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Trip: Whoa Nelly

Written by DrC123 show DrC123 profile

Wednesday August 21 2013 05:52:44 PM

Date: from Mar 1, 1966 to Jul 1, 1966

Surf trip description:

1966 just prior to the Dora era in Gisborne NZ a bunch of ex pat Aussie (terrorists) surfers including myself, Robbie Acton, Peter Sawtell, Mouse, Peter, Stu Adams along with a couple of Sydney girls, one who cried herself to sleep ever night over her boyfriend back home "shut-up", were living, packed into a tiny house. We had a sleeping schedule posted to the fridge, two per available bed, the rest on the floor ... in rotation.

 

We surfed the local beaches and went on some trips with Lumpy Logan  (his dad at the time owned the local rag) in his English Ford sedan to Makorori Point and Wainui. He almost killed us one afternoon while driving too fast on an icy road in the Mahia Peninsular when a gust of wind from the mountains blew the car off the road and upside down into a shallow stream! 

 

 X_1948_Ford_English_Anglia_3668_11242006041116_16435

 

 

A giant storm system was producing huge swells closing out all the local beaches so we drove out to a place called Sponge Bay on a gray nasty day.  Sitting on the cliff above, we could see the entire bay and an island, more than a mile offshore. Huge pipes the equal of Banzi Pipeline, not just peaks but massive walls, set after set, were peeling, spitting and grinding off the island!  Way out to sea perhaps half a mile inside the bay and breaking almost sideways to shore was what looked to be a clean 6’ to 8’ A frame left-hand peak.

Sponge Bay or “Inside Island” as it is also known, was rarely surfed a that time, before the advent of leashes and wetsuits, except for a few hardy local Midway clubbies and HSOB Rugby Club surfers. Only really gets good a couple of times a year and really big south swells are needed to line it up properly.  

We decided to go for it, no easy matter, as the bay has no beach, just shallow water with sharp layered rock formations up to the cliffs and a bottom covered with sea urchins. After scrambling down we paddling out boards upside down until it was deep enough and made the long trek out to the lineup in cold murky water with floating debris from the storm surge.

 

Waves that had looked to be 6’ to 8’ from the cliffs were, up close and personal,  in reality 10’ to 15’. We all sat around and watched the sets roll by. Finally Peter Sawtell took off on a double overhead peak and disappeared into a huge bowl, then popped up a hundred yards inside, he made it! Gathering some courage I started paddling for one of the smaller ones. It was hard to push through with the wind and spray rushing up the face of the wave into your face until I looked down into an elevator shaft. I pulled back hard! As some one once said “big waves are not measured in feet .. but increments of fear”.

 

I knew I was in over my head, with my inexperience in big waves and riding a totally unsuitable 10’ log I was definitely flirting with the Fates and paddled inside.  Peter caught a couple more standup tubes and not wishing to push his luck also called it quits!

Modified: Wednesday August 21 2013 05:52:44 PM
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