Addicts have perverse priorities. We order our lives around the
illogical pursuit of whatever wholly unproductive task we choose. We
are beyond having to explain ourselves. We just do what we need to.
And at some point, every committed surfer will realize that this is
their reality; That their decisions are beyond control-That they are
addicts. Waves will inevitably become the focal point of all life
planning- as it happened with me. On Aug 31 2010 I left a career,
friends -a life. I packed all relevant worldly possessions into a
small car and drove from Nova Scotia, to come here, to BC.
The east taught me how to surf. Its miles of cobblestone points were
my classroom. Waves sent tauntingly from the frigid North Atlantic lit
up my coastline. Hurricanes were the disciplinarian; dolling out
punishment and reward. But it was the severe cold that kept sessions
honest. In short-The learning curve was steep.
Here I continue to learn. Iím learning about west coast rhythms. To
me, Juan de Fucas rhythm is foreign. It is slow. Sessions lack a sense
of urgency. People wait- on the shore, in their tents- they wait for
their moment to surf. They take in their amazing surroundings.
West-Canadians appreciate the beauty of their playground. There is no
This is contrasted by a more dine-and-dash mentality out east. Perhaps
its because of the cold back home. Its tough to relax when its -25*c.
Or maybe its because the surf is only ever a 30 minute drive away.
Most often a surf is a quick dip before youíre probably late for work.
Here each surf is a mission- Each an endeavor; complete with bears
(Apparently). And you donít surf before work here. You call in dead,
Other differences: Donít ever let anyone tell you kelp is normal.
These thick, ropey messengers from the seafloor give off an eerie
vibe. Kelp beds make the surfing arena feel alien. But wind chop is
eaten by their lazy flow. And they are a glass factory. But F&*k me
they are weird.
The waves are different here than NS, though not necessarily better.
The primary differences are due to groundswell here, and windswell
there. While waiting for a set in NS, you can typically see the wave
coming about a km out. Here they tend evolve quickly from little bumps
to head high and breaking in a matter of seconds.
Perhaps the most significant difference between Canadaís two coasts are
the length of the swell windows. Weeks! You measure your swell windows
in weeks here! East coasters think in terms of days sometimes even
hours. Ö.Maybe thatís why no one here is in a rush.
However I came here searching for that punching pacific power, and I
still havenít found it. Juans rhythm had something else in store for
me. So far I have found the canvasses more playful than anything. I am
still searching for something a little edgy.
In the mean-time reality is setting in: I left my home break. Now I am
surf homeless. The search will continue for more critical set ups. I
will probably piss off somebody when I find a hike-in spot. But I know
they are out there. And Iím gonna surf em.
I donít have a choice.
Photos: Eric Neff Photography