The thing about having a surfing blog / website, is that every now and again you feel obliged to write something to justify all the trouble you went to in building the thing in the first place and all the other time you’ve spent filling it with content in the past. You’ve got to have something to accompany all the surf photos you’re taking, and the search engine robots want to see regular updates and they’re not very good at indexing images alone, so for all those reasons, here’s another dose of my aimless soulsurfer ramblings.

—- Winter’s here, I should have been here yesterday! —-

Seems like every week since that first september swell arrived here on the isle of wight that we’ve been blessed with decent waves, and I think i’ve been spoilt this autumn by an unusually high number of days with good surfing conditions. The right size swell (not too big or too small), at the right angle (not just closing out), combined with the right tides and obliging winds blowing gently offshore. It’s been an amazing run, and i’ve enjoyed every wave, but it’s made me complacent and fooled me into thinking that there will always be another good day along soon.

But this week has reminded me that winter surfing here is different, the window of opportunity is smaller, and you need to be patient as well as alert to make sure you’re on it when everything comes together, and sometimes you just got to get in even when conditions aren’t right, because that’s what its all about here, getting in and enjoying it no matter what. And you have to put the work in on the hard days, because its the days getting battered by big pounding close-outs that make those good days all the sweeter when they do come.

Everyone knows the expression ‘you should have been here yesterday’ when you turn up to the beach and all the talk is about how good it was the day before (when you were working, or sick, or stuck somewhere you couldn’t escape from) but whats the expression for those times when you were here yesterday, and you didn’t go in because you were fussy and the conditions weren’t quite right and you thought it would better later or the next day? and then of course you woke to find that it wasn’t.

Whatever it is, I’ve been kicking myself for the last few days, I can sort of blame the dentist for missing out, but really i’ve only myself to blame. I drove past the bay early Tuesday morning to see it absolutely firing, big hollow waves being held up by the strong offshore’s and the lines seeming to come marching in in an endless procession. I knew it wouldn’t be too long before the big spring tide would be making bouncy backwash from the sea defences, and the vision of heaven would become a frustrating mess, but i really couldn’t blow off the dentist as i’ve still got a great big hole where my wisdom tooth extraction became a dry socket, and i really needed to hear that was getting better (the pain of exposed nerves and an infection in your jaw bone can focus the mind)

So two hours later, after driving through torrential rain along the military road, and getting the all clear from my dentist, i’m back at the bay after seeing every point along the coast doing its thing on my return trip to Ventnor. And thats when i first got it wrong, I stood around and watched for a while but spoilt by remembering all those lovely clean peeling sunlit autumn waves in my mind, i turned down the chance to join the few brave souls out there in the big challenging semi-close-outs in a freezing cold howling north-easterly and went home for something to eat and get a bit of work done while the wind and tide sorted itself out.

But as the saying goes, time and tide wait for no man, and this isn’t a story with a happy ending, i’d waited to long (4hrs) and by the time i got back there, the swell had left the bay completely, the waves that a few hours earlier had been breaking boards, were nowhere to be seen and all that was left was the cold wind and puddles from earlier. I drove on to Compton hoping for a few leftovers, and there was still a few out there, but i let my disappointment at what i missed cloud my judgment, and i didnt even go in there, telling myself that the best plan was to wait for the pushing tide in the morning with the promise of sunshine and lighter winds. I took these pictures whilst hanging around debating whether to go in or not, and now i’m here looking at them i cant help wondering wtf i was thinking and why didnt i just get wet whilst there was still a wave at least

So Wednesday morning came, and the sun did shine, but inevitably my early start wasn’t rewarded and i had plenty of time sitting around in weak messy cross-shore 1ft surf to think about the real waves i’d let pass me by just 24hrs before, and now i’m looking back at them on my camera and monitor it seems really dumb as there was clearly still the odd nice wave coming through.

Still, its early in the winter swell season and another big swell is probably already brewing somewhere in the North Atlantic, and i’ve re-learnt the valuable lesson of south coast surfing…. I should have been here yesterday, and he who hesitates is lost… (rodney)