10 October, 2014 10 October, 2014

J-Bay Capers (Part I) – by Ross Turner

Never mind violent locals and hungry sharks, Ross Turner reminds us that sometimes it’s more dangerous just getting to where you’re heading in ‘J-Bay Capers – Part I’, which is his entry into ‘Write to Surf‘ – our surf journo competition with some epic prizes up for grabs (see below for details).


J-BAY CAPERS (PART I) – by: Ross Turner


The N2 Tsitsikamma Toll Road lay ahead of us, ruler-straight for 2km. Not an eddy of wind so much as tickled the Erica canaliculata, Virgilia oroboides and surrounding, taller indigenous forest. Blue sky pulsed above, J-Bay beckoned and grins grew wider.

There is no other sensation quite like this… knowing that one is transporting oneself to utter bliss…a pointbreak-cluster unlike any other on Earth, where the pungent garlic-scent of Agathosma apiculata fills ones’ nostrils and announces in a subliminal, almost primal manner, “You have arrived in the Land of Surf, as well as the Cradle of Humankind!”


The articulated, double-decker, car-carrying pantechnicon ahead was rumbling forward at around 100kph. The white line was dotted, all was clear in front, nothing behind, a gear was dropped into 4th and pedal put to the metal. Our little surfboard-bedecked Nissan 1400 farted forth on a routine overtaking manoeuvre.

Emily was chilling in the back, earphones on, amidst a cosy morass of mattress and luggage. Nina was in the passenger seat.

At this point we were accelerating to 115kph, having passed one rattling articulation of sparkling luxury cars. Forward-looking vision indicated a baboon ±100m ahead of the truck, on road-left, sitting in archetypal pose on a sturdy girder. We were approaching 120kph.


As if on cue, the baboon bolted. It cleared the oncoming truck.

Time “expanded” and consciousness became free-flow.

The road had been clear – I checked again – no head-on with another vehicle today!

It flashed that I’d a dear friend in the back and the granddaughter of close Family friends sitting next to me. I was old, expendable, past my sell-by date…but they weren’t: protect, protect!!

The baboon fallolloped, Grendelesque, at middling, semi-urgent pace directly toward the front-left headlight of the Nissantjie. I couldn’t swerve at that speed while accelerating and anchors were out of the question. At this moment, direct eye contact with the now-startled primate was established, Nina’s jaw was agape and we were drawing level with the truck driver’s cab.

Amidst the flood of sensory information, at the “last” millisecond, I eased off to 115kph and adjusted by a fraction, perhaps 2°, to the right – no power steering, ABS or airbags in this tjorrie – and…


The baboon slammed into the 20cm wide panel between front left wheel and passenger door… yet didn’t pass under either left wheels!

Fewer than 5 seconds had passed but visual senses were in slow-motion and wired, kinda like the Digic 5 processor inside a Canon 5D Mk3 with all 41 cross-type autofocus points selected, eyes wide open and with urgent filters…wild, buffering overload! Horrid metaphors too!

A stunned silence pervaded. While completing the overtake I was aghast to see the unfortunate victim jumping high across the N2, in rear-view! We barrelled-on down the road.

“It’s alive?!?”, I stammered back to Emily, the adrenaline starting to course, Nina’s jaw still flaccid, our Digic 5 processors assimilating what had just happened.

Emily replied with mellifluous voice through the sliding cabin window, “Yes – it ran across the road to fetch its baby!”.

Its baby?! I wanted to howl and felt sick to the stomach! High-speed slaughter of wildlife just ain’t my thing – I’m an ecologist – yet the tone of Emily’s voice suggested otherwise regarding the baby baboon… just the faintest whiff of leg-pulling B.S.


What I wouldn’t have given for the truck driver’s perspective! We’d shared an asphalt wave side-by-side and had been dropped in on by a baboon at the critical moment. “Trucker” had done the correct thing: he hadn’t applied brakes, avoiding a possible skid, thus allowing me to deal with the situation sans his behemoth. Had his pantechnicon been involved, the outcome could so easily have been an horrific tangle of twisted, torn metal, fibreglass and blood on the freeway. To ad lib an old World War II song, they would have “scraped us off the tarmac like lumps of strawberry jam”. More concisely, in the words of Rowan Atkinson – the parable of “Tom, Dick and Harry” –  we would have been “harvested together, blended into oneness”.

Yet all’s well that proceeds well and a few kilometres along the N2 we squelched through an unannounced, road-wide swath of cow and bull sh*t at 120kph. SANRAL, mind you, charges R40 each way for this terrifying k*k! It’s doubtful that the interloper survived long-term and we’d almost bought the farm, literally, twice within 10 minutes!

Stoked to be in J-Bay…

We arrived one and a half hours later in Pepper Street to reeling 3-5ft, offshore J-Bay, although the Nissantjie sported a dent, bent mud flap and smelled like a paddock. No blood or fur was visible surrounding the ding. It was apparent upon inspection that had the 2° adjustment not been performed, accompanied by gentle deceleration, the baboon may well have passed directly under the tiny 12-inch front left wheel, with likely fatal consequences at that speed. Braking could have resulted in a head-on, with ensuing windscreen, truck and strawberry jam ramifications.

It was late afternoon and we bolted for the surf, knowing that the warm, friendly pleasure of Aloe Again was ours for the following two weeks.



Postscript: One could be forgiven for thinking that our three intrepid East Coast explorers had spent their, and perhaps others’, “rotten luck” en route to the muthalode. Pffaaah! Stay tuned for “J-Bay Capers – Part Two” and brace yourself for more hard-core gore.

* [Ed’s note] We are aware that this image does not portray the N2 Tsitsikamma Toll Road – it’s in fact taken by Michael Veltman on the M4 along the KZN North Coast. It has been included because we didn’t have an image of said roadway on file, but mostly just to set the scene for the story. So that is not Erica canaliculata or Virgilia oroboides along the roadside.
Click here to check out all the entries so far >>


Send your stories to calvin@zigzag.co.za. One submission will be selected every six weeks to appear in Zigzag magazine. The selected submission will also receive a hamper from Billabong. Zigzag retains the right to use any work submitted for the Zag Surf Journo competition on zigzag.co.za as outlined in the rules and terms of the competition. Zigzag reserves the right not to award a published winner in the magazine every six weeks, depending on the quality of entries. Zigzag is not obligated to run any and all entries submitted, either online or in print. Zigzag retains the right to edit all work submitted for brevity and / or clarity.

For the next three issues the Billabong prize hamper includes: 1 x Billabong Wetsuit; 1 x Billabong Boardies; 1 x Billabong Cap; 1 x Von Zipper Sunnies; 1 x Set of Kinetic Racing (KR) fins. After which the hamper will get a shake-up with new product of equal value for the following three issues.


1 Comment

  1. Rian
    17 November, 2014 at 2:49 pm · Reply

    Hi my name is Abbie, and i’m an amateur arborist – i was just wondering if any one knows the names of the trees shown in the pictures above, are they alien or indigenous? Thank you all.

    kiff story. waiting for part 2.

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