By all accounts, today was as good as it gets at our break. How discouraging for me, to have good waves! The better the waves, the worse I do. And the more I have to listen to other people talk about how great their rides were, when I didn't get any, the more depressed I get.
It was really, really crowded today when I checked it, so I decided to go a couple of jetties down to be by myself, but not completely---I never like to be out totally alone, especially when it's big, because I like to think that if something happens I need at least one other person out who will come to my aid (a theory that's never had to be tested---in reality they might be too busy surfing to notice). But at that break I was having a hard time getting out. And after my first two attempts the other person left, so I moved back down to the crowded beach.
The waves were about chest high with some bigger ones, and I wasn't getting out. I tried, once again, doing exactly what my surf instructor taught me, but each time I just got pushed back. After a while of this I ended up way down the beach and who was there but one of the guys who had tried and failed, along with me, to get out on the 23rd. Here he was trying again---and failing just as miserably.
That was just too depressing even for me. I pretty much gave up, resolving not to waste my time trying to surf anymore until I can get another surf lesson. From time to time I get to this point, and usually a lesson or two is enough to get me motivated again. I don't know if it's the advice I get, or just the effect of having someone out with me who is rooting for me, or both. But this is about the fifth time I have reached the point of feeling that further trying to learn to surf by myself without a clue as to what to do is pointless.
So, feeling hopeless, I got out of the water...and saw D. I told him I couldn't get out and didn't want to try anymore because I didn't know how to do it. He told me to go to the spot that he always uses because it's easier to get out there, to time the lulls, and then paddle like hell.
When I got to the spot there were five other people who had the exact same thing in mind. It was kind of funny. We didn't speak to each other or even much look at each other, but we formed a kind of orderly procession and followed each other out like ducklings. When there was a lull, we all started paddling and we all got out easily.
Once out, I think there was a different kind of vibe in the water than yesterday, when everyone was taking off all at once on the smaller waves. I don't think I imagined it, because D. felt it it too: people being respectful, not hassling each other, looking out for each other. D. said it was because everyone who was out today was a good surfer. Well, I surely messed up that vibe!
Maybe it was just out of respect for the waves, which so rarely get this good.
I was the only woman out. I didn't recognize anyone in the water except for one guy I've seen before but haven't talked to.
It seemed like a lot of waves were passing by without being tried for, waves that I would have expected people to paddle for and which they could have made. I wasn't quite sure why that was. I just observed for a while what people were doing or not doing. It wasn't like on small wave days when five guys try for anything remotely rideable. Maybe they were waiting for the bigger sets, but every wave today was bigger than 80% of the waves at our break.
Finally I paddled for a wave, but missed it. I saw the guy I recognized looking at me disapprovingly. Later he said, "If you took two strokes more you would have gotten it--what happened, did you lose your nerve?" I said, "I guess so." He said, "Well, that was a big one." What happened was at the last minute I got the feeling that my nose was going to go straight down, as it so often does, and if that happened on waves as big as these I would have been separated from the board, somersaulted, and ended up who knows how, maybe with my fin sticking out of my head. Was I wrong, then, that in thinking that going for that wave would have been a disaster? Was he right and I actually would have made it and not somersaulted?
I do think I know the feeling that the board is going nose down, and every time I have it I instinctively back off, but what if I'm just sabotaging myself by doing that? But doesn't a surfer know when she's going to pearl and when she's not?
I think so, I think that it's a whole different feeling when you're not going to pearl. But I don't know.
I thought, though, right before I didn't paddle those two more strokes, that I got the feeling that the waves although big were gentle in the sense of being easy to catch and maybe, just maybe, fun to ride. I never got to find that out though. A big set came through and I found myself in the position of having one about to break on my head. I should have turtled. I didn't. Instead I turned around and sat back on the board, getting the nose up in the air, which usually works on smaller waves, and might have worked on this one but my timing was wrong. I ended up being swept by that wave all the way back to shore. Had I turtled, perhaps, just perhaps, I wouldn't have gotten pushed back (though I doubt it) and I could have tried for another wave.
But I had been out for two and a half hours, and I decided to call just getting out today (and not giving up on it) a victory.
Of course to hear anyone else talk today was fun, they're stoked out of their gourd, had the best rides of their lives, etc. etc. etc.
These good wave days are tough going. I really am proud of how I did, but God knows fun was no part of it. Maybe tomorrow it'll be back to crap waves and I'll have a chance of having fun. Seems the last time that happened in the water was two long months ago.