Scotty Hewett says he’s surfed all over the world, but Campbell River is best – because it’s home.
“I live like a block away,” said Hewett while standing in his dripping wet suit at Stories Beach on Tuesday. “I just drive to the parking lot and truck it in.”
Winds had died down by Tuesday afternoon, when he spoke to the Mirror after emerging from roughly one-metre waves.
Conditions tend to be best immediately after a big storm, he said, like the one that produced an 80 km/h wind warning from Environment Canada on Tuesday.
The breakers were excellent, he said: “nice, clean waves” followed by plenty of calm waters in between “so you can relax.”
He called Stories Beach a “learning beach” – other spots around Campbell River tend to require more skill.
“But there’s always waves here,” he said.
To know whether a good surfer is coming up, he checks an Environment Canada webpage showing wave height at the Sentry Shoal buoy in Johnstone Strait.
“When there’s a storm happening, we can kinda look at that buoy and see where it’s reading for metres,” he said. “If it’s 1.5 metres or plus, you know it’s on somewhere.”
It’s something that people from the local surf community learned on their own, he said.
“No one taught us to do this or that,” he said.
Other factors to consider include the ebb and flow of the tide and the all-important question of whether or not there’s daylight.
The waves tend to be best in winter, and local surfers sometimes head out in 30 knot winds, he said. That’s considered a near gale, with gusts that put full trees in motion.
“You wouldn’t be standing here,” he said.
As for the water temperature, he said it remains constant at around 4 C throughout the year. He said his wet suit keeps him warm.
“We’re warmer than you are,” he said.
Hewett uses a paddle, which helps with stability while also allowing him to get to breakers not easily reached by other surfers, he said.
“I can chase the waves down more with this,” he said.
The surfing community in Campbell River is small – he figures about 20 faces in all. He started a Facebook group called Stories Beach paddle and surf community to help connect people.
Hewett said he started surfing at age 34. It took him about two years just to catch a wave, he said.
Now in his mid-40s, he said he’ll keep surfing as long as he’s able.
“I won’t stop,” he said.