Surfing Vancouver Island  

December 7, 1997  


December 7, 1997

It's been three weeks since I crossed the Island to surf. The bruise on my thigh has disappeared, but I have not mended the skeg slash on my suit yet.

The swells this fall seemed to come weekly. There was a series of lows, that drifted south, out of the Bering straight and fired at the Island. Early on, a few storms reordered the beaches, moving sand bars and channels. Lots of strong rips and less than perfect peaks, some days. Friends introduced me to a point break, that I won't name. There was a long hike through a forest trail, littered with bear sign and salmon carcasses. We broke out onto a pebble beach full of shore birds and bald eagles, and the first site of this makin break in the distance. The pictures I had seen of it did not prepare me for the presence of that beautiful beast. The thunder of the collapsing tube as we paddled out to the point sent waves of adrenaline coursing through my surfing photos and stories from Vancouver Island and coastal British Columbia, Canada body. I felt like a kid arriving late to a parade, and rushed for a position of vantage. I heard someone let out a hoot before anyone had reached the line-up and realised it was me, but I was not alone. The veterans of this break that accompanied me were totally stoked. This wave, bless it's soul, made children of us all. For a boy weaned on beach break, this was a journey of revelation, an introduction to an entity. No way was I ready to place myself on this creatures face and be thrust towards the rocks, but I was awed to sit on it's shoulder and become acquainted. I'll go back, and I'll ready myself for this wave. I long to surf it, now that I've met it. I want to know it better.

surfing photos and stories from Vancouver Island and coastal British Columbia, Canada On other days, we surfed the beaches. As we entered the water the cry would rise, El Nino ........ El Nino. Late autumn and no need of gloves and hoods. This is the first year in many that I have been in good enough shape to get out into some bigger waves. Some of the cleanup sets, which pushed 15 feet, were down right intimidating. I was on my 9'6 and enjoyed the paddling speed and the ability to skirt around unruly peaks. Mostly the faces weren't great, and the rides were marginal (not just mine, but the more accomplished surfers with me as well), lots of ledgy faces and closeouts. Watched three sealions surf one of the bigger peaks side by side and was reminded surfing photos and stories from Vancouver Island and coastal British Columbia, Canada that even the most proficient among us are flailing initiates. The lions would rocket out of the face, one slightly leading the next in a choreography dictated by the dynamics of the wave. They would land down the face, disappear, and re-emerge at the top of the face, to repeat this horizontal breach again and again. Such a show, Marine World will never have. I had an awesome, humbling, exhilarating, exhausting time, on two, three day trips. Getting my switch stance down pretty good. Let's see a sealion do that.

I paddle the flatwater in front of my house, nearly every day, and finally replaced my slashed 4/3 kook suit with bonafide winter rubber, a hood attached 5/4/3 Quicksilver. The warmth of it all. The paddling has been great. A quiet moment of solitude on my ever changing bay. The seal that has kept me company for months, has disappeared, leading me to believe that the salmon runs in the local creeks have finished. The swan has sung it's song and is gone as well. Rarely does anyone join me now, surfing photos and stories from Vancouver Island and coastal British Columbia, Canada although they always claim to be warm enough when they do come out. I guess they have trouble warming up to the idea of getting cold and wet, with no possibility of surf to justify the excursion. Had five otters check me out one day. They quickly lost interest and snaked their way back to the debris in the tide line. They looked like the five disjointed humps of a serpent breaking the surface and disappearing again. If it's sunny I paddle in the middle of the day, otherwise I wait for the glassoff at dusk, or even after dark. I love the lights on the water, and the whistle of the dayliner (one car passenger train) echoing across my bay, back and forth between the mountains.

Two of the guys that do paddle with me occasionally, crossed the Island with me yesterday. The buoy was about 6 feet at 12 seconds, and the wind was SSW when we began our three hour drive. The swell and wind had been holding constant for a few days and I hoped we would be able find a working break that suited Tyler and Brad's inexperience. By the time we drove across, the buoy was 11 to 12 feet at 20 seconds. There was a lot of water moving, and mammoth cleanup sets spaced maybe 25 minutes apart, that pummelled every one of the dozen or so guys that followed the channels out. The only ones getting good rides out there were five sealions, again.

Tyler and Brad were happy to fool around in the very powerful soup, and I kooked around with them. I see real progress in both of these guys. They surf so infrequently surfing photos and stories from Vancouver Island and coastal British Columbia, Canada surfing photos and stories from Vancouver Island and coastal British Columbia, Canada that it's hard for them to get out of the beginner stages, but being in their teens, they forget nothing that they learn (about surfing) and conditioning is not an issue with them. They can run me into the sand. Three hours in the sun and soup and I was beat. The guys, as always, were great company on the long drive home, and the van stereo effectivly drown out their snores.

Still not wearing the hood up or using gloves.
Cam

El Nino ! . . . El Nino !

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