Liquid Lines

A Past Run-In With the Law and Start to Sorta Summer

Cold Winds, Warm Water, Weird Waves, Smoking, Sand, and International Surfing Day
By JON COEN | Jun 13, 2018
Courtesy of: Lisiewski Though the season is off to a slow start, events like the Board Swap at Brighton Beach Surf Shop and International Surfing Day with Farias and ALO will forge on.

With the supposed start of the season, I was recently reminded of a tale from growing up and thought a few folks might relate. To think that 1991 was closer on a timeline to Woodstock than it is to today pretty much blows my mind.

My friend had his mother’s old Dodge Caravan, one of the first ever made in the early 80s. I didn’t have a license yet, so that beat up old minivan was our everything.

Growing up in Forked River, my prior surf life was limited to when my parents wanted to come to the beach. And arriving at the beach on random summer days doesn’t usually equate to getting good waves. But the families in my town gravitated toward 19th Street in Ship Bottom, so that’s where we went when I was a grom and by all accounts, these were fun times. If you have any recollection of that era, there was a plywood bath house and snack stand right on the dunes called the Water’s Edge. Just the idea of a business/public place on the oceanfront on LBI selling ice cream and french fries makes it all seem like another lifetime. Now it’s all 8,000 square foot beach houses. Eventually, we convinced my parents to make the switch down to the Ninth-to-11th Street realm, where the surf beach was.

But when my friend got his license, it literally opened up a whole new world. We could surf in the spring and fall. We were exploring all of LBI to a soundtrack of Social Distortion, Peter Tosh and the Hoodoo Gurus. Harvey Cedars might as well have been the North Shore. We adventured to a magical spot on the South End that was protected from the wind (even if we did go on the wrong wind) and walked miles around Beach Haven without interest or money to bother with teen night at the Ketch. No one on Earth would have thought we were cool, but looking back, at least we didn’t listen to Vanilla Ice.

We also seemed to get pulled over ... a lot.

On Memorial Day weekend of that year, three of us were headed to Harvey Cedars because in our minds, it was the epicenter of life on Earth. Correct me if I’m wrong, but back then, Memorial Day was hot and sunny at the start of summer, not like this year’s morose mess.

And speeding through Surf City, we got pulled over in North Beach.

Now when I say my friend had his license, he was technically licensed to drive in the state of New Jersey, but never actually had his license with him; wasn’t real big on insurance card or vehicle registration, either. And for some reason, we all had a long aversion to the inspection station. But if you remember in the ’90s, that used to be an all-day affair.

Even before I had a license, I was getting accustomed to being pulled over. And as we came to a stop, there was the frantic search for documents amid the teenage mess. Underneath my seat was a storage drawer. But as I began rummaging through for a current registration form, what I found was a survival knife.

Again this should put a nice time stamp on the story. Following the “Rambo” movie series in the ’80s, boys all had to have these ridiculous survival knives that were advertised in Soldier of Fortune Magazine. Because in our minds there was a very real threat of getting waylaid off Route 9 into the Pines and having to make fire and find food in the woods for days. You can still find these shivs in Army Navy stores or online.

They were (still are) made in China. We got them via mail order. They had a cheap blade with a compass at the base that would unscrew. The handle of the knife was hollowed out and contained a sewing needle, matches, fish hook, sharpening stone and first aid. The first aid consisted of a single Band-Aid, which you would likely need when you cut yourself on the knife or the fish hook. Likely the only thing that got any real use was the matches, had someone been able to get their hands on a pack of clove cigarettes.

I had the same knife back home. And at that moment it struck me as ironic that we were looking for his papers among this Rambo knife. I picked it up jokingly.

“Nice blade, dude.”

Keep in mind we were accustomed to having that five-minute grace period to frantically search for documents while the officer ran our plates. But this particular officer hadn’t run our plates. Also, to avoid having to stand on the Boulevard with little shoulder, the officer had come to the passenger side window.

He was about 12 inches from me as I held up this ridiculous knife.

“I’m going to need all you boys to step out of the vehicle.”

It was kind of fitting, actually. Ten years later, the same three of us would buy a van and drive from New Jersey to Costa Rica on a six-month journey. I don’t know how many times we were instructed to get out of that van while corrupt policia riffled through our belongings until we finally got good at haggling bribes.

