By Dan Dobbin.
I fucking hate all of you.
I’ll smile and be nice and chit chat in the surf, but know that deep down I fucking hate you.
Actually that’s not true. I don’t hate you, I just hate the idea of you surfing where I’m surfing.
Surfing is what I do to enjoy myself, and when you’re out there doing the same thing, you’re fucking it up for me.
So fuck the abstract idea of you.
The older I get the stronger this almost paranoid aversion to others is getting.
A few years ago I started stashing old boards and fins in strategic places along the stretch of undeveloped and poorly traffic coastal strip near where I live.
Bit of a run up the beach finds solitude.
The waves in this area are far from noteworthy, outer bank beachies and high tide shorey banks being the standard fare.
What is there though is a distinct lack of you.
Things have been a little strange lately. Maybe I’m going through man-a-pause but I haven’t really felt like surfing. It’s weird when you’ve built your whole existence around an activity to not feel the urge to do it.
Autumn is prime time. Warm water, offshores, mixes of East and South swells lighting up multiple options. I’m on two weeks holiday from real life job. I should be gorging on water time.
Instead I’m sleeping in, running errands, starring forlornly at the waves and talking myself out of paddle outs. Looks slow, too windy, too fat, not lining up right, too much hassle.
Still, old habits are hard to break. As the sound of the highway is carried to my ears by the morning westerlies , and the overnight temperatures dip into doona territory, my body subconsciously rouses itself one morning just after dawn.
Righto, righto, let’s go walkabout and see what we can find.
The end of the rattle along the dirt track reveals 3ft of perfectly groomed swell, the remnants of a bigger pulse I couldn’t be fucked chasing the day before. I should probably high tail it a few clicks north to the reefs, but… You might be out. Fuck you. Up the beach it is.
I get my shorts wet crossing a lake that’s broken out running to the sea after the record rain we’ve had over the last 3 months. As I walk, all the outside banks look fat, and the high tide shorey banks are too shorey’ey.
The big tides have sodden the sand, making the walk an extra trudge and I’ve got to periodically scramble the dunes to avoid getting wet as the swell surges in.
Near the first headland the water makes it impossible to keep going unless I traverse a stretch of slippery and sharp boulders. Mentally and physically frustrating.
Around the bend the surf conditions remain the same.
I keep walking. Wet shorts chaffing. Time and distance passing.
2/3rds along the next stretch of beach the coast bends more to east. Finally some workable banks start to appear.
It actually looks kind of fun. Now I just need to retrieve a board from the scrub.
Righto, third cut in the big dune up closer to the second headland.
It’s base has eroded significantly thanks to the record rainfall, revealing a solid slick of clay to scramble up. Tough work. The valley in the dune is overgrown with new growth too. I’ll have to be careful where I put my feet. Coping a bite from a brown snake would be a real buzzkill kilometres from the nearest centre of civilization.
Okay, up the top of the dune, under the pandanus tree on the lee side, grab the gear and hit the waves.
Except no board. No fins.
There’s no way someone has randomly stumbled upon them way up here and taken them, so where the hell are they?
The rain? Has it washed the gear away down the back of the dune into the scrub? It had been absolutely pissing down for weeks on end, torrential downpours, so it’s a strong possibility.
I spend the next half an hour bent double stumbling through low hanging coastal scrub, snapping branches, swating away vines and watching where I’m putting my feet, trying to mind map the way the water would have run off the back of the dunes and hopefully deposited my gear somewhere.
Still no board. No fins.
So I sit at the top of the dune. I’m chaffed, scratched, covered in clay and I can’t surf. It’s a perfect autumn day. The warm, bright sun, the perfect blue water, the manicured swell. A picture perfect day and I’m blowing it.
But funnily enough, I don’t care.
I have a quick bodysurf, then start the long walk back. I’m happy. I’m happy because you, or anyone else that might be you, isn’t here.