SANTA CRUZ (KPIX 5) — The National Weather Service has extended a warning about heavy surf, sneaker waves and riptides affecting coastal communities from Sonoma to Monterey Counties until 9 a.m. Wednesday.
The warning to stay away or be cautious along this long stretch of California’s coast is often interpreted very differently by surfers, who view it as open invitation to test the waves.
“We read that forecast and it get us super excited,” said surfer Bennie Seybold.
Seybold, who is visiting family in Northern California, spent a few hours surfing at Steamer’s Lane in Santa Cruz on Tuesday and planned to head back out in the afternoon when the waves peaked.
“Pushing your limits and being a little scared is part of the fun,” Seybold said.
That attitude can make the job of patrolling the coast challenging, lifeguards told KPIX.
“When you hear these big surf advisories on the news, that’s not the time to go learn how to surf,” said Brendan Daly, a Marine Safety Officer with the Santa Cruz Fire Department. The fire department is planning to increase patrols over the next several days.
“Our folks will be out on patrol. They’ll be talking to people on the cliffs–talking to surfers. They’ll especially be talking to folks who may not know they’re getting in over their heads,” Officer Daly said.
About a dozen surfers braved the 10 to 15 foot swells breaking off the coast in Santa Cruz Tuesday afternoon. The Santa Cruz Fire Department said they had not performed any rescue and hope that trend continues until the weather calms down.
“We usually see that forecast before it becomes popular knowledge, I guess. And yeah, it’s a call to duty,” said surfer River May.