Surfing Vancouver Island  

world surf day 99  

worldnosurffor camday 99
photo of the bay from my surfboard
sat out in the bay and shot around myself - click to enlarge

WSD (world surf day) 99, I sat at the PC and watched the gloom of a wintry day, invade the solace of the night. I looked over the mail and the NGs (news groups), but didn't have the heart to check the buoys. I wouldn't be surfing that day or any day soon, and for that matter, I've done precious little surfing this winter. Compare less than a dozen surfing trips in the last year, with 25 to 30 the year before, and 50 or 60 the year previous to that one. It tells the tale of my, and my province's financial decline. Now I have to say, my family is doing better than many. My wife has a government job with benefits, but we simply have no recreation budget, and replacing broken non-essentials (like my van) is beyond our means. Couple this with some teenager family episodes that left my household reeling, and it's enough to get a guy feeling down.

With little hope to surf regularly, I have slipped away from any sort of a regular exercise regime and into a state of hibernation. WSD shone in my eyes, ever more brightly as it approached, and finally it had arrived, full on and in my face.

map of Ladysmith Harbour A light rain patterned the ocean that morning, and I lit the wood stove to warm the house before the family stirred. I decided if it was a no- surf day, I would at least get on the water for a paddle. I started to warm up with a stretch, that made me feel like a workout. Straightening out the weight room was enough for me, but I did a single light set. I kept looking out on our saltwater bay. The wind was picking up and the rain got stronger. Sometimes I look out on that bay, and it shouts at me like one of my childhood friends "get out here Scott" but today there was only the patter of rain on the skylight. I decided to blow off WSD and build some shelves for the old lady (60s cult lingo for significant other of the female persuasion). Sending in a paddling report for WSD seemed to be a little on the hurtin side. I guess I didn't feel much like a surfer and the ocean wasn't speaking to me. Josephine is our Boston Great Dane, a true sweetheart

I thought about WSD all day as I worked. My outlook pissed me off. I thought about a report full of reasons why not ....... strike that ..... excuses why I was not surfing today. I tore all the bullshit apart like I would do for the kids if they were stuck in a funk. The issue ceased to be "why I was not surfing". It was foolishness. Family first is the commitment. The issue focused. "Why am I imitating a slug?" It got my juices flowing. When I finished the shelves I went for a long walk with the dog and came home and wrote.

WSD +1

The sun beat me out of bed today. I lay thinking about yesterday as I woke up. The shelves worked out great and I felt good about that. The workout yesterday was perfect, enough of an overall ache to let me know how far gone my conditioning is, but not enough to give me an excuse to convalesce on the couch (a harmless item of furniture before the advent of TV). My stiff muscles from the exercise felt good, even satisfying. I started writing something yesterday. It's the first thing since teenage drama sucked the life out of us a year ago. That felt downright exhilarating. I bounced out of bed, into my wetsuit and down to the ocean for a paddle on morning glass.

WSD +2

A strong wind blows from the northwest and I paddle into a foot of chop. Good windsurfing day but I also like paddling in these conditions. The wind winds up my energy level and drowns out the sounds of human society on the surrounding shorelines. The tide is low and as my finger-tips brush the bottom, I am happy to be wearing gloves. The shells and bottom litter would slash them to ribbons. I paddle over oyster and clam beds. With the tidal range around here the bay out front can be nearly 20' deep or high and dry.
photo of Leo Limberis's oyster crew
Leo Limberis's oyster crew - house above the barge is my target when I paddle

WSD +12

I've been walking, working out, and paddling daily since WSD. Buggered my back and missed one day, but it's the most consistent exercise I've had since last fall. It feels great, physically and mentally. I sit on my longboard and pause in the middle of the bay and scrutinise the clear cuts on the surrounding mountains. A few new bald patches grow and the old replanted areas begin to blend into the surrounding forests. This area is all second and third cut. Very little ancient forests around here. Most of the area was burned 200 years ago. I wonder how my first nations neighbours (Stz˙minus) would be spending this day if Europeans had not stumbled upon this place. I think how amazing it is, that a diverse collection of folks, scattered around the planet, can reach into my home on a daily basis. Without trying, the alt.surfing crew can pry me from my sedentary hibernation and out onto the water. My construction worn back needs exercise to keep me pain free and my spirit needs the ocean to cleanse it, mend it, and make it whole. I begin to doubt that the ocean has ever stopped talking to me. I think I just stopped listening to her.

closing thought

I am drawn to the edge of the abyss, to peer over the edge and into the void. I crave the silence of transcendence. I can roll a mantra over in my mind until it and all thought disappears from my consciousness. I can go out on the water and find silence, but my dreams are filled with moments when all disappears but me on my board, and that massive fluid animation of almighty power cradling me in the curls of it's face, and the time when I transcend my normal life, reach out my hand and caress the great architect's brow.

I feel much better
thanks alt.surfing









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