Liquid Lines

Laying Down Spear of Insult; LBI Events Not to Miss

Inspiration From Generations; Weekend for Waterwomen
By JON COEN | Jul 27, 2016
Photo by: South End/Pearl Rodgers Peggy Muñoz, 68, and 2-year-old Grayson Rodgers both had a pretty inspiring weekend.

I know the intro to Liquid Lines usually has some biting sarcasm, but I don’t know if I’m feeling it this week. It’s not that there isn’t material. I mean, 45 years after Woodstock’s “three days of peace and music,” the warped patriotism of the Republican National Convention presented the antithesis of all the social progress gained in this country. They could have dubbed it “three days of hate… to music that the artists asked us not to use.”

And then you have the sorry state of affairs in Philadelphia this week, where the passion is playing out in the streets, while inside the convention, we will watch an unlikable robot say whatever she thinks we want to hear to get her elected. But anyone who would like to avoid the end of the Earth at the hands of warheads or environmental apocalypse will fake a smile and get behind the ultimate “lesser of two evils.”

So, it’s not like there isn’t plenty of satire to be had. But I’m just not feeling it. Instead, let me tell you about two things that happened on LBI this weekend.

On Friday night, the crew at South End Surf ’N Paddle hosted Mickey Muñoz for a book signing of his autobiography, “No Bad Waves.” Muñoz and his wife, Peggy, were on the Island for a few days, staying with Ken Gallant and his wife, Sheryl.

Dozens of people came through the shop, as Nectar and Ambrosia jammed inside and Ken”brah” Gallant had a BBQ going out back. It was a great night of friends catching up during the busy summer, music, board talk, homemade veggie chili, with Muñoz signing his book and, well… talking story. In fact, with each book he signed, he was as interested in hearing everyone else’s story as telling his own.

Now, you’ve likely heard of Muñoz, but you may not know his full tale. He was among the best surfers in the early days in California, and also pioneered big wave riding in Hawaii. Later, he made his mark as a shaper with Hobie. He was featured in “Riding Giants,” and at 79, living in Capistrano Beach, Calif., is one of the great ambassadors of a very important time in surfing history.

Earlier on Friday, Gallant got both Mickey and Peggy out on stand up boards and actually had them lead a tour. I doubt the good folks from Pennsylvania and North Jersey who scheduled stand up paddle tours that day fully grasped that they were paddling with one of surfing’s true living legends. Mickey woke up Saturday and surfed his stand-up board a bunch with the Beach Haven crew.

I got to meet Muñoz briefly. But we spent a bit more time talking to Peggy, while Mickey was busy signing books. Peggy is originally from Pennsylvania. They were taking advantage of the trip back to the East Coast to visit some family.

Not only was she as friendly as could be, this 68-year-old woman in a sundress looked like she could probably beat most of us in a paddle race, or a foot race, or pretty much any athletic endeavor. Turns out she races competitively in California. She’d paddled our bay that day and was asking South End instructor Gabby Sacco what time yoga was on Saturday morning.

The next thing that happened was on Sunday. We walked up to the beach for a late afternoon swim/surf and ran into our summertime neighbors. Apparently, Grayson had stood on his first wave.

He is 2 years old.

I honestly wish I had been there to see it, but I did catch the video on Instagram on Monday morning. Sure enough, Grayson was laying on a big, blue soft top, got pushed into a tiny ripple in the shallows, popped up on the board, and cruised to the sand with a bit of style. It was nothing short of adorable.

You’ve come to expect in this column to read lampooning of tourists, corporations, yuppies, local officials, hipsters, government agencies, and most commonly surfers who take themselves too seriously. But this week, I had no ire or ironic takedowns. I was inspired by both a 68-year old and a 2-year old, and the kind of fun you can have on Long Beach Island in the summertime. I’m kind of wondering if everyone between the ages of 3 and 67 is just blowing it, walking around staring at our phones, refusing to fix what is broken or searching for Pokemon monsters.

HOT LITTLE WAVES, COLD LITTLE WAVES: This weekend had a bit of everything.

Well, not exactly everything. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen any real waves. Yes, we did get our weekly trickle of rideable lines, but this summer we’re still sorely missing waves of consequence. And I don’t believe we’ll be seeing anything serious to end the month of July. I can live without a hurricane swell, but boy would it be nice to have a beefy low pressure system come out of the Ohio Valley and give us a real four-to-five-foot day. But you rarely surf the waves you want. You have to surf the waves you have, and the best we had was probably Saturday morning, which revealed more one-to-two-foot waves for anyone who wanted to get wet.

We also saw both ends of the water temperature spectrum. The ocean reached its warmest point of the summer last Thursday when it got up into that 72/73-degree bathwater range: New Jersey Shore bathing at its best. However, as Friday’s hard south blow created a bit of swell, it also pushed our warm water away from shore, only to be replaced by completely frigid water from the ocean’s depth. It’s called upwelling. We talk about it every summer, but this year, we’ve been pretty lucky to not see that drastic of a case. Frankly, we usually don’t see it in August. The ocean got down to near 60 by Saturday when the surf came up. That’s a 12- or 13-degree swing in water temperature in a day. Southern California barely gets that in a year.

Most surfers were wearing full wetsuits, if not short sleeve full suits or long sleeve springs. But once the families started arriving mid morning, little kids took to the icy water like it was still 73. Nothing like a 6-year-old girl to make you feel like an absolute wuss.

