On Territorial Kooks
And oceans of defiance
No one owns the ocean
No one owns the ocean. Yet there are surf spots where people are really territorial. There is one place here in Nova Scotia that a lot of surfers consider fairly sacred. It’s called Right Point. It is in Seaforth, Nova Scotia. You’ll find it near Hope for Wildlife. In fact, if you park in front of the entrance to Hope For Wildlife, cross the road and look at the point of land to your right? That’s called ‘Right Point.’ It’s an incredible wave. The land there provides shelter from west winds. It is steep, racey and brakes for a long time. It doesn’t work often, but when It does, it’s apparently brilliant. Though I wouldn’t know, I’m not *really allowed* to surf there.
I just broke a rule. I told you about a surf spot. This place is somehow ‘supposed to be secret’ despite the fact you can clearly see it from the highway. I’ve given away the ‘secret.’ People have been excluded, excommunicated and even beaten up for less by some of the locals who surf there. Though I highly doubt that any of the mouth breathers who inforce such rules will ever read this newsletter, I promise to let you know if I get into any trouble for writing about the place.
Yes. That was really a risk. Yes, someone might wax my windows, slash my tires or beat me up for putting this information into the world.
Surfers beat each other up? It sounds crazy, I know. Surfers are a special kind of stupid, a special kind of entitled. From what I can determine, there were the first surfers in Nova Scotia. Far from being a bunch of wild courrier du bois, they were largely hippies. Many of them Americans who moved here to avoid a vacation in the jungles of Vietnam where they were asked to go shoot at people.
These dudes (mostly dudes) who came from away (mostly not local) were the first here. As such, they set the rules. Only certain people - people who were ‘local enough’ or could surf ‘well enough’ were entitled to surf at Right Point.
Over time as more started surfing, if you wanted to surf right point, you had to know a local. You had to get invited. If you didn’t you risked getting your windows waxed, rocks thrown at you or physically threatened while in the water.
Pretty gross anti-social behaviour don’t ya think?
Like any apparent stupidity, there is a kind of logic there. First of all, this is a difficult / tricky to surf wave. The most dangerous things in the ocean are not the waves or ancient marine creatures. It’s the other surfers. Surfers frequently have an eighteen foot radius of destruction strapped to their ankle. Nine feet of surfboard combined with nine feet of leash have the potential to get out of control and hurt people easily. With this in mind, the ‘localism’ keeps people safe. It keeps beginners away.
Also, waves are scarce. The good ones are anyway. When there is swell in the ocean, the bigger waves come in sets. These sets arrive anywhere from 5 to 25 minutes apart and regularly have between two and five surfable waves. New surfers at places like Right Point in addition to being a physical hazard to others around them, frequently blow waves. They wipe out as they take off thereby wasting a limited resource.
So, in some cases this kind of territorial pissing is valid. What happens however when someone improves? When are they ‘allowed’ to surf there? Well, if you ask those folks, the answer is never.
Something really neat has happened in the last few years however. A whole slew of people who know how to surf have arrived in Nova Scotia. Many of them are better surfers than the locals who are ‘allowed’ to surf at this break. Now, they show up there, without permission. Now, these newcomers are seeing opportunities where people have worked hard to make them as unwelcoming as possible. They’re ignoring local customs. They are foregoing the hierarchy and rules and surfing these spots.
It’s funny that I still have yet to surf there. I would make my waves. It might be fun. But with such a hostile crowd, I’d rather venture off to other locals.
What’s even funnier is that I give more credence to local, unwritten rules around a silly little hobby than I do to regulations around mental health.
I would maintain that mental health care and counselling is a lot like the ocean. No one can claim to own that space either.
Where do you subscribe to silly conventions that don’t serve you?
Where are you really, stubbornly brave and insist on inserting yourself despite being unwelcome or unwanted?
What’s your ocean of defiance?