On Sunday the weather turned nasty. A hectic wind in the wrong direction, heavy rain and a wild choppy sea. Great, I thought. No paddling today. But there’s no rest for the wicked, so we all met up on the beach at 07:30 for a Reverse Miller’s Run, this time downwind from Fish Hoek to Miller’s Point.
Of the 11 or so campers I was the only Saffer, testament to the worth the surfski world holds the Mocke brothers. Yes, there are two of them.
Jasper Mocke, himself a world champion surfski paddler, three-time canoe world marathon K2 champion with partner Hank McGregor and a three-time winner of the famous Australian surfski race The Doctor, runs his own iconic paddling adventure business called Paddle Africa. During camps he helps Dawid with coaching and as it turns out, to keep paddlers safe.
And then off we go. At first the ask looked tough to manageable, but ocean conditions can turn in an instant and while we’re spread out, the campers all concentrating on their own progress, all of a sudden a hectic whiteout squall slams into False Bay with a vengeance. With zero visibility, a howling wind and massive swells, thunder and lighting, heavy rain and light hail perhaps I can be forgiven for the biggest skrik of my life. I’ve been plenty scared before, but never quite like that.
And then Jasper appears as if from nowhere, calming me down and pointing me in the right direction. When conditions deteriorated further, he tethered my ski to his, making sure I followed his directions accurately to get us to sight of land. After what felt like a lifetime, the squall lifted, we saw Simonstad clearly and Jasper pointed where to paddle to reach Miller’s Point and as they say in the classics, all’s well that ends well.
How I managed to not fall out and swim during this baptism of water doing my first Reverse Miller’s Run I will never know, but with my initiation now complete and my shivering, freezing body warm and snug again while driving back to Fish Hoek, I wanted more.
And there was plenty more to come.