Big Waves and the People Who Love Them

By Joe Rosato Jr.
|  Tuesday, Jan 19, 2010  |  Updated 5:00 PM PDT
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All Eyes on San Anselmo Creeks


Storm-churned waves hit Pacifica's coastline.

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All Eyes on San Anselmo Creeks

Christie Smith shows us how they are preparing in downtown San Anselmo.
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The sea wall of Pacifica’s main promenade was lined with spectators. They stood and stared, snapped pictures and ran for cover. They were there to see big waves, and the great Pacific didn’t disappoint.

The surf churned into a white fury that slapped the sea wall with the force of a train.

Andrae Johnson and her daughter Camryn had a ringside seat.

“It’s exciting, it’s thrilling, it’s nature,” said Johnson, who was off work from her job as a Muni bus driver. “It’s scary, it’s beautiful. Don’t mess with it.”

But Johnson didn’t heed her own warnings. She and Camryn played a game of chicken with the waves, until a particularly nasty one gave them both a good soaking.

“You don’t have to get wet, but if you just accidentally get wet it makes it just like ok,” Johnson said. “I’m glad I didn’t wear my Sunday clothes.”

Leif Maertens wisely stood on the opposite side of the street, trying to snap a picture of the perfect wave smashing over the sea wall.

“They’re huge -- big waves it’s good stuff,” Maertens said keeping a nervous eye on the churning surf. “I came down here to take some pictures -- maybe use them as a desktop or something.”

It’s one thing for visitors to be impressed with Pacifica’s big waves – it’s another when locals are, too.

Pacifica native Adrienne Nahass and her mother strolled along the promenade watching visitors dash from the exploding surf.

“When the waves are going over the pier, that’s definitely unusual,” Nahass said. She pointed in the direction of the municipal pier where teams of waves were lapping the bottom.

Another Pacifica native, Jose Urqueza, said they were the biggest waves he’d seen in years.“The biggest I’ve ever seen was crashing over the pier,” said Urequeza. “This is just about ten feet short of that.”

Not everyone was excited to see the big wave show. A few miles away, on Esplanade Avenue, crews continued to try and stop the sea from eroding a coastal bluff where an apartment building teetered precariously above.

But Urqueza was more interested in the pounding waves a few steps away, sending blasts of sea water over the wall.

“Living here my whole life, this is what you come down here for,” he said. “The ocean, the waves, the air. Can’t beat it.” 

Photo via shamu68

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