John gets to Maverick’s

March 9, 2005

I flew to San Jose & drove a rented car to Maverick’s today (Wednesday, actually, now, yesterday) & was overwhelmed.
Mav’s sent me an email 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night saying the buoys were the highest in 5 years, in spite of the fact that they’d had the big wave contest only a week ago (Wed., the 2nd).  I didn’t go to that, too many people & press.  It’ll be on Network TV, NBC Sun 24 April.  I’d already re-filed my Mav’s travel “kit” figgering it was over for another year.
I read the email around 10 a.m. Wed.  Went & looked at the OB surf, & said, YES!!!  Now’s the day (you &) I had planned for.  Sorry I cdn’t alert you to come along.  Home by 11 a.m. as Stephanie was leaving for school, called SW & Budget & was in taxi by 11:30.  Stepped on plane at 12:09.  Left the ground at 12:30, flight barely 2/3 full, comfy!  Touched down at 1:30.  Smooth so far, but then it took me 45 minutes to get out of the San Jose airport in my rented car.  Drive OK, ’til I left the freeway & hit a 2-lane hwy thru the mtns, 6 miles in 30 minutes.  Missed the turnoff to Mav’s, but finally got there after a mile hike & a scrabble up an incredibly steep & slippery 2-300 feet cliff face, much worse than Black’s.
But there it was.  A half-mile + out.  This incredibly huge wave. sets of waves.  Breaking so big they wd obliterate the sight of the next one in back, in spite of our fairly high seat up on the bluff.
We’d been to North Shore Hawaii for 14 days in ’94 so I cd watch big waves, & I did; 8 of those days I saw 30+ feet (what the Hawaiians wd call 15′) waves being ridden.  It cost us $1500, which works out to c. $190 a day of big surf.  This trip was comparable, will come to about $200 for a half a day.
But these monsters dwarfed Waimea.  Tow-in surfing, w/ a Jetski pulling the surfer on  a short board w/ feet straps like windsurfers.  You don’t need a huge 10-12 feet board like the paddle-in surfers have to use, but which are useless anyway to catch waves over 50′ (25′ Hawaiian style).  W/ my 7X50 binocs, sitting on a piece of plastic I’d brought, hot day, I first saw a tow-in surfer ride for the longest time on the front top edge of this mountainous breaking bowl, white water just back of him, on & on, I cdn’t believe it, then he dropped down did a ballsy bottom turn & back up to the top & then it went on & on again.  At least 20 seconds, maybe 25 on this absolute killer monster.
2 Jetskis & a 3rd I’m sure was for rescue.  Later a lone paddle-in surfer.
Before, at the (full) parking lot, I recognized well-known SF big wave surfer Mark “Doc” Renneker in a wet suit & asked him if he’d been out.  No, he was going.  Later I saw him & redhead walking on the beach far below.  Then the redhead came walking back.  Then later walking out again w/ a longer board w/ 4 other surfers.  But before that, I had seen that lonely paddle-in surfer out there which I’m sure was Doc.  He doesn’t believe in tow-in.
I saw much much more, both tow-in rides & paddle-in rides.  & I saw guys (there’s only one gal who regularly surfs big Mavs) get crushed by the monsters.  Even at the end of the ride, or afterwards, by the next monster.
I was there from 3:30 to sunset @ 6.  Gingerly clambered on hands & hips carefully down the cliff, while a pleasant older man (younger than me) guided me.  Took pix at beach level to go w/ those up above. Probably useless because of the distance & the sun in the west, the direction we were looking.  Tho’ I gave my email to a woman pro photographer who said she’d send me some pix.
Then 2 paddle-in surfers came out of the water, so stoked they were shouting & hollering to each other.  So I talked w/ them awhile.  At one point, one said that lots of the waves were just too big to paddle into, as tall as 10 men stacked on top of each other.  Meaning, there were 60 feet waves out there!!!!!


Long difficult drive back to San Jose in the dark on unfamiliar roads, missed turnoff.  Got a burger. Got to the gate for my 8:55 flight 15 minutes before.  Flight barely
1/3 full, sat in emergency exit seat w/ lots of room, saw Wild Turkey on the likker list, asked if it was 101 proof, she didn’t know, but came back & said it was, so I celebrated!
Arrived at our house simultaneously, LITERALLY!!!, w/ Stephanie.


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