Short Sands Beach -- the beach at Oswald West -- is an incredible place for beginning and intermediate surfers. Protected by two headlands and graced with a sand bottom, Short Sands is the jewel of surf spots on the northern Oregon coast. Midweek we found the best of surfer culture with many folks offering tips and encouragement to our family of rank beginners.
I had always expected I would like surfing but was completely blown away with how enchanting it can be. I spent about seven hours in the water the first day, paddling into the surf, bobbing on my long board waiting for my wave to come and then, on those rare occasions when I timed it right, experiencing the power of a cresting wave and the incredible rush of being thrust ahead of it. I only stood up a couple of times but even lying down, racing toward the shore past the still water in front of you makes you feel like Superman!
There are a handful of things you should make sure you do before you die and spending a day in the surf with a surf- or boogie board is definitely one of them.
Equipment: On the advice of a local grandmother out surfing for the day with her son and grandkids we went in to Cannon Beach to rent all of our gear at Cleanline Surf. They have wetsuits and boards and everything else you might need as well as plenty of practical advice.
This tip is just to make sure that everyone knows the gear that's involved. In the picture you see a long board, a boogie board and a skim board standing up next to eachother with our wardrobe of wet suits on the log behind.
On wet suits: Yes, you pee in them while you're in the water.
On skim boards: This was an amazing new discovery for us that is best described by eHow:
1. Hold the skim-board with one hand on each side. If you are regular footed, hold your right-hand slightly to the back of the board and your left more toward the front. Practice running while holding the board parallel to the ground.
2. Wait for the water from a wave to begin washing back into the ocean. Use this time to also check for any possible hazards. Once you're going it's hard to stop.
3. Begin running at an angle towards the ocean as the water is receding.
4. Drop the skim-board on the sand as you are running. You want to drop it in less than and inch of water, but not on dry sand. Drop the board while you are coming off your outside foot.
5. Step onto the tail of the board with your inside foot, and then step onto the front with your other foot. These steps should be the very next ones after dropping the board and should be in sync with your running pace.
6. Crouch low to keep your balance.
While surfing may not be appropriate for all depending on your age or athletic ability, boogie-boarding is definitely a sport for everyone. We saw kids as young as six with their own boards and even younger ones being floated on boards by parents. With a flotation device attached to your ankle and your body encased in neoprene blubber there's very little to worry about even for non-swimmers.