Posts Tagged ‘Gazo Creek’

Even in over crowded California there are empty line ups for the intrepid.

Even in over crowded California there are empty line ups for the intrepid.

This blog was originally published on November 22 2009 on myspace.com.  About a week ago or so Kooky Kyle dug it up from my archives and recommended I reblog it here on SurfingRuinedMyLife.net.  Its funny cause its only four years ago and my life has changed in so many ways, yet in other ways certain things never change.  At the time my professional surfing career (or lack there of) was teetering on the cusp of extinction being paid  more  for my life style then surfing ability.  To supplement my meager income I worked a dead end job as the night attendant at a gas station in Goleta where I pretty much got paid to sit around read books, write my blog, listen to the same 50 tired hip hop songs all day on 103.3 The Vibe and be rude to customers.  Ever see clerks?  I was that guy.

Adrienne and I were just in the honeymoon stages of our to become tragic romance.  Two years down the drain.  “Better to have loved and lost then to not have loved at all”?  You can read Bowing Out if you want to rehash my misery cause that’s the only place your going to get lamentations about her.  I’m over it and can honestly say I have completely moved on with my life.  I think a year of mental and emotional torture on the subject was enough thank you.
Garden of Eden Parody

The 2009-2010 Season was an El Nino year and some of the best surf I have ever had the privilege to surf in the 805.  It might have been the best season of surfing for me personally in my entire life.  I was in the prime of my game, had curbed my drinking  and thanks to my easy schedule was always on it.  I met this dude Mark who stowed away with three of my boys from New Jersey on a trip from San Francisco to San Diego.  My old friend Alex was in medical school up in SF and was moving to SD for his residency.  Two of my other boys Sweet Charles and Dave, the Spring Lake crew, met up with him for an adventure down the coast.  

Mark another Spring Lake kid had just recently moved to Santa Cruz to loosely attend college but mostly surf and thus ultimately stopped going to class altogether.  The boys met up with him in SC then worked their way down to Santa Barbara where all of us scored some great sessions.  I should dig up that blog too for a blast from the past at some point.  The boys hung around for a few days till the swell backed off.  Mark offered his couch to me anytime I wanted to come up and surf Santa Cruz.  

After a lack luster week of surf and bad winds I browsed the forecast for Santa Cruz and sure enough it looked like a decent run of surf.  I called my boy Malone another Jersey guy who came out for the season and was living with Cory at the Palace.  He had wanted to come on one of  my crazy surfing jaunts for a while.  Just like that the stage was set for another imbecilic Chris Lisanti endeavor.  I apologize ahead of time for all the crazy different text size and fonts.  It pasted over from myspace all fucked up and I was too lazy to deal with the coding issues.  Any notes in “red” were added as hindsight notes.
North County Santa Cruz

November 22 2009

I woke up Bundled in all the clothes I was wearing the night before under a comforter and two blankets and was absolutely freezing starring face to face with Mark’s roommate’s tiny little cat Boodle sort of thinking maybe I should have stayed in the Barb.  Mark was already up boiling some water for tea and coffee psyched to be going on a mission up north since town was still pretty small and bogged with the tide.  I had driven the PCH up that stretch between Santa Cruz and Pacifica before and knew the raw potential of that coastline, just bursting with reefs, points and beachies, not to mention plenty of sharks.

Mark and Boodle

Mark and Boodle

 We got Malone up, warmed our insides with some tea and hit the road.  As expected the Lane was super high and completely un-ride-able.  We gave a check from the road on 4-mile (another tiny reefy point outside of town).  It was better there but had a few guys on it and was nothing special.  With 50 miles plus coastline to explore it seemed a waste to go for a paddle there.  Once out of town we checked a spot just North of Davenport, which was decent but had a few long boarders on it and was a bit fat looking. On a later trip Mauriello, Mark and I would score that place pretty fun.

Past there we drove for another ten miles or so before coming to a dip in the cliffs exposing a beach break and outer reef break with a handful of guys on it. There was plenty more size there, overhead at least. We drove on another mile or so and pulled off at this look out point on top of bluffs a solid 150 feet high. Below we spied out a series of reef breaks each having something to offer. The closest one to the previous break we passed had like three or four guys on it and was a somewhat fun looking right reef that we determined was well overhead after a watching someone get a wave.

