If you spend any time sailing along the California coast, you may have heard about The Cortes Bank. It lies just past Catalina Island. Not a big patch of ocean, but one that boaters view with respect. It's where the giant waves live. Rogue waves are known to occur randomly, and certain coastal areas are known for impossibly high surf. But the Cortes Bank is different. In the middle of nowhere, in the open sea, huge waves, some reaching 90 feet high, are formed...and they're not an anomaly, they're a regular event. Listening to tales of the Cortes Bank while relaxing on deck is the sailing equivalent of sitting around the campfire and listening to stories of those two hitchhikers and the guy with the hook. Guaranteed to make the hair on your arms go all feathery.
Chris Dixon takes us into the heart of the Cortes Bank and shows us what it's like not just to face the monster, but tweak its nose.
All surfing is madness. Surfers sit on their boards, legs dangling in the water, looking just like dinner to every circling shark...and that's before they start doing the dangerous stuff. There are so many ways to injure, maim, cripple and kill yourself on a surfboard, it almost beggars the imagination to understand why some surfers seek to up the ante. But they do...in the form of giant waves. Waves so high you could hide an apartment building in one. The only sensible part is that, for the most part, giant wave surfing is done close to shore, where (in theory) help is close at hand. The surfers who choose Cortes Bank are surfing in the open ocean. They are tempting the pelagic sharks, giant ocean-going predators, as well as the little maneaters who cling to the shoreline, not to mention fate. If they are churned to the bottom by countless tons of water collapsing above them, they aren't likely to come up again.
The world has two kinds of people in it: Surfers and people who wish they were. Dixon's book gives those of us who watch and envy those slender figures sitting out where the waves form a chance to live in their skin for a few magical, terrifying, exhilarating moments. There are minutes on end when I lost track of time and place. I was there, I could smell the ocean, that magical clean briny scent, I could feel the cold wind on my face and feel the stinging spray, the chill of the water. Bobbing on my surfboard, butterflies in my stomach, waiting to be elevated higher and higher and higher before sliding down, down, down...it's as close as I'll ever get to the experience, which fills me with relief and regret.
Ghost Wave takes you out there to the Cortes Bank. Dixon tells us the history and background of the area, and shows us just what it feels like to challenge Poseidon and whatever other gods and monsters inhabit that haunted piece of ocean.
If you surf, or only wish you did, this book is a thriller, an e-ticket ride that will leave you breathless and exhilarated.