March 3rd 2004: Bocas Del Toro Panama.
As predicted the larger swells have arrived and are still growing. It is forcasted to be good at least another week. With no end in sight I've buckled down on my surf schedule. I'm planning my day around the surf session to make sure I make the most of the weather.
Today I surfed at Dumpers on Caranerro Island. Caranerro is another rock/reef bottom that is much shallower than the Punch break. On the smaller wave days you can clearly see the reef below. I tested the depth at the wave take off point and it was around seven feet but with the ultra clear water and magnifying effect it appears to be only a few feet. On bigger wave days like today the bottom is not visible from the drop in point however the waves at Dumpers like to hold you down in the washing machine for a long time.
Today was the largest and most picturesque surfing conditions I've encountered to date. I did not get inside the tube but I did witness two different surfers get deep in the barrel. The first tube I saw as I was paddling back out. I looked up and saw this guy had cought a beauty.... it had a glassy green face and was well overhead. He knew all eyes were on him and this goregous wave so he made sure to carve it up as best he could. As the onlookers hooped, whistled and hollered in admiration the wave started to show signs of a tube. Before we knew it the wave was encircling him........because I was still paddling back out I was able to see him crouched down deep inside the roaring tube. For a second I thought he might not escape... but then as the wave lost it's last bit of energy the tube subseeded and revealed the smiling surfing barbarian.
The second tube was a super fast overhead wave that he barely managed to drop in on... it was so fast.... from when he dropped in to the point when he was totally encircled in the tube....He dropped in at an angle slicing down to the left.... he saw the steep face curling far in front of him.... he was a regular footed surfer so he ducked all the way down and grabbed his rail then extended his left hand out front onto the wave where it acted as a ski and stabilizer. He stayed in the barrel for around three or four seconds then blew out the end and jumped over the back of the wave catching big air and doing a layed out back flip..... a radical ending to the second and best tube I've ever witnessed.
While it was crowded ( 35 people at the busiest time ) and it only breaks left I managed to catch around 6 decent waves. I'm still having a bit of difficulty keeping up with some waves but will soon have it dialed if the surf keeps up like this.
During one of my wrecks today I was held down for longer than I would have liked... my only choice was to relax and conserve oxygen.. When I was finally released from the churning I surfaced and saw I was in for another round. Because I was already further in that I should have been I was more fearful of getting grated on the reef. The wave picked me up inside it's fury... flipping and twisting me over and over... I felt I had had enough of it just as my feet touched the reef... I pushed off the rocky bottom below and found fresh air. Why do they call it Dumpers any way?