Posted by: smithdavid | November 4, 2012

Out of my Mind

The white flag with the black shark has been exchanged for a red flag with a white shark. The first few swimmers venture cautiously back into the Muizenburg water. It reminds me of watching buck at a river crossing in the Masai Mara. It only takes one or two brave ones to inch towards the water before they’re all pulled by the wisdom of the crowd, oblivious to the smug crocs that ravenously lie in wait.

I give it a while and then suit up. More chance of getting mowed down by a taxi than becoming shark treat, they reckon. There are a few other surfers’ in but there’s not much of a wave to speak of. It’s easy to get the yellow biscuit out back.

Muizenburg reminds me of Rossnowlagh – a seemingly endless beach with a constantly shifting, mostly beginner-friendly break. The big difference is the sun, the place has an almost Mediterranean feel.

hazy muizenburg

It’s warm in my 5/3 suit, I expected the numbing Cape Town water that I recall from previous visits. The east side of Cape Point is apparently that touch warmer.

With all the work I’ve put in since September, I’m expecting seamless pop-ups when I paddle into waves. I find a place, just to the left of the swimmers, where I reckon I might just catch a wave. I make sure I’m not the furthest out to sea, just in case this comes into the reckoning when sharky decides who will be his lunch.

A two-footer forms a little beyond. I turn the biscuit and start paddling. The wave is slow to reach me and I feel no pull on the board as it courses around me and then goes shore-ward  I paddle a few frantic strokes but I’m left behind. I sit up on the board and watch the wave go.

It’s the same with the next wave. And then another. A guy in a short sleeve wetsuit has made a couple of waves. He’s far lighter than me and his board is about the same length, I think ungraciously. There is a part of me that just cannot accept that I’ve been surfing for over a year, albeit intermittently, and still I’m pretty much a rank beginner.

At last a wave comes that takes me with it. I try and pop-up but the elegance that I thought I’d attained when doing this in the lounge in Ealing deserts me. It takes a while for me to get standing, my movement feels stiff and gormless. The wave carries me for a few yards and then I stall and I’m in the water.

what i think i should be capable of…

I shoot a glance out and see that the other guy caught the same wave and is still on it. He’s much younger, he’s been doing it for longer, I’m on a hire board, I think to console myself.

It takes little more effort to get out back this time. I’m gasping for breath and my only thoughts are of the sea and beautiful, rugged land curling around the shore. In this moment, with all the thoughts of my surfing progress out of mind, I feel that satisfaction that keeps me returning to the ocean.


  1. David I have to tell you that your adventures is like a crisp breath of fresh air. I am still restricted to surfing the side walks of London and I am longing the incoming swell at Koelbay. Your posts are feeding me hope and giving me patience. What a good read.

    • cheers armand. know that london feeling only too well. will be in sa in a months time – can hardly wait!

  2. Dave,

    I’ve been “away” but back this weekend. Feels so good to see your posts again.

    It can be so frustrating I know. But to put all that out of your head and feel the communion with the sea and the waves, as you describe at the end of the post- that’s it. That’s why. That’s all we need.

    Not to mention that you’re actually in South Africa surfing! How lucky can it get?

    Keep an eye out for the men in grey suits.


    • yip tom, i’ll be sure to steer clear of those guys in grey suits! the blog is about a year behind real time (though starting to catch up at last…) long and the short of it is that i’m in london now but will be in s africa again in a month. the local break is gonubie and it’s pretty intense! can’t wait to surf it again…thought you might be away, been starved of your posts for a while…thanks, as always, for reading…dave

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: