Liquid Lines

Man, Did It Feel Good to Surf In Cedars Again

Harvey Cedars Sand Settles, Bringing a Return of Surf and Sandbars for Fall
By JON COEN | Nov 14, 2018
Photo by: Paul Boardman Saturday morning wasn’t huge, but it was light offshore and certainly fun.

Surfing has always been something of an adhesive culture.

We like stickers. Drive around the Island and you can count thousands of stickers from surf shops, brands and other projects that have their root in surfing. Surfing probably has about .0001 percent of the popularity of football, but even in this split blue and green area, you don’t see so many Giants and Eagles stickers. You see surf stickers. They’re on cars, the backs of street signs and anything “stickable” where the street meets sand.

There are an awful lot of stickers in Harvey Cedars particularly. They run from those older square Jetty stickers, Legacy Surf Shop and maybe a Macabre logo to newer ones. Those older ones haven’t really been fully plastered over with new stickers simply because surfers haven’t been spending a whole lot of time in Harvey Cedars the past few years.

For a long time, Cedars was the spot for LBI. As boards got smaller in the 1970s, surfers were looking for a more critical wave than the more sloping peelers of places like Ship Bottom. Young surfers began renting cottages specifically to be closer to places like Bergen Ave. and Coffee Shop. Hudson Ave. is one of the longest running surf beaches in New Jersey and played host to countless Eastern Surfing Association and National Scholastic Surfing Association events. By the ’80s, it was well known for its hollow bowls and in the ’90s, spots like Cape May Ave. would produce some of the most consistent waves off prominent jetties. In the 2000s, it was still the place to be, as every car blasted Face to Face on the way to check the surf. The cops in those days hated us. In 2007, Jetty held its very first Clam Jam at Hudson Ave., and the spot has always come alive for what is now an LBI tradition.

But then came beach replenishment. Nowhere on LBI has been as heavily affected as Harvey Cedars by the cycles of pumped sand. The first project was started in 2009. That was a stormy winter and the sand eroded off the beach so fast that the Army Corps of Engineers went back and started over, finishing at the start of summer 2010, eradicating our most consistent wave for a year. Turns out one reason the surf gets so good are the three deep spots offshore that filter bigger swell at that town. Those same trenches made keeping sand there a chore, as the Army Corps would learn.

But it did come back in 2012, not to its former glory because the jetties were buried, but it was decent.

And then came Sandy.

I’ll be the first to admit that beach replenishment in Harvey Cedars saved the north end of LBI. I surfed Sandy at Cape May Ave. before we evacuated and the waves were eating at the foot of the dune. I stood at the same spot three days later and those giant engineered dunes were flattened for miles. It felt like another planet.

Yes, they had eroded, but if the objective was “storm damage reduction” they did their job. I fully believe that spots like Atlantic Ave. would have caved right into the sea and we would have had one or more inlets in Cedars. And even if Barnegat Light came through unscathed, would folks be able to take a ferry up to walk the Lighthouse? Would the dayboat scallop fishermen start packing out in Beach Haven West? Would the 18 Mile Run become a biathlon?

Sand from the streets was put back up that fall before a series of epic December swells. Then came another round of beach replenishment. The beach profile would always come back with a sandbar, but without those jetties, Harvey Cedars has never been the same.

This last summer saw the start of the most recent beachfill, which basically took over the beaches for most of the season, a necessary (if terribly timed) evil to prevent LBI from becoming the next lost city.

In the immediate period after each portion of beachfill, the surf unceremoniously crashed at the shore. I know that since the project wrapped up at the start of October there were a few waves ridden. But for the most part, the beach profile has been abysmal for surfing.

That’s why it felt kind of nice on Saturday to see a few dozen heads spread out along the beachfront. The waves were 2- to 3-foot and peeling a few yards off the beach.

No, there are no jetties and long, reeling barrels. But to some extent, Harvey Cedars is back.

SWELL WRAP-UP: We continue to be in a decent pattern for fall surf as the seasons are definitely changing here. We had a pair of pretty good storms come through the past two weekends, both of which created south swells and a little mid-week hit as well.

We had a pretty ugly low pressure move through on Friday, flooding the usual low spots with rain on Friday night. But the front passed through and the wind went offshore in the night, cleaning it for Saturday morning. This swell didn’t have as much size as the previous weekend, but the key was the light wind. With the incoming tide, there were stomach- to shoulder-high peaks, peeling in both directions. While it wasn’t all that big or barreling, it was definitely fun, the kind of rideable day that has been hard to come by since our jetties got buried. And as mentioned, Cedars was fun. Hopefully, it remains an option as we get deeper into the season.

As nice as it was, it was short lived. The tide came in and the wind blew like the devil out of the northwest. By afternoon, it was reduced to barely a dribble. Sunday was all but flat.

We did have another jump-up swell on Tuesday as we were sending The SandPaper off to the printer. All eyes are on another low pressure system winding up late in the week while a potential late season low may form down off the Windward Islands.

Things have been getting a little frosty around here. But frankly, considering what 2018 has given us so far, we’re just glad the bay isn’t frozen yet. The mainland has been hitting the freezing point a few times this month, but the Island finally dipped down this weekend.

