Here are 6 lessons they learnt along the way.
Lesson 1: Don’t trust the forecasts and find accommodation close to the break
‘Should we rather go to the West Coast instead?’ It was days before our planned departure for J-Bay, and the forecasts looked very sobering: ~2m and 10s. Moreover, it kept changing by the day, and often didn’t seem to make sense. Being based in the Mother City, J-Bay meant a combined 20h drive for a 6-day trip, while the West Coast would be about half the distance. 20h is a long time if flat seas are awaiting you at your destination…
In the end, we decided to suck it up, trust in our good standing with the Wind- and Wave-Gods and head through…
…and hit the jackpot: Consistent rippable waves shared with a small group of non-local surfers and dolphins.
Throughout our stay, the forecast was off – so we stopped paying attention to it, and just regularly walked to the beach to get eyes on the waves. Staying only 50m from the Supers – at Aloe Again – was a real blessing in that regard; not only did this make our rekkie missions very pleasant, but it also meant that in those early mornings hours before 1st light, we could rely on our ears to determine what the ocean was doing.
The only source of data that seemed to be somewhat useful was the Wavenet Buoy in Mossel Bay. As most swells coming to J-Bay come from the West (i.e. direction Mossel Bay), the actual data that the buoy records can be an indicator of what’s arriving in J-bay a few hours later.
Supposedly flat seas at Supertubes, brought to you by Justin Beswick!
Lesson 2: Bring a backup board
This was a painful lesson: Kaspar picked up his brand new board from MAT surfboards on the way up. Proudly featuring Iggy front and center, it was named ‘Iggy-stick’ and over the course of three sessions, it carried Kaspar faithfully from one dreamy wave to another.
But at the end of the 3rd session disaster struck: Kaspar got caught out of position when one of the gnarlier waves of the day ripped the board out of his hands while duck diving. When he emerged, Iggy-stick was floating lifeless in the water, snapped in two.
The grieving was intense, but at least Iggy-stick went out with a bang and got his moment of fame when he appeared on the ‘Surfing in this South’ Facebook group. The post created by local Surf Photographer Robbie Irlam not only features the broken board, but in the comment section also a ‘dude walking all the way down to Kabeljouws in search of his board’ (guess who that might be!), as well as a pregnancy shoot… (see for yourself).
Lesson 3: Nina’s Veg-menu will blow your mind – but be patient on weekends
Nina’s restaurant is an institution in J-Bay: It’s situated only a few 100m from Supertubes and lets you enjoy delicious foods while watching on a big screen what the pros do when they’re in town.
The menu at Nina’s has always been quite impressive, but recently they created something remarkable for a restaurant in a comparatively small town: A completely separate Vegetarian and Vegan Menu, with more than 30 items to choose from, including Burgers, Pasta, Bowls, Wraps and even Pizzas.
Our absolute favourite item on that menu was the Vegan BBQ Espetado, a ‘Veggie skewers flame-grilled with BBQ marinated tofu and veg, onion rings and chips. Not only was it a taste of heaven, but it also came with a complimentary beer for a mere R83! Kaspar and Brendan might have ordered that every single time they were there…
A close runner up and ‘Justin’s Pick’ is the Vegetarian Greek Burger, with Halloumi, pesto, babaganoush, rocket, cranberry sauce and caramelised onions, served with chips.
Good to know: It gets busy on weekends, and it can happen that you’ll be waiting for a while for your food (in some cases more than an hour). So make sure you have a quick snack after your last sessions of the day, or you might end up hangry.
Lesson 4: Don’t get too obsessed with Supers
Supertubes is one of the 7 world wonders, no question. But we might have become a bit too obsessed with surfing the main peak, especially because we were living so close to it. Speaking to fellow surfers, we learned for example that Albatross (last spot in J-bay, even past the Point) picks up more swell than Supers, and deals much better with the ‘devil wind’ – a northerly wind that blows side-shore and creates unwanted chop.
Lesson 5: Remember the keyholes
Both entry into, and exit out of the water can be a hairy business in J-Bay. Luckily the creator of the volcanic rock that separates the water from the beach and loves to slice up feet, wetsuits and boards had a soft heart for surfers, and created an entry and exit keyhole.
While the entry keyhole can be quite easily spotted from the beach, the exit can be very hard to find – especially when the swell is up and there is a lot of water moving down the rocks towards the North.
The best markers we found is a clearly distinguishable dark house and a life-saver buoy on the beach. Once they align one is more or less in the line of the keyhole.
Lesson 6: Be grateful
The fact that we can surf a world-class wave relatively uncrowded, with very affordable accommodation and great food options around is just remarkable. If that wasn’t enough, it’s not uncommon to see dolphins surfing the waves and whales cruising through.
The vast majority of humans will never have the opportunity to surf a wave at all, and the majority of surfers will never surf a wave like J-Bay.
It’s always good to keep that in mind – especially when boards snap!
Oceaneers is a community-driven initiative created by two ocean lovers who wanted to inspire others to see that the biggest positive impact they could make to ocean sustainability was to change their food choices.
© 2018 Oceaneers.For.Life