Roughly 20 years ago, when on a trip to Washington, Josh Mulcoy wandered into a store that sold maps. He walked over to one section of the store that held a map of the North Pacific displaying every coastline from Seattle up through Kodiak Island. The map itself was huge. He bought it and immediately hung it on his wall back home in Santa Cruz. Between work and surfing, he’d sit in front of the map and stare at every little crevice of coastline, imagining which bend and curve held a bevy of waves to explore. One particular section of the map always caught his eye—an island off the coast of British Columbia, north of Vancouver Island and just south of Alaska. On that island was a spit of land that looked like, on the right swell and tide, would be strewn with waves.
The island was called Haida Gwaii and Mulcoy eventually came to find out that it did, in fact, hold a treasure trove of waves. But it didn’t take long for him to realize that the scoring of said waves would be extremely challenging to say the least. The swell windows are particularly short in this part of the world. Winters are usually plagued with gale-force winds, which can morph anything remotely surfable into liquid mayhem. Not to mention, depending on where you were coming from, the journey to the swell-facing side of the island requires the use of airplanes, trucks and ferries, and if you miss-time one of those legs of your journey, you could miss the window of swell by mere hours.
A few months ago—despite Haida Gwaii’s inherent fickleness—Mulcoy returned to the coastline once more and brought Santa Cruz shredder Noah Wegrich along with him. The journey to the island, like always, was an adventurous (i.e. extremely long and tiring) one, but the payoff for Mulcoy and Wegrich was worth the trek. On the first day of their trip, they scored offshore-kissed tubes and rippable A-frames. But no more than a handful of hours later, the swell was gone.
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