Hight tide, big breakers, and off we go into the cloudy sea. Its chillier than usual after days of torrential rain. We swim a bit and float a bit, spread-eagled and sparkling in the sun to warm our frozen cheeks. Wembury Church is a silhouette, moving further and further away. We realise we’re quite far out, and swim back at an angle against the swell, which is pushing over towards the reef on the Yealm side.
We draw level with the surfers and the stand-up-paddle-boarder. I start to enjoy the breakers, shooting up and plummeting on the far side in a wild roller coaster. Teri and Michelle are slightly further in. Suddenly there’s a set of huge waves, around twelve feet high. Realising we’re in the breaking zone, I sink to the bottom and pop up after the wave has passed, but the next one is on me. I dive through it, and get rolled. We’re out of our depth, and it’s hard to overcome the buoyancy of the wetsuit.
I have to shove my camera down my front to concentrate fully on getting through the surf, and try to cross parallel to the beach where the waves are less high. I look back at an advancing breaker and see the stand-up-paddle-board wipe out and fly above the foam. I’m braced and ready for the next onslaught, when the energy drops suddenly. Looking shorewards, I spot my friends among the foamy amoeba-shapes left by the waves. Teri has the expression of a stunned sea bass; she’s been rolled and has lost her goggles, and her swimming hat is perched like a second head atop her hair. Michelle says she looks like Blackadder the First.