Oh Boy

zzSwell arrived at the North Devon coast today (pictured). It’s been a very, very long time since we received a groundswell over 6 inches. I floored it after work. Dived in and spent an eternity paddling out. Very meagre pickings from a two and a half hour session.

All the usual stuff crowds in on me after sessions like this one. Take up long boarding,just release the middle aged spread, drink less ale or surf at Saunton.

Bollocks to all of that.  Surf to survive

The Dawnie

Dawn-Patrol

It’s that time of year again.Swells have started to move in with some regularity. The weak windswells of the summer have shifted stage left for groomed groundswells but dammit the evenings are drawing in with the synchronicity that our seasons seem to impose upon us in these sceptred isles.

The dawnie is the only option other than the weekends for working class surfers around the globe during the dark months. In urban California this must mean joining countless grumpy commuters in a quickie before rejoining the highway . In the Shire it involves a more solitary half awake ramble down some mossy paths in a sharp wind followed by a ‘f*ckit I’m here now anyway’ type decision to surf the less than optimal conditions that frequently bely magicseaweed’s predictions. The autumnal setting back of the clocks only means that this self imposed torture can continue well into the winter. For me this aspect of my solitary pursuit is one of the most unpleasant but ultimately rewarding times. It is hard to describe the triumph of squeaking into work just on time having seen the sun rise and ridden a few overhead reef waves.

Image courtesy of Damian Fulton

Summer

DSCF0110This photo was taken in late March after a short but superlative session at high tide Croyde. It was a muscular swell.

Things could not be more different at the moment. There has not been quality surf for a good while. I have been swimming the width of this bay in the evenings trying to rehab my back.Not much more to add.

Light My Fire

DSCF0715A quick swim and a micro bonfire at Downend Point this morning. What could be better?

My back is giving me gyp but it survived a surf with my daughter on Friday evening.

Oh and the sun shone too 🙂

Oceanfest

257474

It looks so serene in the early summer sun doesn’t it? Croyde beach at its bucolic best. I expect it to look nothing like this during the weekend.

My daughter is about to experience a right of passage you see. Yes, she is going to a rock festival, this weekend by the shores of this beach. Or at least she is going to Oceanfest which is the nearest thing we have in North Devon to a counter cultural happening.It’s genuinely a big deal for her. There are bands that she likes (that I have never heard of) ,she can hang with her friends, camp out in the rain and witness the crazy goings on. Her chaperone ,read father, on the other hand will endure the strong winds and heavy rain, requests for more food and rave music played in the mud.

Come Friday evening things will look differently to one of us.I will report back to you my experiences after the weekend. Now where did I put my bandana?

P-land

DSCF0220

The ironically named P-land delivered typical fare yesterday evening. Close outs, waves that back off, promising peaks that seem to recede to the horizon, punishing paddle outs and very short rides. Putsbourgh does have many redeeming qualities , the clean water, the cliff line of Baggy Point, shelter afforded by the cliffs from the prevailing winds and the view down to Woolacombe being but a few of them but it has to be said that the quality of the surf is not one of them. True, on my first visit more than 15 years ago I experienced a memorable session which mainly included long looping left running barrels. I remember coming out after dark and receiving some compliments for my surfing. At the time it seemed the place for me, I moved to North Devon not long after. Unfortunately this was one of two times that I experienced such conditions. The real P-land revealed it’s tawdry self in the years and months that followed. Perhaps because of my first experience I still enter the water here with hope in my heart but it is so rarely justified.

G-land or Gradgagan, P-land’s Indonesian cousin has long looping left running barrels most days of the year. The water is clear and it is 18°C warmer than P-land is currently. Need I say more?

 The snap above is of a surfer about to jump in the rip that runs along the base of the cliffs. He will be sucked out into the lineup without too much energy lost from paddling and duck diving. Arriving in the lineup he will look at the lines of swell and feel optimistically about the remaining light hours of the evening. He does not yet realize that the stoke and joy will be squeezed from him during his session and he will return to shore a depressed and beaten man. Why is it he will undoubtedly return for the same treatment again just as I and many others do?

 Double click on the photo to feel the quality.