Jbay, South Africa: It Only Takes One To Change You Forever
This trip has been like a Cheech and Chong bong party, without the bong!
Traveling isn’t always easy, different beds, snoring friends, babies crying, funky food, “for the last time, vegetarian does not mean I eat chicken god damn it!”
There is nothing like that first drink of tap water in a foreign land, having been cursed in countries south of the border for over thirty years you would think I’d learn by now as I run out to the reception with a hopeful expression on my face, “I just drank the tap water, is that cool in Africa?”
I picked up some gnarly African flu. Four days in I was praying to trade it out for anything Montezuma style.
So, there I was dragging my sorry ass out into the surf and then crawling back to bed for the rest of the day.
Showed up to my hotel and they lost my booking, “sorry bru no room for you.”
Not my day.
Thought I was feeling better and ambled out to find some decent food. I’d been living off cough syrup and aspirin for days—my tongue felt like the sticky side of a live mousetrap.
I found a place to eat in town, the closest place to my new over priced hotel.
All was going well. Got a good seat. Ordered a glass of nice South African red wine. Put my order in for some vegetarian nuggets of delight, and then a coughing fit took hold of me and I had to run out of the establishment for a five minute fight with my lungs—it was like an epileptic seizure.
I thought I was going to swallow my teeth.
I made it back to my table and ate my food so fast that, well, I’m not sure I really ate it.
I needed to get back to the hotel to my apple cough syrup, the safety net between air and my lungs.
I rushed back and went for that bottle like a junkie that won the lottery and—you got to be kidding me—it was spilled all over the floor like some kind of big tile lollipop.
I half thought about licking that shit right off the floor but I decide that was way beneath my dignity.
Of course, at this stage, everything was closed so I had to rough it and hold court with all that phlegm in my lungs, trying not to breath in too deep and building my pillows as high as possible to trick my lungs into thinking I could outwit them.
It didn't work.
I climbed into bed waiting for the storm to arrive with a full box of tissues and a jug of water. I open my book for a bit of undeniably deserved reprieve.
I am a paragraph or two in and I notice this black spot on the page and though what the fuck, the damn thing moves when my eyes move.
I get up and look at the mirror and discover that during my coughing fit I broke a blood vessel in my eye.
It can’t get worse—can it?
Most guys sit just inside and pick off the set waves when guys fall but every once in a while it hits just right and wraps along the reef like a Rastafarian condom, not the g-spot, the j-spot.
— Derek Dodds, Wave Tribe Founder
In the morning I woke and noticed something different.
I could feel it, it was in the air. I ran outside and took a peak over the railing straight out at Supertubes. The swell jumped overnight, the wind switched onshore, and the swell was hitting directly from the East—perfect conditions.
I’d been waiting four years for this, surfed many good days at J-bay, but this was as good as it gets here. Not many people in the water either.
Just paddling out at J-bay you got to have some decent size balls, the reef sucks out like a hooker on crack.
There is one sane way in and one out between all the jagged rocks. My first trip five years ago, the reef sketched me out so hard that I paddled all the way from the beach at Bone Yards, took me about 40 minutes to get into the lineup at Supers back then.
After five trips here, I don’t make that paddle any more, this day I was in the lineup and on my first way before you could say lickety spliff. I paddled to the top, nodded to the crowd of locals that are as friendly as a pack of hyenas on a ten day fast.
At the top, the waves at Jbay are the biggest, but you’re lucky to make every fifth one because if the swell doesn’t hit the reef just right, it’s runs too fast down the line and closes out on top of your head.
When you take one on the head during a massive swell you pray that you got the last one in the set because getting caught inside means your about 10 feet from razor sharp reef.
Most guys sit just inside and pick off the set waves when guys fall but every once in a while it hits just right and wraps along the reef like a Rastafarian condom, not the g spot, the j spot.
I was right in position for what I could feel was going to test my limits. I swung fast and dropped, pitted on takeoff, I shot out and hit the lip so hard, it made me hard, ok semi.
Now it’s race time, the middle section of the wave is a race track and if you make it through it will reward you and if you don’t it will punish you while scratching in very shallow water.
I drew my line high and made the next section with my hands over my head—inside the greenroom—another few turns and a smaller barrel on the inside.
I paddled back to the top and a few of hyenas were smiling at me—it only takes one to change you forever.