By Dan Dobbin.
Cover image: @usixdesigns
Spring hit like clockwork this year. September 1st, to use a tired cliche’, was like somebody flipped a switch.
You get a few tip offs that change is a’ coming on the NSW North Coast.
The Bindi Eyes start colonizing the lawn. Wattle bursts into bloom all along the coastal heaths. Plovers start their incessant squarking and swooping.
How these hooded bastards are a protected species is beyond me, they’re in almost plague proportions where I live.
But it’s another protected species that causing all kinds of grief on the East Coast of Australia at the moment.
Four fatal shark attacks, and multiple near misses in the last five months has made surfing the not quite relaxing and enjoyable pass time it once was around my parts.
More a “constantly scanning the ocean nervously” pass time now.
I don’t mind admitting that the death of 15 year old Mani Hart-Deville in July has rattled me for a number of reasons. Proximity, community connections and age demographic have lead to a pretty radical revision in my surfing practices lately.
From ” It won’t happen to me or mine” to ” What steps can I take to minimize risk”.
Normally at this time of year I go into a mini funk as the glory days of all day offshores and long period south swells of winter give way to northerly wind chop, cold upwelled water and warmer weather crowds.
Kick stones and curse the surf gods.
But this year I’m almost welcoming it.
Spring’s shit surf is a great excuse to not want to paddle out into potentially very sharky waters.
Still, soon the annual bait fish and whale migration that may be causing the Shark influx to this region will be tailing off. Soon surfing won’t feel so sketchy.
But until that happens, I know how to survive this time of year.
There’s a track behind the sand dunes that’s a good mix of sand, grass and hills that keeps the fitness up.
A 14ft flat water SUP I “borrowed” from my old man gets a flogging up and down various bodies of water.
I’ve purchased a 46′ Science Thunder board that I’ve kitted out with some softboard fin plugs and little knubster fins to serve as training wheels while I hopefully learn the ancient art of stand up boogie in the north chopped soup.
Survive spring. That’s the mission.