Blogs from the Bluff #5 - Night Rider

When normal surfing just isn't enough!

The rays of the full moon beam down from above.  I’m watching on from the headland, surveying the line-up through a strange kind of lysergic dream.  The foul taste of cardboard lingers under my tongue, a seven wave set thunders down the reef.  It’s 3am, and I’m going surfing. 

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I follow my mate Nath down through the cave, along the edge of the reef, and out to the faint outline of the keyhole.  Beyond, the full moon illuminates the breaking waves, but down here, the towering Bluff blocks out the moon and casts a deep shadow over the channel. 

Nath launches into the blackness and out of sight.  I follow his lead, trying not to cast my mind back to the stories the caretaker told me earlier today, of the abundant bronze whalers, or the guy who got attacked 5 years ago, right in this very spot where I’m paddling now. 

In the distance I can just make out Nath’s outline paddling over the sprightly glow of an approaching set.  It breaks wide, dissipating into deep water as it reaches me.   The waves are well backlit by the setting moon, but surfing down the line and into the darkness will be difficult. 

Surfing at night tests your intimate knowledge of any particular wave.  Under the guise of darkness a sixth sense is activated, and surfing becomes a natural affair, totally reliant on feeling and intuition.  After one month of devoted observance, I’m feeling a strange mix of confidence and fear. 

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Out in the line-up, bobbing around, and suddenly, a wave!  Paddling hard, I gain momentum with the rolling swell, scratching to match its speed as it stands up and crests into a bottomless black void.  It sucks out before I make it to my feet.  How close am I to the reef?

On my third wave I find the tube.  I’m surfing purely on instinct, caressing my way down the face, grabbing rail, feeling my way higher up the wave, finding a line, and up, up into the tube! Enveloped by a black vortex, moonlight shimmering in the lip above.  Whooooompf. I’m swallowed by the shockwave.

The moon begins to set; a glowing orange orb retreating beneath the horizon.  There’s another 40 minutes before first light, and Nath and I can do nothing but wait it out.  It’s too dark to surf, too dark to make our way in.  The occasional shiver or cackle of laughter interrupts the maddening silence. 

Finally, the stars peter out and a smouldering rim of orange reaches across the landscape.   Tube after tube hugs the reef; each one a fiery tunnel of orange in the flickering glow of daybreak.   It’s pumping! One particular tube remains etched in my memory; a deep glowing tunnel, all 200m from start to finish. 

Back on land.  Sensory overload.  Hands trembling and brain buzzing with pure sensation.  Trying to comprehend what I’ve just experienced.  Surfing, at night! Every second inside the tube, a fleeting glimpse at eternity, a voyage through time and space itself. Normal surfing will never be the same.