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June 10, 2024

Waves at Pacifica

By Sand Pilarski

Sand Pilarski - atgreenmars@filthypikers.com

After the last big El Nino storm came rocketing through California's central coast, the beach forecasts warned of high waves pummeling the sands. In search of some fine big breakers, Bernie and I visited the city of Pacifica, a pretty little town tucked into the cliffs and evergreen cypress on the seaward side of the coastal range on Highway 1, just south of San Francisco.

The beaches of Pacifica were dark, almost a charcoal-brown in color, in stark contrast to the white of the foam that swept across them, in some places still striking the wall of the roadway that leads along the waterfront. The waves would have been amazing at their height, for the beach sand lay in low dunes on the street, washed up by the high tide.

Pacifica seen from the pier

Although a few people diligently fished the rough surf, most of the visitors were marveling at the waves, which were still at times high enough to wet the sides and belly of the public pier, and strong enough to make the entire structure tremble. Looking straight down from the rail of the pier, watching the huge green swells break violently against its legs, I was impressed by the volume and the power displayed.

What must this shoreline have looked like at the height of the storm, with its 70 mph gusts and driving rain? The pier closed so that no foolhardy soul would get washed away, the only view would have been straight into the storm -- hardly an enviable perspective!

Pacifica Public Pier

Having watched the waves until we were chilled and dizzy, our gazes were drawn inevitably northwards along the cliffs, toward that wonder of the natural world, the entrance to San Francisco Bay. Between those rocky promontories that comprise the Golden Gate, the great breakers are tamed to chop, and stark cliffs give way to parks and people.

From the pier at Pacifica over the wrath of the ocean, we fled to the haven of the Bay, to end this adventure, as we traditionally end Bay Area adventures, with the best fried calamari in the known world and a bottle of pinot grigio white wine, at Sinbad's on the Embarcadero, where the waves lap in ripples and seagulls doze safely on the water outside the windows.

Article © Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
Published on 2003-01-18
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