Once a Surfer . . .

surfer girls

I recently came across this old photo of me and my surfing buddy Karen.  We were probably 15 or 16 at the time – wasn’t I cute back then!  Obviously no surf that day, so we were coming in early.  I used to spend 7-8 hours a day out on the water in Ogunquit, Maine when there were any kind of waves – only stopping for lunch and hot coffee to soothe my chattering teeth and blue lips, then going back out until my family stood on shore and waved me in because they wanted to go home.  Now, almost 45 years later, I still don’t want to get off that board.  Can’t wait for summer!  Karen, Brenda, Margi, Becky, Violet, fellow SUP Gals and all lovers of being on the water, do you feel me?

I can only remember one bad experience on the water as a surfer.  It was November and a hurricane had passed by leaving awesome waves in its wake.  I begged my father (I didn’t yet have a driver’s license) to take me surfing.  He took me to Safety Beach in Nahant and stayed in the car, watching me with binoculars.

Surf was running 10-12 feet; my norm was 3-5 on a good day.  It took me a long time to make it out beyond the breakers.  He says I was half way to Egg Rock (probably 1/2 a mile out).  By the time I got out, I was exhausted and had to sit out the incoming set of monsters while I caught my breath, plus I was scared shitless, never having been out in surf that big before.  Three or four big swells raised me high to their crest and then down into their trough.  Then I made the near fatal mistake of turning my back to the sea.  The next wave was huge, and when I looked back, it was preparing to break over me.  There was nothing I could do.  It crashed and sent me flying from my board, and sent my board careening to shore without me (they didn’t have tethers back in those days).  After that, every wave crashed on me, pushing me far below the surface in a maelstrom of swirling water.  I would reach the surface just in time to grab a breath of air, before the next wave crashed, pushing me into the depths.  I was certain I would drown that day. Thank God it was cold so I was wearing a full wetsuit or I certainly would have.  At the same time, the current was pushing me further down shore from where I had gone in.

I eventually made it to shore, collapsing exhausted at the water’s edge where my Dad arrived to help me back to the car.

That experience gave me the greatest respect for the ocean, which I still love passionately, but with the healthy modicum of fear, that we all should have.

E.J. Lefavour

19 thoughts on “Once a Surfer . . .

  1. You’re still cute (this is Anna). My goal this summer is to get out on a SUP and take the kayak out more often – it is really beautiful to be out on the water on a board or kayak so close and connected to the ocean, I get seasick on a boat but never on a board or in a kayak. That was a terrifying story and I am so glad you made it out safely!


      1. You will love it Kim! It is a great, low impact exercise, and an easy way to get around the Harbor, and it is fun to pull up to the dock on one to visit Joey.


  2. EJ ~ I’ve come to know you as a women of strength ~ in many ways! Good story of lesson learned as you quote the warning of my Gloucester mother to her childen headed “down the rocks” at Bass Rocks ~ don’t run on the wet rocks, don’t go near the water, respect the ocean or it will carry you away! Years later when the house was a guest house she quoted the same warnings to the guests as the headed “down the rocks” ~ and she never let them go with leather shoes!


    1. All good advice your mother had. Did she also give you the “you can’t go in the water for at least 30 minutes, or maybe it was hour, after you eat or you’ll get cramps and could drown?” I didn’t like that one because I was always ready to immediately head back into the water.


  3. Looking good in both shots. I wish the knees would let me try SUP.
    Every storm, every day that passes gets us one day closer to beautiful summer time on the water!!! I can’t wait!


    1. Pat, you could still try it on Wonson’s Cove and just float or paddle around. I’ve paddled sitting on the board legs outstretched or straddling the board. You don’t have to stand up to enjoy it.


  4. Wow this looks to be in early 70’s and the wisdom and lessons imparted are very nice Remember cute comes form within and is always present just refined over the years :-). Yes the food and swimming one was a popular one for cramps – which I think happens more when overheated and jump into the cooler water…

    ” You have to make the good times yourself take the little times and make them into big times and save the times that are all right for the ones that aren’t so good.”
    Rod McKuen (Poem Eight)

    Wtaukomauyuq (Thankful- Mohican) Thanks for sharing – Spring is in the air things coming back after winter rest! 🙂 Dave & Kim:-)

    Get in the mood
    THE 5TH DIMENSION on the beach (in the summertime)


  5. I’ve gotta tell you, E.J., you’ve still got the legs of a teenager! I’m totally jel.
    Your story scared me, even though I know you came out of it safely. I had only ONE huge wave hit me like that in So. California when I was twelve. I was twisted, pulled down, turned, and churned up, but luckily was able to swim back up for some much needed air. I had sand in my ears, eyes, mouth, etc., but I was alive! And, yes, I’d also turned my back on the sea for an inopportune moment. It was one of Life’s lessons I’ll never forget.


  6. Great story E.J. Met you for the first time at the art exhibit at the Gloucester House, looking forward to reading more of your posts, BTW you haven’t changed a bit, great photos…


  7. Sounds like we could have a “Survivors of the Sea” club ! I had the same nasty experience on Long Boat Key in Florida, never saw that huge wave coming ….got a thorough skin expolation from the sand and a lesson never forgotten . guess Neptune did not want us !


    1. Thank God! I didn’t get the skin exfoliation experience because I was out too far to get pushed to the bottom, and had a full wetsuit on. The Sea – “She is a hard mistress. She casts her spell. An enchantress! She folds you in her arms and never lets go.” (Bruce Chatwin). Fortunately she did let us go, and we still go back to her, a little wiser of her ways.


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