August 11, 2010

The DREADED Weever Fish.

I bet you're all wondering how my first day of surfing lessons went.

I went with two of my kids - the 10 year old boy and the 13 year old girl. The husband came along to take photos and no, I won't post those here unless you get me really drunk. Anyhow we got there early, donned our full body wet suits and yellow "first time surfer" rash vests, and followed the Shore Surf School gang down to the beach at Godrevy, Cornwall. Everyone had to carry their own boards down, and that is why one of my arms is now longer than the other. Hurrah!

First part of the lesson went really well. We did "prone surfing" where you leap onto your board like a mermaid and lie there riding the wave in. Although much bigger than a boogie board, it was pretty easy to handle and I was having fun.

And then....I stepped on something sharp.

I could feel three tiny needles going into the soft flesh where my toes join my foot. And I thought, "could this be the dreaded weever fish?" It didn't actually hurt much more than a stinging nettle, so I ignored it and caught another wave.

And then it started to sting and and I couldn't even stand on it anymore. "Uh...Mr. Surf Coach dude? Hey, Mr. Surf Coach? Um, excuse me hello Surfie Coachie? Pardon me yoo hoo? HEY MAN I STEPPED ON THE DREADED WEEVER FISH!!!" That got his attention.

I sat down with the very young, very blond, very fit, very tan dudes with "Surf Coach" on their t-shirts and we all looked at my foot. There were three puncture holes and one was even bleeding. It hurt more and more, but I was very brave and didn't cry. Yet.

By now I'll bet you're wondering, ok JC, what the heck is a WEEVER FISH?!?

It's this teeny weeny fishie that likes to lurk under the sand in shallow waters, especially at low tides. The Echiichthys vipera has three spines on its back fin, and if you step on it, the spines inject VENOM into your foot!! How exciting is that, right? Apparently it's the nastiest thing the UK has to offer. Grown men sailors fling themselves in the ocean and drown rather than suffer the excruciating pain of the DREADED Weever Fish.

First aid: kinda lame actually. When you can't stand the pain anymore, you must hobble off unaccompanied down the long, long beach, scramble over a bunch of barnacle covered rocks slippery with seaweed and climb up a steep cliff to the dunes. There's a Life Guard up there and he will put your foot into a tub of boiling hot water. Very hot water will neutralize the protein in the venom by cooking it.

Folks, I don't mind telling you that halfway up those rocks, tears were streaming down my cheeks. This was almost as painful as childbirth. But after 20 minutes of soaking my foot in the Life Guard's tub of hot water the stinging began to subside and I was able to walk again.

On my way back over the rocks, I noticed a little girl about 3 years old, crying her eyes out - she was stuck in the rocks and the tide was coming in. Because she was inbetween the rocks, no one could see her and the waves were so noisy, no one could hear her. The poor thing was really frightened! So I plucked her out and carried her through the deep water to her mom (who was quite some distance away, believe it or not).

So, if I hadn't been stung by the DREADED Weever Fish, who knows what fate may have befallen that poor little girl.

Going back for my second surf lesson tomorrow!