Overhead outside Bunkers is not my idea of a good time: I am not an adrenaline junkie; the endless paddling wears me out; too many bad things happen out there. A small, minus-tide day, sure. And it was pretty, the way that southwest swell broke into head-and-a-half, semi-hollow peeling rights. I’d brought the Taylor along in hopes of such conditions. But throwing myself out into those circumstances and shepherding three 13/14-year-olds into them require two totally different mindsets.
But a certain charging and talented grom needed a birthday surf. And another certain grom needs to make sure he’s keeping up. And the third kid seemed both fine and enthused, so out we went. Out and out and out. And out some more. The Taylor (7’8″ gun with a heavy glass job) paddles beautifully, but the little shortboard underneath one of the boys, not so much. To their credit, they did finally reach the outside. Or rather, what was the outside until a set redefined the outside as even further out. After watching Nick and his buddy scramble up, up, up the face of the wave only to get flung back as it broke, I suggested we all catch one “big” wave, then surf the nice inside reforms – that way we could spend less time paddling and more time vertical.
Good idea, they agreed.
And then, again, caught inside. My duck diving failed, causing me to get flipped and drug so hard through the water I could feel the ocean coursing through my sinuses and into the sockets of my teeth. Meanwhile, one of the boys kept paddling farther out to avoid getting smashed, whereas Nick and his other friend got washed way inside. I waved the outside boy to come in; at the same time, Nick’s other friend was waving me in. As the one outside worked his way closer to me and I stroked across to the one closest to Nick, I heard, “Nick’s nose is bleeding!”
Torn between wanting to check on Nick, who was trying to get to shore, and keeping an eye on the other boys, I managed to stay calm until the one kid made it over to us from the outside. “Come in – and stay together!” I ordered. I kept checking back on them as I paddled forward toward Nick. As usual at Bunkers, when you need a wave to push you in, all the whitewater instead dissipates around you. When I finally reached Nick, blood was streaming down his face. “I think my nose might be broken,” he called. “It’s okay,” I said – that’s what mothers have to say – “let’s just get you in.” So with one eye on shore and one on his friends, I talked him to the beach. (He was worried, but calm, calm being essential in the ocean.) We splashed water on his nose, which did not look broken after all, but was still bleeding profusely from a split between his brows.
Stroke of luck, number one: T pulled up at that moment and happened to have both Neosporin and butterfly bandages.
Stroke of luck, number two: Doc T stopped by the house a few minutes after we’d arrived home (on his way back from the spit) to check the wound. “You could get a stitch or two,” he said. “Or not.” We deliberated, but ultimately opted for more butterflies. I hope we made the right call.