Field Notes: Todos Santos, Baja
Sunday 21 December 2014
Up before dawn, we piled into two fishing pangas and boated across the sound to the tiny island of Todos Santos. The sea was choppy but the water was azure blue and as clear as glass. As the lighthouse loomed into view Gary, Nic, and the whole crew were giddy with excitement. Scott the safety backup/jet ski driver shuttled the crew and the gear from the pangas through the crazy shorebreak to the shoreline. Shoutout to Jeff Cunningham who was neck deep in water with pelican cases above his head getting our equipment onto dry land. With the help of the lighthouse keeper - glad to have people to talk to - the land team carried the gear to the first location on the cliff in front of the waves. The water team (Gary, Nic, Kellen and I) stayed in the panga and motored round to the channel with the big wave in the distance. The guys suited up, Gary handed Nic the board and they dived in (on camera of course). They paddled off to the lineup with Kellen following behind on the back of the jet ski. The waves were not huge but consistently about 8-10'. The sets were coming through at about 10'+. Thank Goodness Nic is a wave ninja and caught a ton of waves. Gary was crowned with the wave of the day - he made the most incredible drop in on a big set wave. I was screaming with delight and I could see the guys on the cliff had caught the action too. Kellen said the biggest problem he had all day was the massive seals that kept coming up to him and roaring in his face. The guys surfed all morning, then paddled back to the boat when they had no energy left. After fish tacos in the lighthouse, we got some closeup video portraits, some alternate ending shots and b-roll of them on the cliff, we got Nic and Kellen back in their wetsuits and sent them back in the water to pick up the underwater struggle section. The entrance was a treacherous walk down the cliff and over rocks. The waves were still firing but the sun was setting and Gary had advised them not to stay out too long because getting back in was tough at the best of times. I've obviously forgotten how difficult it is to wrangle young surfers because they paddled straight for the lineup - Nic did some wipeouts in front of Kellen's camera and then caught some waves as the sun was setting. By then all the other surfers had gone home so they had the waves to themselves. The sunset over the lighthouse was incredible and the light and water bouncing off the Kevlar board looked so beautiful. Luckily they came back in just in time before the light totally disappeared. We had a wonderful dinner together in the lighthouse, told more stories and drunk more Baja wine. The day had left everyone pooped so we went to bed at 'Baja Midnight' which was about 8:30pm!
Monday 22 December 2014
Everyone was still amped to surf and film, so we all woke up before sunrise, shot scenes with Gary and Nic at the edge of the cliff with the Kevlar board under Nic's arm. The sunrise was spectacular and I cannot wait to see how the light looks on their faces and the kevlar board. The three guys got back in the water and paddled back to the empty lineup. Their main goal was more underwater footage and a shot of Gary on the shoulder watching Nic catch a big wave. The waves felt a little smaller but they were much cleaner and more beautiful than Sunday. Nic got some great waves and Gary won wipeout of the trip - his leash broke and his board was washed up on the rocks and damaged. He knows the break so well that he drifted into the channel and let the current drag him to safety. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried for a minute as I watched from the cliff. Don't worry, we didn't stop filming. The boat came to get them from the lineup at 9am and then motored round the other side of the island where we were waiting with all the gear ready to put in the dingy to pull over to the panga. Our shoot was coming to an end but we had shared a special experience that won’t be forgotten.