The scene was set in “SURFS UP … Again. Prelude to the now just completed trip. Read on.
Mid October, left town at 6.50am. Clear morning, road winds east through the central mountain chain, to the flat on the other side. Greeted by lush green of mountain jungle with Palm trees finding the most improbable tree gaps to dominate above the skyline tree shadow. Pink fluff of sunrise clouds polishing the scene. Car humming along.
Wife re-telling recent and repeated dream of veranda sitting, looking over and hearing the Sea. Now she will.
3 hours later. Pulled over by Transport Police at Toll Booth. Central rear stop light not working. Defect notice issued. Police were ok, just doing their job. 50 minutes after that, the last left hand turn to the road at the beach.
Windows wound down as expectation and nerves crept up. Couldn’t hear any waves crashing to shore. Finally! Can see! Initial view was flat ocean, until the eyes lowered towards the shore.
A few lumps, not much but enough for three to be out amongst it. Faint onshore wind and this seemingly lethargic sloppy slow swell rolling in. 1 -2ft at best. Mouth drooped and body sagged in disappointment.
Managed to remind myself that tomorrow is forecast as the best surf day. Today was always going to be the day to be reacquainted with my old friend. Hadn’t jumped into its embrace for 7 months. Gotta get out there!
I did! Surprisingly had fun even though little oomph to the waves. Caught a few more than expected. Water was a warm velvet. One real set caught everyone inside, forcing plenty of duck dive and breath holding practice. A portent of days to come.
Surf quality rating: 3:10. Soul rating – always 10:10. No pics because it looked really Boring!
Late afternoon, settled into Surf holiday digs. Binoculars pointed towards the point about 500 metres away. Wind onshore, but more sets of bigger waves coming in. Low tide now. Yes it was crumbly, but definitely surfable even though only 1-2ft.
Waxed up the semi-retired 6ft 9 hybrid thruster. Did the sandflat walk, jumped in just as a set peeled down the point, bigger than expected and only a few surfers out. Sore shoulders from the mornings efforts didn’t stop me getting a few even though the effort to stand up was pretty slow. Was fun. A few more joined, some like me being the first surf in months. Smiles dominated.
Above us, large, rolling angry black clouds started to dominate. A few splashes of golf ball raindrops and bangggg! Lightning, thunder, gale force wind, instant horizontal sheeting rain. Vision cut to 10-15 metres. Lightning and thunder a non-stop shock and awe Show! Took the first wave I could to shore, bolted up the beach to the back and a rock overhang, topped by thick shrubs and tree canopies further behind.
Noise of lightning/thunder as one. Couldn’t see much through the driving rain. At least the mini rock cliff protected from it, unlike other surfers who had decided to huddle under the stilt structure of surf comp judging tower. Freaked me out peering out to the fuzzy form of those huddled under. Wind and rain was horizontal and they took full impact. Lightning hit the sand about 100 metres away. Vibration felt through the feet. If that lightning had hit the surf comp tower?
Apparently, being really wet is a measure of protection from lightning. (just read the other day) All the Crew under the tower certainly were really wet. Far wetter than me under cover and out of the wind at back of the beach.
Wet Rating: Tower Crew 100.096%. Me: 88%.
Rain and wind eased off. Lightning and thunder reduced. Could see the waves again. Wind now offshore, clean wave faces. It was enticing. But 40 minutes of rock cliff huddle had me walking home rather than surfward. “Save the energy for tomorrow”, was whispered to self. Wife was very happy to see me. Cold beer cracked and days crazy contrasts were contemplated.
Sun and cloud morphed in the very early day. Lick the finger and raise to the air. Picks up the faintest offshore. Ears hear the sound of breaking surf a distance away. Eyes squint directly towards the sound only to be thwarted by the ray gun Sun. It does sound louder than yesterday. Finish the coffee, banana and trail bar.
Retrieved board, waxed up, boardies on, rash vest slung over shoulder and squint walked towards the sound source. Finally! Had Ray Gun protection from the trees on top of the headland and just in time to see the groomed lines peeling and then peeling some more off the point. About 10 out there. Sweet new season medium sized perfection.
Couple of surf crew were comparing lash marks from Jellyfish stings from when they paddled out again after yesterday’s storm. One with a nice slice just below the left eye and another with about 4 welt marks on the stomach. The storm had pushed the Jellyfish into the Surf zone. Just about all that paddled back out managed a sting or two or three.
This morning it was 150% Jellyfish Free Zone. Nice and clean with enough coming through to go around all out there.
A few wobbly to feet starts, but managed to hit my version of down the line groove. Early morning shimmer and glimmer. Long waves resulting on repeated walk backs to the take off zone. Back to wobbly stand ups but didn’t blow a wave. Local grommets doing their level shredding best. Everyone frothing from old to young. 7 months of surf cobwebs diminished with every wave surfed.
Paddling arms did a disservice and died sooner rather than later. Was to be expected. Missed a few waves as couldn’t pick up paddling speed quick enough. Some newbie white (well tanned) dude paused in his paddle past and commented that “this isn’t a shortboard wave”.
I would have preferred to stay and state otherwise, but a wider than usual Set was observed, one of the ones I had been patiently waiting for. Get onto this one and a big long ride guaranteed. Grunted something back at him, swivelled and willed the paddling arms to function just one more time. ‘Expert’ commentator? No idea where he was. He left the memory banks as the paddle picked up speed, launched, took the drop, bottom turned left, set the lines towards the end of the wave far far away.
Away I did. Almost down to our place on land. Tide was filling in, so much very slow paddle in. Some times just floating and solidify wave memory.
Yes, the last wave was the best.
Absolutely knackered. Dry beach finally greeted me with a short walk home. Pretty happy that actual take-offs not blown. Just need to get paddle and takeoff muscles bit more tuned up. How to? Just surf more. I will!
No Pics as was too busy surfing.
6.00am, hot water boiled and coffee on veranda. Sounds of waves breaking diminished from early morning the day before. Still cannot see, but can sense the drop in swell.
Decision made to head north to the beach breaks. Bananas, trail bars, jelly babies and cold coffee can jammed into backpack. Car keys grabbed, board under arm to car in accelerating light of dawn. Hit the coast road north with fog laying low. Sun not awake enough to burn it away. Through Kemaman traffic lights, still fog.
A while later, turn right and 10 minutes to the break. Round the corner before the beachside Surau and broad daylight shines through with almost glassy light offshore and a set rolling in under the salmon coloured sky of dawn. One surfer already out on the left. 2-3ft high with sets of up to four rolling through and occasional bigger one.
Watched the set roll through. Banks were not fantastic, but not horrible either. Just get out there was screaming inside and I did. A few others rolled into the car park and Boards pulled out. They went to the Left and I had the Right all to myself. Thanks all!
Had to navigate a few close outs, but every so often a nice head high Right hand gem stood up, managed the late takeoff and play with the wave face. A nice change. Always left, left, and even more Left at the home break. Surf soul was deeply satisfied, even if the body was tired and sore. All part of the process getting back in the water after too long.
Home trip to KL later. Easy speed and easier memories of long smooth sandy point waves of day two and abrupt beachie rights of this morning driving me all the way home. Can’t wait for more.
Roll on 2022/23 Monsoon season somewhere on the East Coast of Malaysia!