Monday, May 21, 2012

The Family That Surfs Together Stays Together

Up until yesterday, I had only had contact with a surfboard twice in my life.  The first time was in Santa Cruz, CA, with Sam and his brother.  The water was freezing, despite the fact it was July and despite the fact we were wearing full wetsuits.  Have you heard of that fairly gross but useful tip of peeing in your wetsuit to stay warm?  Sam managed to pee in his wetsuit a miraculous 7 times and his lips were still blue and chattering.  The Pacific Ocean off the California coast is a bit like a couple of girls I've come across; so much physical beauty but not enjoyable to spend time in close contact with.  I never successfully rode a wave in that day.

The next time was a year or so later in Kauai for Sam's brother's wedding.  I was awkwardly trying to paddle and catch a wave when suddenly a surfer came very close to me.  I braced myself for a collision and offered up a hasty apology, cursing myself for being the lame newbie in the path of someone who clearly knew what he was doing.  Instead of retorting with an insult, this Patron Saint of Novice Surfers reached down and, from his own board, yanked me by the arm up to my feet.  I then rode the wave all the way in, feeling as stable as if I was on land.  That was the only wave I caught that day.

Fast forward eleven years and the creation and addition of three children to the family, and we all found ourselves at Manly Beach for a surfing lesson. Kenyon isn't quite ready for surfing, so we drew names and paired up Sam and Jackson for one lesson while Alex and I took the next one a few weeks later.

If you're in the area, Manly Surf School is a must for learning to surf.  First of all, the trip over is worthwhile--riding the famous ferry from Circular Quay over to Manly gives lovely views of the Harbor Bridge and the Opera House.  Manly itself is an adorable town, and the beach itself is tops without feeling the least bit touristy.  And the surf school?  Awesome all around.

I loved having Alex in my class with me; here we are practicing the proper positioning on the board...

...and how we should hold the board while heading out in the water.

Sam grew up boogie boarding and body surfing in Santa Cruz, and he seemed to take to surfing nicely.

I had a ball, and got up more times than I could count, so Manly Beach will always hold a special place in my heart.

So, how did the kids fare?  The way the knowledgeable, friendly instructors worked with my boys was simply stellar.  You'd think that being a 7-year old in a class with a bunch of adults would be intimidating, but our instructor boosted Alex's confidence from the start, using him as an example of correct form on the beach and when we first got in the water.

And then he was off!

At some point in the lesson, Alex and I headed back out to the waves together and, with a huge grin, he told me the instructor said he was 'unreal'.  Again, I cannot commend the instructors enough for how exceedingly wonderful they were with my children.

Jackson catching a wave

Surfing was a good time, and well worth the pain I'm feeling in my arms and chest today.  But what really made it special was experiencing it with my family; yet another memory I am grateful for because of this year abroad.


  1. Wow, look at your groms! That's awesome! Starting young is key, they pick it up so quickly. And you two don't looks so shabby yourselves! I love the story of the surfing saint.

    Manly is my old stomping ground, I grew up in Mona Vale and on Pittwater :)

  2. I had to Google 'groms'. :) Manly must have been a wonderful place to grow up; lucky lady.

  3. YOU GO GIRL!! Look at you catchin that wave! You make it look effortless.
    That one pic of Alex from the side getting that wave is amazing!
    Too fun!!!