As if to Confirm My Last Post...

...yesterday's one star, one foot surf forecast on Magic Seaweed meant that I nearly missed the unbelievable blue sky, clean, overhead conditions at The Gate yesterday. The beaches must have been firing all over the North Devon coast with the line-ups emptier than they might have been due to the misleading swell forecasts. Where the hell did the swell come from?!

This snap I took on the way home doesn't do justice to some of the sets that were coming through. At one point I got caught on the inside and the whole bay was closed out with a 5-10 minute wait for a lull to get back out.

This was, for me, a big experience in many ways. I quickly rediscovered the limits of my surfing: ageing shoulders (limits that can easily be forgotten on small / logging days) and, though my duck-diving technique has improved a lot recently, I just can't duck-dive deep enough when an overhead wave breaks just in front of me.

The tiredness is the worst. I watched a young (early 20's?) surfer, who I see out all the time, paddling all over the bay catching tons of waves. A couple of good surfers, older than me, smoothly choosing their moment and enjoying the fine swells with grace and technique. I sat, chronologically somewhere in between, but without either the energy or skill to make the most of the conditions (gimme a break though - I've only been surfing 15 months). On the bright side, during my first hour out I dropped into - and rode - about five or six large waves. On the biggest - turning into and punching through the wave as it closed out. I was stoked and quite proud of myself. As I popped-up on the largest of them and felt the rail grip as I dropped in I remember clearly having the thought that when I started I didn't really see myself ever surfing a wave like this - and, essentially, what a curious position it was to find myself in!

Then after getting caught on the inside for a while and a few duck-dives I couldn't help myself and just sat too far out. In my heart-of-hearts I knew that my energy had lapsed below the required level for properly taking part in waves like this - but it was nice to stay there for a while paddling about. I caught one more big old wave, which closed out so I surfed the whitewater in.

What a day though. A day that came from nowhere...


  1. It didn't come from nowhere Tom!, it was from that low on the pressure chart that sat there spinning off Ireland for two days! those charts!

  2. I know - I've got to get learning and stop just looking at the already interpreted online forecasts. Still, the school run starts again soon: there's nothing like a drive-by for checking the waves!

  3. Nice looking waves. The problem with inconsistent surf is that when it does get good, you are not in the best shape to capitalise upon it. Don't worry though, you are not alone.

  4. hiya Tom,

    chris P told me to look at your blog .... he said that it sounded like I'm in the same place as you except i've only lived here for 1 year not 2.

    i had a good read of some of your posts and loved it! really nice to hear someone expressing in words so well what the surf learning curve and surfing obsession feels like. i couldnt believe how close it was to my past year...It was like you had been reading my mind and writing my experiences in the water and at home over my last year of living in North devon :). i experience the same obsession, have a very forgiving wife and 2 young kids (4 and 10) that bear with me thro it all and it was great to read and re experience the feelings and lows/highs that i have had on that crazy surf learning curve

    seriously you should think about publishing this blog , i think it would be a great and alternative surfing book.

    anyway thnx for taking the time to put your experiences down, its a great read. hope to see you out in the water at some point or catch you around about (i live near braunton).


  5. Hello Trev - thanks for the comment. You're the second person to suggest turning it into a book. I don't know. I haven't got very far yet. Don't know where this journey's going! Maybe one day - it might be nice if designed and laid out very graphically, like the blog is, colourful, lots of pics.

    Actually I've lived in Devon for four years now. Wasted a couple of years before I got back in the water.

    See you in the water sometime - I'm usually kooking around Combesgate, but sometimes get to Saunton or hide from the wind at Puts.

  6. yes definatly needs to be exactly as you have created it, but on pages instead of internet. think it would be great. yeah maybe after another few years once you've won the british nationals (LOL)

    ok will look out for you. ive never done combsegate yet, usually croyde and saunton and puts, so need to experience combesgate...

    i went out with chris p (adventures in trim)last night at saunton and used one of his "logs". first time on a log- lots of fun but the first time i popped up and tried to turn the board i just fell off because the board didnt move despite me trying to turn it- very funny moment!!.


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