Waves Missed, Drops Not Taken, Regrets

This image goes with the previous piece. The photo was taken by Rico, passed on to Keith, passed from him to me. "Send it to my email address," I always say. WordPress has a new formatting deal. I'll get it under control. Next time. Let's see if this works.

This image goes with a previous piece. The photo was taken by Rico, passed on to Keith, passed from him to me. “Send it to my email address,” I always say.
WordPress has a new formatting deal. I’ll get it under control. Next time. Let’s see if this works.

Nope; sorry; I found the illustration for this story, but can’t seem to get it from there to here. And I’m out of time. Maybe tonight. Meanwhile, I’m not giving any more hints as to any more secret mysto spots, but I did surf the above-featured wave the other evening with Rico Moore and Keith. No, Adam, it wasn’t head high.

Having already told me how awesome his latest surf session had been (the waves are always, it seems, ‘head high’ when he surfs) Adam ‘Wipeout’ James called me back to say he’d missed some waves.
“What? I missed that.”
Adam usually calls from the road, his shellfish business taking him to multiple locations among the tentacles of the greater Hood Canal and Puget Sound. He has a waterproof cell phone and it usually sounds as if he’s actually underwater. It wasn’t, apparently, that he missed waves he was out of position for; too far in, too far over; it was that he could have taken off and didn’t.
Or maybe I heard that wrong.
If it was that, missed opportunities; then yeah, I understood that. There are the waves you want but someone else is on them; nothing to do about that. Slight regret, maybe; like the time this guy was sitting way outside, resting, or enjoying the ambiance, or something, positioned at exactly the (my) big set lineup spot, but, since there hadn’t been a big set for a long enough time that I abandoned even thinking about it and went for the insiders. Several. And then, the big set approached, set of the day, wave of the day, and I was scrambling out and over for it, and the guy, without adjusting his position at all, just casually turned and took off as if he’d been expecting this special delivery.
I couldn’t be angry with him for waiting; I was upset with myself for not.
Wipeout’s situation was different. He gurgled a description of head high (of course) glassy waves at a classic walling, wedging point/cove break out the Straits of Juan de Fuca near Neah Bay; the ones he caught and, specifically, the waves he could have and didn’t.
“Adam,” I said, “I didn’t take off on a wave at Warmwater Jetty in 1969 and I haven’t gotten over it yet.”
“Huh? What?”
It was the only time I ever surfed there, paddling around the fence, feeling the warmer water coming from the Carlsbad power plant outflow. It was an hour or more before work would start and was the only one out. It wasn’t head high, but it was glassy, and, after several quick rights, I was poised to drop into another one. Too steep, might close out, the calculations went through my mind quickly, and, quickly, I backed off, feet splayed to slow me down, to keep me from going over the falls.
And, watching from the back, the wave peeled perfectly, perfectly, a bit of spray off the feathering top.
Instant, and lasting, regret.
Maybe it’s those regrets, maybe almost as much as perfect rides remembered, that urge us on, push us into conditions a little too big, a little too rough or out of control, talk us into attempting a late drop that we clearly can’t make, freefalling, hoping something, fin or rail, catches, somewhere, and we can speed run down, inside, and, if we make it… great. If we don’t… no better place to wipeout than inside… rolling, rolling… and, later, the memory is not one of regret.
“Next time, Adam,” I said.
“Yeah,” and I’m pretty sure this is what he said on the other end of the bubbling cellular connection, “Next time.”


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