Danger in the Shallows

IMAG0095 (3)

When I first began surfing, I was more comfortable near a sandbar, just in case I needed to feel something that wasn’t moving as much as I did on top of my board.  Deep water seemed scary.  Even now, it’s fun to launch my board from a standing position when my paddling arms give out.  Reasonably flat sandy beaches make that easy.

But you need to know there’s a downside to getting too comfortable in the shallows.  A big one.

I’m typing this today from my sofa with my left foot propped up on an ice pack.

This morning our local break was nearly nonexistent.  One-to-two foot waves breaking nearly onshore at high tide, and just enough activity on the outside to make us hopeful for some peelers when the tide headed out.  But, as usual, we had no time to wait.  This was the second time this weekend we had made it out. Yesterday’s trip up the coast had taken a good part of the day, leaving little time left before weekend chores came calling.  We were at the beach, therefore we would surf whatever we found.  We’re tough that way.  Big or small, we’ll surf it all–or at least try.

There weren’t a lot of waves to choose from, so we did our best to choose those that weren’t overhead shore pound and hoped for the best.  We each found a few, but there was really no choice but to ride them to shore…into the very shallow water.  We’re experienced at this, but as each of us caught a wave, the others kept an eye open to make sure the landings went well.  For the most part they did, but we each took a tumble or two.  We left after an hour or so, confident we had conquered all the waves there were to be had and happy to enjoy water warm enough to wear wetsuits sans booties.

On the way home, I noticed a twinge in my ankle. I vaguely remembered a particularly awkward jump off my board which didn’t seem like a big deal at the time.  A couple of hours later, here I sit, ankle on ice.

It’s been a while since I’ve had a surf related injury. Most of time they were accidents.  This was too, but totally preventable.

Categories: finding the time, patience, winter | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gotta love the booties

My love of the outdoors, my continuing fight against aging, and my stubborn, competitive streak led me to take up surfing in my forties. Lucky for me, Florida is a fabulous place to learn, beaches are sandy with no rocks and the water is warm most of the year.

I say most, as the winter these past two years has been especially unfriendly to us kooks out there.  But if you would have told me two years ago I would willingly get up early on a weekend,  put on a thick form-fitting rubber suit and get into chilly water, I would have asked what you were smoking.

Early hours, cold, damp Florida weather and chilly water were not completely foreign to me.  My husband and I are avid fisherpeople, and he swears that the fish don’t bite, and the boat doesn’t run, unless you’re on the water before the sun comes up.  However, there’s a huge difference between flying along on top of cold water and actually immersing yourself into it.

I also learned quickly that surfing is a highly addictive sport.  One taste of standing atop a board riding a wave and I was hooked.  Two boards purchases later, I began to feel guilty about missing a third of the year in the water while my hardier friends were out chasing waves.

So this fall I made my most important surfing acquisition, a wetsuit.  Not just any wetsuit, a 4/3.  Thicker–and warmer.  With the addition of booties, I could brave the 50 to 60 degree water in comfort, if not necessarily in style.  The booties are probably the most expensive footwear I’ve ever purchased, and also the most ugly.  There’s nothing flattering about black rubber split-toe booties, but I wouldn’t trade them for ten pairs of summer sandals (and I do love my sandals).

Soon I will be able to shed the wetsuit, and those lovely booties, and enjoy warm sub-tropical water temps.  I won’t miss falling off my board and the slap of cold water to the face.  But I wouldn’t trade a thing.

Categories: winter | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at