In 1992, I was meeting a buddy in Nor Cal for a Thanksgiving surf weekend. I got there early and figured I had time for a session at Patrick's Point. Drove around, found one of the paths, suited up, and started down. And slipped and started rolling ala "Romancing the Stone". Must have slid 80 yds down this mud-trough.
I walked to the break in the trees, and the surf was going off.
At least double overhead, but looking like a very makeable take-off. 3 guys out. I must have caught 6 set waves in the first hour. The guys were cool, and I was feeling good. Then they got out. I caught a couple more, and then THE clean-up set came through. I got over the first one ( I was on a 7'4") and then got buried by the second one. A direct hit. Pushed me straight down and the back zipper on my wetsuit opened up. It was immediate shock. Water in the high 40's.
Gallons of it inside my wetsuit. I remember talking to myself, trying to stay calm, waiting it out, fighting the panic. Eventually I climbed up my leash, took 3 more on the head, and got washed way inside.
I finally climbed up on my board, zipped it up, and just stayed there awhile, composing myself.
I eventually looked back at the line-up, and there was a pair or elephant seals kind of floating and spashing around.
I paddled back out, and sat while they swam and dove under me, circled around me, just dodging each other, basically flirting with each other with me in the middle of the sandwich. A couple of smaller sets came through, and then it got weird. The seals were swimming with their heads high in the water, flinching this way and that, frenetically, still circling me. And suddenly they were gone.
And I starting getting this cramp in my stomach, and that metallic taste in my mouth. I was breathing fast, and my vision was narrowing.
\I somehow realized I was panicking, going into a shock-type of state.
I turned around and paddled for shore as fast and as quietly
as I could . I caught a wave and bellied to the beach.
I got out and walked away from perfect, double-overhead waves that were fun and easy to catch.
My buddy showed, and i told him some of what happened but not all. He's wired tight, so I didn't want him to bail.
We caught the north jetty big the next day.We didn't even have to paddle out--just jump off and let the current pull you out to the line-up.
We had Thanksgiving dinner in some small hotel down towards Shelter Cove.
On the ride back to So Cal, the was a humungous dust storm. We couldn't see the end of the hood of the car. My buddy was driving, and he kept weaving around accidents, stopped trucks, tires, people, and assorted car parts and trailors.. He was squeezing the wheel tight and kept saying if we stop we will die.
We got through and later found out it was a 184 car pile-up.
That was scarier than the elephant seal thing...
He is a great driver...