It was a misty early afternoon, with a bit of cabin fever setting in. It seemed a perfect time to head for the beach, and I’m so glad I did. I walked to Kamehameha Highway to catch the bus east to Sunset Beach, about four miles away. There I found a light rain falling, and an international crowd for the last day of the “Sunset Pro Standup World Tour.”
The clouds were thick enough to limit visibility, so I stepped onto the sand and began my trek back towards Waimea Bay. The waves were crashing with a force I had not encountered in my four weeks here on the North Shore. They were also huge to my eye, appearing to be 15 feet or higher, and powerful beyond measure. This stretch of shore, between Haleiwa and Sunset Beach, is called the “Seven Mile Miracle.” It is also considered one of the most dangerous stretches of beach in the world.
No wonder there are 42 full-time lifeguards patrolling this seven mile stretch.
Between Sunset Beach and the Rock Pile there are three lifeguard stations perched on high ground above the beach. Here I stopped to ask the lifeguard on duty about the actual size of the waves, and again, it was my lucky day. The man who stepped out onto to the deck to greet me, introduced himself as Johnny Angel. He then proceeded to speak for 15 minutes, sharing a variety of both North Shore and personal information.
Johnny has been a lifeguard for 25 years here on the North Shore, where he was born, raised, and began his own surfing life. Most interesting was the fact that his father was the renowned Jose Angel, a pioneer of long board surfing on this same stretch of beach. He was also on the very first cover of ‘Surfing Magazine’ back in the 1960’s. Jose was also a teacher, and later the principal of Haleiwa Elementary School.
Johnny is a kind and gentle man full of local information, as well as the complicated mathematical method, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, uses to calculate the height of waves. My later research informed me of this man’s stellar reputation, here among his local community of friends and family.
Yes, it was truly my lucky day, to not only meet this local legend, but to experience a wonderful afternoon along part of this “Seven Mile Miracle” stretch of sand, sky, and water. I arrived home wet and feeling blessed once again by my North Shore experience. - Glen