Jbay, South Africa: It Only Takes One To Change You Forever

Lion, Elephants & Sick Waves

“Do you bring the bong? No, I thought you brought it!”

J-Bay Art

This trip has been like a Cheech and Chong bong party, without the bong!

Traveling isn’t always easy, different beds, snoring friends, babies crying, funky food, “for the last time, vegetarian does not mean I eat chicken god damn it!”

There is nothing like that first drink of tap water in a foreign land, having been cursed in countries south of the border for over thirty years you would think I’d learn by now.

I run out to the reception with a hopeful expression on my face, “I just drank the tap water, is that cool in this part of Africa?” Then I picked up some gnarly African flu, four days in I was praying to trade it out for anything Montezuma style. The illness knocked me out like Mike Tyson at a drunken bar mitzvah.

Back to praying, “Dear God, just give me enough energy to surf.”

So, there I was dragging my sorry ass out into the surf and then crawling back to bed for the rest of the day.

What a vacation!

I showed up to my hotel in J-bay and they lost my booking, “sorry bru no room for you.”

Thought I was feeling better and ambled out to find some decent food. I’d been living off cough syrup and aspirin for days, I’d had so many flavors my tongue felt like the sticky side of a live mousetrap.

All was going well, got a good seat, had a glass of wine, put my order in, and then a coughing fit took hold of me and I had to run out of the establishment for a five minute fight with my lungs.

It was like an epileptic seizure, I thought I was going to swallow my teeth. I made it back to my table and ate my food so fast that, well, I’m not sure I really ate it. I wanted to get back to the hotel to my, you guessed it, apple cough syrup.

I rushed back and went for that bottle like a junkie that won the lottery and, you got to be kidding me, it was spilled all over the floor like some kind of big tile lollipop.

I half thought about liking that shit right off the floor but I decided that was way beneath my dignity. Not that I had much left at this point.

Of course, at this stage everything was closed so I had to rough it and hold court with all that phlegm in my lungs, trying not to breath in too deep and building my pillows as high as possible to trick my lungs into thinking I could out-wit them. It doesn’t work, let me tell you.

Surfing J Bay
I climbed into bed waiting for the storm to arrive with a full box of tissues and a jug of water.

I open my book for a bit of undeniably deserved reprieve. I am a paragraph or two in and I notice this black spot on the page.

What the fuck, the damn thing moves when my eyes move, I get up and look at the mirror and during my coughing fit I broke a blood vessel in my eye.

It can’t get worse, can it?

In the morning I woke and noticed something different. I could feel it, it was in the air. I ran outside and took a peak over the railing straight out at Supertubes.

The swell jumped overnight, the wind switched onshore, and the swell was hitting directly from the East—perfect conditions. I’d been waiting four years for this, surfed many good days but this was as good as it gets here—not many people in the water either.

Just paddling out at J-bay you got to have some decent sized balls, the reef sucks out like a hooker on crack.

There is one sane way in and one out between all the jagged rocks. My first trip five years ago the reef sketched me out so hard that I paddled all the way from the beach at Bone Yards.

It took me about 40 minutes to get into the lineup at Supers back then. After five trips here I don’t make that paddle any more, this day I was in the lineup and on my first way before you could say lickety spliff (pun intended).

J-Bay Surfing

I paddled to the top, nodded to the crowd of locals that are as friendly as a pack of hyenas on a ten day fast. At the top, the waves at J-bay are the biggest. You’re lucky to make every fifth one.

If the swell doesn’t hit the reef just right it’s runs too fast down the line and closes out on top of your head and when that happens you better hope you got one of the last ones in the set because getting caught inside means your get pushing into razor sharp reef.

Most guys sit just inside and pick off the set waves when guys fall but every once in a while it hits just right and wraps along the reef like a Rastafarian condom. This is not the g spot, it’s the j spot.

I was right in position for what I could feel was going to test my limits. I swung fast and dropped, pitted on takeoff.

I shot out and hit the lip so hard, it made me hard, ok semi.

Now it’s race time, the middle section of the wave is a race track and if you make it though it will reward you and if you don’t it will punish you.

I drew my line high and made the next section with my hands over my head—inside the green room—another few turns and a smaller barrel on the inside.

I paddled back to the top and a few of hyenas were smiling at me—it only takes one to change you forever.

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