Surfing has provided some of the most memorable mental images of my life, an excuse to travel to some incredibly jaw-droppingly beautiful places, and as much as I prefer an uncrowded lineup, an opportunity to meet or at least have some quick conversations between waves, with some pretty darn interesting people.
For example, when I had an early morning surf with the most interesting man in the world.
We were in Punta Mita a few weeks ago, at this fun break called La Lancha, and I timed it juuust right so I got there as the tide was dropping and the early morning crowd was leaving. So after a few fun waves, it somehow ended up being just me and this guy who vaguely resembled Daniel Craig in his 60’s. Glassy warm morning waves. The break all to ourselves. For about 20 minutes. Boom.
He was just in little black trunks and on a yellow longboard, super tan, and was pretty darn jacked too. Just a handsome and intriguing fellow. He eventually asked me how long I’d been surfing this spot (two days) and where I’m from (Always an interesting answer from me) or if I lived here (a sign that I got my tan back and wasn’t as much of a kook as I’d felt I was).
Anyways that quick exchange revealed two things: He had been here for a few days too but was living on a sailboat sailing around the world.
Hold up, what?
He then pointed out the little raft/dinghy where his son was fishing (who’d been out surfing earlier, apparently they’d switched boat duty.) And then the sailboat back by town, where he was living, and sailing around the world – surfing, diving, and in short, living my dream.
Ok, he started by the Outer Banks last year, went through the Caribbean, and down to Panama before Covid Hit. Then he had to store his boat and head home, and now is resuming his trip. He’d been surfing in Panama and Costa Rica before this, then was going to head up the coast a bit more, then head on over to French Polynesia.
I’m still kicking myself for not asking him what he did for a living.
Please let it not be inherited money or the tech industry, please. I need some hope.
Anyways, in between waves we had some good, yet simple conversations. (As much of a chatty person as I am, I am pretty silent when I surf and let other people start the conversations.)
But he was just so darn…interesting. I’m sure there were lots of stories to be told, and inspiring adventures. You could just tell by his choice of words, demeanor, and weathered yet healthy appearance. But we kept the conversation simple: Thoughts on the state of the world, the joy of feeling unplugged from it, how we both loved the sanity of this place because people actually smiled and there wasn’t an impending sense of doom everywhere. And life on a sailboat.
He was off to French Polynesia soon and said, “I’m really looking forward to being in the middle of nowhere and surrounded by the ocean for a few weeks.”
Might I add he was from New Zealand so he had an accent.
There was a boat coming filled with people, so he (wisely) caught another wave, signed off, and paddled off to his son. Then they both waved adios, and I made some mediocre joke about needing a ride back to town.
Then that was it. 20 minutes surfing with a man who was undoubtedly a contender for the most interesting man in the world. Not necessarily for everything he said or the boat, or anything officially documented. But what wasn’t said, how he carried himself and just the general situation in life that he was in at the moment. I’d be shocked if he had social media in any shape or form.
I’ve always said I want to live on a boat and island hop someday, and that is definitely at the top of my list. Especially now.
It’s funny how a quick, 20-minute encounter with a person, on a peaceful morning can make an impact, and help inspire you. Even if not that much was said. And that other person probably didn’t even know it. It’s like the mom in Costa Rica pulling up to the beach on a 4 wheeler with her four boys piled in, decked out in her cowboy hat and leopard print cover-up.
Sometimes I don’t know my goals until I see them. In an authentic, real, living, and breathing from… right in front of me.
I should’ve paddled in, but the morning was too gorgeous. Then that surf boat finally pulled up and dropped off 13 dudes on longboards. None were tan or resembled James Bond, and I maybe got one more wave. So, the morning took a definite 180, and I paddled in and began my 30-minute walk along the beach back into town.
But saw a certain sailboat off in the distance with a little raft next to it, and thought.
…maybe it’s time I learn how to sail.