Island Notes 55
I have a problem with old guys that can’t quit. NBA sensation Michael Jordan and NFL wunderkind Brett Farve are two that come to mind. They played their respective games like few others before and dazzled us with their talents. Past their prime, both attempted comebacks, none of which had the quality of their previous performances. Thus, the public endured sub-par performances from former stars that used to thrill millions. It was sort of a bad deal for everybody.
As I contemplate a return to my surfing days, I don’t feel like I am subject to the same scrutiny of these pros. First off, no one really cares if I grab a board again. The few that might watch will only do it for the laughs. Secondly, I only dabbled in surfing as a teenager and on small waves at that. I was far from being accomplished.
But those Sixties summer days along the Ocean City, Maryland/Indian River, Delaware coast were transformative. Beach Boy tunes played constantly on the radio. I had a rented long board in my hands and roaring, three-foot waves coming at me. Up to that point, those surfing times were the best days of my life. My endless summer quickly ended when mom and dad packed up the vacation car and sped back to boring, land-locked Ohio. Back home, I subscribed to Surfer Magazine, my only link to a newfound world. I pondered the fools who were wake boarding Lake Erie then, riding tiny curls generated from powerful speedboat engines. It just wasn’t the same. My surfing dreams slowly died in the heartland as life got in the way.
My old buddy Rick Fulmer, an avid snowboarder/skier says of his winter passions, “It’s just another way to play in the planet’s water supply.” Perhaps in its simplest form, surfing is too. But for me, it is more complex than that. There is an intangible quality between ocean and board and surfer that still hangs with me after all these years. It is all about that force that suddenly lifts one up and thrusts one to shore. That incredible feeling still resonates in my Pisces soul.
The old dream resurrected itself the other day while I was driving along the southern shore road just below Red Slave. There it was. Just off of a rugged point of land, I spotted a series of perfectly formed waves peeling off from the jagged coast and out to sea. The repeating curls were sculpted forms of fluid beauty. I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. I had never seen sets like this here or any other place on Bonaire. I drove home that day and couldn’t shake the vision of those ideal waves.
I returned a few days later only to find them gone. Wind and current had changed everything. The result was a washtub of confused sea. It was time for some local knowledge about this place. I went and found my friend, Funchi.
“Oh yeah, I think I know where you mean. But what you didn’t see is the large elkhorn coral just below the surface. That stuff will rip your ass up. But I know some guys surf Baby Beach. Maybe you should look there.”
Baby Beach belies its innocent name. It is located on the turbulent Wild Side, the windward coast of the island. It is almost always rough there. The day I went to check it out, three local boys were hot dogging on their uber-cool short boards. I watched them ride low, choppy waves for a half hour. This was so different from the elegant. long pipes I saw earlier near Red Slave. I headed home to contemplate my surfing future from the comfort of the hammock.
I have heard about Caribbean surfing in Barbados, the most eastern flung island of the West Indies. The Dominican Republic is supposed to have some awesome waves at Cabarete. As I swing back and forth, I dream of taking a surfing safari to those places with long board in hand. There has got to be more than just surfing the Web, even for someone of my age. Move over Michael and Brett. It just might be time for a comeback.