Looking back, it’s a laugh. But at 16, it was a bit daunting. The officer called for backup. And there we were, standing on the side of the Boulevard, two cop cars with lights ablaze while they rooted through stinky wetsuits, Dead Milkmen cassettes, thrusters, and Adidas high tops for illegal contraband. I was sure that my parents would drive by at any minute, on their way to some friend’s BBQ or something.

Fortunately, there was none to find. There was also no valid driver’s license, current inspection sticker or insurance card. It must have been a lucky day that my bud had his license.

Temporarily off the hook, we went surfing.

My friend had to stop at the Surf City Police Department that week with all of his documents and somehow, there wasn’t a single ticket, summons or fine.

Guess there’s not much point to this anecdote, but this is the start of a new summer. I sure hope kids are out there getting healthy scares and having laughs. Now that they can access anything in the world from a supercomputer in their pocket, do they even need these little adventures?

And those knives were cool. I may try to find another one.

SORTA SUMMER?: Despite some weather, I have basically no surf to report on this week. If you climbed Old Barney on Sunday, I’m pretty sure there were snowflakes way up at that altitude. Fortunately, it was just above freezing at ground level.

The irony of the conditions we’ve been having is that we haven’t had the thing that usually cramps our June style, which is howling south winds.

Normally by early summer, we are in a pattern of high pressure – sunny with light winds in the morning that pick up by 10 a.m. when the air temp starts to rise. By 2 p.m., the sea breeze is blowing 10 to 15 knots south and doesn’t lay down until evening. Repeat, with the occasional thunderstorm.

Prevailing southerly winds also tend to make the ocean colder starting in April, thanks to upwelling. As the ocean surface begins to warm, southerly winds replace it with frigid water from the ocean floor. This isn’t so much of an issue later in the summer when the whole water column warms up.

This year has been marked with a lot of random low-pressure systems and north/northeast winds. The “seasonal” rack in 7-Eleven is still loaded with bodyboards, sun dresses and sun hats, even if you’re actually looking for that Pugz woolie.

The result has been cooler temps and six days a week of rain. But we haven’t had that frigid ocean. In fact, the surf temps have been the exact opposite. The surf on Monday was pushing 64, which is pretty toasty.

Normally the June pattern sees the ocean creep up for a day and then drop drastically in the southerlies. Maybe you’ve surfed in trunks one day and then we get a little south swell and you had to put back on a three-mil and your feet were freezing.

So the ocean has been warm, but no one knows it because one, there hasn’t been much surf, and two, there hasn’t been a nice day where everyone is on the beach, much less hot weather to make you dive headlong into the ocean.

BEYOND NO SMOKING: Smoking’s gross. Sorry.

The last several years have seen smoking bans up and down LBI. But last week, the state Legislature voted 7-0 on measures to fine folks caught smoking on beaches and other public places. And at $250 for a first offense, they’re not messing around.

Here are my thoughts. It’s kind of a shame it had to come to this. I think my lungs still look like warm asphalt from bartending all those years leading up to 2006. But I just never found folks smoking outside, especially at a windy place like the beach, to be all that much of a problem. And it sucks to have to make yet another rule for the beach. It would be nice if people could just do their thing.

The problem is the cig butts. You still see slobs tossing them out of windows, onto sidewalks and even onto the beach.

Smoking bans have been a big topic the last few years. And in that time, smokers haven’t figured out how to get their butts from their mouths to the trash can. So now, we have another situation where we have to have towns enforcing state regulations, which is a bummer for beach patrols, police, and folks on the beach.

SAND UPDATE: Should the sun come out and temps ever feel like June (seriously, 2018 has been one bastard of a year), beach-going folk should note that replenishment is done in Brant Beach, but still going on in Harvey Cedars and Surf City.

In Harvey Cedars, the project is currently underway at 68th Street, where the pipe comes ashore. The hopper barge dredges sand from the ocean floor and shoots it via this pipe onto shore, where it is shaped into something that looks like a beach. There is a 1,000-foot stretch of beach that is closed in that area. The work will move south from the mid-point of town, tapering into North Beach and then north, toward Loveladies. Projected completion, as per the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is mid- to late July, although as of Monday, the Dredge Boat R.S. Weeks had to be towed into the inlet for repairs. These things rarely stay on schedule, and the town keeps updated info at HarveyCedars.org.

