Friday, May 20, 2016

Nica: An Island Point, a Long Beach and a Bay (Part 2)

An Island Point

This break will be the toughest to write about.  While some of our tribe had their best rides of the trip, even among the best of their lives, at the point, I didn't.  In fact, I didn't catch a single wave.  Nonetheless the excursion to the point was one of the most memorable of this trip.

Waves wrapping around the point
A few miles south of The Boom is a bulbous peninsula, attached to the land by a narrow isthmus, that protects an estuary to the north.  Though arguably attached to the mainland, it's referred to as "the island."  The northwest corner of this peninsula creates a point break, with a long left that starts off the end of the point then slides around a broad, flat shelf of rounded rocks and into the deep water to the north.  The preferred take off is off the end of the peninsula, with the rock-strewn shallows straight ahead, just a few yards.  The ride takes you over the flat shelf, protected only by a couple of feet of water, until the exit to the north.  Alternatively, larger set waves would present a shoulder, right at the northwest corner of the spit of land, from which the rider could skirt the north side of the flats for maybe a 3/4 ride.

Camp, The Boom and the Island Point
The first outing to the point was mid-morning of day 2.  Most, but not all, of the tribe gathered on the beach on the protected north side of of our camp to board a punt that would shuttle us to the point.

The Punt - Photo: Bill Schildge
On the way south, we rose and dropped on a growing southwest swell.  As we neared the point, the skipper, Melquings's uncle, Martin, suddenly gunned the motor.  Off to our right, an open-water wave with a 9 foot face was threatening to broadside the boat.  For several seconds, we raced below the face as the shoulder grew closer, then seemed to move further.  Dressed for surf, we clung to our gear to save it, should we capsize.  Then, as suddenly as it arose, we were over the shoulder to safety.

The break lay 150 yards ahead of us to the south as the boat slowed and we scoped out the break.  Soon, we were into the water and swimming over to the take off zone.  

At first, the surf guides took a few waves, starting well outside of where any of us could.  Eventually, Chris and Bruce, our most expert surfers, got it dialed in.  Meredith caught one, on the corner, and then moved over to the preferred take off where she got perhaps the longest rides of the session.

As the session wore on, one after another of the pod moved into position, mostly at the preferred take off, and got their ride(s).  Inside, in the deep water to the north, Froggy floated with his camera and water housing, exhorting me to get mine.

I am not expert in surfing point breaks.  As they go, this may not have been particularly sketchy.  Or, maybe it was?  Nonetheless, I wasn't inclined to take substantial risks on an alien wave in the middle of nowhere on the second day of our trip.  A slide over the shallows from the preferred take off wasn't going to happen; not, at least, for my first wave.  Instead, I hung on the corner, where Meredith had got her first wave, and from which, on larger waves, you could skirt the shallows.  But the swell was dying and fewer waves were breaking there.
At last, the wave came.  A large set wave, setting up a corner for an easy drop in, exactly where I'd been lingering.  I girded my courage and started to kick.  Our guide, Andrew, had taken off on the wave, way outside.  But he'd already had a number of rides, and this was what I'd been waiting for.  The customer and all that, right?  As I started to push harder and align myself, Chris called to me NOT to go.  I nearly ignored him, but pulled back before it was too late, to watch Andrew go screaming past me, below me, chased hard by the barrel.  As I watched, it was clear that Andrew really had no exit.  He was too deep to kick out, and couldn't straighten out into the white water as that would have run him across the rocky, foot-deep water.  He could not have gotten out.  

Unfortunately, it was a single wave set.  There was nothing behind it and the swell was fading with the tide.  For another fifteen to twenty minutes, I waited, and waited, as one-by-one, the others returned to the punt.  And no wave came.  Ultimately, I had no choice but to swim back as well, skunked for the session.
View from camp of the beach to the North from which we launch the punt
Some of our group returned to the Point, on subsequent days.  Hayley, who had just watched on that first trip, had her best longboarding sessions of the trip at the Point.  George told, and retold, the story of his 200-yard slide there, with increasing enthusiasm each time.  For me, though, the Point on the Island remained a "coulda, shoulda..."

The Bay
In correction to my introduction to Part 1 of this segment, we actually went to "the bay" on the afternoon of the first day.  We went with the purpose of meeting up with the Chinandega lifeguards, to deliver to them the fins that Chris and Jody had collected for them, at the urging of Nanz Zekela.  In a separate post, I'll delve into the guards, and the bonds that we forged with them, a highlight of our Nicaraguan excursion.  I'll revisit our first meeting, as well.  For now, a brief description of the session.
The Bay
This was our only session in a bay, rather than open beach break or point.  Conditions were far from ideal, with a steady onshore making the moderate - chest high surf - jumbled and crumbly.  Waves broke pretty much anywhere and everywhere.  Long rides were rare and tubes non-existent.  Nonetheless, the waves were able to be ridden, some outside, but more inside.  The real memory of this session was the camaraderie in water and the meeting with the guards.  Of that, more later.

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