The waves don’t look too menacing from this photograph, but I can assure you they were. I definitely attempted to paddle out and didn’t get very far whatsoever. Let me put this in perspective for you. The surfer you see in this photo is staring out at the south side of North Chesterman beach, watching multiple kiteboarders zipping up and down the shoreline. There are a few surfers challenging the waves further out, but no very many at all.
In fact, the following day, after the swell had dropped a bit and the waves themselves cleaned up, too, I still only managed to make it half-way out. The rip was so strong that I got caught and got dragged towards the rocks at the other end of the beach. Mostly I just felt stupid since I knew some friends were definitely watching my lack of progress, and particularly since I had for some reason opted to go without booties and gloves.
I like coming back to the picture from the previous day because it is such an apt description for the surfing life. Here is an image of a surfer not actually catching waves at that moment. And yet he’s still been out. He’s still taking in the sublime sunset. Make no mistake, this is still surfing — as much as snapping against the lip on a clean right, as much as perfecting your duck dives and turtle rolls.