Freeriding, today was my day to cut loose. I was looking forward to the privacy of unrivaled speed at my very own selfish pace. The storm had passed bringing a clearing of blue sky with a brilliant cool heat of a waning sun. I arrived after lunch and talked shop with my Marine buddy @ the Recon boat locker for a spell. There's some really good people here, examples for others if they could take half the measure of these men.

I chide him about training, and ask him where his boys are! He smirks, never challenge a Marine. He picks up his phone and starts dialing. The banter begins and he points to his phone and says 'listen to this'. Loudspeaker is on. 'I have already been certified'.....the voice trails off and I grab the phone.

'WTF? I own you, get your ***** together. I didn't miss a word of that. You are doomed, teacher out!" Well, now that was a nice and tidy description. Ssgt signed off and we laughed. I told him to give this one back to me to fix in the next class.

A few gifts were anointed and it was time to finalize my preparations. I was chasing the sun. I loaded a few chem lights just in case I stayed beyond. The tide was barely high enough to put the trailer off their ramp. I rushed and launched, had my kit geared to go and I was on the ski in 2 minutes heading to open water. As I rounded the break wall I broke free.

Jaw clenched lightly, smile breaking across the beam of my face, squinting my eyes on an ocean check at speed, double check on my helmet strap for security and I was gone. I pulled the boat to it's limit and never let go.

I looked east and headed on a track line to the north side of the river mouth. I cut into the impact zone, felt the frothy aerated water, took a few hits broadside, look as far north as I could scanning for military training operations. The water sign was all clear.

Tandem helicopters turned on aerial patterns low and overhead, side door open, I glanced up to check on the occupants. Thwock, thwock, the blades churning airspace. Low passes and circuit driving, I would probably seen them again soon.

The surf was lively. I matched the golden mood of the phosphorescence of unified conditions. The wave energy was ending and I was picking up thousands of miles of traveling kinetic energy upon it's final burst. The fringe of the continent loomed a few fathoms on my starboard side. I kicked the volume up.

Stick figures emerged from the hazy horizon in a disorganized line. A platoon was running down the wet sand on a southern direction. The leaders were defiantly leading. They were spread out far and few between, not even in bunches. Each man on his own steady pace.

They were heading south and I was tracking north. I was running close to shore, clipping the side wash and executing perfect speed landings. I was on game. I passed their lineup in quick succession. Onto open water again, I watched the shoreline for any amphibious contact or bodies in the water.

Further ahead in a craggy outcropping of eroded sandstone green military vehicles were pointed headlights to the ocean and tucked securely in a little visible position. I kept the steady pace and passed them swiftly. Further up the coast a helicopter was being recovered from the beach. The night before a US Border Helicopter crash landed.

I watched my fuel consumption as I pushed my jet ski to its fullest limit. I reminded myself on 3 hard landings to use caution at this acceleration, didn't want to break a wrist or leg. I was taking chances. I never let off the throttle, in fact I accelerated into any movement. Attacking aggressively with confidence.

I did this transit a total of 4 times. Helicopters swept low and rose high, I passed the trucks and runners in different directions. I wonder what they were thinking? They were in obvious signs of the slow drain of training euphoria, they had pushed limits, it showed. I was complimentary on my own schedule, just using different methods and weapons. Mine was a 165HP small fast boat. Next week I would jump up to a 265HP beast, and I welcome it.

I was feeling the fatigue I asked for. My fuel warning light sounded. I do not turn it off, rather I leave it on. The irritated and annoying red warning light and alarm are great for my mind set, I decide not 'to mind it', and I leave the pulsating chirp chirp on it's own. I am at my happiest when riding alone, I can set my pace and not worry about another rider, but I do miss this run with Bart, how many great memories have we dropped in this zone?

I head back to the boat basin, the sun is sinking. Another PWC zips in front of me looking for a challenge. I smirk and watch the riders body language, and it's a Sea Doo, a fine boat. I don't give and he can't catch me. He chases me to the 5 MPH buoy and waves at me. I circle back and introduce myself to 'Tony'. "I couldn't catch you....oh you do the rescue'...we chatted for a few then waves goodbye. Maybe next time.

I round the break wall, a truck and a man are standing near my rig. I know this person is there for me, but I cannot manage their identity. I start calling names in memory. Then I realize it is RXTUSMC. I hit it to the ramp, we greet. He helps me load my boat, even so much as to enter the water in boots to steady my boat. Now that is a measure of respect not seen often in the civilian sector, and too bad. Oftentimes, small things are the greatest measures of character often unnoticed. I notice everything. We can learn something from this.

We grab a coffee and say goodbye, perhaps we shall be able to ride out of Dana Point Sunday AM? Our offshore race team is 7 days out now for the Mark Hahn 300 mile endurance race. We've been training diligently and this is our final pit team training session.

There is a lot of strength that comes from personal development, I beg to offer you this: Do what you are afraid to do. Within common reason and safety. Riding alone on the ocean offers risks, as well as speed. We all know speed kills, sure so does living a life unfulfilled. I can confess to you that there is nothing greater to solitude and standing on your own merit. Self reliance is an attribute, and so is confidence. Go Get some!

U.S. Customs chopper down near San Onofre; 3 hospitalized [UPDATED]
9:54 PM | February 19, 2009
Updated 11:04 p.m.: The helicopter actually belonged to the air and marine unit of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Vincent Bond, the agency's public information officer, said late tonight.

The aircraft experienced an emergency while on a routine patrol mission between Long Beach Airport and Brown Field in San Diego, he said. The three crew members were being treated for non-life threatening injuries, Bond said.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.


Three crew members were being taken to a hospital this evening after a U.S. Border Patrol helicopter made a forced landing on the beach near the San Onofre nuclear power plant in northern San Diego County.

The extent of the injuries was not immediately known, but Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said preliminary reports from the scene indicated all three crew members exited the chopper on their own.

The helicopter went down shortly before 8 p.m. in shallow water, Gregor said.

The cause of the emergency landing was not clear.

-- Rich Connell

Photo: U.S. Border Patrol officers look over a crumpled helicopter that made an emergency landing Thursday night at San Onofre State Beach. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times