What really interested us was this other reef about 100 yards north from the one being surfed.  From the looks of the set up it was a perfect A-frame reef with a short slabby left that appeared from our vantage point to end in a bit of dry reef.  The right meanwhile set up a heaving thirty yard barrel section before opening up to allow some turns.  This wave looked unreal, but the real tricky problem was figuring out how to get to the thing.  After about the first forty yards or so there was nothing but sheer cliff easily 100 feet down.  We gave it about ten minutes of deliberation on ways to get to the slab before deciding it too much work. Time was wasting and Malone was getting antsy. Every time I am up there I check this wave and have never seen it as good as that day.  I still have yet to surf it.

So perfect and yet so hard to reach.

So perfect and yet so hard to reach.

The vote was to move on.  Mark claimed he knew of a pretty decent beach break a bit further north near a lumber mill that he scoped out a few weeks back on a school excursion.   It was worth a shot.  Sure enough we pulled up to this beach break that looked about head high (in reality it was solid overhead) from the cliffs and there were peaks up and down this 500 yard stretch of beach.  It was rather breath taking.  All around us were these pine tree covered hills, on top of one was this lumber mill permeating the air with that saw dusty/pine smell. The beach was surrounded by cliffs except for a small section where there was a small river mouth that forced a break in the cliffs allowing easy access.

One of the reefs near the lumber mill.

One of the reefs near the lumber mill.

 I could tell right away that this was a beach/reef break mix by the way the waves were breaking.  On the southern most corner of the beach there was this right hander that was from the cliff anyway peeling off for a solid 50 yards or so bowling around itself the whole way down the line.  It kind of looked a bit soft, but certainly the best wave with accessibility we had seen.  At this point all three of us were bugging to get some surf and the decision was made to give the reef a go.

Some of the scenery at the spot.

Some of the scenery at the spot.

We suited up and walked down the refreshingly gradual trail to the break.  As we got closer the wave just kept looking more and more fun.  There was one guy on it and he was going left most of the time.  The left although much shorter was certainly punchy, worth a turn and a rampy close out section.  I paddled out and snagged a left off the bat, went for a hit under the lip and got destroyed and then proceeded to get caught inside for an eight wave set.  This is not very fun when the water is hovering in the low 50’s. 

 I got back out there and picked off a decent right, got tubed off the drop then hit it four times before the wave petered out in the channel.  After that I had a few more decent rides.  Both Mark and Malone were getting their share as well, Malone opting for the outside bombs, while Mark hung on the inside for the racy double ups.  The reef was pretty sick.  The wave would come in and go square off the drop, then it would bowl around itself for like another 30 yards or so giving a decent section to get at least two turns in.  The bigger ones were a bit mushy off the drop but then rolled into the slab and threw out super wide.

The beach break/river mouth combo

The beach break/river mouth combo

 After about thirty minutes of having the place to ourselves five other surfers paddled out, it was no big deal , there were still plenty of waves.  I was sitting pretty deep on the reef when this sizable set, probably the biggest yet popped up in front of me.  I took off on the second one a little deep.  I got to my feet, dropped in and next thing I know Im flying through the air upside down waiting to get destroyed by the lip.  The fucking thing hit me hard and sent me real deep.  I cant remember the last time I got hit by a wave that hard and held down that long.  Turns out according to Mark who had front row seats to the whole endeavor I dropped into a lip on top of a slabby double up causing me to eat shit. Come to think of it I got worked pretty hard the entire session only ridding a 5’10 when I should have had something more substantial. This has become one of my favorite spots in Northern California and I make it a point to surf there if its fun whenever I am in the area. 

We ended up surfing the place for a solid three and a half hours till it started to turn off a little with the lower tide, although it was still pretty decent.  From there we headed further north down the windy PCH as it followed the cagily coastline.  We passed numerous setups and spots that had potential.  There were just waves everywhere.  We pulled over and checked this beach break called Gazo Creek that just looked like there were perfect right peelers breaking off this river mouth reef thing.  Still cold and tired from our last session we decided to keep on the search.

What we were greeted with in the lot at Gazo.  As we would later find out that wave was more then double overhead and heavy.

