During this time I’ve been SUP’ping like mad. Most notably I did a 10km SUP around Duiker (Seal) Island – next to Dungeons for the surfers – in Hout Bay a few weeks ago and that was quite an experience.
There were loads of seals, dolphins and birds. Admittedly a couple of times I had to pep talk myself to keep on going, especially when it came to actually going around the island on the open ocean side. Firstly you had to turn crosswind and then into the wind, this makes for interesting paddling in a 3ft open ocean swell. Secondly you see all these seals returning to the island at a rate of knots, they jump and dive through the swell as if something is chasing them… and then the voice in your head goes ‘what would chase a seal….hmmmm’… then you see this dark, grayish, brownish torpedo like silhouette darting beneath you through the kelp… of course the voice in your head starts to hum the theme from ‘Jaws’ ….thu-the thu-the thu-the thu-the …. heart rates goes up…. then you realise it is only a seal… phew. Ok, stay calm and keep on paddling… just 5km to home.
All that being said it was a great experience and it made me respect guys like Chris Bertish & Gary Van Rooyen even more, I mean they really do paddle ‘open ocean ‘ long distance – Respect!
I saw a quote that really stuck with me ‘ All ships are safe in the harbour, but that is not what ships are built for ‘ ….
I’ve also taken to trying to surf my 14ft Coreban Dart. What a laugh a minute that is, especially if you are watching from the beach. It is fun when the waves are rolling and crumbling from the top as opposed to pitching and closing out – which of course it does most of the time here in Hout Bay – The benefit of 14ft is that you can get onto a wave when it is almost still just a tiny bump and glide in towards the beach for a couple of seconds. The fun really starts when the wave starts to pitch, you literaly have to ‘run’ up n down the length of the SUP to keep it from pearling or being tilted side ways. Alas, that is what happens most of the time tho, then you just have to duck your board like crazy – 14ft is a lot board to deal with in the shore break! That being said, there was a couple of waves that I managed to ride from start to finish, some reward for all the effort – perseverance pays of! I posted some videos of my excursions on Youtube, please have a look, like the videos and subscribe to my channel please.
Another thing that I noticed was the increase in ‘ocean users’ during summer. Guys n Girls surfing, Sups, bodyboards, etc. Everyone wants to have fun, but with the increase in water users comes frustration and inevitably altercations. That brings me to ‘rules of surfing’ which are mostly unspoken, often broken but they do exist…. and whether you are an experienced pro or absolute beginner, you cannot afford to ignore them. In today’s crowded conditions we must all become more aware of them, try a little harder to monitor our own behavior and share the stoke in the water. If not, then we will ultimately destroy and devalue the surfing experience for ourselves and those around us.
Here are the basic rules:
1. The Golden Rule: Don’t drop in i.e. don’t catch a wave that someone else is already riding. The surfer on the inside (closest to the breaking part of the wave) has right of way.
2. Don’t be a snake! A snake is a surfer who constantly paddles to the inside (or turn inside someone after they started to paddle into a wave) and then invoke the drop in rule.
3. Don’t paddle through the line-up. i.e. don’t paddle out where the other surfers are riding.This could be very dangerous for all involved.
4. When are surfing away from home, you are surfing in someone else’s home. Show some respect. Do show some courtesy and respect to both the more experienced surfers and the locals, remember this.
5. The surfer on the wave has right of way, if paddling out, try to stay out of the way, take the hit from the white water rather than risk ruining another surfers wave. You would not run into traffic, do not paddle into the line of an oncoming surfer.
6. Use common sense where crowds are an issue. If you turn up to a break that is already heavily crowded, then consider surfing somewhere else. Adding to an already frustrated and aggressive crowd won’t help you or them.
7. Wear a leash at all times.
8. Always hold on to your board when a wave hits you (throwing your board away and allowing your leash to do the job for you, is very dangerous to the other surfers in the water).
9.Never use your board as a weapon or as a means of protection from a possible collision. Many beginners will throw their boards in front of another surfer when afraid of a possible collision. This is incredibly dangerous.
10.Have fun, but not at the expense of the other people in the water.
These are the basic rules that have been in force for many years out in the surf. Yet for the last ten years these rules have been broken on a regular basis, mainly by newcomers to surfing / SUP’ping. The result is chaos, and learners have come to be resented by the more experienced surfers. Learn these rules and apply them, become part of the solution, rather than a part of the problem.
…aaaaand that is the end of my preach – for now!