Our hearts were beating the shit out of themselves.
How could we have let this happen? Surfers had been the most romantic in any room. Mad with our love for the sea. Driven to every corner of the world without certainty. Seduced by the allure of the great unknown. Good surf was never a guarantee but that’s what made finding it all the more rewarding. But somewhere between the invention of the long-range wave forecast and the perfect wave pool- things changed. It’s actually difficult to get professional surfers to go on trips these days. They want a safe bet. They want mechanized barrels and swells that they can track so that their investment of time, money, and travel is rewarded with waves that burn bright in their brains and set the internet ablaze.
We almost fell into the same trap. We’re not even shamed to admit it that this trip almost didn’t happen. We sat in southern California waiting with drink in hand for the weatherman to tell us the west coast of Ireland would be happening but he never did. The buoy’s bell sang a sad song that didn’t make our hearts yearn to cross the Atlantic. Our bags were packed and we almost stayed home. In the middle of the night our phones rang. It was our man on the ground in Lahinch and he said, “don’t trust the forecast and come anyways.” Maybe he just wanted company .Maybe he wanted to look at Ireland through the eyes of a stranger and be reminded of its magic. Whatever the reason, we decided to go before second thoughts could creep into our consciousness.
We maxed out our credit cards. Called our friends Ian Crane and Soli Bailey and flew across the wastelands of America to Dublin-where we drank deeply and remembered the cure for when life seems preordained. “Before that night, I didn’t even like Guinness,” laughed Ian Crane, “but now I’m a believer.”
We left the next morning with our hearts set on Aien’s a slab that breaks below the towering cliffs of Moher and named after the Celtic goddess of love and fertility. She is a beautiful beast and the bravest amongst us wanted every bit of her fury.But Aien never came. We found ourselves in freezing fields of mud, walking aimlessly on goat trails and into pubs waiting for her to step dance on our spines but the storm raged on.
It dawned on us that maybe we were getting skunked. That the whole trip could be a waste but Ian and Soli didn’t mind. We were in the old world and there was a fair in Ennistymon that the local lads said that we just had to see. We made our way to the country market and arrived at a scene straight out of Snatch. Caravans and all.
“This little pikey kid kept trying to hustle me. He said there was a puppy back at his place and that if I gave him money he’d go home and get it for me,” said Crane about his encounter with the Irish travelers.
The gypsies walked their miniature horses and donkeys proudly down the main street. Shit piled up in the gutters and we gawked at a world far removed from our own. We were the strangers here. An easy target for scams and a brawl. Three youth took their opportunity to prove that they too- were tougher than a coffin nail for taking photos of their ponies without paying. We left laughing nervously having dodged a bare-knuckle boxing match that we were certain we’d lose.
So we headed back to Lahinch and tried to sleep in a castle without success. The next morning a local took us to a wave tucked back into a particularly rugged section of the coast.
“It was a good introduction,” said Crane about the mutant left-hander, “ that wave was psycho. It gets way crazier than how we surfed it. The crew there tow when it gets big but that day it was still paddle-able. The boogies were smoking the surfers.” The forecasted had changed from a hundred foot and stormy to clean seas and blue skies. We’d get neither. Clad in 5-mil suits, boots, and mittens however it didn’t matter.
We were in Ireland and had found the pot of black gold that we had been looking for. It wasn’t under rainbow but where it had always been- beneath the lurching lip of a wave we had never surfed before…
Watch “Governed by Lines” for more…