Authors: Jeff Ross
Tags: #Juvenile Fiction, #Sports & Recreation, #Water Sports, #ebook, #book
ORCA BOOK PUBLISHERS
Copyright Â© 2012 Jeff Ross
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Ross, Jeff, 1973-
Dawn patrol [electronic resource] / Jeff Ross.
Issued also in print format.
I. Title. II. Series: Orca sports (Online)
39 2012Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
813'.6Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
First published in the United States, 2012
Library of Congress Control Number:
When their surfer friend Kevin disappears in Panama,
Luca and Esme risk more than just big waves to find him.
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Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund and the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit.
Cover photography by Getty Images
Author photo by Simon Bell
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For CB, we'll always have Panama.
And to the rest of the December
thanks, it was a blast.
The waves were coming in perfect sets of three. It had taken Esme and me four hours on a sixteen-foot water taxi to get here. The boat bobbed on the edge of the swell. We watched a dozen surfers paddling to get in position. Now that we had made it to Bocas del Mar, an island off the coast of Panama, the bumpy boat ride was worth it.
“Do you see him?” Esme asked.
We scanned the lineup of surfers for our friend Kevin Taylor. He had left Los Angeles in March. It was now June, and other than the email he sent before he split, we had heard nothing from him. The email wasn't much help:
I need to get out of here. Nothing is
making sense at the moment. I don't know if
I'll come back, but if I don't, know that I love
you both. Esme with all my heart, and Luca
in a totally best-bud, non-romantic way.
Esme and I knew how nothing made sense to Kevin. In January his parents had died in a plane crash near Bocas del Mar. Kevin's father was an experienced small-plane pilot. The morning of the crash, a dense fog patch caused him to fly into the side of a mountain. It took two days for anyone to reach the crash site. No bodies were found. But, given the state of the plane's destruction, that wasn't surprising.
Kevin had spent many Christmas vacations in Panama with his family. He had traveled all over the world following waves with his father, a fanatical surfer. Kevin was an amazing surfer too. He was always searching for larger and larger waves. He liked what people called unrideable breaks, the kind of waves an average surfer wouldn't even attempt.
Which is why we had come to Bocas. According to surfline.com, the center for all wave-related surfing information, a giant swell was coming toward Bocas. Most big waves form out in the Pacific Ocean, breaking in Tahiti or along Hawaii's north shore. But this monster was coming toward Panama. It was still two days out, so for now, the waves were in the five-to-seven-foot range. By all accounts, forty- or fifty-foot waves were approaching. If Kevin was nearby, he would be here to ride them.
Esme was somewhat familiar with Panama. While she had never been to Bocas del Mar, she had been to several of the surrounding smaller islands with Kevin's family two years before. Esme and Kevin had been dating for three years, and I had known him since we were kids. With his parents gone, we were the closest thing he had to family. Esme's father, a high-flying banker, often had business meetings in Panama City. Esme's dad knew how much Kevin meant to us and that we were worried about him. When Esme asked if we could go to Panama to see if Kevin was there, her dad was happy to fly us down with him after our final exams. He said it would be a business trip for him and a grad present for us. We spent a few days in Panama City together before he put us on the water taxi.
“These surfers all look alike,” I said to Esme.
She screwed her face up and punched my shoulder. “They do not. You, for instance, are a surfer but look more like, I don't know, a scientist or a violinist.”
“A violinist?” I said. “What does a violinist even look like?”
“Like you,” she said, laughing.
I was almost six feet tall and had shaggy brown hair. My skin had gone a darker shade than it likely should have from all the time I spent in the sun. I didn't know what violinists looked like, but I had a feeling they didn't spend 80 percent of their waking hours in surf shorts and a reef shirt.
“These are beautiful waves,” Esme said.
When Esme was a kid, she was a tomboy. She was the kind of girl who could kick your ass at any sport. Then she grew up and became a gorgeous girl who could still kick my ass at any sport, including surfing. Unfortunately, she bailed heavily last summer, so now she's cautious when it comes to any wave over eight or nine feet.
The boat captain shouted, “You stay here?”
“SÃ,” I called back, using my entire Spanish vocabulary.
“I take bags in,” he said. He pointed at a large hut on stilts above the water. “Leave them with Delgado, sÃ?”
“SÃ. It is only place to stay. For tourists.”
Before I could answer, the captain revved the boat's engine and gunned across the shallow reef. He threw our backpacks onto the dock and took us back out to the break.
Esme tossed her board into the water and dove in. I followed.
The captain leaned over the side of the boat. “I will come back?”
“Three days?” I asked.
“Three days.” He pointed at the dock. “Delgado's.” And with that, he tore off.
“Think we'll ever see him again?” Esme said as she climbed onto her board.
I watched the boat become a dot on the horizon. “I hope so.” I lay on my board and paddled toward the small gathering of surfers along the edge of the break. “But for now, let's catch some of these waves.”
I looked over the edge of my board, and there was nothing but sand.
A girl sitting on a long board outside the break waited her turn.
“Hey, do you speak English?” I asked.
She smiled at me. “Um, yeah. How about you?” Her blond hair glistened in the bright sunlight.
“A little,” I said. “Is this a sand bottom the whole way in?” Esme paddled up beside me, and the girl stopped smiling.
“No. Farther in it's reef. Be careful. If you get over near those rocks, it's really shallow.” She pointed toward a cluster of rocks that jutted out of the ocean.
“Cool, thanks,” I said. “By the way, my name's Luca and this is Esme.”
“Alana,” the girl said before she lay down and paddled into a wave. She rode the crest for a moment, then dropped down onto the other side.
“Not bad,” I said.
Esme looked at me. “What do you mean, Alana or her surfing skills?”
I must have blushed, because Esme said, “Yeah, I thought so.”
“Am I not allowed to...?”
She punched me on the shoulder again. “You're not allowed to sit here talking about girls when there is a perfect wave coming in and you're next in line.” The wave was a roller, gaining height and speed as it approached. “Go, go, go,” she said.
I paddled hard and lined myself up for the first ride of the day.
You have to catch a wave at just the right time. If you try to stand up too early, you sink. Stand up too late, and you get bowled over by the wave and dumped down the front side. When to stand up is not really something you can be taught. You have to feel it.
I paddled as hard as I could. Still, by the time it was upon me, I only had a moment to push down on the board and stand. I managed to get up and glided along the top of the wave. I pushed forward, dropped down the front of the wave, kicked out and shot sideways. Even though the wave wasn't tall enough to have a full-sized barrel, I got a nice ride out of it. Better surfers, like Kevin, would have slid along the crest. Maybe even spun or launched off the top. For me, it was enough to feel the awesomeness of all that water moving beneath me, to be a part of something that had crept in from the middle of the ocean.
I kicked out again, rolled over the backside of the wave and slid down onto the board. I could see a dark line of coral four feet beneath me. I paddled outside the breaking waves and joined the lineup again. The wave I had caught was the last in a set. Everyone bobbed around on their boards looking at the horizon, waiting for the next one.
I paddled over to Esme and sat up on my board.
“That was nice,” she said.
“Thanks. There's a reef up there. So the waves get bigger and bigger as you go in.” I pointed to the other surfers. “You ask anyone about Kevin yet?”
“No. But I seem to have their attention.” Esme was in a bikini. A very small bikini. She had a reef shirt on, but it was white and did little to discourage glances from the lineup.