Huge Waves?

Sunday the weather forecast promised Northern California the biggest waves, from Sonoma to Big Sur, we have seen in four years. The waves were huge and impressive, but not surfable, due to their short period and the wind gusting well over thirty knots.

Sadly the cold front that brought wind, rain and the swell moved through late on Saturday. By first light on Sunday the puffy clouds that follow these fronts and delight landscape photographers were few and far between.

Sunday saw very few people in the water, but I did see a few run from it. By afternoon the coast was packed with sightseers, hopefully they were not disappointed. The time interval between waves was fairly short, so there was not a great deal of drama in each wave, but there was an overabundance of white water.

Near Franklin Point, just after sunrise.

Here a father and daughter decided to take a picture using a natural arch as a frame. Fortunately they kept an eye on the ocean and were able to effect a hasty exit when a large wave came in.

An artistic frame

Trouble approaches

Panic quickly turned into laughter once safety was at hand.

Below are a few images illustrating the size and power of the waves. The high winds kept birds off the beach and the water’s surface, few were in the air and marine mammals were also safely away from the surf zone. The gulls, ever opportunists, followed the breaking waves looking for fish who were ‘maytaged’ in the surf.


An angry sea in all directions, wind and waves kept small boats and surfers on shore.

Gulls hunt for stunned fish as breakers roll into the rocks at Franklin Point.

A Western gull rides the wind in Davenport.

A lone paddleboard surfer braves the waves at Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz

As the wave starts to break, thirty knots of wind blows it back.


White water in Santa Cruz

A solitary visitor takes in an angry sea from the Davenport bluffs.



About westcoastwilds

This site is meant to share the beauty of the Pacific Ocean and educate people about mankind's stewardship obligations now that we have complete control of the planet. To date we've made a mess of it, but there is still hope.
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