The Weather Bureau

The wind had been blowing easterly onshore for nearly three full days as I drove down the main street of Queenstown. This town is in the dry hinterland of the beautiful coast on which I live. The sweat ran down the small of my back as the sun beat down on the car raising the temperature to about 10 degrees higher than outside. It was lunchtime and as in most small towns everyone had closed up shop and gone home for an hour. I pulled in at the petrol station and looked up at the digital thermometer on the wall that read 37 degrees as the petrol pump attendant filled my car with fuel and thought to myself, “if only it would blow west”. The swell had picked up overnight but all of the east wind spots would be out of control and the weather forecast on television, the internet and newspapers said that the east would continue for at least another day or two. Leaving the attendant to wash the windscreen I made straight for the air-conditioned shop and an ice-cold Fanta grape. I only had three more calls to make and then it was an hour and a half trip to the back to the coast. Just then my cell phone rang. Looking at the number that appeared told me that it was Roger calling to update me on the conditions at the coast. Roger told me that he expected a west wind to come through later in the afternoon and that I should move my ass back to the coast as quickly as possible so that we could paddle out when the wind swung. Saying goodbye I jumped back into the car and sped off to see the three people I needed to release me from my obligations for the day.
As I drove back towards the coast I thought to myself that I hoped Roger was right and that the three people I paid courtesy calls on would not be offended by my lack of courtesy in just exchanging pleasantries, and splitting, but it was too late now to go back and barring speed traps I would hit the coast just as Roger finished work.
As I opened the gate at home Roger’s car turned the corner and came to a standstill in front of me. In one fluid motion Roger was out of the car and strapping the boards to the roof racks. The trip to the spot takes about 15 minutes and was spent in the usual conversation, which goes something like this:

Louis: ”Do think the west will come through?”

Roger: ”The weather office says no way, but all the indicators say that it should I just hope that it comes through before the sun goes down.”

Louis: “So how was work today?”

Roger: “How do you think! I'm sick and tired of all the shit!”

Louis: “What do people do that don't surf?”

Roger: “Beats me. As long as they don't all take up surfing.”
Just then we catch our first glimpse of the ocean and the car fills with anticipation. In the silence we hear the radio for the first time. Something about the weather. Roger leans over and turns it up but all we hear is the last part of the prediction, which is east and east and more east. Roger turns to me and smiles and I hope as I always do that he knows more than they do at the meteorological office.

We are into the last turn now and as Roger parks the car we roll down the windows to gauge if the wind has switched then slowly tentatively we get out and stretch hoping that our first impressions have been wrong and that while we are exiting the car the east wind will miraculously change into a west. Alas it is not to be and the sun was now starting to make its final curtain call behind the huge cumulonimbus cloud bank that had been building all day. The easterly onshore is pumping and the surf is big. “Give it 5 minutes”, Roger says. “I’m telling you this is a trough pulling in”. As we stood watching the sun retreating we realized that it was not the sun that was going down but the cloud bank that was advancing at a rapid rate. The leading edge resembled an enormous toilet roll turning and swirling up and over and in on itself and as it rolled, it grew, covering hundreds of meters in seconds shooting both forward and up at the same time. Roger being the practical person that he is was caught spellbound for a few seconds then suddenly made a dash for the car screaming something about hail, his car, and trees, while I stood marveling and the awesome power and beauty of this unique scene laughing all the while at Roger.

As the cloud extended over us the sticky sea salt in the air was replaced by the cool crisp breeze from the west. Laughing and hooting we pulled our wetsuits on and waxed our boards.
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