north haven, stings like a bee.
Saturday morning at North Haven : if the conditions are right means that yanking a set wave is an accomplishment. Especially if you’ve just wandered up the road from the van park that morning after wandering into town overnight from Sydney. Somebody had a word about this place. Just off the wall. Worth a look.
Everyone knows the rules. Sixteen locals travelling at 100 mph have absolute rights of precedence on weekends at their spot when it’s good. This is written.
– and anyone travelling the road from Sydney to Queensland – stopping here and there for this and that – knows to wait in such circumstances.
The wave will come.
This morning the first five waves of the first set have come and gone and they have taken half of the mob away inside and whaddya know here comes another set of three and the second wave is a wide beastie and the guy who nobody knows is in the slot. This is us.
Halfway down the bank our man has to thread through the local lads all paddling back out just as a regular sized suck option patterns out on the bar just in the right spot. He swoops on it, does our man. He rips his signature gouge on the flat bottom of the wave, accelerates straight back up, meets the friendliest lip in the country and comes back down through the air.
Fangs off down the line.
oh yeah ..
The surf club is a little way down the beach, that’s where the showers are.
– plus all the local lads who have been out there with you for the past three hours – Top session, that first wave an absolute marker. Only a surfer knows the buzz.
They watch as you walk up to the club apron, over the new-mown grass. The local boys. Nobody has any secrets about how they managed out there, it’s a spectator game in the water.
– and it’s a spectator game on the beach, everybody watches everybody and that’s how come our man trod on the bee. Who watches for bees, on grass, in summer, when you bin surfin’?
So we are halfway up to the tap and in seconds the stung foot is sending massive signals to the brain that all is not in order. The sting is an immediate deep ache, the leg is already becoming numb and there is a tightening about the groin – a slight disorder of vision, some dizziness and a coldness about the lips.
You remember how Socrates bought it, the hemlock – the creeping cold. Some books a man shouldn’t read.
They watch. Do the lads by the showers.
So you make the showerhead and duck into some cold water there, splash a little bit on the foot. Loiter there a while. Sluice down the board.
The foot is now a burning orb of incandescent flesh, it radiates a heat so intense vapours of steam whisper up out of the puddles you are standing in. Walking on it is like wearing a boot full of hot gravy.
But walk away you do, slowly – all the way down the road and back to the van. Which you’ve locked of course, and put the key away safely somewhere.