The Unwatched Kettle

15 Apr 2011 0

Notes from the Lineup
April 15, 2011
Words and photos by Tim Baker

I don’t mind admitting, by the time we headed off to our Tassie wedding I was beginning to feel like I had attracted some kind of curse, just like that episode of the Brady Bunch where they go to Hawaii and Peter finds an ancient Tiki, and Greg has that nasty wipeout and they all learn an important lesson about respecting indigenous cultures and the relativity of good and bad luck.

Just what I’d done to anger the Surf Gods of the Apple Isle, I wasn’t quite sure. Perhaps it was all the relentless blogging and tweeting. I’m almost certain Surf Gods, if they do exist, would disapprove of society’s current social media fixation.

And, let me make it clear, I was completely delighted to share in the nuptial celebrations of our dear Tassie friends, Juz and Aleks, both marine scientists of course. By this stage I had fallen so profoundly out of step with the southern elements I was ready to surrender. The only way to fall back in step, I figured, was to give up and start again. Everywhere we went, it seemed, we were a day or two late or early for optimum wave conditions. The old chestnut, “you should have been here yesterday,” was beginning to wear a bit thin, even for a hopeless nostalgist like myself.

And so we left the coast and headed for Hobart, where our daughter had to be fitted for her flower girl dress. It was time to play  the dutiful family man, after dragging the tribe the length and breadth of the state in search of waves. Then it was on to the Tasman Peninsula for one of the most glorious and joyful weddings, one of the most perfectly suited unions, I’ve ever had the good fortune to help celebrate. The magnificent location, on the edge of a bay on the surfless North Coast of the Tasman, dotted with historic convict lodgings, could have only been improved by the miraculous appearance of perfect left and right point breaks peeling down both sides of the Bay.

It didn’t matter though. I wasn’t even looking at the weather map. After two months on the road, and weeks of largely fruitless swell chasing, I was ready to enjoy the occasion to the full. And, so I did, coming out of the blocks rather too fast for my own good and hitting the wall by 9 pm, whereupon I took a little nap, then re-emerged around midnight to rejoin the festivities, just as the ‘80s dance-off reached its crescendo. Not a bad effort, I thought, for an old married bloke. I don’t know what time I got to bed but the kids were up at 6.30 regardless, which was just as well, as a mate John had the good sense to knock on the Jayco door and get me up for the early around 7 am. It was an inspired move.


Hungover, sleep deprived, clueless as to where the most favourable conditions might arise, I clambered behind the wheel of the RAV and simply drove as directed, on autopilot, with no expectations but to immerse my craggy head in saltwater. Down yet more winding dirt roads I drove, barely daring to care what lay at the end of them. Inexplicably, in the middle of nowhere, a large pile of old shoes stood on the side of the road like a termite mound. More quaint Tassie eccentricity.

Finally, we swung into yet another dirt car park, trudged up more dunes, got to the top and caught a glimpse of the Southern Ocean and … well, what do you know? The wind does actually blow offshore on occasions in Tassie. Long, straight swell lines made their orderely entrance into a wide bay, groomed to perfection by the most gentle offshore breeze. I could scarcely believe my eyes. A dozen or so surfers were enjoying a well-defined right in the western corner of the bay under sheer cliffs. In the middle of the beach, another peak was offering a handful of surfers quality lefts and rights. I was speechless.

It was a solid four to five feet and reminded me of Johanna, with its neatly tapering banks separated by deep channels, its long, powerful walls, its pinching almond barrels. We could not tumble down the dunes and haul on wetsuits fast enough. It was a long, meandering march along a narrow track, through encroaching coastal bushland, a short wade across a shallow creek and then a mad sprint down onto the wide, glorious beach.

I chose the less crowded middle peak, even though the right in the corner looked superior, in no mood to wait my turn in a crowd, ready to gorge like a pig at a trough. After my wretched run, the Gods had finally smiled. I found I had the right of the middle peak virtually to myself, paddling out, picking off set waves, practicing my remedial brand of gentle climbing and dropping, kicking out in the shorebreak, and paddling straight back out into another set to do it all again. I was exultant.

By the time we got back to the wedding site, a leisurely recovery breakfast was being served for the large crew who had camped over night – bacon, eggs, hollandaise sauce, coffee, fruit, toast, pastries. The morning could not have been more perfect if my father-in-law had rung to say he’d just purchased the Boag’s Brewery.

Which all serves to remind me of something the great Tom Curren once observed during the heyday of the whole Search campaign. The watched kettle never boils. For all the careful planning, all the watching of weather maps and swell charts, the last minute missions down the coast or cross country marathons to chase waves, sometimes the best sessions arise when we least expect them. 

And when they are most needed.

- Tim Baker


Follow the Surfari Highway at website blog or on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and You Tube.

Big thanks to Toyota for the use of the mighty V6 3.5L RAV4 and Jayco for the comfy yet compact Expanda caravan.

Mobile broadband powered by Telstra and the Next G Network.

Follow Surfari Highway at www.bytimbaker.com/blog and on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and You Tube.



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