About a half-hour into a endless game of “duck ‘n’ cover” with another set of user-friendly waves along the Redondo Beach shoreline, the numbness in the legs began to raise questions about the dumbness of the idea.
Yet, as much as we’d hope the Body Glove rash guard would fully guard us from any and all frigid anxiety, there’s really never a wrong time to take the first Boogie Board ride of the summer.
Even if the water temps hadn’t got past the feel of a melted Otter Pop.
It was about 8:30 a.m. on Saturday and the typically murky marine layer wasn’t doing a very good job of discouraging the early risers from diving into the Memorial Day weekend with a flashback to a high school science lesson in harnessing thermal energy.
Off to the left of the lifeguard stand, the silver-tipped swells seemed to suit the wet-suited surfers just fine. Even a paddle surfer – that’s a guy crazy enough to stand on the board and use a long oar to cut through the water like a kayaker – stayed unfazed. Of course, he was above it all.
To the right, the joggers with the baggy sweatsuits who kicked up the soggy sand as they ran stayed focused to their iPods, blocking out the elements with their minds, forging ahead to achieve bigger goals. Maybe even training for Monday’s marathon.
Straight ahead, the swells simply looked too swell to pass up.
From the selection of Boogie Boards stored away in the garage, we went with the Baja 42.5 Morey model. Dinged and dented, bashed and gashed, slightly warped and a bit bruised, it has stood the test of summertime past. And fall. And occasionally a test run in December. The Velcro on the leash worked just dandy, despite all the sand caked on.
It’s been my floatie of choice for years now. One can never grow bored with this particular board.
First, you gotta give it to the surfers. The surfboard requires balance, agility and no fear of the flying fins. Gotta laugh at the body surfers. They’re simply swimmers who go with the flow – and usually end up with a bigger face full of seaweed that they’d bargain for.
With the Boogie Board, the hybrid vehicle of off-shore transportation, there’s no roof racks or tow clamps needed for the car to get it to its destination. No waxing on or waxing off.
Grab it and go. Try to keep up.
The essence of the Boogie Board – aside from the obvious – really comes from paddling out beyond the buoyant clump of surfers, past the rough-n-tumble waves, and out to the serene calmness of the environment. Stop and smell the saltwater. Take hold of the top and bottom edges of the board, tuck your legs under it and, using it like a large laptop, roll with the rhythm.
If you’re lucky, a school of dolphins will pass by – in between you and the shore. Don’t panic. Watch, quietly.
A guy who seemed about my age came roaring past me on his longboard. On his way back out, he skimmed by and smiled.
“How’s it goin’?” I asked.
“Sweet,” he said with a big grin.
No further explanation needed.
At one point, the gray, green sea suddenly turned a true blue – the sun broke through and lit up the scene like a movie-set spotlight. I spun around back toward the sand to see the brightness overhead. Just at that moment, a strange shadow crept over my left shoulder – it was about a five-foot wave that decided to appear without notice.
A couple of cartwheels later – unlike riding the Nemo submarine ride at Disneyland — I’d landed ashore in a muck of disorientated mess. Most of that due to having the snot knocked out of me.
A wiser person may have taken that as a sign to head back to the beach chair, dry off and regroup.
Someone who has waited too many months for the start of summer to begin had better plans.
Back into the water. The ride isn’t finished. It’s just started.