Liquid Lines

Answer to Beach Litter Is More Hard Alcohol, Feeling Wave Starved and the Slow Lane to Bag Bans

Seriously, It’s 2016, Clean Up Your Beer Cans
By JON COEN | Aug 03, 2016
Photo by: Jon Coen This summer has had plenty of fun waves for longboarding, but we’re in dire need of real swell. Russ Griffin, preparing to cross step through the season.

This is a public service announcement. I’m not sure what it is, but in 2016, people still feel it’s acceptable to leave a mess on the beach.

Tell you what. I’ll save you the speech about how the place where you vacation is our home and you should treat it with a little more respect. If you don’t know that already, you’re never gonna get it.

What I notice nine times out of 10 is that it’s beer cans – and usually crappy beer full of genetically modified corn syrup and chemical dyes to make it appear “beer colored.” And there’s some other magic ingredient in there that seems to silence the part of the brain that says, “Hey, you’re being a real jackhole right now. Dial it down a notch and clean up after yourself.” I believe scientists call it the morona oblongata.

This isn’t a generational thing either; trashing beaches, bays, creeks and wooded areas is a tradition that predates Prohibition.

And I’ll say this – even though drinking is prohibited on our beaches, I commend our towns for their management of these rules. Folks have always enjoyed booze on our beaches, from big pitchers of gin and tonic, wine coolers in the ’80s, Red Dog and Zima (hey, don’t judge) in the ’90s and mojitos in the 2000s to craft beers today. As long as you’re somewhat inconspicuous and respectful, it’s never a buzz kill. No one is sniffing through your cooler to see what’s inside. Just use a coozie or pour it into your canteen. With most of our beach patrols, you really have to be effing up to bring down the heat. By not using common sense, you’re putting them on the spot to enforce the rules. And yet, there are still those who stagger up to the dunes, leaving a trail of glass or aluminum litter behind.

But I’m not the type to just complain about problems without offering solutions. If you have to get tanked on our beaches, consider hard alcohol.

Hear me out. You and your bros can drink yourself into a summer stupor on just one or two bottles.

Now, I understand that this has to be cost effective. I get that you’re on a budget, which explains the Natty Ice cans and Bud Light Lime bottles you like to leave strewn out for early morning surfers to find. Hey, I’ve spent my share of time stocking bars, long enough to know that there are cheap booze alternatives to cheap beer. You and the beer pong all-stars can probably find a jug of Fleischmann’s Extra Dry Gin for about the same price as a 30-pack of Busch. You can save even more by not buying that beloved sleeve of red solo cups you leave in the sand as well. Be a man. Pass the bottle around. (That’s just a cold sore on your fraternity brother’s lip.)

Think about how much less waste there will be. By the time you’ve got your arm around your homeboy, telling him how much you love him and how you wish this summer could last forever, there will only be one empty bottle, instead of 30 cans.

And maybe (and I know this is a shot in the dark) someone in your crew will actually have the wherewithal to get that bottle of White Eagle Vodka or Montezuma Tequila into the garbage can. When you have that figured out, we’ll explain how to differentiate the garbage can from the recycling. Until then, bottoms up, dummy.

WE NEED SOME WAVES: The human body can survive about 20 to 30 days without food. Now, that’s if you have water. Without water, you’re looking at about three days. But how long are we going to live without waves?

Surfers have been skating. We’ve been fishing. Some of us are crabbing and clamming. Starved waveriders have tied dozens of boats together and played obnoxious music at obnoxious levels. Some have been swimming, paddling, running and training. Others have launched full assaults on their own liver. But whatever we’ve been doing, we’re tired of it. And we are ready for some real waves.

It seems we’re coming up to a sort of breaking point as we launch into the month of August. I don’t know that we have this officially on record, but I believe the last time we had shoulder-high waves was possibly Mother’s Day, which were barely that size. Maybe there were one or two days of chest-high sets since. So as of next week, we could reach a full three months without significant surf. You know it’s getting bad when you start looking at the surf forecast, thinking, “Hmmm. Tuesday morning could be 2-foot. If I wake up at 4:30 a.m. and catch the incoming tide, there could be a half-hour window where it’s 2½-foot on set. Let me see if I can arrange my work schedule …”

That’s caused something of an economic glitch on LBI, too. Performance surfboards, which are the bread and butter for some retailers, just aren’t selling.  Each shop has a niche and, of course, there have been a few more longboards and groveler sticks moving out the door, but the general summertime shortboard just isn’t selling for a few businesses. Surfboards are traditionally a low-margin item, so when they don’t sell and have to be discounted, the shop basically makes no money. Hopefully, the retailers are making up for it with SUPs, which are literally everywhere this summer.

Though we all know that August through October is when we harvest the most hurricane swell, we normally get a few June or July storms to keep us satiated. This year has seen four named storms, all weak systems that haven’t brought us any tropical swell whatsoever. And the last one, Danielle, dissipated on June 21. So we’ve been seriously lacking in that regard.

