With all but the twinny still in hospital the trip north was much simplified. No agonising over which boards to jam into the little car or strap to the roof. Should I bring a log, or both, if I’m catching up with…? No. Twinny in, suits in a bucket and away. En-route the call from G came through with a recommendation.
The last few surfs here had come with shifty peaks and a stinky vibe. The shiftiness spreads the pack a little but perhaps increases frustrations as frothing shredders and flailing hopefuls thrash about after anything that rolls in. Arguably there’s enough for everyone. Sometimes the concept of a ‘line-up’ in the surf seems almost quaint – remembered by a few with the rest ignoring, or wholly ignorant, of this valuable mechanism.
This morning was two-to-three foot and flawless, faces licked smooth by a light off-shore and lined up the whole way down the reef.
When has size mattered so much? What size is surfable or not? I sat right on the inside, dancing bare-foot over the toothy reef, feasting on wave after flawless wave rejected by the out-back pack. Stoke foaming out my nostrils after each perfect little peeler. Some ridden standing – parallel-stance, swooping and diving like a skua. Others ridden prone to pull in to another tiny tube over the shallow bottom. Between sets, a lunatic grin, incredulous at this perfection, arms cast over the deck, mumbling away to myself something about the irony of a marine science desk-job and fizzing with delight at the thought of finishing up in Galway and making a transition to something completely different… Too much sun I guess. But then again, perhaps not.
One of the frothers paddles past at this point scowling. I’m incredulous and can’t help myself…
“Mate, how perfect is this?!”
“Pity about the crowd.”
Crowd? Are you serious? There’s about ten guys out with the hustle out back for the very few and far between larger sets (about waist-to-chest high) whilst wave after wave is going unridden on the inside. Too much sun I guess. But then again, perhaps not.
“Ahh… right. I guess it’s something we’ve all got to get used huh?”
“Fucken better not be.”
Here we are, Ireland in Autumn, far from any place of work. Small perfect waves, bugger-all wind, clear skies, warm sun… and we’re at one of the most well-known of Ireland’s west-coast surf breaks. There’s ten people out and this guy is dirtier than a prisoner’s toe-rag. I’m left stunned as this strange bloke stalks back out into the pack. I start to wonder to myself…
…but then another perfect little peeler rears up, empty, un-ridden. I almost feel like calling him back so we can hang out and I can tell him tales of the antipodes where on days like this there can be 10 guys already out before sunrise with an order of magnitude more by breakfast. I turn under the peak, give it a few strokes and go…
Meanwhile a little further along the coast…
A delightful discovery after veering wildly off the main drag and down yet another unexplored back-country lane. Never seen it before. Oh, potential for sure. I’m re-evaluating the current quiver. Am I really equipped to explore the fuller spectrum the sea offers up? I sincerely doubt such. The decaying memories of a long Summer squidges between the toes of Autumn’s shuffling feet as it ambles forward along its path, nodding in acknowledgement at the almost imperceptible losses at the fringes of dawn and dusk, soon to press the story-stick into the cold fingers of Winter.