Saturday, October 04, 2008

October 4, 2008 - Nusa Lembongan, Bali, Indonesia

Sten's finger is on the mend, but I still won't let him anywhere near the salt water and the millions of microscopic organisms it hosts until it is completely healed. It seemed a shame to let his bodyboard gather dust while he's sidelined, so late this afternoon I decided to try to surf the reef break next to which we are anchored. I haven't been surfing since New Zealand. Beach breaks and sailboats just don't mix - generally there is no decent place to anchor near a beach break. And frankly, reef breaks scare the bejeezus out of me. All that shallow water and jagged coral, just waiting to flay one's flesh, has kept me from trying to surf any of the legendary waves that Sten has scored in the Pacific and Indonesia.

As I'd never surfed a reef break before, Sten came along in the dinghy to coach me. Once I was out there, bobbing around in water so shallow that I could stand up - hell, I could have kneeled on the reef and still had my head above water - I lost any confidence that I had watching the break from the boat. Then I realized, "Hey, if I'm nowhere near the wave, then I don't actually have to catch it, do I?" I was hoping Sten wouldn't notice that I'd drifted a bit far away from the takeoff zone, but he was quick to encourage (shame?) me to get back there with helpful hints like "your position to the wave matters as much as your position on the board."

After a few false starts, somehow I managed to catch a wave. Nobody was more surprised than I was. And by surprised, I mean terrified. A scream burbled out of me as I rode the wave, trying to figure out how to a) stay on the board and b) get the hell out of there before it got too shallow. I hadn't figured out how to turn, so I just held on and screamed some more. When Sten motored over to pick me up with the dinghy he called out "You just surfed an Indonesian reef break. It doesn't get much better than that." Actually, a rum and tonic, a day at the spa, or even a really juicy novel would have done me just fine, but he seemed so pleased that I didn't argue. I rode one more before calling it a day.

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