What we were greeted with in the lot at Gazo. As we would later find out that wave was more then double overhead and heavy.

The boys and I ended up going all the way up to Pacifica and at that point I found it prudent to take Malone and Mark to Mavericks, which would not be breaking but at the very least they could get a look at the famous set up.  We got to the parking lot and some dude was suiting up to charge it.  Sure enough when we got in front of the cliff it was tiny (by Mav’s standards) maybe only 15 foot or so and just barely clearing the rocks, but strong enough that one could really get an understanding of how serious of a wave it is.

Mark Foo was a world class big wave rider who lost his life at Mavericks back in the early 90's.  This rock stands at the foot of the break in his memory.

Mark Foo was a world class big wave rider who lost his life at Mavericks back in the early 90’s. This rock stands at the foot of the break in his memory.

With waning light we decided our best bet was to truck it back to Gazo Creek and try our luck at the beach break.  We got there a little after four and by now some thick ominous gray clouds had moved in obscuring the sun set session we were hoping to relish.  The surf still looked really sick though and I had a feeling it was way bigger then the 4-6 feet we thought.  Malone opted out claiming it looked like a lot of work to put on a cold wet 4/3 to only get a few waves before dark and added he did not want to feel like fish food either.

Pacifica Peir

Pacifica Pier

 Mark and I were still up for the challenge and suited up.  Keep in mind this is a big open beach in the middle of nowhere in the wake of this old lighthouse not too far up the coast from it.  With every passing minute it was getting darker.  I handed Malone the camera so he could document our potential attack and subsequent death and we gave it a paddle.  As soon as Mark and I got down to beach level we knew we may have bit off more then we could chew (no pun intended).

Still looking somewhat inviting although a bit on the creepy side.

Still looking somewhat inviting although a bit on the creepy side.

 The shore break was solid head high and the white water on the inside was overhead.  There was a lot of water moving around and the sets were with out a doubt double overhead if not bigger.  We jumped in and immediately were fighting a current and thrashing our way out through the immense white water.  At first I was not sure if we were going to even make it to the lineup.  Finally after a few minutes of cold heavy ducking diving and paddling in place a channel opened up. Before we knew it we were out there.

Just to the north of Gazo is  Pigeon Pt and its subsequent self named light.  Pigeon Pt is also one of the biggest seal rookeries in California.

Just to the north of Gazo is Pigeon Pt and its subsequent self named light. Pigeon Pt is also one of the biggest seal rookeries in California.

 Im not going to lie at that point the surreal setting of the place began to get to me and I realized how small and insignificant I was in the food chain.  I had no way to judge the lineup not knowing if I was too far out or in.  I panicked and brought down Mark with me.  We decided to get one and go in quitting while we were ahead.  This break was in the middle of nowhere, it was sketchy as hell, we were in the heart of shark country during feeding time and the nearest hospital was easily a 45-minute drive away.  All of this was in my opinion a really bad combination for disaster.  Yeah these were all entities I should have considered before the actual paddle out, but when have I ever been one to sufficiently think anything I do through.  

There was not too much time to think about it thanks to a set that sneaked up on us out the back. To our dismay we took it on the head as a result of being out of position too far inside.  After the set passed I snagged an overhead in between wave that I got a hit and a floater out of.  Mark was right behind me on a smaller one that peeled all the way to beach giving him three solid turns.  We debating going back for more but ultimately chose to call it a day so we could live to surf tomorrow.  Both of us thought about those waves all night and the next day.  It did not help that as we walked up the beach we watched set after set of perfect double overhead rights peel down the beach.  On a pair of 5’9’s there was no way we could tackle it.  This spot would have to be conquered some other time.  We never conquered and I still have yet to surf there again.  As a matter of fact we were in a surf shop in town later in the trip and when we told the surf shop employee where we surfed he freaked “You have to be a nut to surf there.  There are more sharks then fish in the ocean at that spot.  You two were lucky to get out with your lives.”

The small non-set wave I caught to make my escape.

The small non-set wave I caught to make my escape.

That night Mark took us to this killer Mexican restaurant after which we went back to his place.  There we warmed ourselves with a cup of tea huddled around a lit stove burner. Over tea we excitingly conversed on  the day’s events and what the swell would bring in the morning. With that kind of sensory overload the three of us passed out in complete and utter exhaustion.  I cant remember the last time I slept on the floor so well.

