In one place we came upon a large company of naked natives, of both sexes and
all ages, amusing themselves with the national pastime of surf- bathing. Each
heathen would paddle three or four hundred yards out to sea (taking a short
board with him), then face the shore and wait for a particularly prodigious
billow to come along; at the right moment he would fling his board upon its
foamy crest and himself upon the board, and here he would come whizzing by like
a bombshell! It did not seem that a lightning express-train could shoot along
at a more hair-lifting speed. I tried surf-bathing once, subsequently, but made
a failure of it. I got the board placed right, and at the right moment, too;
but missed the connection myself. The board struck the shore in three-quarters
of a second, without any cargo, and I struck the bottom about the same time,
with a couple of barrels of water in me. None but natives ever master the art
of surf-bathing thoroughly.
- Roughing It
Illustration from first edition of ROUGHING IT.
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