Liquid Lines

Once and for All: Yes, You Can Love Your Family and Still Surf on Holidays

Father’s Day, Weekly Waves, Namibian Swells and Upcoming Events
By JON COEN | Jun 14, 2017
Photo by: Marc Halikas Surfing on holidays doesn’t mean your family isn’t a priority.

I’ll start this week by wishing the dads out there a happy Father’s Day, including my own dad, who pushed me into my first waves on a bellyboard almost 40 years ago. My pops had this gorgeous 1966 Weber Performer that I still ride on occasion. I’m thinking that in the next few years, my own son will paddle that board out. My dad and I can sit there together and watch. Maybe it will be Father’s Day. I can’t think of a better present than that.

These holidays have always sparked funny conversations in my family. And more recently, thanks to social media, I have discovered that it’s not just my family. Because as any surfer knows, there always seem to be waves on holidays.

I can’t count the number of functions my brother and I have showed up to with that post-surf euphoria and saltwater running out of my nose. My family has gotten used to it. We have a running joke about what time dinner should be served. It's not that we don’t love gathering with the family, it’s just far more fun when you go surfing or fishing beforehand. It’s dark by 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Why spend most of the daylight hours sitting around the table? (It’s also not bad form to throw a fresh striped bass on the menu last minute either.)

Surfers are always trying to sneak a session before or after family functions – birthdays, 4th of July BBQs, graduations, Christmases … we just want to get a session and spend time with loved ones. And that leads non-surfing family members to question our priorities.

So let me set this straight once and for all: Surfers don’t value surfing more than our families. It’s just that surfing, unlike pretty much any other activity, can only be done when the conditions line up. It's not golf. In fact, if a dude schedules a tee time on Mother's Day, give him a good slap in the back of the head.

Sure you could go to the beach and jump in the water any day of the week. You can paddle out on a flat day or when the wind is wrong. But that’s not surfing. It’s sitting in the ocean. We need to surf when the waves are rideable, especially in New Jersey, where the surf may be epic today and flat for 10 days. Hence, if conditions line up on a holiday or birthday, we want to get on it. And we will return from the ocean a happier person and always enjoying the company of our family.

So here’s a message to you wives, sisters and mothers of dads who surf: The surf was firing on Mother’s Day. If your surfer got in the water, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t appreciate you as a mother. Look, if he blew you off completely, well, then you have a case. But if he just wanted to get a few waves before or after brunch, is that so bad?

So keep that in mind this Sunday, Father’s Day. Dads in Southern Ocean County likely don’t want anything fancy. They certainly don’t want to be sitting in a restaurant or the dining room if it’s 78 degrees and sunny. It’s June and we have more daylight than the rest of the whole year. Dads probably want to be surfing, kayaking, fishing, clamming, hiking, boating or enjoying the very reasons why we live here. And if possible, they want to do it with their families. Maybe afterwards they want to head to the raw bar or get takeout sushi. So cut ’em a break and plan accordingly.

WEEKLY WAVES: While this is traditionally a slow time of year for swells, the past few weeks have certainly bucked that trend. We haven’t seen anything massive, but the waist- to shoulder-high surf that seems to show up every Thursday/Friday is pretty nice. Once again, this week produced.

Before I get into the surf though, how about that weather last week? I am convinced that someone made a deal with Mother Nature where we got those gorgeous days in February and in return, we had to endure a general spring misery. We far exceeded our average rainfall for the month of May.

Inland areas see a much quicker return to warmth and bloom of springtime than LBI in April and early May. We’re used to that. So Island locals look forward to those coveted later weeks in May and June when we get stellar weather before the full impact of the summer crush. In a sense, we lost those weeks and will have a mere handful of beach days until you have to elbow some family from Hudson County off your towel space.

The upside has been some waves. Can’t get surf without some form of local snot, so we take what we can get. The wet and chilly weather last week gave way to light offshore winds early on Friday. And I do mean early, as the southerly wind was up by 9 a.m. Sets were easily in the shoulder-high range. Minus a little funk, there were still plenty of peaks and the lefts were setting up pretty nicely.

The air was actually chilly in the morning, but the mercury was quick to rise with a whipping southwest wind. While it was still rideable, this wind is always an issue on LBI. If you looked at the beach cams from Seaside north, it was far cleaner than here on the Island.

That wind died overnight and Saturday morning was again clean, with a pulse of leftover swell. That early high tide was an issue, and by the time it drained out, the wind started coming up south again. This was a legitimate sea breeze and was whipping pretty good by afternoon. Sunday morning was pretty dismal, but I saw a few people longboarding on Monday morning in glassy little lines.

What we’re seeing is a quick shift to a summer pattern. Expect those southerly and southeasterlies to come up almost every day now and die during the night. If you want to get clean surf, it’s worth getting up early, which is a lot easier to do in warm weather when first light is at 5 a.m.

NAMIBIAN SWELL: June 1 is the start of hurricane season, though there’s little action down by the equator to report on. However, we may be in for some groundswell all the same. Surfline is calling for swell to arrive on Thursday from thousands of miles away, below the tip of South Africa, actually.

