Surf Fiction: The Natural

This week’s Surf Fiction comes from Ben Douglas of The Cachalot blog. That whole site consists of stories like this, brief little explorations of various aspects of surf life through the eyes of different narrators. This one is a sweet little walk down surf-memory lane, exploring the sometimes difficult territory of sharing the surf with the lady in your life.

surf fiction

The Natural

by Ben Douglas

The first time was up at Main Beach at Seal Rocks. It was at least a couple of years ago now, the first weekend we’d been camping together. We stayed in a tent down by the billabong at Treachery. Had it to ourselves. Got a bit tipsy and silly, and I tore the gusset out of my jeans doing an Elvis impersonation on the sand dunes. We still laugh about it.

I wasn’t long off the boogers and standing up, and was full of grommet froth. I’d been banging on about surfing near constantly for weeks, and I guess it can be infectious. She is a have-a-go sort, up for most anything. So I’d borrowed Francois Croissant’s pink and grey tri-fin longboard for the weekend, and Riffo had lent her one of his old steamers, a shoulder entry number with very little grip left in the Velcro and more holes than neoprene in the knees. And off we went.

There was a couple of foot of swell crumbling into Seals early on the Sunday. It was a cracking autumn morning, the ceiling of the world painted blue with just a couple of white smudges, and the water clear as glass and very cold. I gave her a couple of pointers about where to lie on the board, parroting things I’d recently been told myself. She paddled and I swam out to just inside the surf line, where the waves were just foaming mumblers. I pushed as she stroked into half a dozen of them, and she popped up and rode every one of them. Didn’t fall or pearl once. Crouched in trim until she got close to the shore, then jumped off the mal, splashing back to the surface with a grin smeared all over her face. Eventually the gallons of frigid brine gushing into her wettie through all the holes got the best of her, and she gave me the board and went in, shivering and smiling quietly to herself.

The second time was a month back at Old Man’s in Canggu, Bali. Our honeymoon. It was a bit messy, onshore, the beach scorchingly hot volcanic sand and the water murky greenbrown. The sun was scolding, the air humid. I hired a nine six single fin, yellow and blue and white. She wore my singlet and a bikini, and once more she paddled and I swam out a bit to the re-forms. She was a bit nervous, as the waves were disorganised and scrappy, but she soon calmed down. I pushed and she paddled into a bunch of waves, and up she popped, almost every time. Balanced. Steady. Killing it. On her last one, her longest ride, she stood up from her crouch, all five and bit foot of her, and surveyed the scene. Styling.

The third time was back at Seminyak, a couple of days later. It was morning, the sun up and about but not fully awake. The beach was wide and flat and studded with small thatched huts. Humans and dogs trotted and stretched and scavenged. The sea was glossy and warm, caressing our skin as she paddled and I porpoised over the smooth, well-shaped little waves that peeled along the edge of a shallow nearshore bank. I had rented a foam longboard, astro-turf green with bumpers like bicycle tyres fore and aft. It was four and then some inches thick and nine and a half foot long, with crosshatched decking that needed no wax, a slick white belly and three stubby black rubber fins. It paddled like a riverboat and turned like a battleship. Nevertheless, she paddled it, on her own, into several little straighthanders, got a few thorough thrashings and a nice line on a couple of peelers.

Now she is talking about what colour board she wants (currently an aqua greeny-blue).

For more, www.thecachalot.com

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