May As Well Still be Wearing Hiking Boots

We just got back from a trip over to Jacksonville to visit Ted’s family and there have been reports that the surf was going to be on today.  Between my new board and the booties my dad and stepmom gave me for Christmas, I was ready.

When we got to the beach, I saw a lineup unlike any that I’ve seen before.  There were probably 30 guys in the water, many of whom were doing some seriously impressive “shredding.”  This refers to the cuts that shortboarders make back and forth across a wave but there has to be enough wave in order to pull this off.

Today, there was definitely that.

There’s only one thing more intimidating than walking up to a surf that’s bigger than anything you’ve seen, and that’s when it’s a crowded lineup. When there are a lot of surfers to watch you get your A handed to you, it puts on the pressure.

Adding to that was the fact that it’s a whole lot colder than it was last time we were out.  The water temperature is now 58° and I don’t believe the air temp got over 52° today.  To make matters worse, there was no sun to warm up the black neoprene of my wetsuit, which was supposed to insulate me from the dark gulf waters.

Snapshot 2 (1-4-2015 8-59 AM)

As we took our first few steps into the water, I was very thankful I had booties and I wished I had something for my hands.  My first few paddles were painful, but I guess they eventually acclimated…that, or went numb.

It felt weird, paddling on a shorter board.  I wasn’t really sure how far up I should be, but I know my toes touch the very back of Greenie, so I figured I’d go for the same on Olive.


Because this board is six inches shorter, I should really be further back with my feet hanging off the board.

I didn’t put this together until the end of the session; therefore, I spent most of my time out there pearling because I was too far forward on my board.

Getting worked in these waves was not fun.  Not only did each nose dive lead to a shock of cold water shooting down my back (it doesn’t take much of a gap for water to get in), but the force of these big waves sent me tumbling like a ragdoll in someone’s front loader.

Snapshot 3 (1-3-2015 10-32 PM)

Somewhere in the middle of the session, as we were sitting in the lineup watching some ridiculously good surfing, I saw a guy who I recognized…sort of. It’s hard to place people when they’re in wetsuits, their hair’s wet, and their lips are blue, not the mention the fact that my eyes were bleary from the cold – at what temperature do ones eyes begin to freeze? But right before he caught a wave that he launched off the back of doing a 360, I realized it was Warren Smith.

Warren Smith - SurfingI went to high school with him, after which he went on to surf professionally and has enjoyed several appearances in surf magazines.  Not kidding.

Last I heard he was in South America, or South Africa…or was it the South Pacific?  I’m not sure – but I’m pretty sure he’s been all over the world to surf and probably the one time I’ll ever see him in the lineup, I looked like it was my first time on a surfboard.

When he paddled back out, he went to a different spot so I didn’t have the chance to say something cool like, “Hi, do you remember me from high school?  I had frizzy hair back then and would occasionally wear hiking boots to class.”


After about 45 minutes in the water, Ted and I were both so cold that we could hardly move.  So we paddled in, wearing the word defeated across our backs.

I’ve never experienced this before, paddling in without at least one wave.  Even if I could only catch a sad excuse for one, I’d at least get one.  But I was crazy weak.

When we got back to the car, my hands, now purple, were shaking so badly that he had to put up my board for me.  They continued to shake involuntarily the entire 15-minute drive home (even with the heat on).

It took me a good 10 minutes to remove my booties once we got home.  At one point, I considered just getting in the tub (filled with hot water), then after my hands had warmed up, I’d try and tackle them again.

I don’t think I’m going to wear anything but wool for the next few months days.   You know I can’t stay away from the waves for that long.

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