Mar 20 2013
Have you ever experienced one of those moments when you have to pinch yourself because it doesn’t seem real?
This morning, Jeff and I are standing on the headlands scouting a break for surf – the sun is shining, there isn’t a breath of wind, the fog bank is sitting off-shore, and 4 foot glassy waves are spilling across the break. We lapse further into our fantasy world, when we see a huge pod of Risso’s dolphins feasting and frolicing just outside the break. There are well over 100 dolphins launching into the air, somersaulting and belly flopping into the water.
Our existence feels surreal as we head down to the beach in anticipation of sunshine, surf, and the enchanting magic of dolphins. Then, the fog rolls in erasing the sun and veiling the glassy faced waves that moments ago we were surfing in our minds. It socks in so thick you can barely see across the beach, and the glassy green faces morph quickly into dumpy, wrinkled grey masses with madly frothing tresses.
As my fantasy of sunshine and surf dissipates, I tell myself “It’s training. Get out there and get some waves.” Slowly, I launch and start to traverse the surf zone heading north where I saw Jeff disappear into the fog. Foam piles tumble at me as spewing lips threaten to chomp down on me. Currents push, pull, and grab at my kayak as I work to keep her on course.
Finally, I find the rip current and catch a free ride out of the chaotic soup zone. The rip feeds me into a quiet place in the break behind a reef where I can chill out and start reading the water.
Jeff is out in the middle – probing and hunting for green faces and spilling shoulders. I watch and wait. This is a tricky beach break that we only surf on small days. The waves are variable and constantly shifting making good rides elusive. Chances are good that if you venture out into the middle of the break to surf a wave, you will find yourself in too deep, take one on the head, or get tossed.
I am sitting in my eddy at the edge of all the chaos and confusion. Trying to read the jumbled and bumpy water, I feel like a dyslexic student hiding in the back of the class praying that the teacher doesn’t call on me to read aloud. I hide in the eddy trying to avoid embarrassment and punishment while the star pupil is showing off.
The sun breaks through and Jeff catches some nice long rides. I am no longer content to sit in my eddy. I want to be launching onto those green faces and carving up and down. I cautiously nose out of my eddy. A steep face rears up and I turn tail and scoot back into my eddy. This ticks me off. Determination sets in and out I go to accept what ever the sea has in store for me.
A wall of water starts to build and I carefully position myself to where it is walling up the steepest. Two strokes later, I am hurling down a 6 foot wall of water and carving into a bottom turn. I see a cone of water forming down the line as I carve up the face of the wave. All of a sudden time seems suspended, and I feel like I am in a freeze-frame photo sequence. At the crest, I drop back down and set my shore side rudder to subtly climb and drop, climb and drop, climb and drop across the face of the spilling wave. The wave steepens so I race up the face then drop down to reset my angle and continue my diagonal run until the wave crumbles into a foam pile at the southern end of the beach.
I am elated as I traverse back across the surf zone thinking to myself, “I ripped the shit out of that wave.” Jeff is pumping both of his fists in the air. That magical - life is a dream – feeling has returned.
We both head back out to try our luck with the next set. As the morning progresses, some rides are marvelously long, others are fun steep one drop wonders that end in deep water, while others pitch and hurl us down the line and remind us of the reality that we are not in control here. This is not a dream.