Liquid Lines

Consistent Swell, Inconsistent Winds and a Governor We Will Never Forget

Looking Forward to Thanksgiving Weekend
By JON COEN | Nov 15, 2017
Photo by: Stephen DiPietro Stephen DiPietro and Sammy Jo Alvarez are in the midst of a cross country road trip. They stopped off at NLand Surf Park to sample a mechanical wave on the way to California. Here Alvarez displays some style, even on a man-made wave.

So, the elections are over and it seems this Murphy character will be our new governor. His opponent, Kim Guadango, could have been the next great leader of the free world, but unfortunately for her, her boss was the guy in the beach chair with the approval rating of 15 percent on Election Day.

If there’s one thing we are never going to forget in this state, it’s Chris Christie.

I have to say that I’m going to miss Christie. OK, I know he basically left a bunch of families who lost their homes to Sandy standing out in a cold rain as soon as the bright shiny potential for the presidency caught his eye. Yeah, I know he said he would tell 5-year-old Syrian refugees to go play in their civil war rather than grant them safety in our state. And somewhere in Fort Lee is a child who had to hold his pee on the school bus for 90 minutes in a traffic jam. But, man, am I going to miss those beach chair memes.

Whenever I have a bad day, I just do a Google image search for “Chris Christie Beach Chair.” He’s been photoshopped into so many noteworthy New Jersey scenes that it reminds me of how proud I am to be from the Garden State. Because in addition to the iconic images, we know how to bust some balls.

From Springsteen leaning on his beach chair, to the sidewalk in front of Satriales, to Seaside Heights with the cast of Jersey Shore and the cover of the Saves the Day “Through Being Cool” record, it’s a mix of embarrassment (Snookie) nostalgia (emo) and pride (Bruce). Just this week I found the one with him hanging in front of the Quick Stop with Jay and Silent Bob.

It will literally never get old.

Christie was brash and rude, but he didn’t get the same public immunity as the president. If 45 had been sitting on that empty stretch of coast when Island Beach was closed to the public on 4th of July weekend, Fox News would have praised him for protecting our shores from a boatload of Muslims that day.

The other news is that Frank LoBiondo, LBI’s man in the House of Representatives, announced he is retiring. Some on the left may personally have no love lost for a worn-out Republican, but that’s no way to look at it. This announcement is rough news no matter which side you’re on. Here was a guy who actually voted against party lines more than anyone in the state. He didn’t tie his wagons to Trump’s private jet. And as far as the environment, something that truly hits home in Ocean County, the League of Conservation Voters gave him an 85 percent rating in his voting record on the environment.

But I’m told we’ll be green in other ways with Murphy. I’ll meet you and Mary Jane at 4:20 and tell you all about it.

CONSISTENTLY CONSISTENT: This fall continues to be one of the longest runs of consistent swell that we can remember. When the swell dropped down to ankle high on Sunday, it marked the first time in seemingly forever that there wasn’t some kind of size in the water.

There has been no lack of it. The wind, however, has been something of an issue. And although the breeze hasn’t spent too much time blowing west of late, there have certainly been a few periods of rideability.

Ever since the big southeast swell of Oct. 30, we haven’t had any obvious good days of waves, those being when a storm approaches, the wind blows sideshore and then it goes offshore for a day of scoring. We’ve had the onshores to build surf, but for the most part, few westerly blows to clean it up.

Yet, while we haven’t had any full days of offshore wind, actually almost every day of the past two weeks has had some kind of wave to ride at the right spot. Onshore or dead winds are rarely as good as offshore, but if you’ve been on it, you know there have been those windows of decent surf. And the thing about this time of year, almost any session can surprise you with barrels.

The wind has been literally doing everything this past week, but there were a few times that the north end and middle of the Island were decent. And the south end has definitely had its fair share of peeling waves, thanks in part to days of north/northwest wind, but also jetties that have provided better sand.

To get waves the past week meant pretty constant checking and monitoring of the wind. There are those times when the forecast calls for north, but certain patterns will see windows of northwest winds. Paddling out for a questionable dawn patrol or afternoon session is iffy, but there were certainly a few times that it was worth the gamble.

The highlights this week came on Wednesday afternoon when the wind clocked more northwest than expected for some head-high waves. There were some really lined-up waves down south and some pretty solid peaks mid-Island. The other high point was Friday morning when the wind was whipping offshore and the south end produced long, peeling little lefts.

Saturday continued to have a tiny wave, although that may have been eclipsed by the fastest change in seasons in the history of the world. Just last week surfers were out in short sleeve fullsuits. I saw a guy actually go for a nice fall swim as both the air and water were above average. That all came crashing down as we woke up to a brisk 29-degree Saturday morning and the warm ocean was literally steaming. Local photog Matt Reitinger captured a stellar sea smoke photo.

In a matter of a few weeks, the ocean dropped from the mid-60s to the low 50s. That’s not terribly cold, but it’s time for boots. We went from September to December in two days. Even if you’re not getting into the gloves yet, I do recommend a hood or a beanie. The full winter gear is just around the corner. Man, I miss my 3/2 already.

BALLOONING THE ISSUE: I owe Long Beach Township an apology. You may be aware that the township recently banned balloon launches. While I said this was an honorable step, I actually made fun of Long Beach Township because it was basically banning something that no one in their right mind would do anymore – collect a group of people and intentionally put harmful latex into the environment. Aside from the fact that it’s actually already illegal (it’s called littering) everyone in 2017 is aware that balloons get mistaken for food and wind up endangering all manner of sea life. Does anyone really need to mark an occasion by choking out a sea turtle?

