Surf Stories: One Surfer's Nightmare
Greg Gordon retells the frustrations of pumping surf and pumping sewage
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 11 March, 2013 : - - It was 4:30 a.m. and my alarm clock was going off. “Oh, why this early?” I thought as I slapped the snooze button for ten more minutes of dreamtime. Then I remembered and sat up, the north swell was here and running down the coast. I had set my alarm for a pre-dawn trip southward to the point where the mainland juts furthest out to the sea. It would take a little over two hours, just in time for the sun to creep over the horizon.
Everything was packed the night before: board in the back of the Yota, full suit on the front seat, gallon jug of agua in the back for the rinse. I stared at the floor where my still soaked booties were lying, thinking, “Do I take them? Why? It should be warmer farther south. But, then again, there’s lots of sharp rocks.” I threw them in the back just in case, and with a cup of Costa Rica’s finest in one hand, backed out of the driveway and cruised down the coastal highway towards the interstate.
I’d been to this spot once or twice before, always with a friend driving so I was a little hesitant on which exit to take. I figured I would just drive back to the beach road and then eventually find a place to park. I had remembered a state park nearby with a small parking lot, and the break was 100 yards to the north. I planned to hike about 500 yards north, then drift past the lot to the inlet and then hike it again. The drift was just too strong to fight, and when a crowd assembled it looked like a conveyor belt. The sky was just turning from a deep purple to a faded orange when I took the exit back to the beachside road.
At least I thought it would. I could smell the salt water but I was about 5 blocks off the beach. Large hedges blocked the view and dispersed every few hundred yards were metal and wooden gates, either padlocked or manned by security guards. I bet the people who lived or visited those spots didn’t even surf. It went on like that for five miles, the worst part being I was in a 30 mph zone and it looked like this community had plenty of money for police. It was almost 6:30 a.m. and I finally arrived at an intersection, although it felt I was further inland.
I turned beachward, only to find the road curved to parallel the coast once again and this time large condominiums were stacked side by side, obstructing the view. Some had gated lots and tall fences, but at the first open one I turned in, hoping to finally check for waves. And damn was it firing! Double overhead and spitting both ways. There were four or five guys on it right behind the parking lot, but still lots to go around. And not a feather of a breeze as the sky brightened from a pale yellow to a brilliant blue. I was ready to pull my board out when I noticed the sign – “No Parking - Towing Enforced” It was good, but not good enough to walk home in a full suit.
I peeled out of the asphalt lot and continued south, past another six miles of private condos and homes. I did see one section of the road that had markings for fifteen cars to parallel park, but what a nightmare. There were three cars with their blinkers on, waiting to see if those with a spot might have to leave for work or were just checking it.
I was vehicle number four, for about ten minutes – sitting, jamming some NOFX, cursing, watching the flag that was slowly floating higher off the pole with each painstaking minute. I finally gave up on the parking spots, thinking the park I had visited before could only be a few miles farther. Beyond the end of this town was the inlet, and to get around that would take an hour of driving. No time, the wind was picking up!
At last I saw the state inlet park entrance, just where it was the last time, only now it had a large steel chain across the entrance. It said “Closed for Maintenance” and each time I read it, my eyes reddened more. I could not catch my breath.
What was happening? Without thinking I put the truck into four wheel drive and plowed through the rain swale to the left of the chained entrance. The sun was up high enough to get me sweating but I was getting close to salvation and had plenty of spots to choose from in the vacated lot. I picked a spot in the shade, almost invisible from every angle on the main road. Quickly I changed into my O’neill zipperless, slapped on my booties, and sprinted to the beach. Surely I would find some waves to myself, since no else was breaking the law to come park near here.
It was empty, too empty for the conditions. Yes, the wind had picked up moderately and white caps could be seen a few miles out. But the sets were still big and juicy, and the jetty was only a couple hundred yards away. Then I saw the orange sign. It had a big black biohazard symbol on it and a lot of small print underneath. I trotted over to read what I dreaded it would say – “No swimming permitted due to high levels of fecal coliform in the water”
Shit! First all those miles of private development, then more high-rise condos that put the beach in shadows half the day. Then the packed parking lot with surfers fighting over a space, finding out the city can’t even pay for maintenance on their parks, and now sewage coming out through the inlet that was going to make me sick if I surf in it. This WAS a nightmare!
It was 4:40 a.m. and my alarm clock was going off again. Why? Oh yeah, the north swell had arrived and I wanted to drive south early to catch it…
To prevent this dream from becoming harsh reality, the Surfrider Foundation puts out an annual State of the Beach report which focuses on beach access and water quality for almost every coast in the United States and Puerto Rico. Since its first printing 13 years ago, there are some disturbing trends.
Check the full facts at state of the beach and then get involved with your local chapter to keep our beaches open and clean! Their mission statement is – “dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s oceans, waves, and beaches, for all people, through conservation, activism, research, and education.”
Source: CR Surf Travel
Author: Greg Gordon
Tags: Pollution, Surf Travel, Surfrider Foundation