Confession: We Van-Lifed - Stab Mag

Confession: We Van-Lifed

Blame the guy in the FCS hoodie.

Words by Brendan Buckley

Today’s FWD is going to be a little different. 

I blame the guy in the FCS hoodie. I encountered him at a parking lot in Galicia earlier today. Galicia, for the uninitiated, is a region in the northwest of Spain. Its history is Celtic and its waves are absurdly fun. 

Picture a long, empty beach. Now multiply that vision by about 5 because there’s no chance you initially envisioned a beach as long and empty as Galicia’s. Could be a river on one side, a few rocks out the back in the middle, a little hook that fades the swell towards the end. The coastline is full of many twists and turns that accommodate different swell and wind directions. Kelp everywhere. Peaks everywhere. People nowhere. 

The type of place that feels sharky but probably isn’t. Maybe it is. Some things are better left unknown and especially un-thought-about. 

sei 17295979

Back to FCS hoodie guy — what could compel a man to wear an FCS hoodie? Is it a fin control passion that burns so intensely that it must be worn on one one’s chest in a blend of cotton and polyester? Was he fed up with the pandering of major surf brands but still felt a desire to express his affinity for surfing and so he fell in love with an FCS hoodie? Were they his initials? The mind boggles. Any insights you may have are welcome. 

FCS hoodie guy was just hanging out in his FCS hoodie. Reading. Relaxing. Clothes drying to the side of the van, breeze blowing through his hair, not a care in the world. The very image of van life. 

A hoax. 

I, too, have been van lifing. Or is it van living? I don’t know, I’m new to this. I rented one — figured it was a safer way to experience new places as the second wave of COVID keeps lighting up Europe’s buoys — and am learning a lot. 

An early takeaway is that, when it comes to surfing, there are two ways to operate — at least around here. You could set up somewhere and stay put. Hang out, surf when it looks fun, whatever will be will be. Or you can surf, come in, check the wind, look on Google maps, take a shot, take a sketchy dirt road down to a new beach, surf, keep checking, keep exploring, etc. 

I have not yet read a page of the book I brought. 

Waves breaking

Goofy-footers be like: “Look at that inside left!” Photo: Todosurf

I once asked a neuroscientist why he thinks people like surfing. He told me that our brains are problem-solving machines and they love being right (cue the endorphins). Surfing seems like a fairly direct way to expose yourself to problems. There is a lot of satisfaction in thinking — better yet, feeling — hmm, a section will appear here and I can hit it like so and being right. 

I think that satisfaction is magnified when surfing a new wave, when you’re still figuring out the basics of the equation. And it feels pretty good to be alone in clean blue water while tripping on the jagged beauty of a big green coastline. 

At time of writing, I’ve surfed seven new waves in three days. All different, all fun. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get to that book. 

Which is why I’m changing up the format of today’s Fwd. It’s all intro, no links. That’s in part because I have not found good enough internet to load the homepage at But mostly because I want you to find the time to surf a new wave, if you can. 

And if you miss the links, I encourage you to send me your favorite (or least favorite) Stab stories this week along with some thoughts and I might run it in next week’s Fwd. 

One last thing: 

If a floater isn’t somewhat scary, the section wasn’t worthy.

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