This was an amazing weekend courtesy of Hurricane Kyle, who is obligingly staying well to our north and east, apparently headed for Nova Scotia. I worked too late Friday to enjoy the swell directly, but the roads were full of automobiles plastered with surfboards and howling adolescents, and I didn’t have the emotional fortitude to bring up Saturday morning I pedaled down to the end of 13th avenue north and gazed at the groundswell rolling in from the north. The tide had peaked at eight, and Jax Beach is always a bit sloppy at high tide, so I pedaled over to my friend Kevin’s to plot our course.

Two hours later we paddled out - me on my waveski, Kevin in his blue whitewater kayak - with little trouble. The tide was still slightly gorged, which gave me time to acquire my sea butt (or whatever the correct terminology is for acclimatizing to a waveski after a long absense: an outgoing tide diminishes the power of a swell, just as an incoming augments it.) After a time a set wave snaked over the horizon and built over the outside sandbar. After an adrenaline charged spurt I dropped, pivoted around my outstretched port paddle and slung myself up the face to the left. A few exhilarating switchback turns took me far enough in to see just how disastrous the inside could be, and I popped oner the top of the wave and began the paddle back out, absurdly pleased with myself for avoiding a capsize when my forward momentum was exhausted. Leaning forward helps in that case, at least until I learn to roll the thing.

Glowing inside and out, I paddled back outside, watching Kevin return after his first stellar ride. I noticed a long dark shape break the surface just outside him, headed for the outer sandbar; I thought Keep an eye out for fins and paddled toward Kevin to alert him.

He caught another wave just then, so I pulled my feet out of the stirrups (forward foot rests) and glanced to the south. A long - eight to ten foot - body broke the surface ten yards from me, going away - it must have passed pretty close to beneath me - pale blotches showing just below the water. It can’t possibly be a whale shark I thought. Not in  the Atlantic, and this far from the equator. And then the horizontal fluke appeared, waving goodbye.

Holy SHIT! I thought. It must be a baby right whale, separated from the pod! looking around for additional submerged denizens. I’ve never been in the water in the Atlantic with a whale before! passed through the remains of my brain. And then I caught a right so good it blotted the memory from my mind.

Sunday was bigger still: big enough to make me wonder if I could make it outside. I was an effort, but just as I broke through a set appeared and I sprint paddled to synch with the shoreward charge. Waveski’s are all about weight placement, and I planted my left paddle, swung around and shot up the face and down the line to the left. Several big, roundhouse cutbacks took me to the inside stomping ground, and I took a big bottom turn to exit over the top.

A leisurely paddle brought me back outside the impact zone. As I stroked over the last wave I saw a fin rise out of the water and languidly submerge. This triggered a years old habit, and I rubbed the bottom of my board/ski to make noises in the frequency range of cetaceans. Almost immediately I was surrounded by gray, graceful bottlenose dolphins, several just out of reach.

There is a feeling I’ve experienced, rarely: probably because we aren’t designed to sustain it too long. Happiness seems to bubble up inside me, like nitrogen narcosis, filling my soul and synapses until all I can do is laugh for sheer joy.

If there is a God, this must be what heaven is like.


Yeah, I know: I’m going backwards.

If we are now constrained to preface the term evolution with the modifiers scientific theory of, we must similarly enact a law effecting the term creationism with the adjectives witless, inbred, sophistry of.


OK. Wanna come up with a temporal pattern now?

My friend David lived in NYC for a while, and is one of the few people I know who would even consider driving there. Everybody on his street had their car stereo stolen, so he initiated the practice of covering the empty hole in his dashboard with a note, reading Already Gone.

One day he got into his car to discover a note taped over his: Just Checking.