Caveat – The following story is fictional
There’s a growing nervousness permeating throughout the Macquarie Island 76th ANARE. The anticipation palpable. It’s been festering away ever since the early forecasts rolled in. Striking fear into even the most seasoned of Mind Surfers. Some pray that for once, the BOM forecast won’t be 100% accurate. Their prayers however go unanswered, with each updated forecast confirming the inevitable. A solid east swell is inbound, primed to ignite the islands crowing jewel. The beautiful but feared, Nuggets Point.
Dawn has barley broken. No one slept much. The call comes across Ch7. The voice of inaugural Macquarie Island Board Riders Club president Helen ‘Hang-ten’ Achurch echoes - “Dust off the big board’s crew. Nuggets is absolutely firing”. Collective “YEWWWWWS” ring out down the hallways of SAD. Shaka’s emerge from concertina doorways. We gather our 6mm wetsuits & 8’0ft+ Guns and march towards Landing beach.
Boaties Tom & Rob are firing up the IRB’s in preparation of ferrying us to the point. With a sadistic grin on their face, they act as hangman escorting doomed souls to their condemned fate. We load in and punch through the Buckles Bay beach-break. On our way out, we see freight-trains grinding through Nuggets in the distance. Like a mythological Siren we can’t resist its alluring beauty. I glance across at Damo ‘Duck-dive’ Everett, who’s failing to mask his dread behind a forced smile. Though he’s the only one visibly exuding unease, we all feel the same.
We pull-up as close as possible to the line-up. Seasoned salty mariner Pete ‘Pig-Dog’ Stevenson gestures with his long-pipe to a pod of Orca cruising by, “Looks like you’ll be sharing the line-up with some locals today”. Resident plumber ‘Dingo’ Dan is the only one amongst the group keen to really sink his fangs into one of the bombs coming through. His infectious enthusiasm convinces the rest of us to join him. We abandon the safety of the IRB and paddle into the abyss of mountainous ocean swells.
Before we even have time to orientate ourselves in the line-up, whistles ring out from the boat signalling the imminent arrival of a set. As we paddle over a wave we are greeted with what has to be half the Pacific Ocean cresting up like a bull elephant seal asserting itself as the dominant. All of us enter a fight or flight response. Some head for the channel thinking they may sneak around it. The rest head straight, hoping to get over it. Every desperate scratching paddle stroke doing nothing to prevent what will be all our impending annihilation. Boards are abandoned. In the final seconds I suck in a breath as though I’ve just ran 5k wearing BA. The ocean detonates. Chaos ensues. I’m plunged to depths so deep I may very well have shaken hands with Poseidon himself. The darkness is blinding. My ears begin to ring “EEEEEEEE EEE AWW EE AW EE AW EE AW”.
I awaken sitting in the Macquarie Island cinema. “And that’s the sound of the tsunami warning siren, which concludes the tsunami preparedness training,” states the Station Leader. Oh, it was all just a fantasy I say to myself.
Though surfing is understandingly not permitted as a recreational activity, it doesn’t stop the Macquarie Island Board Riders Club from Mind Surfing the waves that our beautiful island home has to offer.
Communications Technical Officer - 76th ANARE Macquarie Island 2023.