Liquid Lines

‘Personal Responsibility,’ a Classic Longboard Classic, Rough Sand and Less South Flow

By JON COEN | Aug 08, 2018
Photo by: Kyle Gronostajski Maggie Bucci of Surf City splits a peak in the women’s division of the Alliance for a Living Ocean LBI Longboard Classic.

Sunday was one of the most stellar beach days in the history of fun. Thousands of families enjoyed our beach and ocean. With the Island trending toward quiet weekdays and massive weekends, temps pushing 90, clear skies in a year of crap weather, and the fact that the first two weeks of August are generally the most popular for vacationers, there were as many people gleefully swimming in the ocean as we can ever remember.

And that’s an awesome thing.

The Monday morning hangover, however … not so awesome. We love seeing folks from all over enjoying the blue sea. We don’t love seeing the crap they leave behind.

Specifically, I picked up two discarded bellyboards within a few blocks of a quick morning run. This represents the ultimate in wastefulness. Folks come down to our beach and buy their kid the least expensive possible form of ocean craft. When the junky foam breaks or the cheap leash pops out, or they simply don’t want to cart it home, they leave it on the beach. Some make it into the vicinity of the trash can. Others just leave it right where their towel was. Someone else can take care of it.

Without delving into the whole issue of buying Asian-made plastic junk and planned obsolescence, I think we’d all agree that this is a lack of “personal responsibility.”

You hear that term thrown around a lot these days.

Foreclosures that tanked the housing market? “If they had a shred of personal responsibility ...”

Folks being separated from their babies for escaping violence in Central America? “Those people need to have some personal responsibility.”

School shootings, hospitals charging $25 for an Aspirin, hungry kids …  According to these folks, who maybe didn’t face as many systemic hurdles, the problem is always a lack of “personal responsibility.” (Oh, and participation awards, they really hate when kids get ribbons.)

Now don’t get me wrong. I am a disciple of the church of accountability.

Get a job. Pay your bills. Get involved in your community. Face your consequences. Don’t raise your kid to be an entitled weenie. There’s little room to bend on that.

But what’s amazing is that when it comes to the environment – healthy air, land and water – the folks who are always the loudest about personal responsibility are the last ones to practice it.

Ecologically speaking, right now the USA is about as responsible as a parent who leaves three kids in the car with the windows rolled up on an 89-degree day while they drink at the bar for a few hours.

It goes from litter on the beach to national policy. If the current administration keeps following its moral compass, soon you’ll be able to go on a dolphin hunting trip out of LBI. Orange 45 simply couldn’t wait to take office to pull us out of the Paris Climate Accord. He pushed for offshore drilling on every U.S. coast and his buddies seek to punish New Jersey for opposing it. He lifted protections of your national parks in favor of industry. He used the ocean policy to wipe the fried chicken grease from his face. Most recently, he got all excited about gutting vehicle emission standards. He has literally given the green light to build cars that use more fuel and add more carbon to our air.

There’s no doubt that certain government decisions are unnecessary. The Army Corps of Engineers pumped sand onto the north end of Ship Bottom this week, which is possibly the widest beach on LBI. But the overall process of beach replenishment, despite the terrible timing and post-fill beach profile, will keep LBI in place for the next few storms.

I just have to wonder, where is this sense of “personal responsibility” when it comes to polluting? It’s nice to see the economy growing, but at what price? Shouldn’t we be using some net gains to mitigate the expensive disasters of the future?

Now the “personal responsibility” people like to make jokes about environmental concerns, even as they deal with them. Sorry, but the warming of the Earth and sea level rise are not hoaxes made up by the Chinese. This is a real problem that we will face in this generation, and we can’t erase the challenges by removing the term from government documents.

Scientists are in overwhelming agreement, but the president recently told an excitable base in an agricultural state that could face unprecedented drought, “What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening."

Think about that.

Fortunately, there are folks who show accountability. Despite the height of irresponsibility in the highest seats of government, a lot of us are making an effort. From the kids going to camp with reusable water bottles to local bag bans and restaurants doing away with unneeded plastics, this is taking responsibility personally.

