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Westhaven State Park, Westport, WA, September 5th, 2004

I've always thought it would be fun to try to learn to surf, but I never really had the opportunity, or I guess the inclination, to get off my fat ass and actually do something about it. So, Helen decided to get me a surfing lesson for my birthday. A friend of hers at work surfs, and she suggested that Helen get me a lesson from Bobby over at Perfect Wave Surf Shop. The first available lesson day was the first weekend in September, so we booked that. On my actual birthday, Helen gave me the book Learn to Surf, by James MacLaren. I read half of it the night before, and half of it in the car on the way to Westport, WA, where I would take my lesson.

Westhaven State Park, in Westport, WA, is about 2.5 hours from the Seattle area, so it really wasn't a bad drive down at all. I met up with Bobby when we got there, and he had everything I needed. I'd been by his shop earlier in the week to get fitted for a wetsuit, boots, gloves, etc. and he had it all ready for me with a nice 10' longboard. I shoved myself into the suit and we headed for the beach. Bobby talked to us (there was another guy taking a lesson, too) on the beach first, taught us about some of the basics and laid out for us what we would do. Then we waded out to about waist deep and he showed us how to lay on he board and catch a wave. (Wave being a loose term... it was a small whitewater wave about a foot high...) I did that a couple of times, then Bobby suggested that I try to stand up, so I did. I actually got onto my feet for a few seconds before falling off backwards. Pretty cool, so I tried a few more times. Sometimes it worked, sometimes not. Bobby then took us out a little further and showed us how to paddle, break through waves on our way out, sit on the board, and pivot the board around so we could watch waves, then turn and try to catch one. I did that for the next hour or so, and I managed to get up a couple of times. Two times I actually felt stable on the board, and could steer a bit, which was pretty cool. Many other times I was either unbalanced and fell off quickly, or slipped trying to get up. A few times I just wasn't lined up right and got tossed by the wave.

The water was cold, but I wasn't. The wetsuit was perfect, and although I really, really hate being cold and wet I never really noticed I was in cold water. The waves were coming in fast, one after another, and there was a serious rip tide pushing us down the beach, so you really had to fight to get out any distance, and every now and then I just went back to the beach and walked back to where we'd started. This was seriously hard work... I had no idea.

After about 2 hours total, I just ran out of strength. I tried to get up on the board, and my arms gave out and I planted my face on it. Lying there, the board still moving with the small wave towards the beach, I knew I was done for the day.

All-in-all, I had a blast, and I would definitely do it again. I'll talk with Bobby and see if I can learn how to know when the waves will be good, then I'll rent some stuff and head down there again one weekend.

Bobby explaining the waves and the rip tide today.

Showing us how to pop up onto our feet using lines in the sand. This was one of the most helpful things that we did, actually.

My first walk out into the water with a surfboard.

Catching my first wave on my belly.

Going back out for another one.

Bobby helping me with my timing.

Using the board to help get over breaking waves. Just as the wave comes, you hop a bit and brace yourself on the board and you break through with ease.

Paddling furiously for a wave.

My first time getting up...

... pretty shaky...

... but I managed to stay with it for a little while...

... as the wave petered out. Then I fell on my ass.

Rinse and repeat.

Below are 6 shots of what was probably my best ride of the day. I was able to experiment with steering a bit.


This one didn't last long :)

Yea, neither did this ride. I think this is the one where I hit the bottom with my hand and hurt my wrist a smidge. Nothing major, and the cool water probably helped it.

Bobby showing us how it's done. See how relaxed he is... yea, now go look at me again :)

Bobby was always out there somewhere near us, ready to answer questions or give us good advice.

This one is going a little better...

... still going okay...

... and now I'm getting ready to bite it!

This was a common sight... I'm amazed we don't have more pictures of me dragging the board back to me after falling off of it :)

The waves just kept coming, will little break between them. It was rough going trying to paddle or walk out, and I was dead tired by this point.

All done for the day. That was a blast.