The Pirate Gods Have Been Angered…

Yesterday, Jenny and Adam Burke came down to visit us, and we took them around some of our favorite spots in Laguna Beach. We had a great rooftop meal at our favorite restaurant in Laguna Beach, Mozambique. We went to Pearl Street Beach to see Arch Rock. We checked out the scene at Crescent Bay, a popular hangout for seals and sea lions. Heck, we even saw (what I think is) OJ Simpson’s old house.

Then, we went to Victoria Beach, home of the world famous Pirate Tower, where we learned that the Pirate Gods had been angered by all the celebratin’. When we started out the tour of Laguna Beach, the sky was totally cloudless, and pretty boring. As the afternoon wore on, I noticed a gorgeous sunset brewing, but figured it would either totally break up and disappear or become so dense that the sky would fade to grey as the sun got low along the horizon.

This was not the case, and as we arrived at Victoria Beach, it was pretty clear that the tide was high, and coming in. I had never seen the tide this high, and it was pretty clear we weren’t going to be able to use our tripods since shooting required heading out a bit into the water (to be able to see the world famous Pirate Tower), then rushing back before the waves crashed in. Still, it seemed like we could safely get closer to the Pirate Tower as the cement wall of the pool in front of the tower was breaking all of the waves we observed.

After taking a few photos, including this one, I changed lenses to my Rokinon 12mm f/2.8 fisheye lens to try something closer to the Pirate Tower. Walking close to the wall on the right, I felt safe as the water was only ankle deep. Jenny and Adam had also moved closer to the Pirate Tower, wanting to capture its buccaneer mystique up close.

Then, it happened. While Adam was perched up on a rock capturing this stunning shot (with his phone!), Jenny and I got blasted by a freak wave in that photo, with wave knocking us off balance and the undertow sweeping us off our feet. Fortunately for me, I was in the sandy area of the pool, so I didn’t have to worry about my head hitting rocks, and focused instead of holding my D810 above the water and hoping for the best. I was fortunate to escape with only cuts on my ankle and my clothes totally soaked; the camera only had a few stray drops of water on it. Jenny wasn’t so lucky as she was on a more rocky area, her legs got scrapped up pretty badly, and her camera was briefly submerged.

The tide was only getting higher, but the sunset was also only getting better, so I could not simply walk away with my tail between my legs. I quickly changed lenses, and kept shooting as the sun dipped below the horizon, lighting the sky up in shades of orange, pink, and purple. I’ll share those shots later, but thought I’d post my favorite photo from the evening, showcasing one of those gigantic waves crashing against the pool wall. If you look closely, you can see water droplets flying almost to the top of the frame. This was shot before the Pirate Gods exacted their wrath on us.

With two of the four of us totally soaked at this point, we decided to head to the fire pits at Aliso Beach where we dried off and had an enjoyable conclusion to the evening under the stars.

You got us this time, Pirate Gods, but this isn’t the last time we will meet. Revenge is a dish best served cold.

This photo was taken by me with my Nikon D810 and Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 Lens. To get some more Laguna Beach photo ideas, check out my Laguna Beach Photo Gallery.

If you’re planning a California road trip or vacation, check out my California category of posts for other things to see and do. For photo licensing inquires, please contact me.

Your Thoughts…

Have you angered the Pirate Gods at Victoria Beach? Think we are crazy for going out closer to the Pirate Tower in the first place? What do you think of this shot? Have any questions or other thoughts? Please share below in the comments!

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5 replies
  1. william McIntosh
    william McIntosh says:

    Gorgeous shot, Tom. Glad you were able to get down there when that wading pool was full. There have been times when the tide is REALLY up that I haven’t even been able to get around that first corner from the staircase and have had to shoot from Treasure Island with a long lens. Other times, I stayed too long on the other side of the tower and felt that I was just about to get trapped as the waves began to come in fast and furious. Still other times when I thought I had the timing down enough to make the dash across to the tower and got slammed for my trouble. Be careful out there, especially during high tide. If you go down hard near those rocks, it could get ugly. But what a beautiful shot! So jealous that you are just up the street!

    • Tom Bricker
      Tom Bricker says:

      I’ve been there a couple of other things when the wading pool is full, but I’ve never encountered the tide come in this quickly. I have done the run down, run up bit before and that worked fine…but there was nowhere to go this time. I guess going forward I need to be more mindful of the unpredictable nature of the tide…

  2. Michael Greiner
    Michael Greiner says:

    Love the photo above as well as the phone picture. I just got back from my first California trip a little over a week ago and I already can’t wait to go back next year. Definitely want another shot at the pirate tower. It was a gorgeous evening when I was there however I did not get too lucky with the sky as there were little to no clouds that day.Would love to do a trip entirely devoted to photography up along the entire pacific coast highway(much like your trip report) and maybe even then head over to Yosemite and Lake Tahoe.


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