Surfline’s East Coast forecasters have done a good bit of research on these phenomena the last few summers. It’s the start of winter in the Southern Hemisphere and a powerful storm passed through the very far South Atlantic Ocean last week. It has taken nearly seven days, but swell from that storm is supposed to show up in New Jersey late week.

These swells are really interesting as this will show up on the charts as 1-foot at 18 seconds. The swell loses most of its size traveling for so long, but we should see a trace of it. And as Surfline’s newest forecaster, LBI’s own Rob Mististifer noted in the forecast, “Even though that doesn't sound like much, the right combination of tide and bathymetry can utilize that swell energy to produce very inconsistent sets in the waist to even chest high range.”

We’ve had a few of these summer swells over the years. They’re never very big, so they are difficult to distinguish, but they can be fun. Keep in mind that they’re very inconsistent, especially compared to our usually short period windswells.

I remember one of these swells about four years ago. As the storm was off the coast of the African country of Namibia, we were calling it the “Great Namibs Swell.” Every few minutes a chest-high bowl was hitting in Surf City. It was a single wave, then it went flat again. We joked that Rick Huegi caught one wave and Jonny Mosely caught the other. And then the swell was over.

Normally these super-long period swells don’t turn into anything more than an oceanographic novelty, but this weekend might see a more significant amount of swell than we’ve seen in the past. It will largely be masked by more local windswell. We just have to see what we get as far as winds.

As for water temp, you can now jump in for a quick swim. But the water is chilly and will likely remain chilly as long as we have predominantly south winds. The next few weeks will allow the sun to really penetrate the waters of the North Atlantic and warm us up. Just beware of upwelling.

COMIN’ IN HOT: Last weekend was the Dean Randazzo Cancer Foundation Paddle for a Cause, the 10th annual 22.5 circumnavigational race around Absecon Island. Taking first place in the 50+ division and seventh overall in the 14-foot class was Surf City’s Mark Temme.

“I see it as the upside of turning 50 this year. I can still get a first place even though I’m no spring chicken,” said Temme.

Though he may not be young on paper, Temme’s longevity and race results are a testament to his focus on fitness and a great representation of the LBI waterman.

Ryan Oliver of Toms River, who paddles for Island Surf and Sail in Brant Beach, took first overall. It was the first time a 14-foot board finished first, ahead of the prone paddlers and under four hours.

Summer gets closer with every minute, every car that comes over the bridge and every drop of sweat that runs down your spine.

This Saturday, June 17, Surf Unlimited presents a surf and yoga experience. Yoga has become an integral part of surfing, and the shop is offering a chance to combine the two on the 19th Street Beach in Ship Bottom. This starts with an 8 a.m. yoga class, followed by a mini surf lesson. The price is $15 for yoga, $20 for surf lesson only and $30 for the combo package. Call the shop to register at 609-494-3555. This may become a weekly thing.

In addition, Brighton Beach Surf Shop will host a Board Swap at the shop. Brighton is known to have some gems in general, and this will be a chance to trade for, sell or buy surfboards, (many vintage) wetsuits and some SUP boards.

Also this Saturday, friends and family of Denny Brown will gather at Leeward Avenue, Beach Haven at 9:30 to give this LBI surfer a proper sendoff.

I had Pat “Surfcat” Emery share some words about Brown a few weeks ago, and he added this via social media, “On Saturday, we paddle out to give this bro a proper memorial send off. Come on out to Leeward Ave in Beach Haven to share your story of some great swells or a spot going off along the coast where Denny had a session with you.”

We send our best to all who gather to remember his full life.

This week, the Jetty crew hits the road to celebrate their 15th anniversary with the Right Coast Roots Tour starting in Florida on Wednesday. The van will make its way back north and Jetty will finish the tour locally at Farias, Ship Bottom next Friday, June 23, sharing the new Jetty Session Ale, oysters with Jetty Rocktail sauce, and a chance to screen print your own shirt.

On June 24, Sink R’ Swim will host a Build Your Own Handplane class with Greg Malega of Papa Planes. Although you certainly don’t need a craft for it, bodysurfing with a little handplane is a hell of a good time. At this one-day class, you will learn to cut, shape and assemble your own handplane. Then you take it home and get crazy in the surf this summer. The cost is $100. Call the shop at 609-492-4554 to register.

The following weekend, South End Surf N’ Paddle will celebrate the third annual Shapefest. This event, which runs June 23-25, is a celebration of surfboard shaping with Queen City Surfboards, Stoke, Planet Blue, Pine Knot and more. The Florida band Ellameno Beat will start their tour in support of their new album Muse with their performance at Shapefest. I will have more details next week in Liquid Lines.

Though the forecast doesn’t look perfect, I have no doubt there will be some waves to ride through next week. It’s Father’s Day. Enjoy it in whatever way you see fit.


Surf City's Mark Temme took seventh overall at the Dean Randazzo Cancer Foundation's tenth annual Paddle for A Cause and first in the over 50 class. (Photo by:
LBI has had decent surf at the end of every week. (Photo by: Halikas)
Catch the end of the Jetty East Coast Roots Retail Tour at Farias on June 23. (Artwork by: Jetty)
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