Diaries Magazine

Surfing Burleigh Heads (for Mike)

By Thebangtoddowenwaldorf @BangLiving

Surfing Burleigh Heads (for Mike)

I woke up at 5:45 and banged (pun) out my 5 hours of work.  Tricia’s deck is coming along.  I’m scrubbing off the mold so I can put a finish on it.  I have put 8 hours into it so far and expect another 3 until it’s finished.  I could have been done by now but I don’t think the deck would look as good as it is going to if I were.  I like to attempt at putting quality into my work even if it is just scrubbing someone deck.  Tricia complimented me by calling me a hard worker today.  That made me feel pretty good.

Alright Mike, this one is for you buddy.  Yesterday I decided to surf Burleigh Heads.  I sat on the rocks on ‘The Point’, what locals call the right head, and watched the breaks.  I knew that I had to surf it.  I have only surfed a couple of times in my life, but after learning what Burleigh Heads is to the surfing community, I couldn’t walk away without getting out there.  I am also fully aware that my friend Mike would slap me for passing up on the opportunity also.  Mike lives for surfing.  I want to keep on living.

Yesterday I walked up to a building that sits on the sand, called Burleigh Heads Surf Club.  I sought a board to rent.  I thought a surf club was a good place to find one.  The surf club was actually a SLSC (Surf Life Saving Club).  Australia has them in place of lifeguards.  It is a volunteer program.  Basically, I wasn’t getting a board from them unless I raised one arm in the air to signal I was drowning anyway.  Might I add that putting one arm in the air signals trouble to the lifeguards.  I guess when you drown in Australia you better make sure you follow protocol.  Although I didn’t find a board at the SLSC the woman behind the desk directed where I needed to go.  She smiled, I smiled, the guy next to me smiled, and I left the chipper crew of the SLCS.  To rent a board I was going to pay A$10.  I have to remind you, again, that a Big Mac meal costs A$8.   Five Big Macs and you can just as easily buy a car here.

Last night I sought information about Burleigh Heads.  My source was the internet.  I wanted to understand what I was getting myself into, and more importantly if there was anything hidden under the water I should be aware of.  I have now come to the firm conclusion that nobody knows a thing about Australia.  If it is written by someone other than an Australian, there is a good chance it is wrong.  Before coming I read that you can get a sunburn in 5 minutes here.  The ozone is thin and there is a hole in the southern hemisphere.  I’ve been burned in Florida in less time.  I’m just saying, I don’t know the science behind getting a sunburn, but I know pain.  Last night I read anyone that is short of a being a pro surfer should not attempt Burleigh Heads.  They’re huge black rocks and the surf is “ferocious”.  Great.  Let’s do it.  Just to be sure though, I walked up to an SLSC volunteer station and yelled up asking him about the surf.  The sunburnt bloke chimed down to me “Nope, nothing to worry about out there mate.”  I smiled, and then I went to go get my surfboard.

You are pretty much invisible on the beach in Australia, but if you have a surfboard, your suddenly famous.  As I stepped onto the sand I was dis-concerned with the eyes I felt pointed towards me.  I stayed focused and studied the break.  I didn’t want to paddle out in any irregular waves, plus I wanted to get out there and perform the best I could.  After finding my spot, I hit the water.  I paddled out into the waves, which had about three breaks in them.  There was a sandbar and then another further out.  I kept my arms at full length forward, and full length back.  I struggled a little with controlling the board but later I got a little better at it.  As I passed the first break my environment drastically changed.  I started to get hammered by the waves, which were much bigger now.  This really put my paddling ability, or lack thereof, to the test.  Maybe it was working on the deck earlier for 5 hours, or biking to get to the beach, but the paddling out there completely winded me.  I resolve right now that if I move to the beach, and when I get home it’s either that or the mountains, I will no longer go to the gym.  I will surf.  I will get all the upper body exercise that I need.  As I passed the sandbar I settled in and sat on the board.  To be honest I don’t know how far I am supposed to paddle out.  The waves were breaking and that was good enough for me.  After regaining my composure, which is to say recover from panting like a dog in the desert, I sucked it up and did what I set out to do.  The swells were about 4 feet (1.4m).  I caught 3 out of 4 of them.  The one that I failed on was due to my floundering with my board.  I didn’t turn around fast enough.  Before I went out there I had gone through the motion of it all in my mind, just like I had done with snowboarding before I got the knack of it.  After each wave that I caught I was quickly reminded of one alarming fact, I would have to paddle back out.  Ouch.  After the third wave taking me closer to shore than I had gone previously, I was running on fumes.  I turned in and sought the embracing arms of the sand.  I put the board down and rest my head on it, closing my eyes.  I focused on the sand and the heat on my face from the sun, reminding myself that is was Australian sand and Australian sun rays.  I lay there a while longer listening to the ocean and its pattern of crashing waves.

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