Remembrance Day is often a solemn holiday, but for surfers it also embodies happiness and excitement at the start of storm season. Chesterman’s and Long Beach turn from warm friendly waves in blown-out beachbreak, while Wick and Cox can catch huge swell and either form huge, clean waves or total chaos and carnage. Often these happen at the same time, and that’s why we load boards, suits and booze, (cause it’s real cold,) and fork over hundreds of dollars to BC Ferries. In spite of all this, every person that braves the ocean will know that the whole expenditure of time, money and effort was worth it as soon as that giant invisible hand from the ocean pushes your board and you slide down the face…
This weekend was definitely helped by glorious weather and some conveniently-timed flex days from work that let us beat the traffic and made it to Nanaimo on Thursday night. Huge thanks to Emily and Shayne for putting us up in their great home and setting us up to have a great weekend! Emily is often called the brains of the operation, and while she may deny it, she is the driving force behind planning, invites and motivation. Without these, it’s safe to say the trip wouldn’t happen. Also, I need to thank Granted – even though the sweaters and toque they provided probably weren’t critical to our survival, they sure made us more comfortable and the object of widespread knit-envy.
Friday morning, after packing and picking up Shawn from the ferry, we bought $200 worth of delicious Gabriola Island steak and more booze before setting off to try and surf the remnants of an elusive long period swell. We arrived at Wick Beach about the same time as Scot and Julian, and managed to score an epic sunset surf! The stoke was high and the photos were amazing!! We knew that a huge meal needed prep and that perhaps up to a dozen more people were showing up – Emily rented a kind of duplex that sleeps 18 – so we hightailed it down to Ucluelet and helped with the feast. This meal would prove instrumental to our survival, as we topped the night off with a rowdy night of karaoke at Officials, the local sports pub. Highlights are blurry, but I’m pretty sure that Julian’s rendition of Need You Tonight by INXS is what actually caused them to split up this week. There’s no point in them even trying to compete against him and little Jules. (Disclaimer – Little Jules never even left the truck)
The rest of the crew arrived Saturday morning and now the party was on. Wick was ugly and Long Beach was flat, but we headed up to Cox and had another beauty day of sun and surf, with clouds only rolling in for sunset and bringing a freezing wind draining whatever heat we had left. Fortunately, we brought a load of firewood that provided ample heat for us and the random beach friends that flocked to us like moths. Sunday was overcast with more good waves and our fire burnt all day, getting larger and larger to battle the cold. Cox was catching long period swell all weekend and I was regularly caught inside by a heavy 6-8′ set while playing on smaller waves. Still, sessions were super fun and I got to surf with a whole crew of new people!
Monday was a slow morning with cleaning, packing and a delicious breaky with Kat & crew. Finally, Shayne bought a beautiful 9’2″ Robert August that we proceeded to surf in some prefect longboard waves at Chesterman’s. We were even graced with some moments of sunshine and a fat rainbow that made me realize that even though we didn’t get to an official service this year, I spent minutes, or even hours, bobbing through the swell in quiet contemplation. And so, the overwhelming happiness of surfing is balanced by my final thanks of this post to those that have sacrificed for our country and allowed me to explore and document the places I love with freedom. Cheers, and a Happy Remembrance Day!
FYI – All of the lifestyle and portrait shots are by Mr. Julian Kenchenten