Surfing

Monday, May 15, 2006

Thought I'd share this morning's activities...

After dropping Denise off at work at 5am, I headed to the beach with my full wetsuit already on. After a 14 minute drive, I got to Salt Creek Beach - the closest beach with waves. Going down the paved road to the beach in the semi dark, I could tell the conditions were not going to be as good as the previous day, as there was a cold breeze hitting my face and a very slight drizzle insisting on making itself present.

From my vantage point in the road, the grey waves breaking in the distance did seem a little mushy, but it was already too late to turn back. Reaching the humid shoreline sand, I streched for a little bit, examining the stormy looking waves. I noticed a black spec in the dim light - another surfer had already beat me to the water! As I starred in disbelief, another surfer ran up to the shore, apparently eager to jump into the chaotic surf. Not wanting to delay any longer, I quickly put on my fins, strapped on my leash and reluctantly walked into the water.

Protected by the wetsuit, the cold water wasn't too bad - until I had to duck-dive through the oncoming set of waves. And it did not stop. Wave after wave was breaking just before me, just giving me a hint of impossible hope, before it came crashing down and dragged me further back. The waves were not big, but they hurt my pride. In my haste, I had not waited for the ideal time and had not traced my entry and direction properly. I am usually the one with the smug smile as I reach the lineup unscathed by the waves, but this time my wet hair betrayed my plight.

Huffing and puffing - man, am I out of shape - I finally got to the lineup, nodded to the other guys - the second guy had actually arrived before me, taking a better route into the water - and patiently waited. And waited. And waited. The chilly wind was weak but bitting as the overcast morning brought some light. I did manage to slip down a few waves, but they proved to be just a small drop and then bulged out of shape, no fun...

Soon there were over 15 guys out - all of us drifting slowly in the eternal wait between the sets. The wind had died down a bit and, while not glassy, the texture of the oncoming swell was smoother. Once in a while, a wave would paint a smile on someone's face as he dropped into the wave and franctically tried to manuever back and forth on the faceless blob. There were a few good waves - if they had the right size - that would wall-up and break all at once, leaving a small corner for any fortunate soul who happened to be there.

It was almost time to go home - get ready for the weekly grind... Surfing before work can be a great experience, but so far it had proved fruitless.

I had drifted apart from the pack a bit, but was still pretty deep, wanting to catch a bigger wave before I left. Preparing to correct my location, I noticed an omnious dark shape in the limited visibility of the gray horizon. This was quickly confirmed by the ensuing scramble as everyone starting to paddle toward it, hoping to get to the wave in time, or, at least, not get a cold pounding on the head. As luck would have it, I was actually perfectly positioned!

I ever so casually turned my board around, facing the approaching crowd, and, as the dark mass loomed up behind me, put in a couple strokes, and added a powerful kick with my fins. Gliding seemlesly into the mountain of water, I realized it was bigger than I had anticipated. A nice drop into the wave left me with a clear view of the remainder of my ride. The wave majestically moved forward, threatning a peak here and there, but not breaking in the deep water - maintaining a perfectly balanced wall!

As I fanned (envious) nearby surfers with sprays from my turns, I must have looked like the happiest surfer around - or at least the happiest paraplegic surfer, since ridding a kneeboard allots for a somewhat singular style. Forcing my edge into the water, it seemed like I was picking up speed on each turn, climbing and dropping mockingly in front of the pursuing white water.

What happened next was totally unexpected but was what made this wave so special.

Some distance ahead of me, another peak had sprouted and was pouring over itself, slowly heading in my direction with the intent of ending my joyous ride. Then, a few board lenghts ahead of me, just as I made my final turn down into the wave, 2 gray fins emerged at the top of the wave. Two (or 3?) dolphins were sharing the wave with me, surfing underwater right ahead of me! I turned as the wave closed out behind me and pointed my board to the beach.

Going up the steep paved incline, an older gentleman passed by me with a determined step, but I kept my slow and happy pace.