Tag Archives: breakers

Surfing at Rockaway

Today’s Music: The Beach Boys
Today’s Adventure: SURFING!!!!

Let me just start this post by saying I Suck.
I smoke a pack a day of Marlboro Lights Golds. I do as little regular exercise as I possibly can (though if pushing remote control buttons were an Olympic Sport, well I’d still lose, but not by a lot).
I should not be out surfing.

But God help me, I love it.

So I went out today with my surf bag (prepacked and ready to go) and my board. I had all the tools I needed. Except my contacts.
Fortunately, that wasn’t a problem.

Not the batmobile, but it'll do...

I made it to the beach in good time, and unpacked my gear. I was smart enough to wear my wetsuit on the drive, saving me an embarrassing 10 minutes trying to wriggle into it on the beach.
Waxed up my board, and in I went.

It was beautiful out there. Light wind, 1 – 3 ft rollers coming in and breaking cleanly. A perfect day for surfing.

I paddled out to where the other surfers were, about half a dozen or so, and took my place in the line-up. I sat up on my board and started looking for waves.
In came a beautiful one, I laid down, started paddling to turn myself around and… missed it.
Tried again. Same thing.
I called out to the surfer next to me
“Hey, let me ask you something”
“Sure”, he said.
“How do you turn your board around” I asked.
“What do you mean?” he answwered.
“Well, we’re all sitting here on our boards, facing out” I explained. “When I see a wave, but can’t spin around fast enough to catch it.”
He thought a moment. “Sit all the way on the back of your board” he said, demonstrating. “When you see your wave, a couple of quick paddles will get you around”.
“Oh, Thanks”, I said, understanding.
And it worked. Next wave I saw, I slid back on the board, spun around, laid down and paddled to catch it. And pearled.

For those that don’t know, Pearling, in surfing, is when the surfer dismounts his board by sliding off the front of it.
Hilarious. Not fun. But hilarious to watch.

My Superhero-Surfer gear

The next two that I caught, I managed to “kneeboard” in. I went back out, hoping for one more ride before I packed it in.
In came a big one, maybe 4′. I was set up on it, paddling furiously, but I guess I was a moment too late.
The wave crashed down on me, knocking me off the board, then a surge of froth washed down my throat and pushed me under.
I waited a moment for it to pass, then popped up, caught my breath and started for the shore. Wheezing. Like an old lady. Or a pack-a-day smoker.
I couldn’t get enough air in. At all. I was gasping.

I stood on the shore for the next five minutes, trying to catch my breath.
When I had it, I started to take off my wetsuit. And falling on my ass. Twice.
Hey, you try disentangling yourself from six feet of neoprene tangled around your ankles, and when your arms and legs have turned to jelly.

With that finally done, I loaded up the car, and headed off to Tap & Grill for fish tacos. But they don’t open till noon.
But I’ll be back.

So what did we learn today?
– Sit on the tail of the board to turn around fast enough to catch the wave.
– Stop smoking!!!!
– Do a pushup, for crissakes!

Learn from my mistakes, folks. Lord knows I won’t…


Today’s Music: Orianthi

Made it to Rockaway beach yesterday. About 10 am, I set up my gear on the beach, waxed up my board, and checked out the waves while I stretched.
They were big. 5 to 7 footers rolling in, a continuous undulating seascape.
There were very few people out on the water, maybe 4 sitting on their boards past the breakline, waiting for their wave.
I finished my cigarette, strapped on my leash, headed to the waterline, and…stopped.
The waves kept coming in. Usually, there will be a set of waves, then a lull, another set, another lull, etc…
There was no lull. No. Lull.
The waves just kept coming, big, hard, relentless.
I stood at the waterline for five minutes trying to find an opening to paddle out through the incoming waves. There was none.

So in the grand tradition of Stupid People everywhere, I charged the breakers, jumped on my board, and paddled like hell. First wave landed directly on my head. I shook it off, flapping my arms as hard as I could, getting the most powerful strokes I could. A quick look over my shoulder showed I was making progress, getting further from the beach.
Next wave started to crest, lifting my nose in the air, then crashed right into me, the froth and whitewater blinding me for a few moments. Managed to hold on to my board and stay prone on it. I got in a few more paddles.
Then came the third wave.
If I had gotten a little further out, I could have paddled right into the crest, up and over the face, and I might have been good. But I couldn‘t get a little further out before it broke.
The face lifted my board almost vertical. I gripped the rails, holding on tight. I could feel myself being pushed back toward the beach. Then the board stopped.
I had been pushed so far back by the incoming waves that the tail of my board buried itself in the sand just offshore and locked itself there.
I slid off the board, unglued it from the sand and waded a bit further out, looking for the elusive opening.
There was none. So back to the towel, and to watch from the shore while I tried to warm up.
There were a few other people trying to paddle up. I watched them, hoping to see a way out.
They couldn’t find one either.
The waves would come. the surfers would get pummeled. the boards would go flying.
I saw one guy make it out about 20 yards. then a wave knocked him off his board, which went flying, then shot back – retracted by his leash. Before he could get back on, another wave caught him. Board went flying. then another. He chased his board all the way back to the beach.
Saw two others go through the exact same dance. Boards everywhere.
A girl came out, panting, carrying her board on her head, panting heavily.
“Bit rough?” I asked.
“Not worth it” she said. “Too much chop, no lulls, and the waves are pounding”. She shook her head and headed back to her towel.
OtherPaul showed up a few minutes later and got himself squared away and headed to the waterline. He went in to about thigh high water. And stood. For fifteen minutes.
I went over (having changed out of my wet clothes because I was freezing) to see what was up. He looked over at me, and proving he is probably smarter than me, said “Yeah, thinking I don’t want to die today.”, and headed back up the beach

But we did go out after for delicious fish tacos.
So it wasn’t a total loss…