Now let me clarify this. We have had some surf – it’s been tiny. But ask any traveling surfer and he or she will tell you, we do “tiny” pretty well. Earlier this summer, I was in the Dominican Republic and I can say that our 2-foot knee-slappers are better than pretty much any 2-foot knee-slappers in the world. We’ve had some clean days breaking across decent sandbars that have been fantastic for longboarding. And hey, a lot of us have a really good time out there, gliding a big singlefin on those warm little peelers. We’ve had a few of those days that have been decent on some type of fish or more contemporary grovel board. So, don’t let anyone tell you it’s been flat. But the small days over the last few weeks have been even tinier and there have been few of them.

So, yeah, it actually has been pretty bad of late. And we’re starting to see it, in casual conversation and social media. Surfers are getting anxious, maybe a little stir crazy. When the surf drops off and the temperature rises above 90, it’s a rough combination.

MIGHT OUR LUCK BE CHANGING?: Probably not this week, however….

I might be jinxing us here, but we’re finally seeing the pattern shift a bit. The tropical Pacific Ocean activity is slowing and the Atlantic Ocean may at last be showing some signs of life.

Last week, the National Hurricane Center identified two areas of interest way out in the Atlantic as Invest 96L and Invest 97L. While the first dissipated, 97L went blitzing westward along the equator and will likely become Tropical Storm Earl. This storm will not be a wave maker for us, as it traversed the Caribbean, toward Central America. But the fact that it simply formed indicates that the Atlantic Basin could become an incubator in the next few weeks. Sea surface temperatures continue to be above average to fuel these spinners.

Beyond the tropical wish list, I don’t see anything closer to home that would suggest any radical changes. August does tend to be a time when we get those solid summer windswells, but frankly, I am not seeing it. If you want to find a silver lining, it does look like we’ll see some variable onshore winds over the back half of the week, which may stir up some chop. I don’t necessarily think we’re going to see any clean surf out of it, but even messy surf over 3-foot is welcome this summer.

BAGGING ON US: Yeah! Did you hear the news? Long Beach’s elected officials are working to ban single use plastic bags. That’s awesome, right? Great news. But is that Long Beach Island, or Long Beach Township?

Turns out, it’s neither. In fact when it comes to the plastic bag ban, beach towns all over the country are like fuel-efficient cars whizzing down the highway of progress. Meanwhile, LBI is a gas-guzzler, limping along the Boulevard on a Saturday afternoon in August. Now city officials in Long Beach, New York, out on Long Island are moving to get rid of both plastic and paper bags, to get people using reusable totes and canvas bags. Not a bad idea for a beach town that makes 100 percent of its revenues on the health of its waterways.

But for some reason, the conversation is at a standstill here. Little towns like New York City and Los Angeles have banned single-use bags. The Outer Banks has done it, and now towns on Long Island are showing they’re further evolved than we are. Long Island!

I might add to all the Realtors who always wanted to bill LBI as “the next Hamptons,” actually the Hamptons have had bag bans now for five years.

RESULTS AND GOINGS ON: The 8th Annual Island Surf and Sail Ladies Paddle Challenge went off without a hitch last Friday night. The morning weather moved out and it turned into a gorgeous afternoon/evening.

Michelle Dempsey aced the one-mile followed by Ship Bottom’s Caroline Unger and Jamie Baulmiller. The three-mile paddle was broken down into the Elite 14-foot division, which went to Andrea Kahikina of Point Pleasant, followed by Lynda Duvall and Claire Cemsie; and the 12’6, which went to winner Michelle Aromando of Ortley, followed by Melissa Saltarelli of Barnegat in second and Marsha Worthington of West Creek in third.

Conditions were not as kind to the Jetty Coquina Jam, which was scheduled for Sunday. With all the thunderstorms and the flat surf in the forecast, Jetty made the good call to postpone it. So, for competitors, spectators, sponsors and parents bringing kids to the Youth Surf Clinic, the 8th Annual Jetty Coquina Jam has been rescheduled for this Saturday, Aug. 6, still at Hudson Avenue, Harvey Cedars.

Next Friday, Aug. 12, much-loved former local artist Julie Goldstein returns to the Island with her new body of work called “The Fisherwomen,” a heroic and inspiring group of women divers from Japan from 1927-present. The show opens that night at 6 and will hang through September at the Ann Coen Gallery in Surf City .

The following day, Aug. 13, is the Alliance for a Living Ocean LBI Longboard Classic on 16th Street in Ship Bottom. This borough is one of the few stretches of the Island that has not gotten beach replenishment (although I hear there’s sand coming in the fall, ummm … how much sand do we need?) this year and the sandbars are fantastic. Sounds like a lot of people are really looking forward to it.

In other news, Beach Haven West’s Steff Mags returned this week from the Outer Banks where she competed in the Outer Banks Skim Jam and took first place in the Pro Women’s division.

Boy, you blink and it’s August. Traditionally, this coming week is the busiest week of the summer outside the big three holidays. In fact, this week is probably bigger overall than Memorial Day since that’s just a three-day banger. Here’s hoping visitors can enjoy their vacations, locals can keep their cool with visitors and we can all clean up our beer cans.

joncoen@thesandpaper.net

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