So I needed to get in the water for a surf session in the worst way. It had been a long day at Surf’n Gear headquarters and I needed a good dose of “vitamin sea” to boost my moral. But, summers on the South Carolina lowcountry coast can be frustrating in the search for good surf. Unless a hurricane or tropical storm is heading up the east coast we are usually relegated to surfing in onshore wind chop conditions, especially in the late afternoon after work surf sessions.
But, I checked the surf cam and it looked like there was at least a little size to the afternoon wind chop so I headed for the beach with my favorite 7’8” Stewart fun performance board to get wet and hopefully get a few good rides.
After years of surfing, my surf safari routine is pretty standard:
- Backpack beach chair with my towel – check
- Bar of wax (Mrs. Palmers Tropical Water Wax) – check
- Rashguard (a new Dakine Inlet Loose Fit Rashguard just for the occasion) – check
- Half gallon milk jug filled with fresh water for the car side rinse off post surf session – check
- Favorite Stewart surfboard – check
For some reason, on the drive out to my surfing beach at 30th St. on Isle of Palms, SC I found myself thinking “Do I have a surfboard leash on my board?” I looked up through the sun roof window and thankfully I saw my leash wrapped around the tail of my board that was strapped to the top of my car.
- Surfboard leash – check
Upon arrival at the beach, I got my favorite parking spot on 30th St. – a good omen (I thought!). I quickly geared up and took the short walk down to the beach only to find the good old “victory at sea” surf scene with some sizeable swells but a steady 15 mph onshore breeze with lots of wind chop and a high tide making the surf conditions marginal at best.
But, nobody turns around a goes home without at least getting wet, right? Walking back to the car with dry board shorts is even worse than paddling in when you’re done surfing instead of riding a wave in to finish a surf session. So I paddled out.
After I made it to the outside and was sitting there trying to figure out where the waves were breaking (in wind chop they break everywhere) I noticed that my leash cord wasn’t bumping against my leg. My leash cuff was on but why wasn’t I feeling the leash cord? I got my answer when I pulled my foot up to take a look and saw that the old ten year leash that I had on my favorite Stewart had broken off where the swivel connects to the leash – and I hadn’t even caught a wave yet! The hard rubber on the leash swivel was so old it had dry rotted and split off during the paddle out!
Great! Now I’m out here in these crappy conditions without a functional leash. And I’m in the surf accessory business selling our own Surf’n Gear branded surfboard leashes along with a full selection of Dakine surfboard leashes. How stupid did I feel? Pretty darn stupid!
But then I thought “Wait a minute… I’m out here in the surf on a beautiful late afternoon in Isle of Palms, SC… and even though the surf is not so great, being out here surfing, even in lousy conditions, is a good day!”
I grew up surfing in the late 60”s and throughout the 70”s before we had leashes. Leashes are awesome and I never surf without one now. But back when I learned how to surf, I learned without a leash. So this day I was going back to my roots and instead of going home because I didn’t have a leash, I had an “old school” no leash surf session. It brought me back to a much simpler time when I was a kid and you learned how to grab the rail of your board when you wiped out to keep your board with you. Or how to dolphin dive after your board when it got away from you to catch it before it got to the beach. Or making the long swim all the way into the beach to grab your board and head back out if it washed all the way in.
I’ve got a brand new Dakine surfboard leash on my Stewart now, and I checked the other boards in my quiver to make sure all my leashes are in good shape. I recommend you do that too! But on this day I went “old school”, and it felt great!