“Deeper” – digital illustration.
Waves of consequence require commitment to going further, deeper…
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.
Fair enough, I don’t know that much about surf mats. I’ve only been riding them since last September which is bugger-all really. After riding various stand-up boards (ones without paddles mind you) for a few decades this shift to riding mats almost exclusively has had me rattled.
One of those days when it seemed as if the whole coast was cooking. Explore, sure, but know when to abandon the car. We might have made a better call for the second session of the day but with the first wave here being a leg-burner some 300 metres or so down the point… ahh, here, another apt and suitable set wherein the song of the twin-fin could waver through its reprise.
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.
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.
“Annual leave doesn’t roll-over so you’d better take it.”
Yes boss. This the inevitable mid-winter gluttony – get what you can, when you can. Fun size with a good period and no wind. Leave at dark and get back at dark. Now, at this stage of the evening I’m in bits; involuntarily twitching from the bends and buckles composited after several hours of attrition in the Atlantic.
One lone ranger had this to themselves. Waist-high and ruler-edged the whole way through; 100m? So much serenity…
Shallow, square and empty. Despite this however, 15 or so others were happy enough to hustle and thrash about for shifty peaks only 50-or-so metres away without giving it a sideways glance.
The inevitable. Any suggestions as to the nearest rhinoplasty specialist on the West coast?
The choicest of chunks saved for last. Sums up the above really. Visions of the molars on this beast will devour me in my nightmares for weeks to come. I am always more than happy to volunteer my meat whenever it awakes hungry and disgruntled.
Working full-time has brought odd changes in lifestyle. Endless hours seep away as eyeballs turn to jelly and adhere to microscope eyepieces searching for specific shapes on the tips of hairs sprouting from the eyebrows of tiny worms; passing time in transit trying to force down the food-like substances sold at exorbitant prices whilst en-route to week-long conferences or workshops in weird and wonderful locations. Weekends are now approached like annual holidays – most of them ‘the best xmas ever’.
One of the joys of my life is the little car. Pack it well and hit the roads in darkness. It’s not thirsty and loves the miles.
It has never said a word about sitting on headlands, at the ends of mucky farmer’s tracks or in sea-side car-parks in frigid temperatures getting blasted by salt spray.
It is the benign, smiling Yoda of surf exploration, “heavy you are not, shoulder your burden I will.” The West coast is full of treasures.
Perception is a funny thing. More curious than ha-ha. What lies ahead? Wreckage or opportunity?
A long enough drive this time. The furtherest West I’ve been since getting back here. With a dermis-ruffling Westerly gusting to force 6 or more, heading West is a good option; a dash for cover if you will. The foot down as hard as you like you become the human pinball about the buckling bends beyond Balina, through the kinks of Killala… Ahh… North Mayo!
I stood staring down from the sliage-streaked road to the sandbar below. The fellah in the giant cell further up the road was kind enough to offer his floor and I nipped in just as it began to hail. From black skies to blasting sun and then comes the cacophonous rebuttal of hailstones. Yep – this is mid-May in the West of Ireland and summer is here. Of a fashion…
Only a few heads out. The sets seemed to be overhead but bullet-train fast. Gallant attempts at paddling in were mostly fruitless as thick, blue-black anacondas of the sets whipped around the coastline sucking the kelp from the rocks, trailing plumes of sand and creamy foam behind. Too fast?
More opportunities lay not too further afield so with a few gears shifted in swift succession, another came into view at the same time as the sun. The harbour was lit up – sun and some grinding sliders alike. Overhead, or more on the sets and more heads out hurling themselves down the wind-blasted faces. Here’s not a place to get caught up in the lip. It wraps hard and kinky around the harbour but with the right lines, ohh.. with the right lines!
That inside section! Writhing with seaweed and sucking hard enough to breed the burliest of limpets down in the intertidal.
It was just a joy to catch a few snaps of someone out there winding up some solid arcs on single-fin equipment. I took my time taking in the scene and met a fellow forager and ended up down in the intertidal soon enough. ‘HEY! Scrounging for the pot?’ Shambles McGoldrick roars at me as he staggers in over the big boulders with his gorgeous single-finned Lightning-Bolt replica under-arm.
By the time I was ready to paddle out everyone had finished up and come in – great timing but such providence also brought considerable uncertainty. Your first surf in solid waves at a heavy point… where is one supposed to sit? Paddle deep, paddle hard and hope for the best. Trust in your equipment. There’s the potential for wreckage and opportunity both.
This is where I say, “Well, you folks really missed it out at the Rock last night,” and I’d be right.
The reply to that however, is “Mate, what you had was worth missing,” and you might be right.
The stoke-ometer was through the roof though.
Still reckon you all missed it.
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.
Hand-printed linocut (100 x 100mm) by Ian Jermyn
More inspiration from the north coast from Tasmania. Howling 30+ knot westerlies and this tucked away point serves up some really fun little sliders. Surfed this spot a good few times and all but once or twice alone. Below is the inspiration for the above print. Board: 9’6 Beach Beat ‘Pacer’.
Hand-printed linocut (100 x 100mm) by Ian Jermyn
Fun at Camp Xmas (somewhere on the North coast of Tasmania) in April. Standard arm-waving and hip-wiggling.
Image from a recent article by Anita Guidera in the Irish Independent, 20th March 2010. ‘I can’t think of two reasons to stay, but I’ve got lots to go…‘
…I can think of several reasons why this is slightly ironic.
Recent slidings at Dark Hollow