Not Surfing at Boings Beach, Melbourne
I hate waves.
Arenzano Beach, Genoa-2008
A storm is brewing in the horizon. Ash grey clouds hover close together, the winds pick up and the salty air turns sultry. The mild waves that were lapping the shore previously are now picking up in speed and size. The tide pulls back further, faster than ever and returns to slam the shore, gathering up giant swells on its journey and smashing it to smithereens when it breaks. I am paddling back furiously and curse Giorgio, my friend for getting me out in the middle of the sea in the first place. I’ve no idea where Giorgio is but panic halts my wandering thoughts. The only single focussed thought that I have is to survive.
I feel the pull of a breaking wave, the undercurrent of the ocean sucking at my feet into the giant underbelly of a swell, my efforts dwindling against the sheer force of the sea, and within seconds, a thundering roar deafen my ears and I plunge into a gurgling, abysmal darkness. My skin feels like it’s about to split open, strange sensations take over and with my sense of direction and fighting spirit lost, I let nature take control.
Boings Beach, Ocean Grove, Victoria-2012
I hate waves. I like watching them from a distance but I hate being caught in one. Don’t misunderstand-I’m not aqua phobic. I’m a tropical beach aficionado, a relatively strong swimmer, have lived and traveled on boats that rock and ships that almost sank, and have snorkelled for hours at mangrove swamps and jelly-fish infested straits, but I much prefer the gentle lapping ripples of Anse Royale bay at Seychelles than the raging shores of Basheba, East Barbados.
I know being small is no excuse. I’ve seen kids of my size gleefully leaping into the jaws of the waves but I much rather prefer to admire the reflecting glint of the ocean from a safe spot on the beach than to pull on a bravado.
So when my housemate, Alessandro mentioned that we (the housemates) all should embark on a surfing trip on a blustery, potentially rainy Tuesday, I baulked instantly at the idea. While I’d been eager to get some fresh sea breeze and stretch my aching waitressing legs for a bit, I wasn’t sure if I’d like to surf or even learn how to. How utterly boring it’d be for me especially the weather forecast didn’t look promising and I’d probably have to wrap myself in a windbreaker while attempting to read flapping pages of a book.
However, Mister A was adamant to go. He wanted to show off his amateurish surfing skills that he had picked up in Bali. And because I didn’t intend to wallow in self-pity nor stay coped up in my tiny room, journaling about why I hate waves and vice versa, I followed.
Alessandro had sketched a map that we were meant to follow. With Mister A navigating and Alessandro behind the wheel, I curled up behind and feasted on pain au chocolate for breakfast.
As the journey continued to take us towards Ocean Grove, a seaside town on the Bellarine Peninsular, and further away from Melbourne, the overcast skies gave way to warm sunshine. The Divine must have parted the clouds and commanded, ‘let there be light’. Is it just Melbourne with horrible, pissy weather?
Alessandro and Mister A walked into a surf shop in town to take out some wet suits and boards. It was 15 AUD for a wetsuit and 20 AUD for a board. They then paid an additional 5 AUD for a soft rack which held the boards across the roof of the car.
At first, we drove to the closest beach at Ocean Grove but it was peppered with kids and surfers, doing Surfing 101. Finding it a little overcrowded, we drove further along the coastline. We stopped for a few times before arriving at a good spot.
An Italian and a French, on a hunt for a good surf spot in Australia. They scoffed at this and that beach, determined that they’d eventually find a sandy stretch with gigantic undulation. See the irony of it all?
We eventually settled down at Boings Beach. Boings had infinite soft plush sand and clear water. A handful of other surfers scattered at the fringes of the shore and in the ocean but there was enough room for everybody. The vast space was generous and I sighed in relief. Being out here, with sand dunes at my back and the enormous spread of water in front reminded again me that I was in Australia-the southern edge of the world.
The boys fueled up, paddled out and did the slice and duck, eskimo roll, push-ups, the shoot and scoot, and rode on waves while I took photographs of random nonsense and jotted notes.
I cheered at the boys, pointed my lens at them occasionally, and then returned to shooting nonsense.
At some point, I danced, ran, leapt, skipped and jiggled. I chased sea gulls, threw my hands up in the air, and surrendered myself to the shy sun.
Why didn’t we do this more often?