It was a Saturday just like most other Saturdays in the day of the life of my father, except that on this specific Saturday I had convinced him to don his wetsuit and take photos of me surf kayaking from the water. The prediction was for big waves and no wind - the perfect setup. Everything was set to be quite excellent. I wondered how big these waves would actually be.

It was a solid winter swell, 4 July 2009 to be exact (once again it’s taken me a long time to get this up on my site but I’m catching up now), and I excitedly drove down to the most promising location - Derde Steen. It was firing, really big. Usually the parking lot would be full but on this day it wasn’t quite as full and I managed to find a spot easily enough. There were about 25 people in the parking lot, and only 2 surfers out at the back in the water. I wondered why as this was very unusual. I got the camera fully set up inside its waterproof housing while my dad got his wetsuit on. Then I geared up and went down to the water. The shore break was very big and I knew a mistake here could result injury. With careful timing I set out and made it. What then followed was about 30 minutes of virtually pure torture. When I would get close to the backline a 3 metre high foam pile would nail me and I’d lose valuable ground. I’d then go out again, head over a few waves and then bang, another set would cane me. I’ve been beaten hundreds of times and although these weren’t the most savage ones I’ve taken, the ocean just had a powerful rhythm to it, and I wasn’t going to be getting to the back anytime soon. Eventually, I realised the currents had taken me about 600 metres south and I headed back to the beach, careful not to get destroyed in the shore break. I was exhausted.

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My dad, ready to take photos. In this case, to get beaten :-) Hahaha, he looks so serious here. Maybe he knew this wasn’t a good idea. I was testing to see if the camera as fully functioning once inside the housing.Big_Bay_4_July_2009_005_E1_CR copy

Me, about to head in. Looks nice and calm in the background. Photo by Trevor Tregoning.Big_Bay_4_July_2009_007_E1_CR copyMe getting ready. This was the last photo he took at Derde Steen. After hitting Big Bay we came back here to see if things had changed. Photo by Trevor Tregoning

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After Big Bay we came back to Derde Steen. It was still looking quite big. Big_Bay_4_July_2009_111_E1_CR copy

Derde Steen, cooking.  Big_Bay_4_July_2009_114_E1_CR copy

Another beautiful wave at Derde Steen.  Big_Bay_4_July_2009_117_E1_CR copy

Derde Steen.

Big_Bay_4_July_2009_099_E1_CR_BW_COLOUR_LEFT_plate copyLeaving Derde Steen. Empty parking lot… This was when I still had my plastic Fluid Element. Great boats. If you haven’t tried one out yet, then do so.   

At a stage I had seen my dad back on the beach and wondered what had happened to him. My dad had entered the water and basically got the living crap beaten out of him in that shore break. He had almost drowned he says. Each time he tried to stand the water would knock him over. Every time he wanted to swim out another wave would crash onto him. He didn’t look impressed and had no intention of returning to the water. Back at the parking lot things were a lot quieter. The bunch of surfers there had seen enough and obviously had no desire to get what we were handed out and were nowhere to be seen. To be honest I don’t think it was that bad at all. With my bodyboard I would have made it out no worries, as one can go under these waves.

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A random wave at Big Bay. Probably about the close out.  Photos by Trevor Tregoning. Big_Bay_4_July_2009_073_E1_CR copy Big_Bay_4_July_2009_073_E2_CR_copy

Cruising along on a very nice right at Big Bay. Both shots the same, bottom one cropped tighter.  Photos by Trevor Tregoning.Big_Bay_4_July_2009_076_E1_CR copy Big_Bay_4_July_2009_076_E2_CR_copy

Same wave again on the same ride, carving back down from the top down. Photos by Trevor Tregoning. Big_Bay_4_July_2009_083_E1_CR copy Big_Bay_4_July_2009_084_E1_CR copy Big_Bay_4_July_2009_085_E1_CR copyAnd I finished that ride with a blunt that can’t be seen at this distance. You can see that these waves at Big Bay mostly have no structure. Karmers is definitely a much better bet. 

Because I had not reached the backline at Derde Steen I was not happy to return home totally defeated. Big Bay was down the road so off we went, my dad quite happy to stand on the beach and take photos from there. It was quite big there, but not quite as bad. It took a lot of effort to get to the back but I made it. The beach here is quite gently shelving in comparison and on that particular day it was possible to get out. As per usual, the rides at Big Bay were less than satisfactory but I managed to score a couple of big ones and a few photos too. It was good to be see what the limits were and it’s amazing how the feel of the ocean changes with big waves and high period swell. I will always encourage people to push themselves a little more in the ocean, spot depending, than on a river. It’s often not as bad as one thinks and extremely rewarding. You just have to have patience and go at the right time. But in the end, you can’t always win. The sea is the king. Keep surfing!

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Photography by: Adrian Tregoning. Unless otherwise stated.
All Words by: Adrian Tregoning.