Start with a surf at sunrise

I like to start my week with a surf at sunrise.

I’m bleary-eyed but I get out in the water and the cold water electrifies my body into working and my board catches the first few without my brain fully working. I’m usually alone, just enjoying the cold spray and the sun coming over the headland. Most often, it’s raining and onshore. Always, I have a great time.

 

How do you like to start your week?

I’m not dying of hyponatremia or lacking essential “minerals”

The rain comes down in sheets of silver and I don’t mind. I’m already wet.

The cold bites me and steals my breath and I don’t mind much. It’s just a price to pay for a good time.

The salt steals my vision and stings my skin like poison and I mind quite a bit. It’s not much fun being blinded.

It bothered me that I seemed to have absolutely no resilience against the saltiness of the water. In summer, I could dive below and look around at the ocean playground without ever having a twinge in the eye.

Now, however, the first bit of spray to hit me from a wave I pass over has my eyes feeling as though I’ve rubbed a chili into them! So I decided to do a little research. Surely I wasn’t just being silly.

It turns out that the salinity in cold water is more concentrated at the surface. In warmer climates (with the movement of the ocean), the salinity is more concentrated beneath the surface. Isn’t it interesting that the salt amount does not increase or decrease – it just concentrates nearer the surface or beneath it?

So I can look forward to the warmer weather not only for the lack of 140 km/h Antarctic winds and having a numb face in 8 degree water but I will be able to surf longer than an hour because my eyes won’t be stinging so much I can’t see!

I hope all my friends in the Northern Hemisphere are enjoying their summer surfing. Please just think of me here at the bottom of the Earth…squinting and feeling my way through the line-up…

Your veins are cold

It gets so cold that your veins feel as though your freezing. You’re the only one out in the water so you have endless waves to yourself.

Your breath is short. It’s so cold that all your energy is used to keep warm. You don’t even realise you’re pulling all sorts of ugly faces just to keep your teeth from chattering. The wind blows you off your board, off your wave, off your feet.

You’ve got a dull ache on your forehead which you welcome because you can’t feel the rest of your face.

You walk slowly back to your car, feeling as though you’ve just run a marathon. Your feet are numb and your fingers tingle. The squall tries to snatch your board but you clutch it like its your child.

Your body is here in this climate, but your mind is in summer. Ahh. Summer. You can’t wait. You just can’t. Wait.

Surfing at Bondi Beach

Surfing at Bondi Beach: one word = COLD.

I never imagined that a New South Wales beach would be colder than a Victorian beach (think Manly compared with Bells Beach).

It’s a very different wave to what I’m used to. The water is like a deep channel so there’s no where for a rush of white water to go except in a shore break, so I had no choice but to paddle out to the green waves. I hired a wetsuit and a 7’0 foam board from Let’s Go Surfing, a surf school and hire company on the northern edge of the beach.

I only managed to successfully catch two waves. Most of the other times I missed the waves or I was so surprised by the expulsion of power from the edge of the lip and wiped out outstandingly. I did some accidental “kneeboarding” on one particular wave; it was bigger than I usually surf but I went for it anyway. I took the drop and “sort of” popped up but the glide down the face was a little woopsy-daisy wobbly so I never actually got to my feet – just stuck to my knees with my arms up enjoying the ride, before being blown off the board like a firehose had blasted me in the back or the ocean had given me a rough shove (funny about that).

I met two lovely women while out surfing. It was so nice to surf and wait in the line-up with other women and have a chat. I don’t get that back home. The women I do see are usually such good surfers they don’t talk to anybody or they’re complete beginners over in the white water. There’s a reason why home is nicknamed Bloke’s Island in the surf world.

I had a great time out in the water except for being so cold. I was shivering like a frightened puppy. (I’d never shivered while wearing a wetsuit – never!)

 At least I caught two waves, right? (I usually catch at least twenty…)

I’m just proud that I actually paddled out. I envisaged myself getting all the way to Sydney and saying NUP NOT FOR ME but I stuck with my goals and continued along my way to being a true surfer.

Winter

The closer we are to winter

The closer we get to summer

 

I am shivering so much I just slopped my coffee over me, and I swear it froze as soon as it touched my body.

 

I struggle to carry my board because I can’t even feel my fingers.

 

Summer’s coming. Summer’s coming. Summer’s coming. Summer will come.

The cold water feels warm to me

You know it’s cold outside when you hurry down the steps with your surfboard and feel a surge of relief when you get into the water. This was me the other morning.

It was 7am. There was ice on the grass. There was a spray of steam coming off the ocean. Changing out of my warm clothes and into my wetsuit, my extremities were immediately numb. I couldn’t feel my fingers as I waxed my board. Oh man, I thought woefully, that water is going to be freezing! I still only have a 3/2 wetsuit. I wear a rash vest under it to create more insulation but I was dreading that freezing cold dunking of the first moments in the surf.

Carrying my board across the carpark and down the stairs, I could suddenly now feel my feet – but I wished I hadn’t. They were being stabbed with little gravel stones that felt like razor blades that burned on my skin. I hurried. Ouch ouch ouch. I climbed up on the rocky shore (the tide was so high the beach was under water) and did my warm-ups. I knew I needed them. Then headed for the water.

Slicing through the water, paddling out, I felt a relieving warmth wash over me. The water was 17 degrees Celsius, according to the surf report. I can hear my NSW and QLD surfer friends (and Hawaiian too) shivering right now. But let me explain something. The water was 17 degrees…the outside temperature was 5. The surf felt so warm I didn’t want to get out, but cold enough for me to break my toe and not really feel it until two hours after I dried off and defrosted.

Ahh got to love cold surfs.

It’s cold again

Summer has abandoned me. Noooooo. Goodbye you little minx. See you again in seven months.

Cold weather means that it’s time to purchase a 4/3 wetsuit. I’m looking at Rip Curl and Roxy, but also really enjoyed surfing in an XCel. I’m leaning more towards Rip Curl though because they are (surprisingly) cheaper and have a zip up the back. I absolutely adore the look of a particular Roxy wetsuit (one pink leg, one silver and black leg: hot) but was dismayed to realise that it’s the ‘over-the-head’ wetsuit. Why? Why Roxy? You’re a women’s brand; why do you want our hair pulled out? I was a bit disappointed because it’s a really pretty wetsuit. Cue girly moment.

Plain old black Rip Curl one it is. At least I won’t stand out for all the wrong reasons (that I am a kook and a priss).

I’m also very seriously considering ear plugs. The water is freezing here. (Okay, maybe not actually Arctic but the water temperature does drop below ten degrees Celsius.) Also, it’s windy. And onshore. My ears hurt. Not good! I do not want to ever experience ‘surfer’s ear’ and it seems that borrowing my boyfriend’s old neoprene hood (very stylish) and wearing ear plugs will be a good place to start. And his booties. Oh ho ho. Won’t I be a sight?

It’s truly showing me that I am actually a dedicated surfer to be willing to go out in winter, and I’m not just a girl wrapped in becoming a ‘surfie chick’ – I am wrapped in becoming a surfer. No bikinis and tropical weather here to flaunt that booty. Just a rubbersuit that makes me look like a Power Ranger. Pew pew!