A Little Flashback…Surfing Waves and Eating Water

Surf Camp 003We head back in time today to the east coast of Australia for a flashback to my questionably successful attempts to learn how to surf. Now, this post is not intended to startle and confuse my loyal readers, but at the time I skipped over a few places along the way when the blog got too behind real time.

So, we rewind the clock and land back on the sunny and incredibly touristy east coast of Australia to the surfing town of Byron Bay. I am game for just about any new sport or activity and surfing sounded amazingly fun and challenging. Other travelers warned me that, as a complete newbie, I only needed two days of exhausting lessons before I would be begging for a break so I signed up with Mojo Surf to give me a nice little taste of surfing but not the full five-seven day courses that were also on offer.

Byron Bay is a completely hippity-dippity coastal town that really revolves around the alternative lifestyle – the eccentric nudist community of Nimbin is just a short ride out of town and it seems that every third backpacker you see is sporting a wetsuit sunburn and sun-bleached dreads.

The vibe was kind of fun though and the perfect backdrop to my painstaking hours of surf lessons. The Mojo Surf van pulled up in front of my hostel and within minutes the ten of us in the van were cruising down a coastal road paralleling the rolling waters of the ocean.

The company provided shirts to use and since I have a pretty intense fear of sunburns I also religiously apply sunscreen to every single visible piece of skin…and even few seemingly invisible places just for safety. My instructor, Dave, was an absolutely cliché surfer dude – long sun-bleached hair, darkly tanned skin and the groovy, far-out personality designed to perfectly accompany the look. I do think he hammed it up a bit for us though, but there was no denying that this guy truly lives for the surf.

Surf Camp 052My first lesson – long boards are heavy! But not wanting to look like a pansy this early in the day I hoisted it onto my head and trotted off toward the beach before ungracefully plunking the board down into the sand in a semi-circle while the rest of the group assembled. We went through some of the basics and my instructor was really thorough about explaining the tides, rip currents and safety precautions.

Surf Camp 029Then we did a dry-run and practiced the moves on the sand – long, deep scooping motions with the arms and then jump up as quick as lightening. Before I could blink an eye, Instructor Dave was shooing us all down the beach and telling us the best way to learn was actually on the waves…my first thought was, “holy crap I’m not ready yet!” But that doesn’t cut it in surf school and our three instructors fanned out into the water to help us practice our technique.

Surfing is hard work! I bit it over and over again, eating water, sand, shells and even some stringy seaweed. And just when I would start to feel accomplished because I would get half-way up before tipping over, I looked back to see the instructor holding onto the back of the board for me!

Surf Camp 054My main issue was jumping up from the paddle position into knees-bent surf position quickly and with my weight centered. By the end of day one I had board burn scouring both of my knees but I could successfully make it up onto the board as long as the instructor was holding on tight.

Day two was both better and worse. Because it was our second day the training wheels were off and the teachers were less eager to hold down the back of our boards for us. Crap. That meant I had to not only pick my own waves, but paddle and then jump up all by myself!

It did not go well throughout the morning.

Surf Camp 060By lunch time I was freaked out from a scary fall where I picked a wave that was far too large, I fell off and went tumbling into the water. By this point I had fallen before but this wave was huge and I was tossed around like in a rag-doll in a washing machine for what felt like minutes (really only seconds).

The seconds dragged on though and I had my arms bent and braced over my head to protect my neck if I hit the bottom and I was just praying and praying that my board wouldn’t hit me in the face through all of this tumbling.

Surf Camp 089I came up coughing up liters of water, dragged on the board cord tied to my ankle and slugged my way back onto the beach to take a break. My teacher’s response “woah, narley fall dude…but wait, what are you doing up here, get back in the water there’s still ten minutes before lunch!”

With an exasperated sigh I went back into the surf and gave a half-hearted attempt before we were all called up to the shore.Surf Camp 192After lunch though I am proud to say that I made it up! And on my own too. I won’t go so far as to lie and say that I can get up on the board consistently, but I was at least standing up each time…not necessarily coasting very far each time.

There is just something hugely exhilarating about actually standing up on the board as it coasts toward the shoreline. I’m kind of hooked. I’m not likely to ever be the best surfer in the world. But! It’s a whole lot of fun, bloody knees, sore muscles and all…and I do kind of wish I had another day or two of camp :-)

Surf Camp 042

You can bet that the next surfing opportunity I get, I am there for more lessons without a second thought! There are lots more pictures of me eating it and the others in the group!

