Liquid Lines

Long Stretch of Waves Where We Got Nothing Done, Except Amazing Community Rum-Raiser

By JON COEN | Oct 03, 2017
Photo by: Ann Coen RUM-RAISER: START, Jetty, Parker’s Garage and Sink ’R Swim raised an astounding $20,000 for hurricane relief on a Wednesday evening in the shoulder season.

Well, now that that’s over, maybe we can get something done?

What’s left of my vegetable garden has gone to hell. My car is covered with sea gull poop from three weeks ago. There are surfboards and unpaid bills strewn around my bedroom. My kid needs a haircut.

Is this sounding familiar?

Have you been putting things off for the past three, four, six weeks with all the swell that’s been in the water? Are there a couple crusty coffee mugs in your truck? Is there a major appliance in your house that needs to be fixed? Are there folks at work waiting for emails and estimates? Do you have a pile of wet towels that smell like a dead body?

When was the last time you talked to your mother?!

I know that not every day of the past several weeks has been epic surf, but that has added to that uneasy feeling we all have known as, “Am I missing it right now?” – which takes up as much time as actual surfing.

For those who don’t get it (non-surfing spouses, bosses, boyfriends, parents, etc.), let me explain.

My friend told me a story about how he informed his wife that he was going to try to surf on the upcoming Wednesday. He was available for whatever she wanted or needed early in the week, but the only day he wouldn’t be available was Wednesday.

Her response was, “Oh, can’t you surf on Thursday?”

She didn’t get it. There wouldn’t be wave on Thursday. He would essentially be just sitting in the ocean. That’s not surfing. That’s sitting in the ocean. He would have missed the day of surfing. And there might not be waves, or decent waves, or waves he had time to surf, for the foreseeable future. This is especially true of New Jersey: You miss it, you missed it.

Surfing is not like any other activity. You can do yoga pretty much any day of the year. Sure, beach yoga is nice in the summer, but there are local classes a few times a day, six or seven days a week.

Of course, any indoor activity is pretty much going to be the same all the time. It’s not like conditions at the St. Francis pool are going to affect your 300-yard swim.

Have you ever heard anyone ever rave about the conditions for corn hole?

“Oh man, we were playing corn hole outside the restaurant while we were waiting for a table and it was so good. I mean, zero wind! Those bean bags were just gliding through the air effortlessly. I have never seen corn hole conditions like that!”

Just doesn’t happen.

But everything about surfing is condition dependent. How many times in the past six weeks have we had plenty of swell, ideal winds, warm water, and the surf was absolutely crap? I’d say that despite all that swell, this was the case for 90 percent of the Island, 90 percent of the time.

But when there is a chance that somewhere is good, we can’t concentrate on anything else. Sometimes we’ve scored here. And plenty of locals have been driving all over the place for surf – Cape May, Atlantic City, Long Island, New England, anywhere that faces south. And that means lawns have not been cut, kids’ soccer games are being missed, classes are being skipped.

The very thought that we aren’t scoring when we could be, messes with our entire day. The recent stretch of long-period waves and all those northerly winds have had half the state down on the South End of LBI looking for rideable waves. And that has all of us looking for other breaks. So, instead of just jumping in the water at our regular break, getting our 90 minutes of surf and then getting back to our responsibilities, we spend 90 minutes driving around the Island and checking it before we surf. Maybe we surf for a while, letting our other commitments go unattended. Before you know it, it’s been four hours dedicated to three waves. You better hope no one burns you. And when we get back to work, the wind goes more west. And we’re all thinking, “Am I missing it?”

THE RUN ISN’T OVER: We’ve finally come to the end of this historic run of swell. (Well, sorta.) It certainly ended on a high note for us. Not so much for most of the Caribbean…

Last week was marked with the last of the Jose swell but mostly Hurricane Maria moving north up the East Coast. Last week, when Maria was still a good distance away, we had a few mornings of completely dead wind.

And while the best conditions were certainly down on the South End, the rest of the Island was at least rideable. That’s not to mention that the air was in the mid 80s.  If you didn’t want to deal with all those heads, you could have picked almost any break on the Island, paddled out, and snagged a few before the wind came up. Yes, they were mostly closeouts, but when you’re surfing alone, you get the corners to yourself. By the middle of last week, the wind came up pretty good from the north as the Maria swell peaked. LBI was pretty much a wash for a few days there. If you had the time, it was worth driving somewhere else.

Last Thursday was certainly a high point of the surf year for the mid-Atlantic. All those south-facing breaks got stellar. LBI has never been all that great on these swells, and the South End was again the call. My friend said he counted no less than 50 heads at one break and all accounts were that it was good, but the crowd was insane and not particularly well-versed in surf etiquette. The wind did go more westerly, but there was a weak cold front moving through and it was honking – not the greatest for this type of swell. Friday was again gorgeous with light winds in the morning and still some chest- to head-high peaks.

The swell was forecasted to be mostly gone by Saturday and there was none on the South End at daybreak, despite a few really fun little waves. The swell turned out to be a bit more than expected and a few stretches of beach mid-Island started working, mostly for longboards.

