Surf’s Up, Dude

Surf's Up
I have always wanted to learn to surf.  And thanks to Robbie and Keaton, Kelly and I rode some waves…kind of.

Keaton Billings, owner of Palmetto Surf School, and his friend, Robbie, met us at 62nd Ave in Myrtle Beach for Kelly’s and my first-ever surfing experience.  The ocean was calm but intimidating as I thought of the possible power of the waves, flipping me off a surf board and throwing me into the sand (the more I thought about it the more I thought maybe I should have learned to surf when I was younger…).  I teamed up with Robbie and Kelly teamed up with Keaton.  After quick introductions and the signing of a waiver, they placed the boards in the sand and immediately had us lay on our boards, paddle our arms as if we were in the ocean, and “pop-up” into a standing position. This “pop-up” action was going from laying completely on our belly to placing our hands on the front of the board, pushing our body up like we were doing a push-up, and pulling our legs in underneath our bodies into a crouching position, and then standing up – as fast as we could.  Kelly and I tried it a few times, adjusting our feet to stand in the middle of the board, not too far forward and not too far back…popping up a few more times…and then stood by our boards for the next lesson.  I was surprised when the next lesson was “grab your board and let’s head into the ocean.”  So soon?  Surf’s up!

It was low tide with small waves so it was easy to get past the surf.  Once we were about waste high Kelly and I were able to climb on top of our boards, and fall right back off.  Who knew it was hard to center yourself onto a surf board floating up and down with the motion of the ocean? Once we managed to stay atop the boards, Keaton and Robbie had us paddle out into the ocean a bit farther.  Steady now – don’t flip!  I think we mastered the paddling part pretty early on.  Then we waited.  Robbie positioned me with my head towards the beach, and he watched for the perfect wave.  I was supposed to start paddling when he told me to and then when I heard him say “pop-up” I should jump up on my board.  Sounded easy enough…at least it was on land…

Keaton pushed Kelly off next to me and she stood up on the board on her first attempt!  And then fell off.  She made it look easy! I was so impressed!  My turn.  Robbie pushed me forward.  I started paddling.  “Pop-up!”  I placed my hands on the board and began pushing myself up.  The board started rocking back and forth and I panicked, dropping my knees to the board.  The board tipped and I went under.  I was disappointed in myself but ready to try again.  Kelly and I made our way back to our coaches.  Robbie said putting my knees on the board would slow me down and I would usually miss the wave.  Noted.  He repositioned me and on the next wave I started paddling and managed to pop up all the way to my feet before falling off!  Now I was proud of myself.

Kelly and I tumbled and belly-flopped.  We laughed and shrieked.  It was a fantastic feeling.  Peaceful even as we floated on the boards, waiting for the perfect wave.  I even had two really good runs, and almost rode a wave in.

Robbie and Keaton were great – always blaming the waves, saying they weren’t big enough or there weren’t any good faces to the waves – they never blamed us or our newly-learned skills.  Kelly and I figure we’ll go pro soon.

Cost: Palmetto Surf School offered a one-hour surf lesson for two, including board rental for $50 on