Monday, June 18, 2012

The Second Installment of 'The Surf Widow Diaries'

Me on Glen Beach (1 years old)

Thanks again to Wavescape for publishing my surf widow/orphan stories. You can read my story online here.

My earliest surfing memory involves both my parents paddling out at Glen beach. I was of course naked on the beach being baby sat by my 'uncles' who were nothing more and nothing less than very stoned and stoked out surfers.

My whole childhood relied on the ebb and flow of the ocean and the next day’s swell. No one gave a crap what the weather was like. Come rain, shine or gale forces winds we dutifully waited for our parents to return from their session.

Weekends were planned either weeks in advance or at the spur of the moment depending on the swell forecast. Epic picnics were made, buckets and spades were at the ready and boards were waxed and we were off in my dad’s old Nissan with three Labradors in the back.

J Bay, Glen Beach, the West coast and the Crayfish Factory were some my dad’s favourite spots. But we pretty much went everywhere.

In those days, okes owned the surf, ballies were real old ballies and you knew not to screw with them. Chicks either wore gstrings on the beach or the donned a wetsuit. My mother worked both. Glen beach was my father and his friends territory, groms paddled way out of his line. There was respect and if there wasn’t the kid got it knocked into him by the end of it.

I learnt very early on that these surf missions involved no comfort or luxury. There was many a time when we survived strong winds and being flooded out of our tent, everything sopping wet and ending up wearing my dad's old clothes and our whole family squeezing onto one mattress to keep warm. I've even woken up with a cow sticking it's head into my tent!

This one time at E Bay (Elands) my mom who was clearly over eating baked beans out of a tin with margarine on white bread insisted that we have supper at the local restaurant, the most dingey establishment I have ever visited. She ordered me babotie which I found disgusting but ate it anyway. For the next two weeks I had the most violent food poisoning, obviously there weren't any chemists in the area to get something for the bug and we continued to camp in the sand while my dad surfed till my mom went mental at him and we left, me chundering all the way home to Cape Town in the back of the bakkie.

Wherever we went, we went with a group of friends my parents have known since their twenties. Every year we booked the same camping spot in Cape St Francis, the dad's made potjie kos that got more disgusting and inedible as they cooked it, adding more red wine with every stir and every Old Brown Sherry they knocked back.

I first learnt to surf in Cape St Francis at the Point. My dad took me out in some decent swell and pushed me out and up onto his board. It was awesome, I think I finished that session topless it was so rough but my dad was really cool about it saying "They're just noombies and I made them." A bit awkward but that was totally forgotten about when I managed to stand up. The thrill was electric through my body, even today when I catch the odd wave my whole body goes into complete, happy hysteria.

Not long after I learnt to surf I took one of my mates Pia, who was one of my dad's friend's kid, out for a surf at the same spot, we were about fourteen. The rip was strong and we got sucked out, Pia panicked but I remembered my dad telling me what to do in that situation; to stay on my board and keep paddling till I was safe. We made it back in, Pia in tears holding onto my board.

The point of this column is to say that I had the best childhood anyone could ever have asked for.
My parents weren't rich and we didn't have a lot of stuff like kids do nowadays. But I have epic memories, good and bad, about our holidays along the coast. I was taught respect for my elders and respect for nature, not to panic in a scary situation, to make do with difficult circumstances and to most importantly to just enjoy the adventure.

My mom, showing off her hot bod! P.S That's not my dad!

That's my uncle Shane (left) and my Dad at Thurmo's.

Our camping spot at Cape St Francis.

Me in the back of  my dad's old Nissan with Shadow my best buddy.
My dad, ripping it back in the day!

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