For days I’d checked and double-checked the forecast. Decent-sized NW wind swell? Check. Local forecast for light NW winds? Check. Should be a decently fun day to road trip up to South Beach.

But, of course, with surfing, nothing’s ever certain.

After the typical Saturday morning having coffee and a Trinidad Special (cream cheese, tomato, red onion, Larrupin’s) bagel at The Beachcomber, we met our friends at Murphy’s. After stocking up on Hav’a Chips and Ya-Yas popcorn, we trekked north. Gorgeous drive as always. We passed elk, daydreamed about buying property in Orick and kept sing-along music going the whole 60 miles. After an initial dose of Blue Oyster Cult (“Go, go, Godzilla!”), we switched to the live Devil Makes Three CD, considered Scott H. Biram for a moment, but he didn’t really fit the happy summer mood, so we tossed him aside for Regina Spektor. (Don’t get me wrong – I adore SHB’s music.)

We hit Crescent City just after low tide. South Beach is typically a high tide break, but at least a dozen people were out in the waist-high waves – in the south wind. South?! Yes, south. Which at South Beach, is onshore. So much for the lucky day theory.

Undeterred, we took our friends to the Noll Surf Shop so they could rent some suits. That accomplished, we went back to the beach, decided to go for it despite the junky conditions and began the arduous process of deciding where to set up camp and then outfitting four adults and five kids in wetsuits, booties, gloves and hoods.

Eventually, everyone was ready. We headed out. I alternated between shouting out advice and promising the wind would turn. Not that our friends cared. This junky, blown-out day provided the first surfing experience of their lives – and they grinned the whole time. The clouds blew away within the hour. The wind never did turn, but the onshore didn’t compromise anyone’s good time. Chelsea surfed for the first time in a year; she laughed the whole time. That alone would’ve been worth it. The sunshine and good friends rounded out what was the most fun I’ve ever had surfing lousy waves.

We finished the day with the obligatory stop at Los Compadres, then returned home with a trunk full of wetsuits to wash out and heads full of happy memories.