Harro Blog


West Coast wave hunting

16 Feb, 2016

It’s a challenge we all face every single day of lives. Wondering about the fork not taken or taking the tough decision to move away from our plan. It can be hard. There is a reason for that phrase ‘agony of indecision’. Have we made the right choice? What are we missing out on?

I’ve found over the years that as hard as making some choices can be, you have to be open to making them. Being willing to break the plan. Willing to revise the schedule when something better comes up.  Opportunities are lost if you don’t – professionally, personally and especially when you chase storms for a living.

I had a(nother) decision to make. It was 10pm last Thursday and I was just off the plane from Hawaii regrouping after a monster day at Waimea but there was no time to unwind. Titans of Mavericks big wave event was on the next day and I still didn’t have a plan of how I was going to get out from Half Moon Bay to shoot it.

While I was juggling phone calls, reaching out to contacts and following up leads for an elusive boat slot a text beeped in.  Did I want to take a mission out to a remote spot to hunt some waves from the same swell heading for Mavericks? It would mean missing the event. A complete change of plan.  Now, I’m a total sucker for a wave hunt. There is something that bit sweeter about having to search and earn an adventure that pushes all my buttons.

_HAR6865Surfer Jeff Kafka 

I wrestle the pros and cons. Amazing line up of athletes at Mavs… Forecast for waves bigger than last time… Good friends riding… But, it’s a competition so there is all the accompanying hoopla. It will be a sh*tshow. I’ll be trying to get shots in between every other man and dog out there… I don’t want to pass up the “Special Place” secret mission… Usual agony.  And I don’t have much time to decide.

I lock it in. No to Mavericks. The temptation of an unknown spot and an adventure with the boys is too great.  Five minutes later Jamie Mitchell texts me. He can probably get me a seat on a boat. But the dice had rolled. I was going to head down the lesser known path and take my chances with the adventure. I was pumped to see what the morning had in store and didn’t have long to wait – just time to get a few hours sleep on a mate’s couch.

It was a premium crew, Tucker Patton from Triple Points Expeditions, his brother Will an underground big wave charger, World Surf League water safety specialists Jeff Kafka and his mate Tom.  Together the guys hatched a plan to go on a remote surf mission where we’d have solid waves, and no company.

_HAR7116Tucker Patton. Heli ski guide and ocean lifeguard enjoying the balance.

_HAR7227Jeff Kafka again – finding some juice

_HAR7168The boys scored 10, 12, 15 or more waves each in a couple of hours – definitely one of the benefits of towing in our own private playground.


_HAR6704A frothy one

At first light we feared we’d been skunked. The fog was heavy, we could see very little and feared the wind might come up sooner rather than later. So the old roller coaster of emotions came back into play.

_HAR6927The entire West Coast from LA to the Canadian border is a photographers dream. Wild. Beautiful. Humbling.

We set off in early light and within a very short time the fog starts burning off. Salt air and water hit our faces revitalising our minds and sharpening our senses as the jet skis pounded out through the waves breaking across the river mouth. We made our way out into the heaving ocean excited about the day ahead. A few more miles and we reached our destination. Yes. There were waves. And we had some surfable options. Everyone was hungry to get amongst it.

_HAR6853Will Patton contemplating his next turn

_HAR7249The only locals we found out there

We settled for a reasonable right hander that had the occasional barrel and ran for anywhere from 75-150 yards down the reef. It was no Mavericks, but it was all ours.


There is plenty of debate about paddle in surfing versus tow-in. I see a place for both. The boys had brought their big guns to paddle in on, but the waves were  breaking in a zone as big as half a football field so the jet ski made it possible for the lads to score a bagload of waves each using smaller boards and make the most of the conditions while running safety for one another. That’s a win in my book.

_HAR7207Happy days

Did I make the right decision on the day? For sure. And most importantly I made the decision to be happy with my choice.

Thanks Tucker, Will, Jeff and Tom for bringing me along for an awesome adventure. And to El Nino for bring the waves. Mahalo.