Surf’s up: Rolling with life’s waves
The Atlantic Ocean isn’t just powerful.
So don’t count on renourishment projects, including the one aimed at saving the Charleston County park on Folly Beach, to withstand the tides of time.
But if that costly initiative’s addition of a groin actually does “make waves bigger” at Folly Beach, a possibility reported on our front page Thursday, do count on lots of surfers becoming avid advocates of similar structures.
If a tropical storm (yikes) or hurricane (double yikes) comes anywhere near us in the next few months, count on some surfers defying the authorities by venturing out for swell swells.
Sure, surfers are especially aware that our species is on the wrong side in the man vs. ocean mismatch. Still, many of them would gladly take any side of any issue to create bigger, i.e. better, waves.
And while the generally mediocre waves at our South Carolina beaches (Folly’s are the best) are a long way from Hawaii’s fabled North Shore, many locals across a wide age range still get “stoked” when they hear, “Surf’s up.”
At least that was the lingo way back when this local, a month or so short of age 16, decided to finally give surfing a hard try.
Three painful days into a week-long 1969 summer stay at a Folly Beach house rented with some pals, that decision was reversed.
The agony of defeat
Day One: “Pearling” is defined on surfing-waves.com as “when a person buries the nose of the surfboard in the wave and goes ‘over the falls.’ ”
For this novice surfer, pearling was defined by scraping my head bloody along the sandy bottom after being thrown forward off a nose-buried board in shallow water.
Day Two: After another wipeout, the board hit me where it really hurts.
Day Three: After another wipeout, the board banged me flush in the mouth. As blood flowed from my lower lip during a dazed stagger toward shore, any lingering zeal for surfing flowed out with it.
But lots of my friends loved surfing — and still do.
Unlike me, they got good at it.
A couple of years later after those beach blows, I joined a merry band of fellow St. Andrews High School delinquents on a spring-break surfing safari to Cocoa Beach, Fla.
I belatedly discovered there that surfboards can double as handy, dandy personal watercraft. You don’t have to catch waves on them to go way out and paddle around, marveling at — and at times being scared by — assorted sea creatures.
In the years that followed, some surfing-hooked buddies went to Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Costa Rica in search of great waves. A few even stayed for extended periods.
OK, so surfers, here and elsewhere, have long had a scruffy side.
Back in the late 1960s, our local batch of bad beach boys even developed a reputation, only partially warranted, for crude conduct.
Yet they also developed an everyman esprit de corps of sorts that crossed generational lines — and an intense appreciation of nature’s wonder.
They learned, too, to appreciate the beach scene’s capacity to attract pretty girls in, ahem, alluring attire.
Some of those “chicks” could even surf.
Back on the full-circle wave, my wife and I became Isle of Palms boogie boarders a few years back.
She’s pretty good at it.
I’m pretty bad.
But on a boogie board, you don’t always have to catch the wave.
Sometimes it catches you.
And boogie boards, like surfboards, make nifty mini-boats on the bounding main.
Regardless of which board you’re on, however, timeless life lessons roll in with the wet fun. For instance:
All it takes is one good wave.
Good waves come — and go.
So do wipeouts.
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.