JUNE 6, 2018

Surfer - - Contents -

We wake up in our sleep­ing bags in the farm­house at 7:15 a.m., freez­ing in the dark room even with five of us sand­wiched to­gether. The pas­tel-blue-and-yel­low twi­light glows through the frost on the win­dow. Af­ter mak­ing some in­stant cof­fee, we pack our boards into Poole’s old Land Rover De­fender and yel­low Nis­san Fron­tier and start the 8-mile, hour-and-a-half trek to the ex­posed coast. Our driver, Poole’s brother-in-law, Stevey, is driv­ing with one hand on the stick shift, one on the wheel, and, be­tween shift­ing gears, one on a Bud­weiser. He takes the Nis­san down cliffs onto the beach in four-wheel drive while look­ing back over his shoul­der and talk­ing story to the crew. Charg­ing through riverbeds at low tide to avoid what Stevey calls “Jack­ass holes” made by nest­ing pen­guins, we see schools of mul­let fish splash­ing around, stuck from the out­go­ing tide, so close we could grab them. Snow crab sur­round the is­land, but the Pooles don’t eat shell­fish—too much work, they say.

It’s snow­ing lightly as we cut across the is­land to the beach. The el­der Steve, who is ahead in the De­fender, stops and pulls out his 22-cal­iber ri­fle, points it to­ward a flock of geese and shoots a few rounds into it, killing four birds to feed his four dogs. He chucks the blood­ied fowl in the back of the truck and we keep on to­ward the right in the dis­tance.

Stevey takes a wide route around the back­side of a long point and ends up stum­bling across a shoul­der-high, spit­ting A-frame slab. Eight sec­onds later, an­other one ex­plodes in the same spot. Cof­fin and I are im­me­di­ately hys­ter­i­cal. We can’t be­lieve that we’re look­ing at waves this good on what was forecast as the small­est day of the trip. But this is the south­east cor­ner of the is­land, the next land­mass to the south be­ing Antarc­tica—there’s no short­age of en­ergy in these wa­ters.

Dur­ing the lengthy process of climb­ing into full-body neo­prene, it be­gins to sink in that this will be, un­doubt­edly, the first time this wave has ever been surfed.

In the lineup, we trade pow­er­ful wedges with just the three of us for hours, high-fiv­ing with un­con­tain­able ex­cite­ment be­tween sets. Halfway through the ses­sion, Cof­fin looks at me and we just started laugh­ing. “Where the fuck are we right now?” He screams be­fore spin­ning around on a dou­ble-up break­ing onto no more than 8 inches of wa­ter. It’s a short wave, but as ac­tion-packed as they come.

As the tide drops and we make our way in over the kelp-cov­ered reef, we all agree that the many days of gru­el­ing travel to get here were be­yond worth it.

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