Jetty. Gorgeous morning: one of those days when light filters blue through the clouds casting midnight shadows and periwinkle highlights. South winds groomed the ocean into arching liquid glass. I caught a ride from the parking lot with MC, who’s been surfing Humboldt for 40 years. He’d checked it earlier. “It’s pumping,” he said. I gulped. “Pumping” can be good-challenging or scary-challenging; I was hoping this surf would just feel like an exercise in avoiding drowning. As we pulled up, a sad-faced 20-something guy plodded off the jetty rocks, one half of his board in each hand.

That’s never a good sign.

A set thundered in, dark against the horizon. Easily head-and-a-half. I watched as some of the 14-plus guys in the water (and one woman, which shouldn’t matter, but does) picked off rights and lefts, vrooming down faces, carving back up – a rather classic “wow, looks good” moment. But it did look biggish and I’ve barely been surfing, so I stalled, walking out on the jetty for better perspective. MC was already checking it out from a decent vantage point, and I ended up, as surfers are wont to do, b.s.-ing with him for half-and-hour as we waited for a set.

The set never came; the incoming high had all-but-shut the Jetty down. A third of the surfers in the water came out; a third paddled to Bunkers; I suited up and joined the ones who remained. The channel was a mess, so I had to jump off the rocks again, which makes me nervous every time. Luckily, I saw BK, and he guided me through the motions. OK, it’s really not that hard – just another mental block which needs overcoming. Caught several now-fun-sized, easy waves at the Jetty, then paddled up the beach and caught an overhead left to shore. Fun enough.