It began as every surfer’s dream: an empty point break, a rising swell, and a good friend to share the rides. But what happens when you’re out there and the waves just keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger? So it went for William Finnegan at a break off the Portuguese island of Madeira. This happened decades ago, back when surfers had to more or less guess at the conditions they’d encounter on any given day. In this episode, Finnegan, whose surfing memoir Barbarian Days won the Pulitzer Prize, shares one of his most harrowing experiences in the water. He and another longtime surfer were stuck out past the impact zone in a remote section of seas as night descended. Exhausted and frightened, they were forced to decide how to go about saving themselves.
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