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Experienced Surfers ONLY! The Left at Spooners Cove is the best big-wave break on the central coast! It can hold size up to 20ft if the winds are right.
WalkInstant access (< 5min)
Easy to find?Easy to find
Public access?Public access
Special accessDon't know
Alternative name Blowholes
Wave qualityTotally Epic
ExperiencePros or kamikaze only...
BottomReef (coral, sharp rocks etc..)
PowerHollow, Powerful, Ledgey
Normal lengthNormal (50 to 150m)
Good day lengthNormal (50 to 150m)
Good swell directionNorthWest, West
Good wind directionEast, NorthEast
Swell sizeStarts working at Over 3.5m / 12ft and holds up to 5m / 16 ft and over
Best tide positionLow and mid tide
Best tide movementRising and falling tides
Week-end crowdFew surfers
- Rips / undertow
If you've never been here, park and take the trail to the South of the parking area. Follow the trail along the cliffs that line the South side of Spooners Cove. You can sit on the cliffs and watch the locals charge. It's a great vantage point.
Take note of the large finger of rocks that sticks out. During high-tide the peak moves in to close to the cliffs and once you take off, your looking at a shoulder that is breaking on this jagged finger.
After the finger jets out, there is the deep cove where the wave disapates to nothing but a hump.
So medium tide going low is the call.
Watch out for sneaker sets. They can pop up really fast out there. Use the cliffs, and the locals to lineup out there.
A few locals like to lineup deeper than most, so dont go where they go. Watch them and then try to position yourself where you feel most comfortable.
A wipeout here has dire consequences. If you get washed into the cliff your only option is the to scamper up the reef and all the way up the cliff.
If you have to do this, take off your leash and sacrifice your board for your life. Otherwise, your leash can get hung up on a rock and your board can be thrown by the waves, with you attached.
Quite a few blokes have had to scamper up the cliffs.
Once you wipeout, just remember to paddle North towards the channel.
Going right at Spooners is death wating to happen so dont ever go that way. Nothing but big threatening cliffs and another finger that sticks out even further causing a huge closeout barrel.
Visit the place on a negative tide and study the place. The geography of it all is quite interesting.
It is a world-class big-wave break and one of the few remaining un-exposed breaks south of San Francisco. The mags have run a few pics of it, but never say anything more than 'central coast.'
Be prepared for long paddles and long hold-downs. It is possible to get barreled out there if you take the Malloy approach and go it with an 8' gun.
During take-off if you can stall and slip into the barrel then your set. But only when the wind is breaking just right. Very few people have the experience to do this and even fewer take anything shorter than a 9-6 out there.
However, it is totally possible to take a 8-6 out there. Be aware that soon as you make the drop, there is a point that the wave looks like it's going to spit, but then backs off. Take this opportunity to carve the hell out of the wave. Believe me, you'll have a lot of fun doing instead of gunning for the shoulder. But you can only do this if you have the shorter equipment and it's not to hectic of a day with big cross-over swells.
Experts, Experts, Experts ONLY!!!
By Peter , 18-04-2009
Wait - By Prius driver are you referring to a young male driving a white Prius? If so...that was me, Peter. I rolled solo. I didn't roll with him. Who are you bro? I only saw tourists that day I was there. Didn't even paddle out. 3's a crowd. Next time say hi. Most people don't want anything to do with Spooners anyways...so don't worry.
By Anonymous , 29-01-2009
idiot - Stories of your exploits abound in this area, so you came back with three other idiots that turned the place into a circus, The Prius driver, the stunt man, the idiot from Half Moon Bay and one other. It’s like a nursery rhyme. We heard you posted photos on the internet as well, nice one. You’re an idiot as confirmed even more by signing off “Big Wave Surfer”.
Take your mind set somewhere else, perhaps drive down from Santa Monica to Lunada Bay and dominate the line up and bond with all of the locals like you think you have up here!
By Waderzr , 06-12-2008
Big Sunday - One thing that we all share as surfers is the time we almost died. You’ve heard it a million times when talking about that big day, “yea bro…I almost totally died there…no, seriously dude, I almost totally f’ing died out there!
