I want to say I was scared when we drove down the red mud path onto the cliff overlooking Maui's Honolua Bay, but that's just because I expected to be scared. It was a spot world famous for its long, but dangerous waves that came from big north swells and broke in front of a lava rock cliff with caves that many surfers had reportedly been washed in to. I want to say I was scared because I would have been in the past as waves such as this rose higher than my confidence.
The truth is, I was excited to surf this famed wave. I was ready to make this wave a part of my journey as a surfer. A journey that started in the welcoming waters of Waikiki nearly two decades ago. A journey that brought me to Doheny Beach where I traded a long board for a short board and then took that short board nearly everywhere I went until I broke the nose clean off of it in the shallow shore pound of Salt Creek. A journey that brought a new board into my life (although I still kept that first one, cracked and yellowed and dinged) that I took to college with me in San Diego. I learned to surf new spots then. I found that tourmaline was safe on big north west swells, Mission Beach and Ocean Beach were good on combo swells and south winds blew straight offshore at Scripps.
After becoming comfortable in the ocean my surf journey drew me to new boards and waves in other oceans. But it wasn't always easy. Sometimes I was scared to tears. Surfing a spot called Browns on Oahu, I watched house-high slabs of water collapse onto the reef. I didn't catch a single one of those waves that day and, instead, whimpered my way back to the sand. On a big north swell at Sunset Cliffs in San Diego, in the fading light of the afternoon, I found myself trapped in the lineup as a north swell rose, making it impossible for me to get out on the rocks I climbed in on. I cried my way all the way into that beach, which was a good quarter mile away from the spot I was surfing. I survived this though (obviously) and other surf lessons along the way. These journeys all came to mind as I started a new one a Honolua Bay.
Scott and I bought a new water housing for our camera for Christmas this year and he led the way down the steep mud and lava rock cliff to a small sandy beach with it in hand. We had watched the waves for 45 minutes, so when the ocean touched my toes, I felt ready. After a few duckdives we made it to the dark blue water. If it weren't for the salt, I felt I could have drank that topaz water it was so pure and clear. A six foot set approached and two guys closer to the peak caught the first waves, but as the third wave rolled in, it came to me. I dropped in right in front of Scott and he took photos just as I did my top turn.
I know this might sounds cheesy, but I'm ok with cheesy as long as it's true. Honolua Bay is sometimes referred to as a surf mecca, and for me, it was. Here I was surfing this world famous big wave and I wasn't afraid (at least when it was six to eight feet). So many other surf journeys in other places with my dad, with his friends, with Scott and by myself had led me to this place and I was ready to enjoy it. And I did. Even after my leash broke and sent my board hurdling into the rocks (it was fine). I felt at peace out there with myself and with the sea. I knew she had more to teach me, but that would come in time.