23 November 2009

Warm-Water Wash (Bondi)

We arrived in Sydney at the end of a heat wave, the hottest temperature recorded on that date in 30 years. The city is less than half an hour from Bondi Beach, and it seemed most of its inhabitants had fled there to escape the blistering heat on a Sunday afternoon. The ocean was smooth but the waves were small and mushy. Still I would have paddled out, had the lineup not been as crowded as the sand. I decided to wait for Monday's dawn patrol when the teeming masses had returned to their jobs.

Unfortunately the weather changed dramatically in the night, bringing stiff onshores, light rain, and cool temperatures. I awoke to bigger waves that were blown out and unsurfable. One Aussie website claimed the surf was only 2-3 feet but my observation was head-high; they must measure waves from the back or like in Hawaii, at half their face height.

Later in the day it looked a bit cleaner and some surfers were out getting waves. Jonesing, I suited up, leaving gloves and hood behind. It was odd to paddle without gloves; my hands felt small and underpowered. On top of the short-period swell, the chop from the storm front was substantial, tossing me about on little Nemo, and this time Dramamine was not up to the task. I soon made my queasy way back to the beach, having accomplished nothing but some warm-water duck-diving practice.

By morning, the wind had dropped substantially, though it still blew onshore. The whitewater cauldron had quieted and I decided to give Bondi another go. From our 5th floor balcony, I could still see the rip I'd used the day before to get out. It was a little harder to spot from down on the beach, but a "Dangerous Currents, No Swimming" sign marked the surfers' entrance to the Tasman sea.
Once out, I found the chop was about 2-3 feet on top of shoulder- to head-high mushy waves. This not only made it hard to pick the shifty waves out of the slop, but I was bobbing around like a rubber duck in a candy-hyped toddler's bath. The Dramamine held, but I wasn't getting anything, just watching other people ride. It was discouraging, but then I remembered that a substantial percentage of Australians surf, many from the time they can walk. They have the skill to make a pleather purse from a dish rag, whereas I... am not so capable.

Little consolation though really; I would have liked to ride at least one wave at Bondi. So far the Southern Hemi has pretty much skunked me while there's been good surf at home, and I'm getting hungry for a serving of cold Nor Cal waves.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, waves get measured from the back here, which I reckon is nuts, cos it's the face you have to deal with! Ithink it is a bit of macho bullshit actually, a leftover from the Australian cultural habit of 'understatement'.