For the last three hours, I have been curled up in a fetal position. I am now ready to tell you how my session at Spooner’s Cove went.
The buoys were reading ten foot with twenty-second intervals. For those of you not well versed in the nuances of swell forecasting, a ten-foot swell can create a wave that is double to quadruple overhead – depending on the break, swell direction, wind and a whole host of other factors. The twenty-second period means that the wave is moving fast and has mucho energy.
For this day, I rode a fourteen-foot SUP gun that has been personally battle tested at big Davenport Landing, The Lane and Maverick’s. Normally, I would have been wearing my life vest, but today, didn’t think it would be necessary.
I made my way out to the lineup of two locals. I could already hear the heckling… the remarks about how I’m not as “hard-core” as everyone else… and how easy I have it, bla, bla… It’s the same old story. Once they realized that I wasn’t leaving, they quickly asserted, “we don’t tow…and we don’t stand up out here.” The two guys out there were on what looked to be 10 foot guns. They were in their late forties and were wearing helmets.
Realizing their sensitivity, I assured them that I was not there to take their waves and demonstrated a submissive position by sitting down on the deck. I exercised some aloha by letting seven or eight bombers roll by. There were no takers and I was a bit confused.
Taking into consideration all the things that “weren’t done here,” I paddled away, realizing that they didn’t take waves here, either.
I positioned myself closer to the channel and sat deep to take anything they didn’t want. One came my way. I spun around and paddled lightly. I was on a fourteen foot spear– didn’t want to out-run it. By not aggressively digging, I could see the bottom of the wave getting further and further away from my feet. I knew that I’d better do something, either back off or stroke. I was too far in, so I stepped forward and took a near vertical drop. Let me remind you…ten foot at twenty seconds – WOO HOO! It felt like a magazine cover! I got to the bottom… and the damn thing just closed out on me – oh well…not bad for the first wave of the day.
Feeling more confident, I paddled toward my spot. Here is when I ran into problems. This wave sometimes looks like a clean left. If you make the drop and aren’t too late on the bottom turn, it’s full speed to the channel…right? Well…sometimes, that’s the case. Every now and then, as you’re carving this left, a new peak will form and will close out right in front of you.
That being said…I started to make my way back, straight to the lineup…instead of taking the safe route through the channel. One of the above-mentioned little sneakers rolled in. I paddled up the face and the wave started to crest. Again – I’m on fourteen feet of Styrofoam. I didn’t punch through properly and went backwards over the falls.
Because of the size of the swell, my board and fifteen foot of leash, I got about two seconds in which to think of the pounding about to ensue. It was horrifying. You know what it feels like when you eat it on a ten-foot day at the Huntington Pier? Well, that is a two-foot day at Malibu in comparison. It was shear terror…and it wouldn’t end – just like they say in the movies!
The first thing to go was my paddle. I had to let it go, as I tried to fight my way to the surface. I eventually surfaced and tried to get my bearings. As I yanked on my cord to pull my board back, which was useless because of the whitewash current, I looked around and BAM…hit by another one – the beating was just as bad as the first one! I was literally being dragged for 50 yards or more…at 30 mph…under water. My rope wrapped around my stray paddle. “Oh…there it is,” I thought to myself as I was being rolled. It went through my legs as I could feel my leash being stretched and again, thinking to myself, “please don’t break…please don’t break!” By the way…much thanks to the Crow Haley rhino leash and to Grant Washburn for turning me on to these – they don’t break! It would be a long swim to those rocks and not to mention the pounding shore break with an even worse rip current.
The next one hit me and kept me down for a while. I actually thought to myself, “I’m going to drown…I’m actually going to fucking drown! So this is what it’s like? What are they gonna say at my funeral? That I was some Jeff Clark wannabe?” I actually had time to think about this shit, while I was being dragged! I lost control of my bladder.
I always tell my surf students that this will happen to them, eventually, and the most important thing to do is relax. I forgot all about that. Whoever said drowning is peaceful never drowned.
