Chase Kosterlitz, Belar Diaz, and Arthur Daniel had a harrowing experience on the Oregon Coast this week. These are three incredible capable, intelligent and experienced watermen who survived a really dangerous situation. To know something like this can happen to anyone is a lesson for us all. We’re so glad they’re ok and here’s Chase’s recap of the story:
My voice of reason said to stay on the beach and take pictures of Belar and Arthur as they quickly headed out to grab a couple of waves as we arrived on the Oregon coast yesterday.
This shot proved to be a bit ominous after their ordeal only a few moments later. Both where wearing leashes as they paddled out to catch a few waves before dark.
After about 5 waves each Belar said, ‘one more’, to Arthur and then they would head in.
Pictured is the tower where the lifeguard spotted them. You can see the ‘mysto’ waves way out the back at the mouth of this channel. Just after the CG boat passed I lost sight of them in the fog/mist. The sunset was one of the most amazing ones I have seen.
Arthur took off on his 14′ race board and soon found himself in the jaws of a 2 ft. overhead wave that was quickly pitching on the inside sandbar. Arthur went over the falls as his board pearled and flew into the air. Belar kicked out the back of this same wave and soon saw the damage that had been done. Arthur’s board was in two pieces, no match for the pounding Pacific Ocean surf this area is known for.
Belar saw Arthur struggling against the current and was quickly by his side to help him get into the beach. As Belar was helping Arthur another set came in and cleaned both paddlers up and into the inside jetty. Belar’s leash broke and his 14′ race board began to take a pounding. Arthur was first to Belar’s board only to find it completely creased in the middle. At this point the sun had set and it was getting dark. Belar formed a plan and the two paddled prone on the creased board for 45 minutes against the strong outgoing tide before finally making it into the beach.
I was on the beach waiting for them in the dark but could not see anything for the last hour as the coastal fog made them disappear shortly after I took this picture.
The CG was already out on the water doing drills before they started looking for the guys. The lifeguard tower has seen Arthur’s broken board but could not spot him so notified the guys doing drills. Their drills soon turned into a real life search and rescue mission with the boat and helicopter. Apparently in the winter the entire river mouth closes out with waves up to 30 ft high. These guys are the real deal and this coastline is wild.
As soon as Belar and Arthur arrived to the beach I called the local CG station to alert them that both paddlers where OK.
We picked up the back half of Arthur’s board from the Coast Guard Station. All of the guys who where looking for them signed the board. The front half of the board was never found. Makes you wonder what would have happened if Belar had lost his board too. If Arthur had not grabbed it they would have had a long swim in some dark, cold and sharky water.
Belar and Arthur both said they learned not to surf overhead, Oregon coast waves, on 14′ race boards. This wave was not soft but pitching top to bottom on the inside. They were itching to surf and the race boards where all we had so they went for it.
I learned to hold my tongue and not say, ‘I told you so’, until at least 5 minutes after they exited the water in the pitch black. I’m not going to lie, it felt pretty good to say it! Glad they were OK and that we did not waste the Coast Guards time.
I would advise others to always check their leash string to make sure it is strong and tied tight. Arthur’s board did not break because of the leash but he lost the back half of the board (flotation) because the leash string broke and not the leash itself. Always tell someone where you are surfing, especially in remote areas.
Belar and Arthur were both wearing wetsuits and remaining calm in what could have been a much worse situation. Huge thanks to the Coast Guard for doing what they do. These two have a strong respect for the ocean that I think was solidified even further after last nights ordeal.
Story and Photos by Chase Kosterlitz