Liquid Lines

Another Weekend of Great Waves as Tropics Come Alive ... and Nazis

Great Surf, Tropical Storm Gert, Possible New Water Taxi and Making the Most of Summer
By JON COEN | Aug 16, 2017
Courtesy of: Hurricane Gert formed early this week, and that’s coming off a fantastic weekend of waves.

Let’s start this week with an apology.

I’m actually going to apologize for two things. First off, I’m sorry if this column is going to delve into matters besides surfing this week. I know some waveriding folks get all uptight about that. But, easy, we talk about da waves plenny lata, cuz.

Second, I’m sorry for what I wrote directly after last November’s election. In the Nov. 16 Liquid Lines, I made an analogy that our country electing Orange45 was akin to getting frustrated and lost in a bad neighborhood and deciding the best course of action was to simply let a 3-year-old drive.

To clarify, my point was that we may have thought this country wasn’t going in the best direction (or counter to your personal interests, anyway). And the decision we made was to let a guy with the temperament of a little kid get us out of the jam.

Well, I have to apologize. I shouldn’t have compared him to a 3-year-old. Because over the course of the week, I played with several 3-year-olds. I watched them jump waves on the sandbar, eat pizza on the beach, make sandcastles and build forts of towels and surfboards.

And at that age, they somehow grasp the notion that they should probably listen to adults. Sure, grown-ups may make them eat vegetables. Adults may not let them cross a busy street alone. And they may get punished for bad behavior. But at the end of the day, they have this inherent feeling that they might need some guidance.

Not to mention, 3-year-olds give really good hugs. They laugh. They play. They are far more rational and likable than this Twittering goof.

Look, it’s not like in 2017, racists go marching down the street with torches. It’s not that simple ... Oh, wait. Yes they do. Yes, it is that simple. So, I decided Liquid Lines wasn’t going to open with a joke about how confusing it must be for tourists that there are four different “244thStreets” on LBI, but rather something more serious.

Because this week, we have to look at the fact that this windbag is playing golf in North Jersey, while making moves to drill for oil off our coast, reject Americans who want to fight for their country, having a pissing match with an equally delusional leader in North Korea, and not condemning blatant racism. I’m just curious what he meant by blaming “many sides.” As far as I could see, there were two sides, Nazis and people who fight Nazis, and I don’t see how they were both at fault.

And it just so happens that since he has taken office, the “alt-right,” or that Banana Republican Army, or whatever you want to call today’s Nazis, feel very comfortable taking their hate to the streets in the name of saving monuments of those on the wrong side of history. Say what you will, this wasn’t the atmosphere a year ago.

The guy has plenty to say about Rosie O’Donnell, but he’s pretty easy on white nationalist terrorism. I’ve had a few friends tell me they voted for 45 because of the economy, rising health insurance premiums and the lack of a better choice. Those of us who resist him face those same problems, but maybe Nazis and environmental degradation filter into the equation, too.

He might take a cue from a 3-year old and try listening to some grown-ups.

Actually, I have a third apology. I am sorry to all you 3-year-olds. He doesn’t posses half your qualities.

OCEAN MOTION: OK, back to surfing. Hey, just think, in another few weeks, NFL Football returns and no one will talk about any social issues!

Once again, the surf this past week has been in that “just enough to get by” range as it has all summer. Nothing stellar, but a few bowls here, some longboarding there, and perhaps a little body whomp when the situation arises.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re due for some head high swell, but you can’t say it’s been flat. Last Wednesday was a proper shoulder high and Thursday had a very respectable wave for gliding. Even Friday had a bit of energy, even if closed out.

The front that passed through this weekend, making Saturday a kind of muggy, dreary day, or one of those days that if you’re a parent, you start wondering “When did arcade games become $2 to play?” wasn’t much of a wavemaker in itself. Our local winds barely hit 10 knots, enough to junk up the surf, but not enough to build anything significant. But that front picked up a hitchhiker in the form of an area of low pressure over the ocean to our south, which was the real engine behind the Sunday/Monday swell.

Sunday morning started out like a lot of summer days, clean 2-foot surf at low tide. It wasn’t bad, but certainly not anything to get overly excited about. But then, as the tide got higher and higher, the swell really began pumping, not huge but clean and very rideable. I’m saying top sets were chest high and a whole lot of fun. By about 2, the sea breeze kicked in and blew it out pretty good. But still, the middle of the day provided an awful lot of really fun waves, considerably better than what was showing at dawn.

And just when we thought it was time to call it a day, tired and sunburned from so many waves, the wind went back offshore. Right around 6 p.m., there was a faint breeze from the west and within 30 minutes, the surf was clean again. The tide was perfect and bowls were peeling in either direction. From the lineup, each time your buddy hit the lip, it was illuminated by the setting sun. It was an epic end to a fantastic day of waves.

