Since Thanksgiving Monday, we’ve been holding out in our cozy Wicked Westies Volkswagon Westfalia at Mackenzie Beach, just outside of Tofino, BC. For those of you unfamiliar with Tofino, it is a small village at the end of a small peninsula on the North West coast of Vancouver Island. Flanked by towering rainforest covered islands, the misty weather systems that move through here give it a subdued, mellow atmosphere. It also happens to be Canada’s surfing mecca and we arrived just in time for some winter swells.
Apart from the beautiful pink sunset that welcomed us to town Monday night and a few sunny mornings thereafter, we haven’t seen much of the sun, but that’s to be expected in storm season! And we came prepared in our Wicked Westies Westfalia; stocked with a French press, a stove perfect for making soup on, and plenty of movies. The Westfalia has proved faithful, keeping us warm and dry as we watched the surf from our campsite.
Wanting to take advantage of some of these winter swells rolling in, we took a lesson with Pacific Surf School. Although we all had some surfing experience, we were maybe a little ambitious in wanting to surf from outside the break. Our instructor, entertaining our desire, lead us out beyond the 6-9ft breaks. Not an easy task. Once I finally broke through to the silence behind the white water, I realized I was hooped as there was no hope in hell I would be catching one of these monsters into shore. Now I realize these waves are probably just average for a seasoned surfer, but to this prairie girl they seemed terrifyingly huge. Since staying out in the rolling swells till the end of time was not an option, I attempted a wave. And quickly got destroyed. What confuses me more is why I attempted these waves for the next two hours!! That day I got zero waves and willingly retreated with my Tacofino tuna taco to the cozy Westfalia.
So the next day, when we rented some boards again, we decided to take what we learned the previous day (that those waves were 4ft too big) and hit up some smaller waves. Luckily there was a nice break right in front of our campsite. Perfect. With the Westy stocked with coffee and soup , we squeezed into our wetsuits and enjoyed a much more successful surf session 100 yards from our campsite. Including our lunch/warm up break, we were out there charging waves for almost 6 hours!
With a successful surf session fulfilled, and the swells even larger than the first day, we have settled for watching the more experienced surfers today. Again, the Westfalia proves to be the vehicle of choice! As the rain and wind turn the world around us into tumultuous grey, we stand parked in our beachfront site with front row seats to surfers chasing barrels. With the seats folded down and the kettle on, our warm, dry little sanctuary inside the Westy couldn’t be more pleasant.