Posted by: smithdavid | September 1, 2013

Some Sort of Ride

I can see that something has changed as I look out from the Gonubie car park. The smooth, glassy mid-ocean surface from the last few days has transformed into a white, uneven mush. I watch for a while, kidding myself that I’m actually considering not going in. Then I turn to Phoenix, begin suiting up.

I notice when I begin wading in that the waves are far more frequent than yesterday and the day before that. When I’m in thigh deep, I place Christine down, my hand guiding her as I continue to walk in. When I’m chest high, I wait for a break in the broken waves before I begin paddling. The sea seems agitated, the waves run into me with a destabilizing momentum. I wait for another few to go by but still there is no break in the set. With my holiday resolution of always going all the way out back in mind, I spring onto Christine and begin paddling.

messy at gonubie...

messy at gonubie…

I go through one wave, then a second, keep paddling. I notice how my arms get over their initial tiredness quickly and then feel strong. Another wave batters into me, knocks me back but I keep on going.

After fifteen minutes or so I’m three quarters of the way out. I rest when I can in between waves, they’re still coming with relentless frequency.

Now I see two other surfers. They are in the rip on my left which I’m still a little afraid to use as a means to get out back. They duck dive when waves come, then paddle with even, composed stokes. Quickly they catch me up and then are past me, going out left to where the reef wave breaks. I paddle a little more, eventually getting out back.

I sit up on Christine, rest for a while. When I look around I see that the other two haven’t gone to the reef as I first thought but are sitting about ten yards farther out.  A swell line approaches and one of them paddles, pops up, rides down the face.

someone makes the drop...

someone makes the drop…

I rest for a while longer, then see a line coming. I turn and paddle but the smooth progress I felt on the glassy water seems a lot longer away than one day. The wave never really picks me up and as it passes me by I see down the face of it and my heart quickens at the sheer drop.

I sit up on Christine, rest again. It seems now that I’m too far out. I lie down again and begin paddling towards the shore.

I look over my shoulder and see that a wave has jacked up in the position that I’ve just left, I’m too far in now and am probably going to get dumped. But I keep on paddling, go with the momentum.

The wave grips Christine, pulls us over the edge. Everything is blurred. I know my best chance is to pop-up, I make it halfway up, left foot forward, right foot on the deck-grip. It’s at this time that I’d usually fall off but I stay in my crouched position, race all the way down the face. Now I stand fully, try and aim Christine towards the ever moving shoulder.

At last I have some control. When the ride finally ends I dive over, stay submersed in the cool water for a while. It’s only now that I have time to consider the fact that I’ve not only escaped a potential dumping but also salvaged some sort of ride out of the wave. Thoughts of the long paddle out fade.



  1. lucky boy. she’ll get you next time, no doubt.

    • she’s got me already 🙂 thanks for reading…

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