Pillar Point, California

July 21, 2005

Mavericks is a surf break on the west coast of California near Half Moon Bay between San Francisco and Santa Cruz. It is home to some of the largest coastal waves in the world, reaching up to 30 feet or more. As I drove down the access road to Pillar Point, I could see these giants breaking in the distance, but as I made my way on foot around the military base to the edge of the shore, a heavy fog rolled in.

An odd scene. On one side the harbor was brightly lit through clear afternoon skies, while just on the other a thick marine layer covered the western shore, effectively blanketting the Mavericks waves from sight. It didn't stop a lone surfer from venturing out into the turbulent Pacific. I watched him struggle for ten minutes against the crashing surf before disappearing into the fog bank. The break lies some half mile from shore. I've read the paddle alone can sometimes take up to 25 minutes.

Update: On February 8, 2006, I returned to Mavericks for the annual Big Wave Surf Contest.

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