Step-by-Step Instructions for Surfing in Montauk, NY:
Step 1: After a long work week, hop on The Cannonball train (a service of the Long Island Rail Road). You will be surrounded by fancy Hamptons Weekenders, and the journey will take a full three hours.
Step 2: Start your day early on Saturday, to ensure a good spot on the beach. Have your friend Lynda set up a surfing lesson and gather up gear (wetsuit, booties, board, etc). Lynda will know what’s best and have your back throughout this process.
Step 3: Once at the beach, it’s time to wetsuit up. Prepare for some difficulties that you maybe don’t see coming. You will be surprised to learn that your entire body is supposed to fit through the neck hole, as there are no other zippers or openings.
Step 4: Even though you’ve been tugging at the ankles for more than 10 minutes, do not give up. The process of getting this sucker on will become the best workout you’ve had all month. You will pull and pull and pull, and the wetsuit will still be at your ankles. Keep pulling. You will most likely give yourself an accidental wedgie at some point during this process. (Someone will later tell you a wetsuit is easier to put on if you’ve been in the water, but it will be too late.)
Step 5: Do be aware that it’s 95 degrees outside and sunny. As you keep struggling, you will begin to overheat. Don’t let this bring you down. Your body may start to feel like jello, but persevere!
Step 6: Once you’re suited up (and you’re so hot that you might pass out), put on your booties. They will keep your feet from getting sliced and diced by the sharp rocks you’ll later find everywhere in the water. Good luck getting your toes into their respective toe holes.
Step 7: Once you have your wetsuit and booties on, which will likely take you 28 minutes longer than you expected, go meet your surfing instructor. (Expect to be miserably hot at this point.) He will be a buff, blonde, blue-eyed dude named Tom, and he’ll want to teach you all the basics of surfing, while you stand on the sand in the sun. You will soon learn, while wearing this full-bodied wetsuit, that surfing is a lot of push-ups and balancing routines. Expect to lay on the surfboard in the sand for a bit, repeatedly practicing your transition from horizontal to vertical.
Step 8: When you finally get the go-ahead to enter the water, you’ll be carrying what feels like a 100 lb surf board. The ocean will be filled with algae-covered rocks. You’ll go out pretty far in the water, using your arms as paddles, and Tom will tell you when to stand up on each wave. Thank God for Tom.
Step 9: You and Tom will spend a couple quality hours out in the ocean where you’ll master The Flailing Fall. Your surfing talent will likely surprise you, and you will actually stand on the board more than a dozen times while it skirts along the top of a wave. People may mention that your beginner’s surfboard is impossible to fall off of. Others may note that there’s zero wind and today’s waves are tiny.
Step 10: Afterwards, you’ll learn it’s way easier to take off a wetsuit than you expected. You have pondered the fact that you may be forced to live in the suit for the rest of your life, but that won’t be the case.
Step 11: You’ll go home and celebrate your surfing experience with a glass of red wine.
Thus concludes my step-by-step guide to surfing. For further information, check your local library.
[All photos are compliments of my loyal friend Anne Quito. A big thanks to Lynda for making my dreams come true.]