After the First World War her husband Archie was offered a position to help organize a world tour to promote the British Empire Exhibition to be held in London in 1924. The couple left England in January 1922, leaving their baby daughter in the care of Agatha’s mother and sister.
They arrived in Cape Town, South Africa in early February and immediately took to sea bathing at Durban, and were soon introduced to prone surfboard riding at the popular Muizenberg beach.
The party continued their tour through Australia & New Zealand before arriving in Honolulu on August 5th 1922. Agatha and her husband quickly took to riding surfboards standing up at Waikiki (as Prince Edward had done two years earlier), although the larger boards and surf proved a tough test of their new skills.
We went to Johannesburg, of which I have no memory at all; to Pretoria, of which I remember the golden stone of the Union Buildings; then on to Durban, which was a disappointment because one had to bathe in an enclosure, netted off from the open sea. The thing I enjoyed most, I suppose, in Cape Province, was the bathing. Whenever we could steal time off - or rather when Archie could - we took the train and went to Muizenberg, got our surf boards, and went out surfing together.
The surf boards in South Africa were made of light, thin wood, easy to carry, and one soon got the knack of coming in on the waves. It was occasionally painful as you took a nose dive down into the sand, but on the whole it was easy sport and great fun. We had picnics there, sitting in the sand dunes.
We had a lazy voyage, stopping at Fiji and other islands, and finally arrived at Honolulu. It was far more sophisticated than we had imagined with masses of hotels and roads and motor-cars. We arrived in the early morning, got into our rooms at the hotel, and straight away, seeing out of the window the people surfing on the beach, we rushed down, hired our surf-boards, and plunged into the sea. We were, of course, complete innocents.
It was a bad day for surfing - one of the days when only the experts go in - but we, who had surfed in South Africa, thought we knew all about it. It is very different in Honolulu.
Your board, for instance, is a great slab of wood - almost too heavy to lift. You lie on it, and slowly paddle yourself out towards the reef, which is - or so it seemed to me - about a mile away. Then, when you have finally got there, you arrange yourself in position and wait for the proper kind of wave to come and shoot you through the sea to the shore. This is not so easy as it looks.
First you have to recognize the proper wave when it comes, and secondly, even more important, you have to know the wrong wave when it comes, because if that catches you and forces you down to the bottom, Heaven help you!
I was not as powerful a swimmer as Archie, so it took me longer to get out to the reef. I had lost sight of him by that time, but I presumed he was shooting into shore in a negligent manner as others were doing. So I arranged myself on my board and waited for a wave.
The wave came. It was the wrong wave. In next to no time I and my board were flung asunder.
First of all the wave, having taken me in a violent downward dip, jolted me badly in the middle. When I arrived on the surface of the water again, gasping for breath, having swallowed quarts of salt water, I saw the board floating about half a mile away from me, going into shore.
I myself had a laborious swim after it. It was retrieved for me by a young American, who greeted me with the words: 'Say, sister, if I were you I wouldn't come out surfing today. You take a nasty chance if you do. You take this board and get right into shore now.'
I followed his advice.
Before long Archie rejoined me. He too had been parted from his board. Being a stronger swimmer, though, he had got hold of it rather more quickly. He made one or two more trials, and succeeded in getting one good run. By that time we were bruised, scratched and completely exhausted. We returned our surf-boards, crawled up the beach, went up to our rooms, and fell exhausted on our beds. We slept for about four hours, but were still exhausted when we awoke.