JUNE 6, 2018
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.