It was a perfect fall morning just before Halloween on the peninsula shielding Northern California's Humboldt Bay. High-tide peaks were breaking up and down the beach, and the water was clean and clear. I caught four waves in quick succession, laughing at my good luck. Then it changed. —Scott Stephens
Illustration: Koren Shadmi
From behind me, something dark broke the surface. Luckily for me, the board took the brunt of the force.