This one smells like a fish story. It is not. Tuesday April 13, Dave and I got up to surf westward at 7 in the morning. First rate waves. Headache cold water....sun blocked by the cliffs. Fast, clean, beach break. 3-4 foot sets, mostly lefts. About 15 dolphins swam by. Blase blase. We always see dolphins. But then some bigass whale with barnacles breaches. We are speechless. It is about 20 feet from us. We follow it for about thirty seconds and pinch ourselves. Have-you-ever? No-I-never! What-a-shame-we-don't-have-a-camera. Perfect surf and 'this close' to a whale. I mean, yuppies spend a hundred bucks for the privilege of getting sea sick and diesel choked, to hold a pair of binoculars to almost see some spout mist on the horizon.
So at daybreak, Wednesday morning, April 14, Dave says, let's go back and, this time, take photos...(Sure, Dave. Mr. Whale is going to return for two surfers now that they have a digital camera.) Ludicrous, I tell Dave. The odds are impossible. No one gets that close to a whale while surfing. Certainly not twice. Just bow down and be grateful for that insane, blessed moment yesterday. Dave wins. We head to westward again. It is painful getting into a wet wetsuit at 7 a.m. He is holding my Olympus Stylus 1050 in his hand while paddling. It is this $200 waterproof 10 pixel camera that has a video function that I had never used. What an idiot Dave is, I think to myself, he is going to miss all the good waves clutching that camera. Ha. Joke's on him. Dolphins go by. Blase, blase. Another shitty day in Southern California.
Then, like clockwork, the same barnacled 40 foot whale surfaces, lounging lazily, surrounded by another posse of dolphins. Leviathan. Can't quite explain. Some kinda miracle. What on earth are the odds that we see it again, in the exact same location. Moving so slowly. Its ginormous volume creates profound swirls and eddies that are ominous and powerful...in that Titanic way. With one arm maniacally paddling his 7'6" Al Merrick and one hand holding the camera, Dave catches up to the whale. He literally could have grabbed the fin and gone for a joy ride. Just amazing.
Props to Dave.
Footnote about Dave. Dave Schermerhorn is a filmmaker who grew up in Malibu so he knows every break and all the secret spots, intuitively calculating in the angle of each swell and the changing directions of the wind. On good days, he is the wave-whisperer and secures a stealth entry to a perfect empty private break when there are 250 aggro surfers fighting over at Sunset. But on bad days, he is the wave 'tard, driving nonstop to Rincon and back, skunked from self inflicted wave-greed. Props to Dave, though. He earned this one. 100%.