Surf Camp 183

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12 Responses to A Little Flashback…Surfing Waves and Eating Water

  1. Davis Miller February 16, 2010 at 4:31 pm #

    I like this place! I love the idea and wish there was a place like this in Astoria, Queens. I am a surfer and found a “real surfer bar” in Point Break NYC. I am kinda jealous ;0PIts filled with surfers, people who like surfers, people who like the beach and people who don't want to live close to town. I really like this place. You know what they have these real Proctor and Channel One surfboards on the wall. It's nice for coming any day of the week and eating a late brunch. The food was outstanding. The brunch and sides were prefect and tasty. It is a perfect “escape” from city living. It is probably one of the only places where you can get a nice frozen pina colada or margarita. The service was on hit. They came up and checked on us so many times and made sure everything was up to par. It gets very active and the bartenders keep everybody having a good time. The bartender was very accommodating. He was nice enough to make a drink, that wasn't on the menu, for me :0) Did I mention the bartenders are nice eye candy. It was amazing to see their “das boot” which is shaped like a boot filled with beer. Don’t get me wrong, I am not drunk…it’s an actual boot shaped beer container ready to be emptied. Try it ..You will love it!! Oh. How can I forget, they even have a wheel o' shots where you just have to spin it and have to drink whatever shot it lands on!! Now call that bar creativity at its best!!! And when I spill a tray full of shots on myself, the bartender so kindly remakes them for me? Good music, too, and the decor helped us weather an otherwise overcast and rainy day. You know that old song “Brandy”? It goes, “Brandy, you're a fine girl, what a good wife you would be. But my life, my lover, my lady is the sea.” I believe Brandy works here. No reason, I just do. And that song happens to be a guilty pleasure of mine, so that's a plus in my book. You can simply waltz over to this colorful and warm establishment, enjoy some drinks with friends, and walk home. The bar is right at the center, so you can walk to either side for drinks, and the bartenders are friendly and at your service. There is a variety of seating, good music, and friendly neighborhood people to make your time more enjoyable. Not pretentious, very cozy, I think Point Break is a fabulous place to spend some time with friends.

    • ShannonOD February 16, 2010 at 4:48 pm #

      Thanks for the tip! Sounds like a really fun place to try out. :-)

  2. ShannonOD February 16, 2010 at 9:48 am #

    Thanks for the tip! Sounds like a really fun place to try out. :-)

  3. Davis Miller February 16, 2010 at 9:31 am #

    I like this place! I love the idea and wish there was a place like this in Astoria, Queens. I am a surfer and found a “real surfer bar” in Point Break NYC. I am kinda jealous ;0PIts filled with surfers, people who like surfers, people who like the beach and people who don't want to live close to town. I really like this place. You know what they have these real Proctor and Channel One surfboards on the wall. It's nice for coming any day of the week and eating a late brunch. The food was outstanding. The brunch and sides were prefect and tasty. It is a perfect “escape” from city living. It is probably one of the only places where you can get a nice frozen pina colada or margarita. The service was on hit. They came up and checked on us so many times and made sure everything was up to par. It gets very active and the bartenders keep everybody having a good time. The bartender was very accommodating. He was nice enough to make a drink, that wasn't on the menu, for me :0) Did I mention the bartenders are nice eye candy. It was amazing to see their “das boot” which is shaped like a boot filled with beer. Don’t get me wrong, I am not drunk…it’s an actual boot shaped beer container ready to be emptied. Try it ..You will love it!! Oh. How can I forget, they even have a wheel o' shots where you just have to spin it and have to drink whatever shot it lands on!! Now call that bar creativity at its best!!! And when I spill a tray full of shots on myself, the bartender so kindly remakes them for me? Good music, too, and the decor helped us weather an otherwise overcast and rainy day. You know that old song “Brandy”? It goes, “Brandy, you're a fine girl, what a good wife you would be. But my life, my lover, my lady is the sea.” I believe Brandy works here. No reason, I just do. And that song happens to be a guilty pleasure of mine, so that's a plus in my book. You can simply waltz over to this colorful and warm establishment, enjoy some drinks with friends, and walk home. The bar is right at the center, so you can walk to either side for drinks, and the bartenders are friendly and at your service. There is a variety of seating, good music, and friendly neighborhood people to make your time more enjoyable. Not pretentious, very cozy, I think Point Break is a fabulous place to spend some time with friends.

  4. Niki August 17, 2009 at 9:37 am #

    That’s so awesome!!!!!

    • Shannon August 17, 2009 at 1:15 pm #

      I know right! How bad-ass do I seem ;-) There aren’t any after shots up though of the bloody knees and huge bruises I sustained. But I soooo want to do it again; if I ever move back to Cali it’s a definite.

  5. one.year.trip August 11, 2009 at 9:09 am #

    You know – surfing is one of those things I’d like to be able to say I could do – but having watching Snakes on a Plane, if Samuel L Jackson can’t do it – what hope does a mere mortal like myself have?

    • Shannon August 11, 2009 at 9:27 am #

      That’s not a good reason – that’s Hollywood! You dont even have to be good at it to have fun just trying :-)

  6. Dave and Deb August 11, 2009 at 5:44 am #

    Yeah! congratulations, nothing like getting up on that board for the first time! We surfed in Bali, and it is really tough. I was freaked out a couple of times too. Those falls can be brutal. But you did it !!!!

    • Shannon August 11, 2009 at 9:18 am #

      It is just so freaky the first time you really go under and tumble! Thanks for the congrats :-) I was so very proud of myself to make it up before the camp ended.

      As for you – diving in Bali – that just sounds amazing…like how could there even be a prettier place to try it?!