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Maritime Relations – Watergate Bay Surfing

Watergate bay surfing
Surf at Watergate Bay... like this Weekdays only!

“Watergate Bay… Surfing?”
…Surf we must, fail we may



“We don’t go to Cornwall for fun. We go there to test our marriage” Guardian Weekend 29-10-11
When I read this today it brought back “the horror”
Fourteen years of testing a relationship in the wind and rain takes some explaining. A marital problem that combines travel, remorse, guilt and flowers; brought on by a broken vision to combine a family holiday with a surf at dawn. It is an obsession fuelled by the kind of midlife crisis that has not easily manifested itself. Instead of a fixed-gear bicycle (acceptable), triathlon-pants (borderline) or a car that can accelerate faster than you can think (’80s); I decided to involve the whole family and hear (and ignore): “Why do we always have to go to Cornwall? Watergate Bay… Surfing!!!!”

When I ‘first’ turned 40 I swapped my custom-made surfboard with my friend’s 13 year old daughter. I swapped it for her surfboard. Her dad’s old board, a Rusty ‘quad’. I tried it once and like H.G.Wells Time Machine, stepped on the foam and transported back to June 1989. A hollow summer swell. During that time I should have been revising but instead, with a friend from Cornwall, I nearly got barreled!

The nearly, is the unfinished business at the midlife heart of my crisis. This half term, I tested the family’s resolve in a similar fashion to rubbing wax on a surfboard.

Kids in the new car. Sun roof down. Stereo making everyone happy… The weather WAS glorious. Everything WAS amazing until the car hit 70mph. The whistle, the HORROR of the whistle from somewhere around the car, went from not being there to drowning out the stereo. I felt physically sick. My partner realised that the sound (which I declared was the wheel bearings) came from the surfboard. There was no turning back – I had f**ked-up another holiday before we’d even had time to moan about the excessive rain.

And yes the rain did come. This was a Cornish holiday. And I did surf half an hour before dawn joined by Simon, another dad-in-a-crisis. “This is the life” he rightly said. Our breath froze and we shivered even before we had reached the beach. Watergate Bay showed no mercy.

Endless walls of white water. We made it out the back. “Makes you feel alive!” said Simon… Point Break meets pointblank reality. I could only nod, my arms had turned into spaghetti! But the dream, which for 6 hours sounded like a whistle, lived on. When the sun eventually rose over the cliff, we got changed and watch the surf change from charging walls of foam into a classic Endless Summer-esque dream.

It was time to go home and make some repairs.

Watergate bay surfing
Best job in the world... Man cleans surf with a big spoon... honest!

Thinking of going Surfing at Watergate Bay? Here’s a current Surf Report…

Directions to Watergate Bay Surfing destination in Cornwall



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Big thank you for to family at the Bed and Breakfast in Padstow, we stayed at Garslade Guest House on Church Street. It’s a luxurious retreat so not suitable for surf-bumming but great for posh-slumming! Here’s the link to our favourite Bed and Breakfast in Padstow

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