Truth be told, when the prospect of such a trip came up, I struggled with the idea. The chance to surf and paddle the world-renowned waters of Barbados was enticing, but I didn’t want to misrepresent my skill level, and I certainly didn’t want the guys to feel like they needed to babysit me. This was a trip for serious surfers, and I had only three years of experience. Surfing is a perfect-storm kind of sport, one that requires many factors to fall into place. Tides, swells, winds, and general locations must all come together, and a surfer’s schedule must be flexible enough to take advantage of those perfect-storm moments when they come along. The guys on this trip, each of whom enjoys a surfing and/or paddling profession, practically live on the beach and can easily access the ocean’s surf almost anytime that they want or anytime the conditions are right. I, on the other hand, am a mother of three, a personal trainer, a paddleboard instructor, and someone who lives an hour and half from the coast. I can recall treks made to the ocean when wave forecasts were strong only to be skunked, and I’ve missed “sessions of a lifetime” due to parental responsibilities or training sessions with clients. And then there’s the challenge of making progress when infrequent practice sessions are strewn so far apart. Eight straight days of surfing in Barbados was an opportunity of a lifetime. In the end, I decided that I wasn’t going to miss it.
Losing my board and requesting help to retrieve it is humbling, but it’s not the first time on this trip that I’ve been reminded of the skill-level gap between me and my fellow surfers. On the very first day, I watched as the guys nonchalantly paddled out either prone or on their knees through a bubbling cauldron of white water on the Northwest coast of the island. Such a feat is no easy task for me, and it was at that moment that I realized just what I had gotten myself into.