Technology said it was looking good from days out. You don’t even have to buy the subscription to get a three day ahead forecast. I remember watching the weather and waiting for the isobar chart to appear. Bollocks to the sun/cloud/rain/fog etc stickers that they used to throw at the map on the board behind them (yes I’m that old), just give me the good stuff; the onion rings sat just off the coast with that ridge of high pressure sat right over us. Next came the facsimile. Honestly. I paid one dollar a week to receive a fax on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday with a forecast including those isobaric charts and the start of the now ubiquitous day by day wave height, wind direction etc. The internet was a revelation. Long before actual surf report sites there was always the NOAA site. Look and learn.
In economic terms I reckon the internet forecast has saved me thousands in fuel money. No more getting there a day early/late. The downside of course is that I’m standing at the beach next to the lifeguard tower, sun yet to make an appearance, with 10 others. I kinda know most of them if not by name, by board, car, face. I try not to mingle too much. Most at this spot are older, it’s not near a town and the nearest houses are a fair cycle away so it’s nearly all grown-ups, a fair few retired I’d guess. I try not to mingle because most lack enthusiasm, even on the really good, no question about it, get you’re arse out there days, you’ll still hear, “bit straight”, “how’s the sweep..” and so on.
Today is no exception. There’s not a breath of wind but the sea surface has that look of “just gimme a minute to sort myself out” about it. So the discussion amongst the parliament this particular morning is all “bit of wobble..”, “backing off a bit”. I know it’s gonna get good, the tide is heading out, the wind, very soon, will blow offshore and it will tidy itself up, but I can feel myself being dragged into indifference by the inclination to the negative of the old owls. Then a startling new arrival ruffles the feathers.
I’m guessing 13, push bike with board on a rack. She leans it up against the fence next to the tower and loosens the bungies holding the board in. She hasn’t even looked to the sea. She gets some wax from the basket on the front and gives her board a perfunctory rub. And she’s off. As she covers the ground between dunes and water she spots the rip, briefly crouches to wrap her leash and in no time is out the back. I don’t even wait to see her first wave, my ‘old fuckers’ induced malaise is broken. I’m second out. It got better and better and better. Bigger, cleaner, more hollow. Even a couple of the grumps came out, others I’m sure to their Suncoast Daily, a coffee and a moan about… whatever.
Two and half hours later I talked myself into a final wave. Euan had to drop the little’un off at school and wasn’t going to make it to the early so we’d agreed to meet a bit further up the coast, away from everybody. I had an hour so grabbed a coffee, fruit toast and a read in a cafe on the way up. I was there five minutes before him so went through the same ritual we all do. Sunscreen, zinc, rashie. Opened the back doors of the truck and went (aloud) “Oh bollocks…”. Where this morning there were two boards there was now one. I’d left it on the side of the road at the first spot. Now I’m not precious about ‘things’ particularly but I’d only just made this board and I really liked it. So I’m faced with a quandary. Go back the half hour down the coast and see if it’s still there but miss an hour of good surf with my mate (added danger of wind swinging), surf the other board and go back later and see if it’s still there, or try ringing the lifeguard office at the spot and see if it’s been handed in.
The lady on the switchboard at the council office gave me the Lifeguard supervisor’s mobile number. It was Kingy on duty. I knew him. He knows me and he knows my boards. Fingers crossed..
K: “Yeah, who’s this?”
M: “It’s Gaz the Pom…”
K: “Hahaha…. Ya dickhead.. Hahaha”