Mother’s Day Swell. Lives Lost, Lives Saved and the Man Who Follows No One. The Wedge.

Updated: Aug 4, 2020

How many years does it take

to feel confident in the water?


Any time it almost happens

the ocean teaches me otherwise.

The sea teaches Humility...

And then repeats the lesson

Again and again.

Miyagi style.

Until it's no longer a question.

Jose Ramirez Riding. Luis Guerra going over the top. Photo by John P. Murphy

The sea suffers no hubris.

So to I

No longer suffer hubris.

“Does anyone know

where the love of God goes

when the waves turn the seconds

to hours?”


The Netherlands

Ten experienced surfers and Lifeguards went into the water.

Three came out alive.

Five souls were lost.

And two still out to sea.

Thick foam tipping point

in an already stacked deck in a dangerous game.

Aggressive ocean, big wave swimming and sporting and sailing and boating:

all carry the inherent risk

that you will never come back.

And although no one died,

I learned that lesson from Gilligan's Island.

And... that I wanted to be the professor.

(and that Maryanne

was my type of woman,

Ginger's be damned).

All kinds of things can go wrong in the sea:

The waves are big, the water is cold,

the board could hit you

or something could bite you.

In this case, it was foam.

Did you ever inhale water into your lungs?

(Or been water boarded?

Same concept.)

The body erupts in a coughing fit

that lasts for a couple of minutes

with a red face, accelerated heart rate and high blood pressure.

In the sea, when you breath in water,

all that still happens

but the waves don't stop.

So maybe you can last one set.

But each wave depletes strength exponentially.

And if you come up and get another foamy breathe.

That's it.

And it happens in a minute.

Maybe less.

Not much more.

That’s for sure.

Mother's Day Swell 2020. Puerto Escondido. Photo by John P. Murphy

I knew a French recluse in Costa Rica.

He would go into the jungle at night

Barefooted if that makes a difference

to you in how brave he was

(it does for me).

Before he stepped into the darkness he would say,

”Con Permiso.”

He asked permission of the jungle

and all the energy that is out there waiting to kill him.

Before I step into the sea, I say the same.

Every time.

You never know if you're going to come back. Or not.

Yet it draws me in again and again.

"Fair well and adieu

to you fair Spanish ladies,

Farewell and adieu

sweet ladies of Spain.

For we've received orders

for to sail back to Boston

And never more shall we see you


USS Indianapolis.

Worst disaster at sea in United States Naval History.

Hear from some survivors:

Full Article National Geographic.


Ben Kelly. Focused.

Off the coast of Santa Cruz Ben Kelly

an accomplished surfer and shaper

was bitten once on the back of the legs by a pre adult great white.

He was able to paddle-in with help,

and torniqueted off the wound with a leash

(the best you can do)

But the blood loss was too much.

And it happened real fast.

See Full Article ABC Local News.

See Ben’s Work.


And as I celebrate the lives of those lost.

I'd like to end with one saved.

And a shout out to the Lifeguards and Rescue Ski Pilots

that allowed all the sons

to return to dry land

during the Mother's Day Swell 2020.

Puerto Escondido Rescue Ski Pilots. Masters of Tacking.

The fear of death always feels the same.

It doesn’t matter how fit or experienced you are.

Whether the waves are two feet or twenty.

Luis Guerro, a fit and experienced waterman felt it

On the Mother's Day Swell.

You can judge wave size for yourself.

What I know is that even the fit and experienced

become depleted after one set.

And somewhere during the second set

things become sleepy and dreamy.

Like it's not even really happening to you.

And you either wake up on the beach

vomiting seawater.

or you don't.

Playa Zicatela is like that bar scene in a Bronx Tale;

Chazz Palminteri standing at the door

palm slapping a Louisville Slugger

(125 Ash).

"Now you can't leave."

There are times in life

when we all need help

Finding a Way Out.

Bravo Luis y todo la comunidad de Puerto Escondido.

Aun más agradecido aún más humilde.

Check out Luis Guerra Photos: @luisguerrra

and Colorado Surf and Farbar the Brand.

Bravo Empire BodyBoards

and Ally Swim Fins

For Supporting Puerto Escondido Athletes.


The Glory. The Wedge.

The Man Who Follows None.

He "Follows" Zero people on IG.

I'd say that makes him a leader.

The Wedge. Thomas VanMelum. Photo by Mike Harris Visuals.

Mike Harris Visuals.

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