After making steady progress for three months, and one epic week where I finally really understood what it means to be stoked, I went right back to surfing like a kook from the Planet Kook as soon as the first big swell of winter arrived.

Out doing surf patrol on the Holstein Charger, I saw that the waves were overhead at the cliffs, and raced back to suit up and grab the Wavestorm.  The swell seemed to be coming from three different directions, creating a frothy bowl, and once I started paddling out, realized I was at serious risk of not even making it out past the impact zone.  After getting hammered for fifteen minutes straight, the last wave of a monstrous set sent me tumbling across the ocean floor and snapped my leash.  That’s the only thing that saved me from having to give up and ride the whitewash back in with my tail firmly tucked between my legs.

A few days later the surf dropped off, and I went out and flopped around in the shorebreak, chasing plateaus, pearling, doing exit stage left and exit stage right, pulling a stuntman in six inches of water, stubbing my toe on the board and tripping on the new, longer leash.  It may have just been paranoia, but it seemed like a few groms were enjoying my performance way too much.  I’m just glad someone was having fun.

It’s been a couple of weeks now since our crew, The Gallows, paddled out before one of the gatherings.  Christian and Boone had to go back to work.  Doc just comes and goes as he pleases.  No one has seen Murph for a while, but word on the street is that he tested positive for COVID.  At the end of summer there might have been as many as ten of us out on any given morning.  Now I only take my board down early if I get a text.

At one of the bonfire gatherings a month ago, I ran into an old surfer named Curly who could never remember my name.  I told him some of the guys were calling me Big Wave Dave.  Maybe that would help him next time.  I was just being funny when I said that.  A few days ago, I saw him again and he asked me, “What’s up, Small Wave?”

I knew he was joking so it made me laugh, but it also made me wonder.  Although we aim for progress, not perfection, sometimes it’s hard to know if you’re even accomplishing that.

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