They call it the Ghost Wave and it's the West Coast's answer to the Bermuda Triangle and Mount Everest.
Lobsters there, they say, are the size of a man. Sharks are the size of a bus. Compasses spin out of control and ships get lost.
Yet, it draws the best surfers in the world, including Santa Cruz locals Peter Mel and Ken "Skindog" Collins, who say it is the biggest wave in the world and call it the Everest of the sea.
Writer , who has put together a book about the wave, called Ghost Wave: The Discovery of Cortes Bank and the Biggest Wave on Earth, will give a talk on the book, sign copies and host some local surfers at Freeline Design Surf Shop at 821 41st Ave. Tuesday from 4-6 p.m.
Pro surfer Greg Long, who lists Cortes as one of his favorite surf spots, will also be there.
Dixon, who grew up surfing the waves off the coast of South Carolina, traveled to Cortes Bank with a group of surfers in January 2008 and watched as they rode the biggest waves ever documented—waves in excess of 80 feet. The author, however, chose not to attempt the waves himself, .
“I would never try to surf these waves. I think it is the most dangerous thing you can do,” he said.
“I really wanted to get into the heads of these guys and find out why they do it. What I came away with is that they’re not crazy, they’re addicted, literally, physically and psychologically addicted to this wave. To pull them away from it would drive most of them crazy.”
Among the things readers will learn in the book, according to a press release by Chronicle Books:
• How the unique geology of this 16-mile-long undersea mesa can magnify a swell to form 100 - or perhaps even 1,000-foot waves.
• How this long-ago island was probably visited and walked upon by the first human inhabitants of the California coast.
• The Civil War era story of an obscure adventurer from North Carolina who discovered the very spot surfed today - and died horribly shortly thereafter.
• How a retired B-movie actor sunk a giant ship on the Bank to create the island nation of Abalonia and become rich monopolizing the area's fishing rights — and instead nearly died beneath the Bank’s mammoth waves.
• How the Bank once nearly sank the longest ship in the U.S. Navy.
• Never revealed details of the world-record setting expedition undertaken by Mike Parsons, Greg Long and their friends into the teeth of the worst storm ever recorded on the Pacific Coast.