We sat upright on our boards, nestled between ancient coastal cedars and the ominous, towering cumulous clouds that hung onthe horizon. Though they yielded the promise of impending doom,at this moment, they provided a stark and beautiful contrast to the golden light that graced us with a rare appearance.
“You gonna go this one senior?” I asked, as a set wave approached the little running, right-hand sand bank we had been frequenting for the first couple days of the trip. “Shit junior, I hate these ones that land on my head. Too hard.” But with that, he spun quickly and made the awkward white water take off with ease, before blowing his tail into an open face reverse, followed by a kick out that was fairly nonchalant and disinterested looking. “Did you see that junior, I was backwards, didn’t know what the hell was going on.”
Josh was the quiet and reserved leader of the group. It felt as though with each collective decision, before the bill could be passed, the son of a different Bill (Mulcoy) had to stamp it with his approval. Usually it came with a subtle nod of his head, and was rarely accompanied by much in the way of a verbal reply. You could sense the respect that each individual member of the group had for him, and it was clear how deserved it was each time we paddled out.
“Did you see that junior, I was backwards, didn’t know what the hell was going on.”
Following Josh, there was Pete. The co-captain. Devries assumes the responsibility of piloting the ship (figuratively speaking) nearly every time he takes part in trips like these. It is actually not uncommon for him to have more knowledge of a zone during his maiden voyage than others who have frequented the said area before. And seeing as though he’d already sat through a couple of fairly skunky excursions to this particular region, he wasn’t about to let the third visit go awry.
And then there was Waggy. The youngest. And the goofiest (footed). Waggy is kind of like a puppy, happy and carefree. And as long as you take him out and play daily (surf) and put food in his bowl at meal times, his tail will be wagging. He may not always wash his bowl after he eats, but he’s such a pleasant guy to be around that nobodyseems to care. And he almost never complains when the conditions go south, an unfortunate prevalence within many of the younger, travelling professional surf brethren of his generation.
Though he didn’t take much of a fondness to the aforementioned right-hand sand bar, Waggy still tore the bag out of it each and every day, patiently biding his time until we would see the real reason that he made the journey to join us north of the border. And as the trip was whittled down to its final days, he exploded like a ticking time bomb. The biggest and hollowest day of the trip coincided with a gusty northeast wind, and while the regular foots struggled with the ribbed and bumpy left bowls, Waggy revelled. He styled through tube after tube, and punctuated each barrel with a giant boost off the end section, sometimes spinning and sometimes not, but almost always landing on his feet. Senior sang his praises. The cameras captured every subtle nuance of his aquatic artistry. It was without a doubt the performance of the trip, and the group let him know it with their collective oohing and ahhing, huddled around the computer screen later that evening during our customary post supper footage review.
“He styled through tube after tube, and punctuated each barrel with a giant boost off the end section, sometimes spinning and sometimes not, but almost always landing on his feet.”
Mark had been dreaming of coming to this location ever since he saw a photo belonging to Chris Burkhard nearly ten years ago. It wasa brown, roping right-hand river mouth, the stuff intermediate surf fantasies are made of, and the type of setup that would have had any surf photographer planning their mission to greet it the minute they laid their eyes upon the image.
Unfortunately, though, the rivermouth proved to be more of a photographic mirage than a quality wave, and Mark’s decade-long dream had been dashed when we discovered the wave was worthy of not much more than a leisurely slide on a log, and not the canvas for his true love, the classic frontside arc of his favourite surfer in the whole wide world, JoshMulcoy.
“46, 47, 48, 49, get it to Mark!” shouted either Waggy or Ben, as the group honed in on our desperate aspiration to get 100 touches of the soccer ball without letting it reach the ground. “FRICK!” (Yes, literally frick, and not the other “f” word) shouted McInnis, “I’m so sorry guys.” He had let it fall under his possession,and that meant that we were back to zero for the three-hundredth time today, yet unwavering in our quest for the century mark. You could see it eat at him, each and every time that he dropped the ball. And by no means was he alone, as the overall ability of our group was sub-par at best, so there really was no reason for it. But that’s Mark. It’s a trait I’ve noticed within him ever since I witnessed him miss a shot for the first time. It kills him. He demands the absolute best from himself in whatever the task at hand, and it’s certainly something that rubs off on the people around him and raises the level of all those in his company. Huge thanks to Dan at Escott Sportfishing for the unparalleled hospitality, and all the locals who put up with our instant crowd throughout the trip.
Noah Cohen / Words
Mark McInnis / Photos