When one pictures a surf trip, images usually come to mind of white sand beaches, warm water, board shorts and cervezas post-surf sessions. The West Coast of British Columbia has the white sand beaches and post-surf beers, but the brews are usually quaffed shivering around a driftwood fire, if the wood is even dry enough to get a blaze going.
Canadian West Coast surf trips are a different style. Logistics, planning and organization play a huge role in the successful outcome of a surf mission. There’s no lazing about in cabanas, soaking up the sun while resting up between sessions. Canadian-style surfing means managing camp between surfs; making sure there’s enough dry wood to stay warm with, prepping tarp shelters for the eventual rain storm that’s bound to occur, and hanging food out of the reach of bears, wolves and/or sneaky ravens.
Just getting to remote West Coast spots is a challenge. If we’re lucky with weather (and we know the right people), there are some magical spots just a boat ride away. Zipping across a glassy inlet with orcas breaching and eagles flying overhead, this mode of transport feels pretty special. And special it is, as most of the time the boats are shut down due to high winds, big seas, or inaccessible exposed surf breaks. When the boats aren’t an option, canoes down tidal rivers are an option, or the old reliable boots on the ground method: slogging all the gear from logging roads through coastal scrub forest and swampland, eventually popping out on a desolate beach somewhere. Just you and the wolves, camping in a beautiful spot with no-one for miles.
Flip flops and surf trunks are generally left behind. Gear for these adventures usually leans more towards the waterproof variety. Rain pants and jackets are a must, as well as the aforementioned tarps, and lots of them. Moisture management is the name of the game on these trips, critical to comfort at the least, and survival in the worst case.
West Coast surf trips don’t happen easily, but once everything comes together and you find yourself in one of these magical spots, things can be pretty damn good. The sun might even make a brief appearance while enjoying a cerveza on a white sand expanse, albeit a little colder and wetter than your tropical surf paradise.