Surfing the San Diego Tsunami in La Jolla

Feb 27, 2010, one tsunami ridden.
Today I woke up to watch T.V. about the earthquake in Chile, and then just as I started wondering about a tsunami, they were talking about it on T.V.

Now I have been waiting my whole life for this to happen, and all of a sudden here it is.

A few decades ago I read a story in surfer magazine about a guy who surfed Tsunami in South America by mistake.

Now at the moment, I am not exactly in peak fitness, so decided to have the wife join me and go down to the beach and watch. This of course would cancel our Salsa lesson. She said no, and that she would rather go to the salsa class. :)

I decided, hey, it’s only water, and not going to be that big.

I figured the worst that would happen, would be I get washed into the parking lot or across the street. When I used to lifeguard, it was my job to train the new lifeguards how to bodysurf up onto, over, or through rocks, so I have plenty of experience in water washing up and over obstacles.

Got to La Jolla Shores, and things looked very calm. Rainy, small waves, only two other nut jobs out on their boards. I asked the lifeguards what the prediction was, and they said they had no idea.

I have read about, watched movies of, and studied tsunamis my whole life. I get the basics. The water pulls out. A surge comes in. Usually you get people walking out into the wet sand when the water sucks out, and then when it comes back in with the surge, you die. :O

So here I am walking out into the water, (video taped the whole thing), talking with the two other guys. We are all laughing together at how ridiculous the whole thing is. A two or three foot surge would only raise the water to around the highest tide of the year mark. But the thing is supposed to be coming at 600 miles per hour, which is a whole nother story.

I scoped things out across the street and figured out my worst case scenarios. Made the decision to keep the leash on just in case all hell broke loose at least I would stay connected to something that floated. Video camera on and set and off I went.

The waves were very steady, a fairly long period between waves, and a constant 1 to 1 1/2 feet. I watched my watch for 12:02 to come, the time it was supposed to hit. Sure enough, to the minute, a series of around 4 or 5 waves came that were about 50% bigger or maybe double the size than the other waves. They broke out further than where I was, so I got on the second wave of the set just as it broke and only rode the white wash. I am convinced that was the tsunami. Very, very small, but a nice notch on the old belt.

When I got out of the water, I was interviewed about the San Diego tsunami by Elliot Spagat of the Associated Press.

After I got back to the car Elliot came over and pointed out the apparent low tide. Woh! I had never seen anything like it. It looked lower than the lowest tide I had ever seen at La Jolla shores. After watching it for about 10 minutes, I did exactly what you are warned not to do during a suck out during a tsunami. Yeh, that’s right, I walked out there. I actually ran like hell with my video camera. Shot some video from out there. Looked around at a once in a lifetime view from where I am usually surfing, but now standing, and hauled as fast as I could back to the relative safety of the sidewalk.

I am going to put up the video on my other site, Purpose Inc, so watch for it there.

If any of the press need to get a hold of me, my e-mail is dk (at) purposeinc.com

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