Collectively, the Endless Surf team has surfed in some scary places across the globe. From shark infested South African waters to thick Fijian barrels crashing over shallow reefs, we have had our fair share of scares out in the water. So, in honor of Halloween, a few of our team members in San Diego recall some of their most horrifying experiences from surfing in the ocean. Surprisingly, all these scares occurred close to home for many of us.
Without further ado, here are three stories that are debatably scarier than most Halloween horrors. Fortunately, all members of the team live on (relatively unscathed) to tell these tales…
Marshall Myrman, Product Management
La Jolla legend, Marsh Myrman certainly takes the cake with the scariest experience – one that he was very lucky to have fully recovered from. In 2002, Marsh broke his neck while coming out of the barrel at a heavy reef break in La Jolla. Let’s let Marsh explain it from here:
A solid double overhead wedge came right to me. Three quick strokes and I was flying over the ledge and into the back door of this thick grinding barrel. As I was weaving my way through this vast expanse, I noticed out of the corner of my right eye that the wave was “reefing up” in front of me. I had to choose within an instant what line to take. The low line looked escapable. I was coming through the end section of this sick beast when the lip detonated on the back of my neck. The whole right side of my body was numb! This was an injury that was new to me, one that I had never experienced.
Miraculously, after being rag-dolled across the reef from the four wave set that followed, Marsh was able to get to the beach and get help. He was airlifted to Scripps Memorial Hospital and received world-class care from some of the best trauma doctors in the country. All in all, Marsh experienced the worst scare a surfer could ever face – not being able to surf again. Luckily, after some extensive medical procedures and rehabilitation, Marsh continues to surf to this day.
Andrew Thatcher, Client Management
Way back in 1996 a young lad made his way to the shores of San Diego as a first-time visitor. With sights set on Black’s Beach, Andrew quickly became enthralled with San Diego’s premier beach break. He had been surfing Black’s regularly for about a week without much size. Just like previous days, Andrew and his sister took the long trek down to be welcomed by what appeared to be fun-sized, chest-high surf. Stoked, they both paddled out to the top of the lineup, only to be greeted by a double-overhead set flying in faster than a witch on her broomstick. Andrew experienced a true Black’s Beach hold-down – perhaps one of the scariest places to get caught inside with waves of that size and power breaking on top of you. As it turns out, there was a large south swell in the water with long lulls between sets, and Andrew experienced the terror of not knowing what he was up against until it was too late.
From the incident, Andrew recalls:
We were totally out of our league, especially because this was back when I couldn’t hold my own in big surf. Nevertheless, we were beaten to smithereens and we immediately paddled in with our tails between our legs.
Tanner Wilson, Marketing
In 2018, the day before Halloween was scarier than the holiday itself. Tanner started his day with a dawn patrol session along the Point Loma peninsula. That morning, an eerie fog shrouded the ocean from view along the bluffs. With solid swell expected in the water, Tanner was confident that conditions would be right, so he paddled out blind and was rewarded with a playground of 4’-6’ surf with clean and open faces.
After about two hours, Tanner started to think about his return to land. As he made it to the eroded beach below the bluff, he eyed the exit point – a 15-foot climb with a few hand-holds and a scramble; a route that has been apart of Tanner’s morning commute for years. With a short break in the waves, Tanner darted up the wall. However, because the dense fog still lingered in the air, an unseen wave came crashing in and knocked Tanner right off the wall and onto the rocks below. As he stood up from the fall with both feet feeling like Jell-O, the pain started to kick in and he realized the worst part – he still needed to get off the beach. The adrenaline started pumping and luckily, Tanner made it out and was able to crawl back to the parking lot in serious pain where he was able to get help. The damage? A broken right foot and a severely sprained left ankle.
Looking back on the injury, Tanner says:
Luckily, I didn’t sustain more serious injuries falling from that height. The scariest aspect of it all, however, was that this happened while doing something that I have done hundreds of times or more… Or maybe it was when I realized I’d be watching waves from the beach for a few months while my body recovered.
Stay safe out there
The ocean, as these stories prove, is an incredibly humbling environment. Even when we think we have a grip on our safety, mother nature might think otherwise, forcing us to always stay heads up and minimize the terror she could so easily inflict. We certainly hope your Halloween is more spooky and less scary than some of these horror stories… Happy Halloween and stay safe out there!