Fearsome big-wave break located just west of the Pillar Point headland in Half Moon Bay, California, 25 miles south of San Francisco; the heavily publicized focal point for West Coast big-wave riding since the early '90s. "I felt like I was seeing things I shouldn't have," local Don Curry said, recalling a heavy day at Maverick's. "It felt like God and the devil were right there, and it could go either way."

Daytime winter air temperatures in Half Moon Bay range from the low 40s to the mid-6...