That moment when the tension suddenly releases and you realise the board is gone…
Last few days left before we move out of our house in Sligo and begin the long journey back to Australia, eventually Hobart in Tasmania. Exciting and hectic times. There’s a lot on, a lot of loose ends to tie up, decisions on what to pack or cull…
This print continues to prove to be a tricky one to get out right – and it’s the getting it out right which is what the printmaker’s ongoing challenge is. Each fin is a direct reference to fins I’ve owned, trialled, coveted, with one in the collection that is the golden hatchet to rule them all, the one that has been pivotal (ahem) to my Rooster-shaped, 9’6 BeachBeat Pacer.
It was a busy few days knocking these out. The one on the bottom right was carved and printed in Tasmania, Australia, about three years ago and only now have I gotten around to carving others in a similar style.
A working week like pulled taffy… focus and functionality progressively drawn out, twisted and distorted. The colours and shapes, though still there, now some filamentous vagueness. Only there at that Friday evening terminus can one attempt to gather the unspooled self and make a pile from which, possibilities for the following days can be considered. Outside the atmosphere is seething… the wind inciting unrest.
At this point, some of us smile knowingly at the simplicity of what would seem the most appropriate, even rational, response. Rebirth yourself into the weekend at full speed to meet a berzerking sea, itself thrashing with disconsolate fury into the faces of some sullen West-coast headlands.
The car’s thermometer bottomed out finally at -0.5 degrees. Amidst another squall, walloping gusts makes us shudder sideways again over the median strip. No need to start so early but there’s little solace; the dour weather has brooded the gloom of the past dark hours onward into the mid-morning. On first inspection, the tide seems to be shirking its responsibilities and the swell plays coy, reclusive ’till tickled deep down where it wants before stirring.
But eventually it comes and we disrobe.
Despite the low-digit degrees making the sleety rain prick like pins, the appropriate accoutrements are wrestled on with fetishistic zeal of the masochist. The wind whips savagely at our boards, shrieking its threats to tear them from our clawed fingers and obliterate them down the long boulder-strewn point. Falling finally, bodily exhausted into the sea, the foam presses hard at the chest and the ordeal of paddling out into the gale begins for the first of many, many repetitions.
Sixty-something kilometer-an-hour, and then some, winds lift sheets of foam spray on any shift of chop foolish enough to rear too tall from the sea’s surface. Another squall shrieks in and with it, bitter beads of hail blast at the only skin exposed – full facial dermal abrasion. Little respite is possible for without the incessant stroking back into the wraith-like lee of the headland, one would be lost out into the bay and beyond.
And yet we were the wealthiest creatures alive for our wages were paid in diamonds…
The wind drops and there may be just enough, from the right direction, at the right tide for… going hunting. Choosing to pass on the en-mass patronage of those days of thunder in favour of a search for silence and small sliders. The incredible diversity of the coastline out here is highly conducive to such pursuits.
While Herculean monsters heave-ho on the outer banks, the deep pulses probe further in vibrating headlands as they swing inward, bending and distorting as they shuck out scything embayments, warping about a myriad of little islets before laughing out loud over bewildered bombies and quiet sand or pebbled strands of the inner reaches whose experience is oft limited to burbling tidal chuckles or wind-blown sniggers.
A single fin and that way-back swing that only a big log provides is the only sensible way to slide these things. Strange occasions are these to find waves pushing in this deep but here is true solace. With a tiny window for opportunism, the search is frantic and furtive but it’s hard to appear discreet tipping along with racks stacked with nine-plus planks and foreign car reg.
We’re scrambling about the tatty roads out there ‘somewhere’ (I’m often lost and gleeful of it) with, at best, scraps of doodles on maps for guidance but mostly tickling hunches. The car swerves again back onto the pot-holed and frosty black top after drifting from the distractions of the wildly gesticulating passenger to yet another spurt of foam from behind a crumbling stone wall or salt-buckled hedge of blackberry and furze.
Sure it cold, sure we drove two hours and more to get there and then some and sure it’s dark soon after 4pm. It sure was empty though and You can be sure I’m heading for the boonies again just as soon as I get the chance.
What a thing! The fin! Driving the passion from beneath the feet of the riders and sliders. The flex and spring as they weave their song through shifting swells. Cuts made across shimmering faces fizz in a moment before closing again as swift as their making. Sinuous shapes, such pretty things of form and function, come together in…
“These Strange Hearts of Desire”
Original watercolour and gouache, 140 mm x 140 mm.
Unframed – €85.00 each; set of five, €350.00.
Hoo-bloody-ray for the internet and video-calls. It’s grouse to be able to catch up with family on the other side of the planet; family, but particularly the family blue dog.
Apparently he has a bugger of a time of it trying to get the postcards written without opposable thumbs. I know he misses me as much as I miss him. I wouldn’t be surprised if the little fellah didn’t paddle up to me one morning while I’m somewhere out on the Sligo coast having legged it the whole way across from the coast. Then again, being as cluey as he is he’d probably just nip me on the ankle as I step off the bus from work one evening – him, after sorting out his own flights and transfers, turning up unannounced for a surprise two-week holiday. Clever little bastard; I wouldn’t put it past him.
It’s less than a week since we left 30-something degree temperatures in Vietnam, two-weeks since abandoning the steaming Sunshine Coast in Queensland. Now I’m on Dublin’s South side, wedged in next to the stove-box eagerly feeding it’s hungry maw with as many peat bricks as its prepared to guzzle. Outside the snow swirls fitfully about, eddies about the eaves.
I’d called out to the North-side of Dublin to catch up with some of the lads and to pick up an additional component for the quiver. It’s perhaps an unlikely spot to pick up a 7’8 pin-tailed single-fin. Equally unlikely is choosing the harbour in Rush to wind out a few turns for its first session. Howling onshore winds, about four or so degrees air temp and we’re fighting our way inside somewhat damp wetsuits, booties and gloves, and then struggling down the old stone steps taking great care not to have the boards whipped loose and dashed against the harbour walls. The sand is coarse, grey littered with pebbles and, well, litter. Fragrant too.
Hard to say how big the sets were. Just an bitter onslaught of 1-2 foot slop bashing its way into the narrow corridor of the shallow harbour. There was a few curious onlookers who soon escaped the chill. Highly doubt this was what Joel Tudor had in mind when he conceived this shape. I’m aiming West to Sligo and surrounds soon enough to find something a little more appropriate to slide into.
Fun mid-winter, solo session up at Camp Xmas, somewhere on the north coast of Tasmania.
I’ve heard it can be improper to inquire of a lady’s age; I hazard a guess that she may be around 60. Dare I venture to add she still rides well?
A sea for the psyche
writhing within mecurious
In a snapshot;
still and taut, lighting caught and dismembered
But in her natural, perilous, reigning state,
her broad hips – a mast;
and as such,
lash me unto them
so there installed may I be,
at each heave and thrust,
in lolling, delirious harmony