05 February 2011

Better Than Stitches (HMB Jetty)

I was looking forward to a less-crowded surf session, at the Jetty on a Saturday at dawn. Sadly, there were already a couple of guys in the water when I arrived, and the number of surfers swelled to six, then nine, then more than a dozen, as the sun rose higher. Since my 4/3 Hotline was still wet from surfing yesterday afternoon and the Rip Curl wetsuit is out for repairs until the middle of the month, I took my 5/4 Hotline, along with 3 mil gloves and 5 mil booties, figuring it would be cold anyway in the early morning. To my surprise, it was a downright balmy 61 degrees at the beach. In February, go figure!
After about 20 minutes I still hadn't caught any waves, which were shifty, mixed up, often closed out, and ranging from waist- to shoulder-high. A steady breeze blowing offshore textured the surface. The clot of surfers was on the best-shaped main peak close to the Jetty, so I was on the next one down in front of the drainpipes, trying for the left. Deciding I was too far out, I paddled closer to shore, only to see a wave about to break right behind me, or so I figured. What the hell, I thought, I want to ride something already, so I paddled for it, only to find I'd misjudged; the lip crashed down on my head, slamming my chin hard into my board. When I surfaced and sat up, I was surprised to see the water turning red in front of me; I touched my chin and the glove came away bloody. Crap. It was a lot of blood, more than when I'd hard snogged my board numerous times before. I called to a surfer paddling by to ask how bad it looked, but he didn't hear me. I think I've read that facial cuts always bleed a lot, even when they're not that bad. I couldn't go in, not having ridden one wave! Just then, a promising wall formed up behind me, and I rode the wave in close to the beach. The blood was still dripping. Should I go? If only I had a mirror... but wait, I have a camera on my wrist. I took a few pictures of my face, but couldn't make out enough detail on the teeny LCD screen. (No, you don't need to see it.) Well, if it doesn't stop bleeding soon, I'll go in, I thought as I paddled back out for another.

The bleeding stopped shortly after, and aside from a little ache, I forgot about my chin while riding a few more waves with fun little drops and short shoulders. But I had a tennis lesson to make, so I couldn't linger, and back at the car I took a look at my chin in the side mirror. The still-oozing cut wasn't long but it was wide and offered an uncomfortably deep view into my body. Stitches seemed likely. Crap, crap, crap! I googled for the nearest urgent care, which was just up the road in Moss Beach, and drove myself there as soon as I'd struggled out of all that thick neoprene. The wait was mercifully short, and the nurse speculated that the cut was clean enough that glue might close it up instead of stitches. Although I've previously self-medicated lip wounds with the drugstore equivalent of Super Glue, I didn't realize an official version could be used for a more substantial laceration. But sure enough, after the nurse cleaned the wound with saline more pure than the ocean it had been dunked in, the doctor had me tilt my head back while he brushed stinging Dermabond into the cut and pushed the edges tight. He told me I probably should stay out of the ocean, but then specifically cautioned about prolonged submersion until the glue drops off in about 4 days.

I think I can manage to keep my chin out of the water most of the time while I surf. But I'll wait until tomorrow.

Surfline: WNW (270-295) groundswell fades with smaller surf on tap this morning. Small-scale SSW (180-190) energy mixes in as well. Shoulder-overhead+ waves are still common, while top exposures go several feet overhead on the best sets. Light NE wind early, although many spots (especially the S facing areas) see some minor bump/crumble to the surface. A late-morning 5'+ high tide slows things down as we move through the day. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 8.9 ft at 13.8 s WNW 10 / WIND WAVE: 2.3 ft at 5.0 s NW / WVHT: 9.2 ft / APD: 8.1 s / MWD: 298° (Met) WSPD: 10 kts / GST: 14 kts / WVHT: 9.2 ft / DPD: 14.0 s / WDIR: 320° / ATMP: 53.2° F / WTMP: 52.7° F. Tide: 2' rising to 3'

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