There are nothing like little adventures like this that are relatively unplanned and enjoyed by the seat of one’s pants.  These days I am so locked in it seems I have less and less opportunity for adventure.  Every time I am in Santa Cruz I stop and eat a meal that Mexican joint.  I hope you enjoyed this reading this re-post as much as I had reliving it in my head when I edited it.

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Empty Waves of north county

When I initially decided to travel to San Francisco I had a few must visit items.  Alcatraz was one of them and the giant redwoods was another.  Alcatraz was out because upon research the cheapest tour was $26 and just a tad to pricey for John’s and my budget.  Yesterday the plan was to meet up with my old roommate Brennan and go up to the redwood forest.

Being from Santa Barbara I never even thought to check the weather report before plotting out how I was to spend each day of my trip.  In Santa Barbara 300 days of the year you can count on sunny days where the temperature always gets above 70 degrees F.  In San Francisco however things are well a little bit more fickle.  While on the phone organizing the day’s festivities with Brennan he mentioned I should check how the weather was going to be.  Sure enough rain was forecasted and upon waking up it was raining and miserable out.

“When one is given lemons why not make lemonade”?  It may have been cold and rainy out but the wind was light for north county Santa Cruz and according to the surf report there were waves.  I love surfing north county and driving the PCH south from SF to Santa Cruz is one of the most awe inspiring rides a person can embark on along the California coast line.  The road traverses along steep cliff side banks with the vast expanse of the blue Pacific Ocean to the west and green rolling hills with scattered eucalyptus tree forests about them.

Along the road one also dips down into all these quaint little coves and valleys where a collection of beaches span out offering solidarity and a variety of river mouth, reef and beach breaks usually empty for the taking.  One must be an intrepid soul for although there may not be another human in sight there other creatures who lurk beneath that my not be so kind.  The men in gray suits ask no question and are non-discriminate in who they decide on taking.  I’m talking about sharks folks.  That whole zone is part of the red triangle and a seal rookery.

We started our way south from Ocean Beach down the Great Ocean Hwy and passed a number of almost adequate looking waves.  With 60 miles of road and over 100 surfing possibilities not to mention a guaranteed pay off at Steamer Lane John and I were not about to settle for anything less then great.  In my head I still had a vendetta to settle with a certain river mouth fed beach break called Gazo Creek back when I visited Santa Cruz in the fall of 2009.  Check back to the Myspace.com blogs for that one.  I may post it as a Blast from the Past at some point.

Long story short my boy Mark and I paddled out there just before dark and it was solid 8-12 ft and macking, but near perfect.  The paddle out was a nightmare and when we got out it was way bigger then we thought and both of us were on 5’9’s completely under gunned.  We freaked out, took one wave and came in.  A surf spot had not beaten me like that in years.  Ever since then like Captain Ahab and his whale I have sworn redemption from this wave.

Before getting to Gazo’s we stopped at this tiny road stop Greek pizzeria called Odyssey Café in Moss Beach just about 20 miles south of San Francisco.  I love little hole in the wall mom and pop type places that serve nothing but comfort food.  Some people are all about gourmet and fine dinning.  Sure that has its place in society but for me it’s all about places like this and I spend my time seeking them out where ever I am.

Odyssey did not disappoint and kept the good eating streak alive.  The place had four tables and offered pizza, Greek specialties and sandwiches all at a very affordable price.  I had a gyro and John got a chicken sandwich, both of which were delicious.  Did I mention they had an eight-foot rusted out metal sculpture of Tyrannosaurus Rex out front?  It was a most pleasant dinning experience.  From there we headed to Gazo Creek.

Gazo’s was small and although a few scattered lefts and rights hardly worth the shark risk.  I knew of spot a little farther south just on the other side of Ano Nuevo that I thought could be fun.  It has a name but for this blog’s purposes and the fact that I would love to surf there again with out being pummeled by angry locals I am going to call it The Saw Mill.   Basically the place has some scattered beach break peaks to the north and to the south about four reef breaks with on premiere right and left.  I had surfed the right back in the fall of 2009 and scored it.