Surf City can expect a construction site through most of the summer. The pipe has already been laid at 11th Street, where work with go north first and then south toward Ship Bottom.

The first half will take longer as the beaches in the north end of town are pretty emaciated. Last week at high tide in some moderate northeast swell, there was 20 feet of beach from the water to the dune fence. This will all have to be rebuilt to meet the project’s template.

The south end of town should go much quicker. Beaches there are as wide as Ship Bottom’s, which is simply huge right now.

Should the sandbars be covered by the projects, which they often are, expect some very crowded surf this summer in other parts of LBI. Losing so many breaks will force surfers into less area. Fortunately, most spots allow surfing outside of the flags, but I still foresee some packed and somewhat dangerous days ahead.

LET THE SEASON BEGIN: Just because Mother Nature is a bit late to the game doesn’t mean we’re not going to start having summer fun.

Last Saturday was the World Paddle Association sanctioned Dean Randazzo Cancer Foundation Paddle for a Cause race around Absecon Island. Not only did Ship Bottom Beach Patrol’s Johnny Skolnik take second place in the Prone division of the 22.5-miler, but he turned right around and donated his $900 winnings directly to the foundation. In fact, all of the prone racers gave their money back to the cause. That’s in addition to the money each paddler raised just to do the race. Skolnick will be training for the Molokai 2 Oahu Race in July and the SEA NYC paddle in August.

This Saturday is International Surfing Day, a solid holiday if there ever was one. Brighton Beach Surf Shop will host its biannual Board Swap and Sale, which will have hundreds of boards from all periods of surfing – vintage, SUPs and great deals for buying or trading. It’s free to bring your own boards and sell or swap them, running from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. This is becoming a nice tradition on LBI, a favorite among collectors and those curious about boards of the past. It’s also a great opportunity for backyard shapers to bring and show off their wares.

On Sunday, Mike Lisiweski will have an additional sale on left-overs. In short, if you are looking for some kind of used or classic board, this is the time.

Farias will be partying Alliance for a Living Ocean in the best way possible. You can volunteer at one of two beach cleanups at the High Bar Harbor Dike or Taylor Avenue in Beach Haven starting at 9 a.m.

The later happenings at Farias in Ship Bottom start at noon, featuring Skim Demos with Steff Mags of LBI Skim Camp on the 29th Street beach. You can also check out Current, the all-natural zinc surf paste, which is made locally. Farias will have Fire Wire boards to demo. Back at the shop, stop by the Nixon Tell Time Customization Station, where you can customize a Nixon watch.

The evening festivities begin at 5 with live music, raffles and the Barrel Mobile Bar. Those who cleaned the beach will get a Vans x Farias goodie bag that night. And if you make a donation to ALO, you get a re-usable Mizu pint glass that they will refill with brews all night. You have to love a good surf party that raises money for ALO.

Sunday is, of course, Father’s Day. It seems that Father’s Day comes at the end of a whole lot of other big days in spring – anniversaries, religious sacraments, graduations, Mother’s Day and everyone’s birthday. Well, after a few months of non-stop commitments that often fall in the middle of your weekend, take some comfort in knowing that Dad doesn’t want a card or any fancy brunch. He wants to be with his kids, and/or his own dad, on the beach or bay. He likely wants to keep it simple, get a few waves and cook something on a fire.

Looking ahead, June 23 is Shapefest at South-End Surf ’N Paddle in Beach Haven. In addition to music from the Ellemano Beat, Randy Budd of Pine Knot Surfboards and Vince Balas of Planet Blue will both be mowing foam down at the shop. This has become a great annual event on the south end. And the veggie chili is always solid.

June 28, it’s back to the Ship Bottom Farias store for the Salty Crew Find Refuge Tour. This emerging brand that embraces the surf and fish lifestyle will come through LBI with a movie screening, raffles, giveaways, food, beer and autographs from team riders.

For those marking calendars in advance, the Jetty Coquina Jam will be on July 29 this year, and Alliance for a Living Ocean will celebrate its 10th LBI Longboard Classic on Aug. 4. Mark those two down.

In closing this week, I think we finally have a sunny forecast for the weekend, which is more important for folks coming down to LBI than the actual weather. Interesting, temps still don’t hit 78. At this rate, summer is just shifting. But maybe we’ll still be chilling on the beach in baggies by Thanksgiving.

joncoen@thesandpaper.net

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