Surfing Out of the BoxFebruary 2012
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Paul is the owner of Sojourner Surfboards in Morro Bay.
Contact Paul.
Images by Katie Finley of Dunes Street Photography.



So You Want to Marry a Surfer

Part One of a Two Part Series

by Paul's Wife—Katie

There is a difference between people who surf and those who are true surfers. A person who surfs might be wearing the newest surfing fashion craze, but probably has not gotten in the water for weeks. A person who surfs likes to go to the beach to surf and to get a tan. A surfer, on the other hand, usually only goes to the beach to surf, and couldn't care less about what he looks like with zinc all over his face. A surfer is a person whose hair always smells like salt water because she is always in it—seriously. Surfers don't just surf once a week, but check the waves every day and the surf reports every couple of hours. They live as close as they can to the ocean and will do anything to not move. They believe any sickness—such as a cold, the flu or a broken bone—can be cured by going surfing.

This is a surfer and I married one eight years ago. I love my husband and I am so stoked to have married a surfer. However, I don't think I really knew what I was getting myself into on our first date.

It started with the proposal, which was, of course, done on the beach. And then, the wedding—also done at the beach. Luckily on a day with no big surf. Oh wait I forgot. Paul did get his keys locked in his truck the day of our wedding and, yes, he was at the beach and had just surfed. Luckily for him and our marriage he made it to the wedding on time.

Then came the honeymoon. We had planned at first to travel to Costa Rica, but we ended up driving to Nicaragua from Costa Rica. Nicaragua is not Costa Rica. This was Nicaragua before the ritzy surf destination packages. It wasn't the safest place, but it had great surf, crazy taxi drivers, long dirt roads, remote beaches, fresh caught fish on the grill, tarantulas, monkeys, very fast speaking Spanish people and, did I mention, really great surf?

And now, eight years later, I have learned a little bit about what its like to be a surfer's wife. I would like to pass on this knowledge to those out there who are considering marrying a surfer, especially if you are not a true surfer yourself.

I am not a surfer and I do not surf. I have had to learn a lot about surfers, because that is what I married. My husband's business is to make surfboards now, so he technically has to surf to make money. I do not want to change my husband, it is who he is, the salt water is in his blood (and his hair). If I tried to change him, tried to make him surf less, then this wouldn't be the guy I fell in love with, it wouldn't be the guy I married. Plus my husband would be miserable. I know Paul would surf less if I wanted him to because he is a great husband and a wonderful father. However to be a good wife to him, I have had to learn what it means to be a true surfer, and what it means to be married to one. (Plus, I have learned that if he says yes to writing a surf article once a month, I might have to be ready to write an article once in awhile too—especially when the surf is good)

What I have learned over the past 8 years:

1. Surfing is not like ANY other sport. Surf swells are not always predictable. You can't just go outside and say "Hey, I think I am going to go surf right now," because there might not be any surf. A basketball or football is always there to pick up and throw around. You can pick up a skateboard and go at it anytime. With surfing, this is not the case. Sometimes there are no waves for weeks and then, a big swell hits, and the waves are epic.

What does this mean for you, the wife? At any given day, your husband might drop everything and surf, especially if he hasn't gotten in the water in a couple of days. If that means at 5:00 am the swell is just right, then you will hear the coffee machine start at 4:45 am. If that means at 6:00 pm, right when the pot roast is coming out of the oven, then you better be ready to enjoy your meal just a little bit late, and a little bit cold. This is a hard one to get use to. But remember, surfers need to surf and they really like to surf waves that are good. If they don't surf waves that are good that day, they will go back the next day and try again until they have a really great surf session. So learn what conditions form good waves, learn how to read surf forecasting, and then plan your meals accordingly! Plus, remember this—DO NOT plan family trips to visit out-of-town, landlocked relatives during the fall if you live on the central coast of California. Surf is usually really good then. Your husband will not be happy and this will make for a not very fun family trip for everyone involved.

2. Surf videos are actually really fun to watch, even if you don't surf. This is one awesome thing I have found that the whole family likes—a good surf video. You will have a lot of them, and it makes for easy Christmas gifts for your husband from you. He will be stoked that you want to sit and watch them. However he will watch them a lot—over, and over, and over, and over again. Don't worry, you will eventually figure out the surf lingo and the names of certain moves. You will actually will be able to communicate to your husband while he watches the videos. Plus, its a bonus when he comes out of the water and asks if you saw that "sick backside snap to the reverse airdrop reentry into a closed out barrel that he just squeaked out of," you will know that yes, he is speaking English and yes, you did see that sick wave that he caught.

I have run out of room for this month, but I will write more in the next issue. I still have a lot to cover, such as the money you will be spending for everything surf related to how to get a family with three kids, one of them being a baby, quickly to the beach when a surprise swell hits and your husband wants you to take pictures of the guys and him out in the water. I would love to hear from any women out there who have been married to a surfer and have some good advice or funny stories for the readers next month. Send an email to Katie.

To be continued in the next SLO Coast Journal.

Small disclaimer, I know that there are plenty of surfers out there who are women, and have husbands who are not. This isn't the case in our family, so I cant write about what that's like, but if you are in that situation and want to email me something, go right ahead!

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This column was originally run in December, 2010
All images by Katie Finley of Dunes Street Photography
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