I came up for air, making that noise you make when you haven’t breathed for a while. I tried my best not to take in water and then…the next wave hit me. I saw myself getting closer to those damn rocks. I thought of how much time I spent designing, sanding and glassing this board and how it was going to end up in pieces…damn! I surfaced and got close enough to my board to grab a fin and BAM! I’m hit…but manage to hold on to the board. I finally got the adrenalin boost to hop on.
At this point, I try to brace myself for the next one… but don’t have the energy. I understand that this was just one set, but it seemed to be relentless. I’m beaten and in my mind… I wasn’t going to make it. I surrendered to the surf gods…no mas.
The next wave never came.
It was as if Spooner’s Cove had said, “Okay Wade, you’ve had enough…now go sit in the corner and think about it for a little while.”
I had been pushed into the channel. I puked up about six ounces of a coffee/sea water type liquid. I lay down on my board with my arms over my throbbing head. People were on the cliff screaming at me. I raised my right arm to let them know I was all right. One guy shouted to me that my paddle was floating about thirty yards away in the foam. All I could think of was dry land. “To hell with that paddle, I want out of here!” After thirty minutes or so, the current took me to the beach.
We’ve all seen the surf movies where people talk about big-wave wipeouts? Yeah, yeah…whatever, man. Hey, I’m here to tell you…this is a whole new kind of beating. There’s no way to describe this in words. It must be experienced.
A few of the locals greeted me at the top of the stairs and offered me a beer and admired the size of my cajones. One guy introduced himself and showed me pictures of him charging a twenty-footer…just so I’d know with whom I was dealing. They all saw my near drowning. No one said anything about my epic drop, though. For some strange reason, I felt like I had passed some sort of initiation…and for the rest of the day…I felt like a local.
It’s funny…thirty minutes ago I was fish food. Now, I was talking about how the quad works so much better than the single fin in these conditions…and how happy I am with this setup. One guy passed by in his F-350 supercab and told me that he was about to call 911 until he saw that I had been swept into the channel. He was glad to see that I had made it back.
I left Spooner’s…and on the way out, my new friends threw me a big shaka! Unbelievable!
Here are my top five tips on Spooner’s when it’s cranking:
1. Don’t sit too far to the south. It might look like a clean left, but sometimes a peak will form in front of you and thing will close out. If you get caught, you’ll get pushed straight into those rocks.
2. After taking that left, paddle back in the channel. Always, always, paddle back through the channel…because you never know when those sneaker sets are going to get you.
3. To anyone who decides to SUP Spooner’s…wear a life jacket.
4. Stay the f’ out of people’s way and they won’t mind you being there. Stay far away, though.
5. No cameras and there is a one-bro limit. These locals are burly, lumber jack/type dudes that punch White sharks in the nose. So, just be cool.
I am a soon-to-be commercial helicopter pilot. The thing about big wave surfing and flying helicopters is that things can go wrong really fast. Almost forty hours of flying and about forty hours of ground training is spent in preparation for the solo flight. Over and over I was told what to expect when there was only one person in the ship…and that the center of gravity would be different, etc. There would be no way to experience that solo flight, but to solo.
I equate these events to be very similar, with one exception. I had to figure out this shit on my own, as I was unable to procure a big-wave surf instructor. There aren’t any big-wave coaches in Los Angeles that I know of, anyway…and Laird is busy doing American Express commercials. So, the only way to experience going backwards…over the falls on a triple overhead day…is to go backwards…over the falls on a triple overhead day.
I did it…and survived. The next one might not be so bad…or maybe I do drown…who knows? But I’ll tell you what man…that drop was INSANE and I’d do it again!! WOO HOO!!
After thinking about this for a while, I realize…my panic was initiated from the inconceivable power of Mother Nature. I got spanked and lost it. Next time…I’ll be ready. Did I tell you? I almost died here…today. 12/01/2008
Well…in summary…this spot gets mucho respecto from me. I got beat down…but I’ll be back.
No…seriously…I’ll be back.
If anyone finds my paddle…please give me a call. 323.251.5971
Thanks for stopping by.
Wade Lawson…Big Wave Surfer
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