Ah, sweet September


Summer has just begun for us locals. There has been more surf this

month than the last four summers total! Can you spell El Nino?

Hurricane Hernan’s waves struck promptly at noon last Tuesday. At


11:30 a.m. it was flat, your Tidbitter dropped his latest column at

the Coastline Pilot, hung out with the staff at our paper till noon

or so, then sauntered down Ocean Avenue, crossed the street at Coast

Highway only to be greeted by head-high corduroy marching in from a


ridiculous angle, almost perpendicular to the beach.

Started running at Olympic speed south on the beach toward Sleepy

Hollow where a 6-foot stand up barrel was chasing Nick Hernandez all

the way past the public access stairs! The wind never blew that

daywhile the sets just got bigger and bigger!

Sunset saw second and third reef connecting on every set.

Aaron (Gollygooch) Gaul caught a third reef foamball, went right

into the second reef foamer toward Cress Street, banked a long


radical turn on the now jacking inside reef and went so fast for so

long, it took him halfway to Anita Street, way past the Oak Street

lifeguard tower. We timed the ride at 57 seconds. Now we know why

they call it “Big Wednesday.”

At dawn, it was 6-to 10-feet at Doheny! By 7 a.m. there were 37

players out at Brooks, 13 outside at second (out the back, boys!) and

24 inside. Some sets were so south they appeared to sweep in from

Cress Street, kinda half way out to second reef.


Sleepy Hollow was doing its impersonation of Uluwatu. Newport

Point became “Surfer Magazine” cover shot material. The Wedge had

18-foot rogue sets every half hour. Big Corona was 15 feet with guys

taking off at the harbor entrance at low tide with four foot swells

moving all the way into the harbor past China Cove! Huntington Pier

had a 9 mph side current. You could try to paddle out by the power

plant and you’d be at the pier in 20 minutes or less!

The “Bu” of course was beyond perfect at 6-to 8-feet plus, from

Ol’ Joe’s almost to the pier. When it’s like that, Ekse, it’s as

laquer as J-Bay when it’s on. You just mak a zani and vie mull for

four hours without letting up.

Hernan’s waves were some of the most consistent I’ve ever seen.

From dawn till dusk, it never stopped! Just bang, bang, bang one

after another. A flurry of 8-foot sets, then a flurry of 10-foot

sets, then a flurry of 8-foot sets, then a round of 12-foot sets, at Uppers anyway.

Two major red flag swells in 10 days!

Then on Sun., Sept. 8, a fat Southern Hemi bangs down the door.

Same size or even a bit bigger than Hernan’s bombs, but way thicker

and more powerful.

Powerful enough for Occy to say it felt just like J-Bay at Uppers,

Monday afternoon while hanging with Laguna’s Kai.

You know Rockpile is serious when you see Rod Greenup already

smoking right in front of third reef, going so fast his arms are

outstretched above his head.

The weather has been almost phenomenal and the average high

temperature in Laguna so far in September has been seven degrees

above the normal 84.

Remember back in May? I recall mentioning something about wait

till late August or September. It’s gonna fire!

* DENNIS McTIGHE is a Laguna Beach resident. He earned a

bachelor’s degree in earth sciences from UCSD and was a US Air Force

weatherman at Hickman AFB, Hawaii.