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Daring Deeds - real stories, expeditions, road trips and adventure

Cold Water Surf

By Matt Tomlinson
22, Mar, 2017

Early mornings, murky days. Watching people take to the cold water chasing waves

Surfing is a sport I am absolutely useless at, but I love it. Watching it, photographing it, going on trips based around surfing and the lifestyle of getting up early to head out in search of the best waves, one day finding nothing, the next lucking out and finding gold. It's a pretty addictive way to live.

We were based in the seasonally sleepy village of Aberdaron & went off each morning chasing the best of the reliably unreliable conditions. Aside from a small group of locals that seem to be out in the water every single day here, the majority of the town seems to have migrated elsewhere for the winter.

For some people, seeing a set of guys in wetsuits walking through the village, on a freezing cold morning at 8am, would raise eyebrows and lead to disapproving looks, but as a car drove past us and the window rolled down we were greeted by an elderly female local, cheerfully asking us to "let her know how cold the water is…"

True to form we spotted her later on the beach, and although she wasn't heading out board in hand to catch the late afternoon waves, she had donned her waders and was heading out into the water all the same. The locals are hard as nails in these old fishing villages.

With the best will in the world and plenty of early morning alarm calls, you can go on these trips and spend the entire weekend staring out at an ocean refusing to offer up the goods…

The waiting game is as much a part of the trip as the waves caught. We had plenty of time to sit and chat about "how it could've been", waiting out spells of either too flat or too messy. We were dealing with the back end of storm Doris after all… 

After a few hours of battling rough, messy waves at our first stop of the day, we called it and we made our way back up the hill and jumped straight into the cars, driving fifteen minutes in the opposite direction to try for spot no.2.

The contrast between two places, fifteen minutes apart, was massive. This small secluded little bay seemed too flat at first, but after a short wait the first of many clean (relative to the morning session), mellow sets began to roll through.

After a morning getting battered just trying to paddle out, this afternoon session was just what we needed. We stayed for hours, out of the wind, often in the sun, not believing our luck.

Naturally after a full day in the water on Saturday, we toasted the good times by cleaning the local landlord out of his most popular ale, which took us firmly into the early hours of Sunday morning.

Despite the 7am alarm call, the murky grey view out from our window, we hadn't driven out here to have a lazy morning indoors. Lacking the sun from the previous day we headed down to the local beach in search of a few more waves before the drive home.

The end of a full on few days of good waves and good times. Feeling a mix of satisfaction and tired bones, we piled back into the vans and headed home. Even the thought of a Monday morning alarm call doesn't really phase us at this point, a trip like this leaves you feeling content and in a weird way, rested. Cold waves must be good for the soul after all…

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