Healey Held Down
After taking a 20’ Puerto Escondido set wave on the head, Hawaiian hellman Mark Healey swims to open ocean and hitches a ride home.
As told by Mark Healey:
Grant “Twiggy” Baker, Greg Long, and I ran down to the harbor in the dark to paddle out. We knew it was big because the water was washing into the road. It was early Saturday morning so a couple of the bars were still blasting music and there were a couple of drunk people stumbling around. A real surreal scene.
We started paddling out around the corner from the bay and were about 20 minutes in when we saw a giant set pop on the horizon. The average waves that morning I would call 15-18 foot and we were well outside of where those were breaking. Greg and Twig started scratching out to sea and so did I, although I was pretty skeptical that a wave could even break that far out in that deep of water. Because of that, I stayed about 50 feet further in from the other two guys thinking that I might be able to put myself in a position to actually get one of them.
When I got over the first wave I got a good look at the first big one in the set and knew I was completely screwed. I made it about halfway up the face before I had to abandon ship. I swam through it, but my board started dragging me back really hard. The whole time I’m getting dragged I was looking back at the next wave that was going to break right on my head. When my board finally popped up I was in the worst place I could be and the next one broke about 15 feet in front of me. I swam down as deep as I could and as fast as I could and somehow got under it. The only way I pulled it off is because my leash broke.
As soon as I hit the surface I started swimming out to sea as fast as I could. Thank God there weren’t more than two waves in that set! The sun still hadn’t popped over the hills yet and there were no skis out. I’d actually thought about this situation the night before and reasoned that the smartest thing to do would be to wave down a panga (small Mexican fishing boat). They leave the harbor early to start fishing, so there is a bit of boat traffic if you were to swim out far enough. I even put 100 pesos in my pocket for a little persuasion. So after about half an hour of treading water out at sea, Greg and I waved one down, and they actually picked me up. For the Mexican fishermen to put off fishing the best part of the day and bring his panga in towards the breaking waves was really cool of him. He could’ve easily just acted like he didn’t see us and kept going. When he dropped me off at the harbor I gave him the 100 pesos for the lift and ran back to the beach to find my board and give it another go. Best money I’ve ever spent!—Mark Healey
For video of the same massive day in Puerto Escondido go to Big Puerto Kicks Ass And Take Names