Thus far, August has been very good to us, and it seems this month will just keep on giving. While we were out racing rights and hacking turns into lefts, the low that had been moving across the Atlantic Ocean for the last several days became Hurricane Gert. She is the seventh named storm this year and really the first with the potential to deliver swell for us. This year has been something of an anomaly, a lot of named storms but no waves, and thankfully not a lot of drama.

Her top sustained winds hit 60 mph on Monday and a hurricane Early Tuesday. Swell from Ol’ Gertrude is forecasted to peak today (Wednesday) and we will see our biggest surf since mid-June. She should already be curving out to sea – those girls that send waves without threatening land are the absolute best.

Although the swell will have peaked by the time The SandPaper comes out, be smart. If you’re not sure of your ability level, don’t go out. Listen to lifeguards. And if you’re a swimmer or parent, be aware that rips form much more intensely than average beach days.

Even though Gert was the first tropical love we saw this year, it’s been a decent summer for waves. Another two waves that came off of Africa this weekend have the potential to kind of form into one system. All indicators (water temp, light wind sheer and the Saharan Layer of dry air) point to this one developing.

We’ve been staying flush with local windswell all season. Not only does it look like the tropics might start popping now, but there’s another front headed our way. I know a lot of us get really excited at the thought of storms that stay out to sea, with the hope that we might see some serious surf. We’re getting into just about the best time of year on LBI.

TAXI! TAXI!: Let me be the first person to say that the water taxi idea from Tuckerton to Beach Haven was my idea! OK. Maybe I’m the one hundred and first person, but I swear I thought of it.

Actually I suggested they call it The Pharoa, named after the steam ferry that used to bring passengers to Beach Haven. In the late 1800s, Archelaus Ridgeway Pharo had a great vision for Beach Haven. He helped build the Tuckerton Railroad to Whiting, which had direct lines from Camden and Amboy, N.J. – the Philly and N.Y. markets, and the ferry across the bay. (Hey, I make up a lot of ridiculous local history in Liquid Lines, but as far as records show, that’s all true.)

Beach Haven was the first part of the Island to really be developed. The first rickety Causeway didn’t come until much later. If you take a look at the Main Street and “downtown” design, it makes sense. I’m not ragging on any of the other towns, but they’re all laid out half-assed and haphazard compared to Beach Haven.

And understanding the history between Tuckerton and Beach Haven really helps explain the connection. Even today, there are families and friends with close ties across the bay, even though to drive to borrow a cup of sugar is literally 41 miles. Before the original Manahawkin to Ship Bottom Causeway Bridge was built, that connection between Clam Town and the Queen City was everything.

You have to commend the LBI Tours group for actually putting this in motion.

And although this is simply a trial run and the vessel only holds six people, it could be a fantastic idea to develop in the future. As of now the trip is a full hour. That’s on account of Tuckerton Creek being a very looooong, slowwwwwww, no-wake ride from the open bay.

But look at it as another draw to LBI. I’m already imagining racks of beach cruisers at both ends of this journey so you have transportation once you get across the bay. Imagine all those thousands of people staying in Beach Haven who might enjoy a boat ride and dropping a few bucks in Tuckerton? Can you picture Tuckerton folks who work in Beach Haven being able to shoot right across the bay to work? And how about the potential for less traffic on the bridge? You feeling me?

WHAT’S GOING ON?: Man, August is absolutely flying by. I feel for you kids. Our consumer culture has been reminding you of “Back to School!” since about June 21.

Well, we’re not going down without a fight. Let’s get cracking in these last few weeks of summer.

First news up, as reported in the story by Eric Englund last week, Barnegat will be rebuilding and reopening its defunct skatepark. This park opened in the late ’90s as just one of the subpar wooden parks in Southern Ocean County. But a lame park is better than no park (unless you’re talking about Ocean Acres; that park was totally useless).

After six years, Barnegat will build a new park at the same site. What’s notable is that the town has opted to build a concrete park. This is great news and Barnegat gets a lot of credit for making that decision.

Now, if they decide to build the standard banks and 30-inch mini ramp, well that’s better than nothing. But maybe, just maybe, they will take some input from skaters and build something that will truly be a good park (psst, a bowl!) that will also stand up to our rough weather. Fingers crossed.

The big on-the-water event left this summer is the Ship Bottom Beach Patrol’s 5-mile Barnegat Bay Challenge on Aug. 21. I think a lot of folks share my sentiment that this is one of the coolest events of the year in terms of so many athletes showing up. You have the lifeguards, the local triathletes, rowing enthusiasts and surfers all coming out for one event. The only downside is the 4½ miles after that sentiment wears off.

But in all seriousness, this is a great race and a challenge in every sense of the word, starting at the Ship Bottom bay beach (13th Street), going clockwise around Flat Island, back around Cedar Bonnet and finishing back at the bay beach.





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