A deep blue line looms somewhere between me and the collection of ships on the horizon. Paddling out and over toward the channel my arms begin to burn. The peak is rapidly growing in size and approaching fast. Somehow the rest of the line-up get caught inside and I’m confronted by a steep left. Time slows as the offshore wind sends feathers of sea spray high into the air. I catch the wave and racing down the line I spot my dad in the white water, hooting. Childhood memories never fade and family traditions never end, they just get more cherished with time.
You have to paddle hard sometimes to get the best rewards the ocean has to offer.
I’ve always felt a deep sense of responsibility to give back to the ocean. The simple pleasure of riding waves is extractive. Just like anything that is taken, the question follows… what is given back in return? With all the constant taking in a life lived by the wild sea, it’s so important that I give back somehow.
In 2018 I learned about a seismic testing plan out off the coast of Newcastle. Helping to stop this destructive project was a way for me to give back to the ocean. After countless rallies the seismic testing was scrapped, but this just meant another company was fast-tracking to the exploratory drilling of a well out over the horizon from my favourite beach.
More of us needed to paddle back out and fight.
The fight to stop the PEP11 offshore gas field went big. After several years of campaigning, visiting MPs in Canberra, paddle-outs and finally announcements in the right direction it felt like the entire country opposed the plan. For a short time PEP11 was dead, then alive again, then squashed, back on the table, and now… in limbo again. But a line in the sand is now revealing itself in an unlikely space.