Thankfully the wind developed back into a sea breeze pattern for Saturday, bringing back that warm water. And with the southwest winds and a hint of swell, you could still find some longboard rights. Hey, it was overhead for my man Grayson.

Hopefully, you also took note of the full moon tides last week. We had some really high highs that flooded morning sessions, but we also had some extreme lows that made for really fun times on the sandbar.

The tropical region of the Atlantic should be showing signs of life right now, but it’s not. As mentioned a few weeks ago, when the Pacific Ocean is firing on all cylinders, the Atlantic engine won’t even turn over. And we shouldn’t expect to get a jumpstart until the pattern changes. But with record water temps down near the equator (one reading in Murray Key, Florida coming in at 90 degrees) it could go from zero to 60 pretty quickly in August. But for now, try to make the most of those micro lines when we have them.

I’ve had some inquires about the surf breaks on the South End of the Island that were recently pumped. Unfortunately, I don’t have any good news. Holyoke, Leeward, the Wooden Jetty, and many of our other favorite haunts are still buried and I have not gotten a single report of anyone finding more than shorebreak in Beach Haven or Holgate. Now, North Beach and Loveladies will be getting the same fate, thanks to the storm protection beachfill project. (Insert requisite line about how we need this to keep thriving on a barrier island.) And now, since the hopper barge is conveniently right there, parts of Harvey Cedars are going to get sanded. This appears to be a last minute decision, but likely was planned all along. If Cedars breaks get scrubbed, LBI is going to be a sad place for surfers this fall. Sadly, the utter lack of swell has not helped move any sand around anywhere.

NEW OPPORTUNITY FOR FUN: Chances are you are well aware of all the different opportunities on LBI this summer. With all the surf camps, yacht clubs, and Lifeguards In Training programs, we should be honing some very experienced watermen and women for the future. But there’s a new camp that is getting some attention, based out of Bayview Park in Brant Beach. It’s called Barefoot Adventures, run by Jess Johnson.

“It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to share my passion and love of the outdoors and the water with children,” she explains. “In conjunction with the use of Ken’s boards at South End Surf ’N Paddle, Ken is a longtime friend. He and Sheryl have been wonderful in supporting the camp.”

The experience consists of surfing, yoga, stand-up paddle, creative writing and meditation. All of these facets are proven to stimulate the mind while exercising the body. Camps run for three days, from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. It’s all about interaction, risk taking, organized play, team building and expanding minds. This is not your average day camp.

“I challenged myself this year and asked myself, ‘What would following my heart look and feel like personally and professionally?’ And my heart lead me here.”

The response so far has been amazing, with full enrollment. There are two sessions remaining this summer, July 26-28 and August 2-4. It’s been so well received, in fact, that there are adult camps, open to 15 people in August and September.

BIG, BIG WEEKEND FOR THE FAIRER SEX: For the LBI waterwomen, this weekend is the pinnacle of the year. We have the Island Surf and Sail Ladies Paddle Challenge on Friday and the Jetty Coquina Jam on Sunday. Both are the eighth annual events, which is interesting. It really makes you look at 2009 as a turning point for the watersports community here on the Island.

You know these are popular events because they’re both already full. Maybe if you show up early there will be alternate spots open, but most of this info is for spectators and ladies already signed up. The Ladies Paddle Challenge is from 5 to 8 p.m. at Bayview Park. There does appear to be some challenging winds that evening out of the east, so ladies are going to have to dig – but not a total blowout. This year, there will be divisions for both the 12’6 class and 14-foot elite SUP boards. The proceeds go to the Terra Foundation.

The Jetty Coquina Jam is Sunday, July 31 at Hudson Avenue in Harvey Cedars. Surfer check-in is at 8 a.m., the contest commences 9 a.m. This is a really fun, family event with some good sponsors on the beach, and of course, cold clams on the half shell. The event will be immediately followed by the Youth Surf Clinic, so make sure to get all the groms down for that in the afternoon. There does look to be a decent little bump in swell for Sunday with light winds turning southeast as the day progresses. Could be one of the better Coquina swells.

Also this weekend, SwellColors Glass Studio and Gallery will present Mary Tantillo’s artist reception on July 29 and 30 for “Origin,” the first installment of her new body of stained glass work inspired by the sun – one sun for every day of the year that will take four years to create. Catch live music by Greg Warren and Keith Costello, and local eats by Judy T. And then Tantillo will be up bright and early on Sunday to surf in the Coquina Jam.

Beyond that is the Alliance for a Living Ocean LBI Longboard Classic (also in its eighth year, if you can believe that). This will have divisions for both men and women. Competitors must ride vintage boards from the 1960s that are at least three feet over their heads. The big news this year is that the event will be moved to 16th Street in Ship Bottom, which means you can visit Ben Scola at the Port Hole and have a few pops if you’re feeling good between rounds. Seeing the way the women events filled up this year, maybe secure your spot online.

So that’s what we got. Hard to believe that we’ll be welcoming the month of August. That’s always bittersweet. Of course, September is the magical month around here, but once we lose summer, we don’t get it back for seemingly 11½ months.

And don’t worry. I’m sure I’ll get my pen sharpened by next week for some wisecracks. After all, Jimmy Buffet is coming to Atlantic City on Aug. 13. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of one-liners in the arsenal for that.

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