This experience happened two years ago, when I was living in San Francisco out at Ocean Beach. Ocean Beach is at the end of Golden Gate Park and is a well known surfer spot in the Bay Area. It is also a spot known for it's treacherous currents and is not a good place for a beginner surfer to try and surf.
I lived out at Ocean Beach for three years and it was not uncommon to see the Coast Guard helicopters as much as once a week or more, searching for surfers who did not come home or were reported missing. At night, the search lights from the helicopters would scan across the waves as they desperately searched.
Living at the beach meant having bonfires occasionally, and though bonfires were frowned upon by the rangers, they usually looked the other way if the group was responsible and not too loud or crazy.
This story took place one evening out on Ocean Beach during a bonfire.
A bunch of my neighbors, including my boyfriend, and I were having fun sipping wine and beer, gazing up at the stars and enjoying the waves rolling in to the shore under a half full moon sky. We had a blazing bonfire going and we were all enjoying an unusually warm evening for San Francisco when my boyfriend asked if I wanted to walk down to the surf with him to get away for a few minutes. I was willing to get away from the bright, warm fire for a bit so I agreed and we began to walk down to the shore.
The half moon that night bounced light off the medium size waves as we approached and that is when I saw the figure. To me, it appeared to be a male, dressed in a wet suit, wading through the waves coming towards the shore. I could see his arms swaying with his stride, but did not see his body from the waist down as it was submerged in water. What else caught my attention was despite the moon sparkling off the water all around the figure, there was absolutely no light reflected off this figure. I couldn't take my eyes off of it and noted that the figure was like a black hole in the water.
I must have watched it for 15 - 30 seconds when it suddenly vanished. I was so astonished, I turned to my boyfriend and announced, "I just saw a ghost!". My boyfriend doesn't believe in ghosts, but he replied, "You saw that too!" He then went on to say that he thought it looked like a police cut-out figure, like the ones police use for target practice. We were so amazed, even my boyfriend couldn't stop talking about it.
Now, that could have been the end of the story, but several weeks later my boyfriend went for a late night walk along the beach as he did often. He loved walking that beach at night, enjoying the solitude. I had fallen asleep by the time he returned but he woke me up in a panic. He told me that when he came up over the dunes to descend down towards the beach, he glanced at the water and to his astonishment, saw somewhere from 12 to 15 of these dark, unreflective figures bobbing in the waves. He said the hair rose all over his body and though he didn't like to admit it, the experience unnerved him quite a bit. He told me that as he descended the dune he continued to watch the figures bobbing in the surf but when he reached the level portion of the beach, he turned away from the water to head south. Nervously, he said he looked back quickly but the figures were no longer there.
Since he doesn't believe in ghosts and such, he says to this day he is not sure what he saw, but I believe they were the spirits of the surfers who did not make it back, Surfer Ghosts.