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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 11:24 a.m., Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Big surf, crowds hit North Shore

 •  Photo gallery

By David Waite
Advertiser Staff Writer

The first thundering waves of the winter season arrived on O'ahu's North Shore today, but not quite with the vengeance that had been predicted.

The waves, estimated by one lifeguard to be in the 20-plus-foot range about 7:30 a.m., shot sand and seawater across Kamehameha Highway at many places between Ka'a'awa and Hale'iwa.

Yesterday's National Weather Service forecast called for surf of up to 50 feet.

Police closed part of the highway near Jameson's Restaurant in Hale'iwa from 6:45 a.m. to 10:55 a.m.

Capt. George Ku of the Sunset Beach fire station said that as of 8 a.m., his crew had not been called out on a single surf-related emergency.

"I guess everyone was prepared and took the high-surf warnings seriously, thank goodness," Ku said.

Since the Sunset Beach fire house is on the ocean side of Kamehameha Highway, firefighters were able to keep wary eyes on the surf conditions.

"I expect it to stay pretty high and perhaps come up a little more during the day," Ku said.

Wave foam had already reached the wall to the rear of the fire station's volleyball court, Ku said.

The wild surf was a treat for O'ahu residents and visitors alike.

Larry and Anita Griffith of Long Creek, Ore., stopped at a roadside park just past the Turtle Bay Resort to take in a dramatically different sight than they are accustomed to at home. "It's beautiful, the awesome power behind it is hard to describe," Larry Griffith said.

Anita got a taste of the high surf, literally, when a wave washed up over the road somewhere between Ka'a'awa and Hau'ula.

"My window was open and I got sprayed a little," Anita said.

Riding their bicycles to class at Sunset Beach Elementary School was no mean task for Gerrit Deweese, 10, and brother Dagan, 7.

Their mom, Tina, said the family got up early to watch as surfers were towed into the big waves by jet watercraft in the waters behind their house on Ke 'Iki Road.

"We watched everything from the lanai," Tina Deweese said.

Neither she nor her neighbors had suffered any surf damage.

"We took precautions, we moved the deck chairs and the trampoline," Deweese said.

Charlotte Cobb, whose Laniakea house is on the ocean, was not as fortunate.

"I lost a couple of lawn chairs to the surf," said Cobb, who has seen her fair share of high surf during the past 34 years.

Cobb said she was awakened by the sound of crashing waves about 3:15 a.m.

"I've never had any surf damage to my home, but I've had a lot of water in yard," Cobb said. "I've seen a lot worse than this," the retired flight attendant said stoically.

Civil Defense workers were positioned at various points between Hale'iwa and Sunset Beach, where waves washed over the highway.

Near Chun's Reef, the spray slammed into an older Dodge Dart, causing it to stall out momentarily, Civil Defense workers said.

Department of Land and Natural Resources enforcement officer Frank Tomas had staffed a high wave check point near the end of Farrington Highway by Dillingham Airfield since 3 a.m.

"We're just advising people of the dangerous surf conditions," Tomas said.

Temple Valley resident Fred Jones left home at 5:30 this morning and drove the long way around the island — into town and up through central O'ahu —- to make sure he would be able to take in the huge surf.

"I was afraid they might close the highway," said Jones, who owns a company specializing in tourism photography.

Jones had hoped to take pictures of the Eddie Aikau surf contest at Waimea Bay, but the throngs of spectators and resulting miles of backed-up traffic quickly changed his mind.

He settled instead for the pictures he shot from a roadside park near Marconi Road.

He left the park with his jeans soaked below the knee, wet sand in his loafers and a broad smile on his face.

Reach David Waite at dwaite@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-7014.