Stand Up Barrel

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After a week in George with little more than a few dirty surf sessions at Victoria Bay the itch to be on the move and find a clean wave had firmly taken hold.

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Buffalo Bay Line.

 

Not a couple of hours one the road and the disappointment of more than a few stops checking the surf I came upon Buffalo Bay. Buffs as we used to call it has a few breaks, there is a point break called wild side and a bunch of beach breaks shouldering each other along the long horseshoe bay. I was finally tempted into one of the beach breaks after watching a lone surfer find a few fun lines and got caught up surfing a the small yet clean wave under an overcast sky. Eventually the grey swallowed the afternoon and I headed onwards to Knysna in search of a bed.

A lone surfer ant Buffalo Bay.
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A lone surfer ant Buffalo Bay.

I’d picked up a Coast to Coast at one of my stops, South Africa’s backpacking bible and a must for anyone looking to travel around the country, and now flipped through the animated descriptions of the various Knysna backpackers settling on one hidden down a back street near the waterfront. It was a school night so after searching in vein for a bar where I wasn’t the only one propping it up I retired for an early night and intentions of making the most of the next day.

Breakfast was lightly peppered with conversations which pointed me towards South Africa’s largest rasta community, Joshua Square, for advice on dreads and collection of Sharmanic aids.

Cape St Francis Barrel
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Cape St Francis Barrel

Stocked on advice and supplies I meandered on to J-Bay thinking there must be something there to surf. That first afternoon I surfed the point with only one other person and for good reason, it was rubbish. The ocean was bloodied with a red tide so that I couldn’t even see my feet dangling below me and when I smashed the tail of my board on a rock it was almost a relief to have an excuse to go and find a drink at the Crystal Cove backpackers where I was staying. The following day I was supposed to go for kiting lessons but strong offshore winds meant windsurfing was on the cards. I followed my kite instructor to Gamtoos river mouth where he assured me it would be blowing and the waves would be even bigger than J-Bay. He was right about both, the wind must have been gusting up to 40- 45knts with easly logo high sets crashing on the shore. Unfortunately the wind was almost only slightly cross onshore and the current was whipping down the coast at a fierce pace so that after every couple of reaches I would have to trudge back up to the river mouth and repeat the exercise. The session was more about the adventure than the sailing, we had sailed across a river and then hiked a good 500m over sand dunes to reach the river mouth where we launched from, not to mention the fact that the guys said I was the first person they had ever seen windsurfing there. While I always enjoy an adventure, when I stopped by Cape St Francis that evening, I knew I had made the wrong call. Perfect cross off conditions for down the line sailing, though by the time I had got myself together the wind had dropped just a little too much for me to wobble out on my gear. With the surfboard still damaged I switched to the camera to capture what could have been.

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On my final morning in J-bay a surprise swell appeared in the morning to give me a taste of just how good the place can be. There were only about 10 of us out at Supertubes, a rare thing on a good day. A light onshore wind finally broke the perfection of the waves and I switched to the camera to grab at least a few shots before venturing on to the Wild Woody Cape.

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