A first for some, yet memories of past trips for the others who had spent weeks #undercanvas on previous cold water expeditions. The swell was building. We pitched at the foot of the dunes overlooking the beach; watching and waiting; a familiar routine to us all. As the tide flooded, it wasn’t pretty, yet Matt and Jonny - ever keen - got in, dodging some classic Cornish close-outs, managing to snag a few along the way.
The grey day turned to night, with the scudding clouds revealing a full moon for a few minutes, then gone again. Our thoughts turned to food and warmth with the roar of the sea in the background. Ernie settled down with routine familiarity to knock up a feast of fish tacos, whilst others chopped wood. Beers and Whisky followed. Stories were told of past trips and of uncharted islands. The tale of ‘Lonely Island’ stood tall; an icy wasteland that lies in the centre of the Kara Sea in the northern Arctic Ocean. A place worthy of its name, trapped in pack ice, the only signs of habitation - an abandoned Soviet Union polar observatory; ‘23 November 1996: The evacuation order came today. Poured the water out. Turned off diesel generator. The station is…the final word is illegible.....’
As the last logs were added to the wood burner, we turned in, ready for what the swell might offer the following morning. I remember falling asleep to the sound of the gentle crackle of the wood burner, rustling wind, creaking ropes and the roar of the sea.
Waking up, you smell and hear first, see last: wood smoke, the roar of the sea. Feeling the comfort my long johns; soft merino next to the skin, providing warmth against the autumnal chill. Outside the lefts were as unpredictable as the day before, so what followed was a morning of heavy paddling. Calling each other into the bombs, some closed out, others didn’t. The hardship and rewards of a cold water surfer.