On this particular day the left looked very appealing.  It was far from the best wave I had ever seen but no one was out, it was about chest to head high on set and peeling at least fifty yards down the reef.  I had a couple five to seven turn rides.  It was a bit soft, but every now and then there was the occasional double up and it was glassy.  As we got on our suits the sun came out.  The water was colder then yesterday except it was so much fun out there I did not even care.

John and I had a ball surfing for a solid two and half hours the entire time having the break to ourselves.  In all truth it was near perfect for about an hour and then the tide and wind slowly changed breaking up the lines.  It was still fun but not as easy to make all the connections.  It was by far the best surf session and most fun I have had in nearly a month.  My head has been so clouded lately with lamentations of my failed relationship with Ades.  I think she only popped into my head three times the entire session.

Oops I guess I am going to have to get a punch in the arm from John for that.  I have been obsessing over Adrienne for the past six weeks and now that we are done I need to get her out of my head and mouth.  I told John to punch me whenever I bring her up.  I know it’s a bit inappropriate but it has been helping.  Sometimes I mention her with out even knowing it.  Both my arms are getting pretty black and blue.

After the surf we headed back to town.  Brennan was to come up to the city and meet us for a night of more party shenanigans.   John and I had dinner at this random Chinese food restaurant in his neighborhood.  We ordered chicken chow mien, pork fried rice and General Tso’s chicken.  The General Tso’s was delicious the rest was edible.  I always make it a point to eat Chinese food when I’m in San Francisco.

We met up with Brennan and headed downtown.  I was really excited to go downtown since partying in downtown Santa Barbara is fun I could only imagine how crazy it would be in a major city.  I know it was Wednesday night but I’m sure in New York one can find some very happening parties going off.  John’s fifi being a San Francisco native knew the scene well and gave us two places to go.  The first was a club called Infusion.

At the door there was a small line and the bouncers were pulling that ratio bullshit the guys were pulling on Sunday night.  What is with this town?  Are there no females here?  In Santa Barbara the ratio is solid with out any bouncer interference.  The promoter lady tells us the ratio is 1:1 and unless you have a girl with you the chances of getting in are slim.  If I already had girls with me why the fuck would I need to go out anyway (I had a girl and blew it for just that reason, but that is why I am a fool and am suffering).  The three of us are on line when the promoter tells us to leave.  “Get off the line guys cause your not getting in”.  Meanwhile this pimped out escalade full of gangster looking Mexicans pulls up, all dudes and they walk right in.

I thought she was joking, but then she proceeded to get angry and told us to beat it or they were going to have to take adverse measures.  I have never in my life been kicked off the line at a club before.  We were three well dressed good looking guys that any club should have been happy to let into their establishment.  We went on to the next place, but they wanted $15 to get in on a Wednesday night, Brennan tried to talk the bouncer down to $15 for the three of us, but it was to no avail.

Beaten we went to some other place that had about 35 heads in it, 25 dudes and maybe 10 girls out of which maybe six were not taken and out of that there were really only two decent ones who every other guy there had already hit on.  Brennan always told me how much more fun partying in Santa Barbara was and now I believe it.  All I know is that I hate that I have to resort to going back out to meet people.  Being single sucks. I forgot how little fun the game is.

We bounced out of that place and stopped by an Irish pub that was filled with couples and people over 40 before making our way to a 24 hour diner.  Back in New Jersey I always ended my nights in a late night diner.  It was just the place to brighten up the night.  John was bummed out because he felt he let me down and I was bummed out like I am every night.  We were seated by this very attractive foreign waitress.  She was terrible at her job but good to look at.

It was a classic dingy dinner with terrible food and even worse staff.  Just what the doctor ordered for a smile.  Brennan starts running all these “what if” scenarios like he used to do when we lived together that got all three of us laughing and smiling again.  We ended up hanging out there shooting the shit for nearly two hours.  It was great to be out with two of my best friends and just laugh.  My life for the last two years had been adjoined with another’s and maybe somewhere along the way I lost sight of myself absconded in the collective us.

Now I am finding myself again and it should be a very interesting journey that I need to embrace and not cry about anymore.  John may have been bummed about not finding me a woman up here, but that is not why I came to San Francisco in the first place.  I came out here to celebrate his graduation and be among my genuine friends.  Mission accomplished.

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