Well, I apologize to LBT because on Saturday, I watched a group on the beach in Ship Bottom slowly let go of about two dozen pink helium balloons in pairs. I guess it’s legal in Ship Bottom? I often wonder why humans are referred to as the most intelligent species on the planet.

POLITICS AT THE DINNER TABLE: Everything is a political conversation these days, isn’t it? We can’t get enough of arguing with strangers on Facebook. Under the current administration, the news cycle doesn’t stop and that’s not to mention Hurricane Harvey Weinstein. Even among surfers, we’re almost at the point of division where it’s pointless to debate and yet only 35 percent of eligible voters actually pulled a lever last Tuesday.

I mean, look at the current situation. When 45 took office, about 40 percent of the country was convinced he had descended from God’s penthouse in a golden elevator. The other 60 percent had zero faith. By summer, his approval rating had dropped down into the low 30s.

But there’s something interesting going on and I had a feeling this would happen. Ol’ Twitter Fingers there is still at about a 30 percent approval rating well into the fall. After his first six months in office, he has bottomed out. It’s not getting any lower.

And despite a constant drop, I personally don’t think his numbers are going to fall any lower. Because to that 30 percent who still walk down the street mumbling “lock her up,” there is literally nothing that would diminish their enthusiasm. That’s what you call charisma.

Look at it this way: 45 is the first modern president to not have a dog. He doesn’t have any pets. His first wife had a poodle who did not care for him all that much.

In the scope of world affairs, that is not a big deal, but if he were to come out and say that he hated dogs, that dogs were stupid animals that rolled in dead stuff and shouldn’t be kept as pets, I’d worry that 30 percent of this country would take their dogs out back all teary-eyed with a shotgun. They feel he’s Jesus on a golf cart no matter what while the rest of the country would rather see a lab mix in the oval office. The point is, we have reached the juncture where no one will be persuaded to change their minds. And therefore, debate is futile.

HAPPY HAPPENINGS: Winter is the time for locals to travel and while it's not exactly winter, it’s close enough. Stephen DiPietro and Sammy Jo Alvarez are in the midst of a month-long cross-country trip in Stephen’s van, which got a pretty cool porthole installed this summer. The pair have hit Nashville, the Rocky Mountains and the NLand Surf Park in Austin, Texas.

“We stopped to surf the mechanical wave at NLand Surf Park in Texas knowing we wouldn’t be seeing much water between there and California,” Alvarez reported.

They seem to be having quite an adventure.

Since Liquid Lines runs every other week this time of year, this is the last column before Thanksgiving weekend. Just the mention of it makes you feel like one of those animated dancing character in a holiday special. “It’s the most wuuuunderful time of the yeeeeeeeear …”

In addition to pumpkin pie and Fireball shots with grandma, the LBI TGiving traditions are generally served up with bowling waves and succulent striped bass. I know I look forward to it every year. If the last few weeks have eased up a bit on the events, that won’t last long. The holiday season winds up being chocked full of gatherings and good times.

First things first, the Jetty Clam Jam has still not run. The surf has not been flat in three months, but we can’t get a clean day of waves on a weekend for nothin’. That’s six goddarn weekends in a row that were onshore junk. At this point in the season, Jetty reserves the right to start looking at weekdays. And there does happen to be a bit of swell for the middle of this week, so – cough-cough – it might be time for a sick day.

This Thursday, Jetty welcomes Bigfoot Woodworks as the featured artists at the Jetty flagship store. You may also know Bigfoot as Chris Malay of Speakeasy Pizzeria in Ship Bottom. The opening reception begins at 7 p.m. and will feature pizza, Jetty Session Ale and a limited edition Jetty-Bigfoot T-shirt.

Getting into this weekend, you can check out the Succulent Workshop & Sip N Shop at Five O Six Surf Boutique on Saturday, Nov 18 at 4 p.m. Create a DIY succulent planter and get exclusive store discounts for $10 to get things started for the season.

The following is the holiday weekend and I don’t think I can recall a Thanksgiving week without waves. T-Day is Thursday, Nov. 23. On Saturday, Swing Graphics will host “Shave the Date” at the Arlington, a fundraiser for David’s Dream & Believe Cancer Foundation. A bunch of local dudes have already started growing out facial hair to raise money for men in the area suffering from cancer. (If those mustaches creep you out, remember it’s for charity.) You can also just show up and get a shave or haircut that day for the cause.

Saturday, Nov. 25 is a busy one, as it’s Small Business Saturday. This day is specifically designed for you to visit locally owned businesses and galleries for your holiday shopping and many of them will be extra festive that day. That night, head on over to South End Surf ’N Paddle for a screening of “Under an Arctic Sky,” presented by the Lighthouse International Film Fest. This Icelandic adventure is really the most talked about surf film to come out this year and definitely worth catching. It starts at 7 p.m. and is $5.

The weather is supposed to rebound a bit and hopefully, we get another one of those stellar holiday weeks with family, friends, waves, fish and beach hikes. If you need me, I’ll be preparing my clam stuffing – sautéed garlic, onion, pepper with Jersey clams, bread cubes, whatever parsley is left in the garden, lots of butter and stuff it into a striper.







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