The ocean is now in the low 50s, which is pretty normal for mid-November. But it’s the air temps that will be dictating what you’re wearing in the ocean. Last Saturday was actually warmer at daybreak than it was later when the wind came whipping offshore. You can likely still wear a 3-mil and light boots, but depending on the air temp, you might want to consider gloves. A lot of guys are wearing hoods already as well, not the worst idea for keeping in that body heat. Just keep in mind that if you’re going to be surfing through the whole winter, the water is still going to drop another 20 degrees.

WORTH YOUR SALT: There’s good news for anyone who might find themselves drowning off the beach of LBI after the lifeguards have knocked off for the day or season. The Barnegat Light First Aid Squad and rescue has initiated a new program to get more watermen who already have the skills and knowledge of the ocean trained as life savers.

Most of the Island beach patrols work until 5 in the summer, but it doesn’t get dark until almost 9. And there are only a few guarded beaches in September, when the water is almost as warm as August. And there are no guards on in October. It would simply be too costly to the towns to keep them on.

Most of the time, swimmers are fine. But when we do have issues, this is the season. But there are always people heading into the ocean and, according to the squad, about half of all rescue calls in the off-season are water-related.

The Surfers as Life Savers program will do two things – provide free CPR and rescue training to watermen and women and also to recruit those trained for additional volunteer work as members of a rescue agency to respond to calls for water rescue made to 911. Barnegat Light’s Capt. Bob Selfridge led the first meeting. He had about 35 attendees and over 50 folks interested. Every borough on the Island was represented.

“Surfers are ideal for making water rescues, and many of them already have,” said Selfridge. “They’re often near the beach with a board and wetsuit, have strong swim and paddle skills, and know how to read the ocean hazards and manage them.”

I think it’s a really exciting new idea and I’ve yet to hear of it anywhere else. There is still time to get involved by emailing salt.lbinj@gmail.com.

GIFT IDEA: Believe me, I am in no rush to start the holiday season. I mean, can we just wait a few weeks with the décor and music? How can anyone be expected to be holly and jolly for a full two months? But since there are some amazing gifts to be bought locally, I am going to offer some environmentally friendly ideas over the next few weeks.

Let’s be real honest. Paper straws and canvas tote bags are not going to save the world. The efforts made in the past few years among local activists, businesses and elected officials to do away with wasteful plastic use is a first common sense step. But real common sense would have been to not adopt their use in the first place. Those petroleum-based products never break down.

Insightful locals who are moving us, as a coastal community, away from wasteful practices deserve a lot of credit. But plastic straws, plastic water bottles and plastic bags are easy to replace in our everyday use. Sweaters, surfboards, soaps, beach tops and home goods are a little tougher. But if consumers started to support the companies that do take responsibility, it would make for more ecologically sound products and a healthier Earth.

Let’s start with giving the story of trekking the Kalahari, climbing Mt. Ranier or surfing Teahupoo. These are a few of the inspired scents of Botanica Candles, all made by hand in the U.S. Nice smelling essential and fragrance oils, they work toward ecological, social and environmental sustainability. They donate $1 from every sale to region-specific nonprofit organizations in the areas indigenous to their ingredients. So they’re giving back to the places from where they are taking smells and experience. Go pick them up at Sink ‘R Swim, which is open for your holiday needs.

All THE HAPS: After a much longer than anticipated closing for raising and renovations, Island Surf & Sail in Brant Beach should be open in the next month. Owner Terry Deakyne is confident that they will be open for holiday shopping. The new shop is looking tight, too.

Science Saturday at the Long Beach Island Foundation for the Arts and Sciences in Loveladies has a program on coastal resiliency this week. The presentation begins at 11 and is $5, free to members.

Since Liquid Lines is back to every other week, this is the last column before Thanksgiving weekend. That tends to be one of my favorites of the year, so I’ll be giving the whole rundown here. I can’t really think of a year where that holiday didn’t offer up some kind of wave and fishing feast in addition to the one you sit down to in the afternoon (or evening, if yourefamily does it right).

Plus there will be no lack of fun things to do on land, especially with our area’s push to highlight the local businesses for your gift buying needs. Saturday, Nov. 24 is Shop Small Saturday, and I might remind everyone of all the fantastic family-owned shops you can support before the long winter.

The day will be full with the Holiday Market Festival at the Foundation, Made on Main at the Union Market and Gallery in Tuckerton and then the Lighthouse International Film Festival’s screening of “Andy Irons: Kissed by God,” at South End Surf N’ Paddle and the arrival of Santa by boat in Barnegat Light at 6:30. The Holiday Market Festival will feature vendors of handmade goods inside and outside as well as food trucks, beer and fire pits. Made on Main promises to be a sparkling outdoor market featuring talented artisans, fire pits, the Bellarine Theatre Company carolers, and pictures with the jolly man himself with locally crafted beverages and food, hot chocolate and s’mores for guests to enjoy.

Tickets are already selling for the film, and it is much more than just a surf flick. The event starts with a screening of Teton Gravity Research’s “Far Out” at 5 and then an intermission before the feature film at 8.

Hope everyone enjoys these next two weeks. This Island area always has a lot to be grateful for.

joncoen@thesandpaper.net

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