Two weeks ago, not unusually, i sat on my couch, looking out over the shimmering ocean. One whale spout, then another sprang from the water in the distance and, after seeing them a few times in the same place, i decided to take action. I wrestled my board from its shady resting place and loaded it into my car, grabbed my GoPro, said goodbye to my dog (who maybe raised an eyebrow at the most) and raced down to the beach.
Once there, an unsuspecting young lifeguard boy was asked to put your hard earned tax dollars to work by running my board down to the water. I pulled on my wetsuit in the car and left my chair behind, as i scooted across the warm sand to the water's edge where the nice lifeguard boy had placed my board. I jumped in and was off, pessimistic that i would find what i was looking for because i had done this before and had been skunked every time.
The lagoon mouth flowed out to sea like a river and shoved me right into the pounding shore break, breaking heavily on the bare low tide sand bar. The first wave struck me hard and sent me rolling. Not a good way to start this expedition, but thankfully, the video camera was locked in a death grip in my mouth and did not experience the same fate as my poor drowning sunglasses, lost forever.
Once i regained myself, i paddled out quickly and began the long trek out into the ocean where i hoped to maybe get lucky. After an hour or so of paddling, i saw what i thought at first to be a huge sail through the haze, but it disappeared and, a couple minutes later, i saw it again. My initial thought was that the military was out there doing something weird.
"Wait a second! Is that...," peering through the haze, "...Is that a whale spout? OH MY GOD! IT IS!"
My paddling quickened. I felt like a child on Christmas morning, overwhelmed with excitement. The plumes were so far away, i thought i could never reach them.
"Maybe if i can just get kind of close."
I got closer. I could actually hear them! The plumes got bigger. The sounds became louder. The land grew smaller. Then, i saw them! A plume and a splash, then a dorsal fin.
"Oh my God! Is this actually happening???"
As i got closer, my fear grew stronger. My hands began to tremble.
"I'm all alone out here, who knows how far out, and buses are swimming around me."
They were obviously feeding or something because they weren't going anywhere north or south. They were staying in the same area, right off of Swami's in Encinitas, two Humpbacks about two miles out or so.
I thought, "If they're feeding, maybe they come up to get a mouth full of shrimp, not paying attention, and i'm right here. One whip of a tale or something and i'm a goner."
One whale stuck its head out of the water to check me out, leveled out and swam right at me. Here's the video:
What an incredible experience! One i've dreamt about for a long time now. I spent about an hour with them and, even though i was scared, felt sad when i realized the sun was getting low and i needed to start paddling toward shore. As i paddled, i could hear them behind me and the sounds of their thundering breaths seemed to get closer. I'd like to think they followed me a little bit.
"Til next time, my friends!" It was a beautiful sunset and i cried.
If you're curious about my board, here's also a video about its making. It has enabled me to surf and to go on paddle adventurers like these. Please support Jay and Jeff at Ironcross Surfboards. They are good people. Happy Halloween!