Meet the Man Who’s Spent Forty Nights atop the Cortes Bank – Alone.

by Chris Dixon

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“I love the desolation [of Cortes],” says Mongeau, “When I’m out there, I’m thinking anything could happen.” Above: Mongeau’s sleeping quarters aboard his skiff; the Cortes buoy; a view of the skiff’s undersea window. Photos: Brad Mongeau

In the current issue (24.2) of The Surfer’s Journal, I wrote a profile of Harrison Ealey, whom I first met while researching my book Ghost Wave. Ealey it seems, is the first guy to have ever surfed the Cortes Bank. After Ghost Wave was published, even more folks contacted me with stories about Cortes. One of the most interesting people I met as a result was a guy named Brad Mongeau. Brad lives in Long Beach, California. He’s a retired aerospace engineer whose life revolves around the islands, kelp forests, and reefs of the outer California Bight. San Nicolas and San Clemente islands are his playgrounds. But to Brad, nowhere is more special than the Cortes Bank. To date, he’s spent 40 nights solo atop the Bank, aboard a 19-foot skiff that he built by hand.

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Mongeau’s dive shots of the sunken SS Jalisco—the shipwreck that causes the massive boil in the face of the wave at Cortes.
Photos: Brad Mongeau

He freedives out there, over the wreck of the SS Jalisco—which was sunk in 1966 as part of an ill-conceived attempt to turn the Bank back into an island – and a nation.

Mongeau’s spirit of adventure and love of Cortes carried obvious parallels to Ealey, which came through in the above video – and in the following interview. Click here to read the interview at The Surfer’s Journal.

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