Surfer rescued from Ocean Beach currents

San Francisco Fire Department Surf Rescue, Ocean BeachA surfer who was caught up in the currents off Ocean Beach was rescued Thursday morning, but only after he had drifted far to the northeast around Lands End to China Beach.

Just after 10 a.m., police and the San Francisco Fire Department responded to Stairwell 25 at the O’Shaughnessy sea wall across from Golden Gate Park. A man who declined to give his name told an Ocean Beach Bulletin reporter that he had lost sight of his friend who had been surfing nearby, and when the friend did not return as expected an hour earlier, the man became concerned.

“Two surfers went out,” said Battalion Chief Rich Busalacchi. “They were supposed to meet here and didn’t show up.”

The man who reported the missing surfer later was overheard saying to Busalachhi, “I’m not familiar with the area at all.”

When the missing man was spotted, he had drifted from Ocean  Beach north around Lands End and east to just offshore of China Beach near the Seacliff neighborhood. The Coast Guard and the Fire Department both sent boats to the area and found the man unharmed at about 10:45 a.m.

More than half a dozen Fire Department crews responded to Ocean Beach, including Surf Rescue units, a “Heavy Rescue” truck and Busalacchi, chief of Battalion 8. The Police Department and federal Park Police also responded.

The area around Lands End and the Golden Gate is a complex patchwork of sometimes treacherous currents that in some places can circle or go in the opposite direction of the prevailing tide. For instance, Baker Beach is known for a retrograde — or reverse — current that pushes water in the direction of San Francisco Bay on falling tides, even as huge volumes of water are rushing out to sea from the Bay.

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