Sunday, September 14, 2008

Catch a Wave and You're Sitting on Top ...

... of the world.

No kidding. Well, so I didn't actually go surfing. I did catch a wave though. I went to the ocean today in a kayak. The surf was not up much. I took a class in understanding the surf zone (sometimes called the break zone) in a kayak.

There are three zones, the soup -- frothy white stuff, inside the bone crushing, thrash a kayaker, wear a helmet, impact zone, and the shark zone -- which is everything else -- sometimes referred to as the "safe zone."

Notice how many of the words I have chosen sound damaging. Do you wonder why? Well -- it seems slightly more damaging than riding a bike. But not much. I hit the beach, I was rolled like a cigar in a kayak, which was colorfully described as being "Maytagged," which relates, of course, to what a washing machine might do to a person, and I was hammered at least once by an incoming wave. Salt water doesn't really hurt the eyes that much, nor is it too dreadful when inhaled. It seems that the beach isn't all that punishing, in the absence of rocks, or any real serious waves. Although I was a mere mile from Mavericks, I was a long ways from those conditions. It was calm with a NW swell at 3' (probably sounds like I know what I am doing).

You might wonder, "Why would you do this?" I hurt in ways I cannot describe. Unmitigated pain combined with Ibuprofen and the imminent threat of immediate hospitalization. The euphoria often associated with fat tires. I like to work out, and to work hard. Add a small element of fear and surprise, and that's a formula for a good time. It doesn't really hurt that much, and I'll sleep brilliantly tonight. When the sea grabs you and tosses you at the beach -- i seriously rocks, if it's right.

It also clearly beats the hell out of staying in the ocean forever, which would be the other choice. If I can learn to manage the surf zone, I can travel up and down the coast at will. Me, some gear, some food, and a kayak, travelling the west coast to Puerto Vallarta. I can paddle out the gate and go north to Alaska, all under my own power. Imagine that.

There's a bunch of satisfaction in that.

"Get yourself a big board
But don't you treat it like a toy
Just get away from the shady turf
And baby go catch some rays on the sunny surf
And when you catch a wave you'll be sittin on top of the world" The Beach Boys

Growing up on the coast, there's a memorable feeling in spending a day in the ocean. It nas grown and becomes part of me, enveloping me. The saltiness reminds me that there are greater forces at work. Large forces.


Eclectchick said...

I really haven't a clue how y'all can remain standing on a surfboard - safe zone my . . . eye.

A Midnight Rider said...

Growing up on the Atlantic coast I can relate to much of this post.

Whenever I returned from an extended period inland, the first thing I noticed was the smell. That salt water smell and also the ocean breeze.

Whenever I read or hear that the sense of smell is the strongest memory trigger, my experience confirms that.

Did some surfing many years ago but I can't remember ever standing up for more than a couple of seconds.

shawnkielty said...

Hey. Talk about split second timing. A few seconds is a long ride in my book.

You're certainly right about the smell. It smells like home. I was really thinking of the taste, actually. And the way it straightens the hair. The sand in everything feeling. You know, clean folded socks that leave (clean) sand in the shoes.

You do realize that I didn't say nything about the smell.

Di said...

I'm impressed with all the new things you continue to tackle!! I wish to just motivate myself to simply exercise in some way at all!!