Smugglers Cove, September 26th and 27th, 2009.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When the ocean gives you big waves, GO SURFING! I had seen the forecast for this weekend and knew that the swell would get big. So I brought my indestructible Prijon Yukon (if I keep saying that, it is sure to get broken in half) for rock gardening and my Necky Rip for surfing. The waves Saturday morning were big enough I was not comfortable rock gardening and went surfing instead.

A bunch of other people went rock gardening anyway. Dörte Mann and Dave Littlejohn did their “Rock Gardening 101” class again and apparently had a fun and safe time showing new kayakers how to deal with waves and rocks. To keep that class manageable they strictly limit the number of people that come with them.

So Don Barch did his own Rock Gardening 102 “class”. This was more of an excuse for a paddle and not really a class. They launched out of Van Damme Beach with the intention of going down to Albion Harbor. On the way Dennis Holton got into serious trouble. As we found out later he was surfed face-first into a rock by a large wave. He ended up with a gash on his face that needed stitches and several cracked vertebrae in his neck. The exact details of how and why this happened are not public yet. This is because the people involved agreed to write it up for Sea Kayaker Magazine and that magazine refuses to publish anything that has been published elsewhere. So the people involved did not publish their accounts (yet) on the BASK list sever.

I missed all this by going to a new surf spot. Our local guide Jeff Laxier had recommended Smugglers Cove and I wanted to try it out. The only problem was this was a difficult place to get to. We had to park down under Highway One on the side of Big River. Then we had to paddle out through the surf pounding into the mouth of the river in Mendocino Bay. This took me two tries, but once I made it out I relaxed. Then we had to paddle a half a mile south to Smugglers Cove.

There we found the large swell rising up into ten foot glassy spilling waves. These waves were a little harder to ride than they looked, but everyone who came out had a good time. Even the people who only stood on the sidelines and watched the surfers.

The next morning I only had a half a day before having to drive home. So I spent it by going back to Smugglers cove and getting in some more surfing.

All text and images Copyright © 2009 by Mike Higgins / contact