Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Chubasco Sauce

Down in Baja Sur in the summer, surfers rely on southern hurricane action, called chubascos for the best swells. Sunday night we noticed that Hurricane Emilia was starting to reveal herself a little early, so we headed down to Acapulquito for an evening sesh. At first, the waves seemed pretty tame, maybe shoulder high sets rolling through every 15 minutes. But as the orange sun dropped toward the Baja range the waves began to increase in size. Coincidentally, the lineup cleared around the same time, as if the weekend crowd was all surfed out. No sooner did our Oregon crew notice that we were the only four guys in the water, than a set of three head high waves rolled in. Gee snagged a long right on a 7'10" spoon-nose board we rented. I grabbed a left on my fish that walled up and shot me across the inside boils known as "Mike's Hole." Our buddy, Markarita, as goofy as me, snagged a left as well. As soon as the next set rolled in - another triplet of head high bombs - a guy paddled out to join us on a board with a Billabong logo on it. He ripped a long right immediately.

We stayed out until the sun was gone and it became difficult to see the sets on the horizon. Two other guys on long boards paddled out when they noticed the hurricane swell had arrived. At last, when it was almost pitch black save for the lights of the hotel and cars leaving the parking lot, I turned to catch a wave in. That final wave seemed to take forever coming, so I began to paddle inside, to a channel I knew didn't break as hard on the sand. Glancing back over my shoulder, I noticed a dark shadow closing, and on its peak, some white resembling a snowcap on a faraway mountain. On the left side of that peak there was a streak like the exhaust from a jet. It was OS, who I had lost sight of in the darkness, dropping in on the biggest wave of the night. The memory I have reminds me of old surf photos: The stocky OS (in stark contrast to the whispy pro who joined us earlier), muscling his way into the wave despite his bum shoulder. His standing up with rigid legs and almost facing straight forward, wearing plaid boardshorts and a five-o-clock shadow. I watched him until he passed me by and then noticed him break through the roiling whitewater behind the wave. He may have only been up for five seconds, but it's an image I'll never forget. I'm sure it's a drop he'll remember for a long time as well.

The next day, we woke up with the wind whipping and the sea angry. Gee got a morning session in, but he noted that it was large and sloppier that the previous night - and that there were 25 guys out, hoping to catch some of the chubasco juice. OS and I drove to the turnout that overlooks three breaks (Zippers, The Rock, and Acapulcuito) and watched the storm roll in. Already, strong winds were pushing us around on that cliff. There were only 4 guys left out in the ocean now. Then, right in front of our eyes, the hurricane charged in from the Southeast. Massive swells marched toward the cliffs, reminding me of elementry school, when we would shake a parachute and send patterns of waves to the other side. The rain hit at the same time, diagonal, in our face like a persistant wet machine gun fire. We jumped in the car and very carefully drove back home through the rivers of rainwater that were now traversing Highway 1.

The brutal storm kept us indoors for two days of our vacation. The sea resembled Oregon in the dead of winter - worse, actually. The natural phenomenon that gave us surf bliss left us surf-starved, but gave me time to finish my book, Tijuana Straits.

The Clash - Armagideon Time


clayfin said...

Looks like you had a blast at Cerritos - you always bring home great photos of your adventures.

Chum said...


Thanks man. I always feel like the camera is never pointed at me during the best waves... Don't we all... I'm just lucky my wife supports my habit and my blog! I enjoyed checking yours out today. Haven't seen it in a while!

Two more days in Mex....


gee said...


Outside, Markarita and myself (La Cucaracha) are rolling down to La Bocana. Do you want to join us? I hear the poo factor is down to the single digits and the fish have moved on to stinkier pastures.... Wait, wait I must of been in a vacation-hangover dream...I'm sitting at my computer like I do for the other 50 weeks of the year...we'll at least we've got the memories.