As a kid, and into my teens, I just thought it was cold, wet and full of big scary fish that were going to eat me. I had plenty of friends who loved being in and around it, but that just wasn’t me. I can even remember mates taking the micky when I refused to get wet.
I had my first surf lessons on a trip to Polzeath about 20 years ago, and I’d like to tell you that was the moment it all changed but I’m not convinced it was. Even at the moment I caught my first wave, I can’t say that I was hooked. Maybe on surfing, but still not convinced about the sea. I think that moment came via beach cleans. I’d been aware of litter and pollution in and around the sea, but I’d never been able to attend the big cleans organized by Surfers Against Sewage. I’d been a member of the charity for years on and off, but mainly for the cool sticker that used to come with it.
Then I discovered 2minutebeachclean. I resonated with the idea that everyone had two minutes spare to pick up rubbish at their beach, and I really got stuck in. I suspect that this was the moment that I got it. I really cared, and I came to realise that there were so many more people that cared just as much too. It was like a family with the ocean at its core.
My involvement led me to apply for the volunteer role of Regional Rep with Surfers Against Sewage, and what an adventure that has been. The charity does such great work and are so highly regarded in the environment space. It’s been a total honour to contribute part, and I have made so many great friends and allies. My love for the ocean grew and grew.
I have also been lucky enough to volunteer for The Wave Project in Brighton and have witnessed the healing and calming power of the sea. I’ve seen incredible positive change happen to young surfers during those sessions, and I’ve also benefitted from meeting the amazing volunteers who give up their time to do such amazing work. I still have a healthy respect for the sea, but now I’m actually drawn to it as often as possible.
Every time I go to surf, bodyboard, bellyboard or bodysurf, I stop by the waters edge, close my eyes and just listen. Listen to the waves crashing against the shore and feel the energy around me. It may only be for thirty seconds or so, but it always centres me and prepares me for fun in the waves.
The Ocean has well and truly hooked me in and is my happy place. I can think of times I have experienced pure bliss in the sea. I’m not 100% sure I know what that really means, but I can tell you I have only ever felt those moments in the waves.