptional Hawaiian bodyboarder with, shall we say a very vocal presence. At Crashboat, there was one kid who was constantly babbling, swearing and yelling people off his waves. Very obtrusive. He was Puerto Rico's answer to Kainoa McGee, only he couldn't bodyboard for s#!t.

One thing I noticed, is that the way you call off other people dropping in on you is different in different parts of the world. In Hawaii, most people (myself included) give out a high-pitched "hooey." At Crashboat, the kids were calling out "Ouey, Ouey!" (Like that phrase that outrageous Aussie used to say in those Energizer (?) batteries tv commercials).

Jerry was having a blast, taking off right at the edge of the groin. He got into a few tight "situations" with the locals, but no big deal. Jerry later said that it was the cleanest waves he ever rode.

I was stoked with the waves also. My best wave came towards the end of the session. Took off real deep, behind the edge of the groin, shouted off the shoulder-hoppers, then did three full carves, trimmed for a section and pulled into the soft shorebreak closeout.

Later, I paddled over to Gas Chambers just to say I tried it. It was small and backwashy and closing out. It looks like a difficult wave to master.

After the sesh, we talked for a little while with the local kids. They were raving about the day before, when Crashboat was running about eight feet (faces), and Gas Chambers was at six. Shoulda been there yesterday!

Did one more late-evening sesh at Condados. It was small, windy and messy. Anticlimactic finish to a great surf on Puerto Rico.

Salud de Paradicio,