The last few weeks have done some interesting things to the beach formation and sandbars. Spots that are normally deep troughs and distant sandbars by late September were working pretty good, different from their reliable summer-profile, but much better than they normally are in the fall. The wind went northeast on Sunday and honestly, it was good to see some ol’ fashioned windswell again. At least it breaks everywhere on the Island. Winds went northwest again Sunday night and even Monday had a fun little offshore line out there.

So the string of hurricane surf is over, but the run of swell is hardly done. There’s been windswell in the water all week, up to chest high. The forecast seems to indicate that today (Wednesday) looks favorable; and Friday could be clean, as well. It does look like the weekend will see some surf but the quality remains to be seen. What I like best about this swell is that we’re back to mid-period windswell. None of this will prove to be all that big or epic, but that 5-, 7-, and 10-second interval opens up a lot more options on LBI. And a chest-high day, where everyone gets waves from north to south, is far better than a day where it’s bombing but you’re lost in a sea of humanity.

RUM IS THE ANSWER: I am pretty much convinced that we can fund all the disaster relief in the world if we just serve alcohol in Beach Haven. Last week’s Rum-Raiser on the Beach Haven waterfront was a massive success and START, Jetty, Sink R’ Swim Mens Shop and Parker’s Garage raised over $20K for hurricane relief last Wednesday night – yes, a Wednesday night in the shoulder season!

Hurricane aftermath is something we all know first-hand. When we were hit by Sandy, support came in from all over the place. Jon Rose of Waves for Water was also here to aid us in grassroots recovery, forming a tight network that has made our community come back stronger than we were before the storm.

A whole bunch of folks (hard to get a head count, but from the amount of rum that they went through, it was considerable) showed up for fantastic food, beer, wine, street performers and music. All the bands played for free. Parker’s, Barry’s, Blue Water and The Chegg donated all the food. $10K has already been donated to the Waves for Water Caribbean relief effort to aid to those devastated by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. The rest is being used to ship out supplies that were donated in the past several weeks.

OK. That was the hard news bit. Here’s my editorializing: We live in a very special community. The Island and adjacent Mainland have always been a fantastic place to live, but something happened after Sandy that made us stronger. Look at those involved in the Rum-Raiser. It was the same folks that stepped up time and time again after Sandy. And look at the local shop and restaurant owners involved: DiPietros, Magaziners, Baxters, Dramis, Nugents, Davis, Temples, Reynolds, Cohens, McDonoughs, etc. These are the families that make up a good part of the Island business community.

And the owners don’t just donate, they’re there, physically working a charity event between a barn burner of a summer and Chowderfest. Not only that, they are competing businesses working together. (And then, of course, you had the one business owner who did not donate, never gets involved, and called the police on a fundraiser…  classy.) This is all to help someone else’s community. In the last 10 years, they’ve discovered that working together, rather than battling each other, makes the Island a better place.

Not to sound like a damn motivational speaker, but the sky is the limit as to what we can accomplish as a community and resort destination.

ROCKING INTO OCTOBER: The lights are off. October is a special month for a lot of reasons, but the fact that you can zip from mid-island to The Chicken or the Egg for dinner in seven minutes is one of them. Despite lighter traffic volume in September, it’s still a painful journey. Then they close at the end of this month. So there’s only 29 days of no lights and Chegg. Hence, October is special.

Biggest local news up first: for the first time ever, the Jetty Clam Jam Team Selection will be on Friday night at the Old Causeway Steak & Oyster House, and the first potential day for the Clam Jam will be on Saturday. If you’re in the Jam, this is always a good time, everyone gathering to see who his partner will be for the contest. And if you haven’t tried the Jersey Devils yet, you might want to make that a priority. As of now, there are still a few spots left if you want in on this fantastic day of community and surf.

Again, it won’t likely be flat, but we will have to see if there’s enough of a swell and favorable conditions to warrant running the Clam Jam this weekend. Otherwise, we go to next weekend. Just a reminder: the sandbar is set up pretty nice at 80th Street in Harvey Cedars and the contest has been moved there. Parking is limited, compared to the Hudson Avenue Beach, so carpooling is recommended.

In other Cedars-related news, the town will hold a discussion at the commissioner’s board meeting on Friday afternoon at 4:30 regarding surfing outside the flags. You may have to leave work early, but this is a chance to voice your opinion on this issue. Of course there has long been the surf beach at Hudson Avenue. And HCBP has allowed surfing through town on big summer swells. But for every day little waves, it is the only town on the Island that has not adopted the policy. This movement is being spearheaded by homeowners in the borough who simply want to get a wave up their street instead of traveling to an overcrowded surf beach or another town.

Enjoy the rest of the week. September was basically a free extra month of summer. October has been pretty much idyllic thus far with some cooler nights. I actually love how the minute it drops to 59 degrees at night, everyone breaks out the flannels. Trunks by day, flannels by night. We’ll take that. And now we’re looking at highs in the 80s again late week, with a bit of swell. I don’t know about you, but I could easily take six months of this. But then the weeds would overtake our houses and we’d get nothing done.

And my kid’s not getting a haircut, either way.

2017 Rum Raiser
(Video by: Darn Swell Media)
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