Posted by: smithdavid | December 9, 2012

On Surfari

‘I started in Tamorinda,’ says EV, ‘spent a month at the Spanish school.’ He’s referring to his year-long trip to Central and South America. He’s telling me because I asked. Ever since I started surfing, EV’s trip has been in the back of my mind. At times, the details dominate my thoughts when my mind should be focussed elsewhere: the travelling, the foreign language, the extended time off work, the surfing.

EV is in boardshorts and a short sleeve button-up with the last few buttons undone. His tennis-style, headless peak sits above his shades. He’s one arm out the Toyota window as we gun it east.

The first place we think of going is Witsand, but there is 30km’s of dirt road to get there. EV slows down for a while but then keeps going.

Stilbaai is next on the print-off of surf spots. It’s eleven o’clock and we’ve been on the go since eight and we’re on this trip to surf and not drive. So EV veers off the highway.


ev and the toyota

It takes a while to find a parking spot. We slam the doors shut and I think of the boards strapped to the roof and I walk a little bit taller. We sit on the rail and post fence and eat the sandwiches that EV’s Mom sent with us.
‘Pretty blown-out out there,’ EV says. His eyes, which are probably fierce and concentrated, are hidden by his shades. The ocean is littered with white froth, not a single surfer bobs on a board. But it’s not flat so I’m keen to go in and try and make something of it.

‘Let’s keep going..’ EV says. He’s living in Cape Town and has access to waves every day. He is more discerning than I.

We’re back on the highway, I’m composing a text asking where is best to go to one of EV’s surfing buddies. I’m trying to write it in EV’s voice.

In Vleesbaai, the sea is flat. EV can’t resist a swim, I wait on the beach. Then we’re off again.

At Heroldsbaai it’s not as flat as Vleesbaai and not as blown-out as Stilbaai. We suit up in the heat of the car park.

‘Probably best to stay out the rip for now,’ says EV as we begin paddling out. He has his eye on a wave breaking some distance out and he will use the rip as a conveyor to take him out there.

A few venomous waves strike us. EV ducks under them and then sees how I’ve been washed up. He gives me a demonstration of the duck-dive and then goes into the rip.
‘Try get a few out here,’ he says. And then: ‘See you later.’ He grins and is gone.

I drift towards the swimmers and have to work hard to get back to a point from which there is some chance of catching a wave.


the view from abi’s

But there is no interval between the messy waves during which I can set myself to catch one. I persist with little success. Every now and again, above the relentless walls of on-coming froth, I catch a glimpse of EV riding waves with freedom and elegance. And just after this, each time, I have to brace myself against another onslaught.

I resign myself to practicing duck-dives. But my success is limited, even with this. Eventually EV returns from his far-off place.

‘Keep going, mate – it took me ages to get to the level I’m at now,’ he says when he sees the despondent look on my face.

Later we get to Abi’s place in Sedgefield. It overlooks an estuary and the only power is an extension lead, brought in from the neighbours’ house, for the fridge.

As we stand around the fire cooking food and sipping on Windhoeks, I feel a satisfied fatigue in my body. The fact that I rode no waves fades as I watch the flickering flames.



  1. Dave,

    You were there, and you went out. That’s pretty cool to me- wave catching or not.


  2. Aw man, it’s good to hear from others who are still on this side of the surfing curve. The joy is in all the bits and pieces though. BTW – try Samara instead of Tamagringo (get it… Too many gringos). Great language school, sleepy little town with decent surf, and killer surf just 30 minutes north (Nosara) for when you’re ready to take on the bigger stuff. Enjoy the enjoying!!

    • great tip, thanks julianna. thankfully, i’m beside the sea now and am starting to see some real improvement…dave

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