A CLASSIC CLASSIC: Sunday was a damn fine day all around for the Alliance for a Living Ocean Longboard Classic in Ship Bottom. Honestly, there was cause for concern about the surf. Contrary to the forecast, the winds went offshore on Saturday afternoon. While it was clean for the first time in a week, it also made having any kind of wave on Sunday seem unlikely. But when the logs were dragged up to the beach on Sunday morning, the surf was actually bigger than it had been Saturday afternoon. We’re not sure where that little swell came from, but no one was questioning the clean, knee- to waist-high perfection.

It did feel a bit deep most of the day, but the swell kept pushing through and the wind stayed relatively calm, even when it went southeast. The beach was packed and, like the Jetty Coquina Jam a week earlier, it was the biggest yet. Two Sundays in a row, the LBI surf community represented.

The ladies definitely had to fight some high tide, but Meredith Miedama of Ocean City really knew how to throw that log around. Ryan Todd of Surf City aced the Kids Under 15 while Roman Schwoebeland and Maggie Bucci put on their usual show in an entertaining Tandem event.

In the Men’s, Wayne Ignatuk progressed farthest of all the over-55 surfers to win this year’s AARP Division.

The six-man final represented a ton of talent from all over the Jersey coast. Beach Haven’s Mike Melega, home from California for the summer, took third place. Ship Bottom’s own Kyle Schiebner, who has won the event three times prior, took second. Repeating the victory this year was Jetty team rider James Contreras of Point Pleasant. Among the locals who surfed phenomenally all day were Mitchell Gaudioso of Surf City and Tucker McGrath of Beach Haven.

I think the best story of the day was Chris Sanchez and Ashley Pellagrino, owners of Black Eyed Susans, who took their only day off of the summer and made the finals of the men’s and women’s events respectfully. Their son, Niko, surfed in the kids heat and Chris and Niko took second in the Tandem. Much respect to Kyle Gronostajski for really making the 10th annual a special event.

AN END TO THE REIGN OF SOUTH WINDS? It looks as if we’re finally going to see a little pattern shift. It seems that the high pressure over the Atlantic Ocean has eased up a bit so there will be smaller surf but also less wind.

Normally we have predominantly south winds in the summer interspersed with offshore breezes, straight east, and periods of no wind. The consistent and significant southerly flow of the last several weeks was nice for building surf, but it was an abnormal system in that those winds never relented. There was no evening glass-off or clean dawn patrol. And there was also the ever-present threat of rain or thunderstorms.

This week has seen a return to small surf, but not flat. And sunrise and sunset have seen glassier conditions overall. In short, it’s good for longboarding, paddling or getting the groms in the water. But don’t expect to go out on your shorty and tear it up.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been writing that it didn’t look like we’d see the usual uptick in Atlantic Basin activity that we normally see. That hasn’t changed. Now it is August and there’s still nothing happening. Sea surface temps remain cool. Aside from one tiny non-tropical system way out in the ocean, there’s barely a disturbance to be found.

A few weeks back, I mentioned that there was an area of disturbed atmosphere that moves around the globe at the equator. It’s called the Maden-Julian Oscillation. Right now, it’s over the Pacific and there are four systems working in that ocean with Hurricane Hector heading to Hawaii. If you’re waiting for that usual August storm to bring the swell of the summer, it might be a good time to buy some new bearings and head to Ocean City, Long Branch or Philly for a decent skate park.

Look for tiny but clean surf on Thursday with maybe a bit more size and offshore winds on Friday.

SAND, SAND, SAND: As the beachflll project wraps up in Surf City soon, it will continue in Harvey Cedars.

Pumping through the summer is absolutely the worst for pretty much everyone, except the dredge companies. They like working in nice weather almost as much as they like counting money.

As mentioned in my intro, the Surf City project “tapered” into Ship Bottom early this week even though the north end of Ship Bottom is absolutely huge. Carrying a heavy board to the water on a hot day has been like the trail of tears. Not that we don’t want good storm protection, but coming into the borough seems thoroughly unnecessary. They basically left a foot or two of sand on top of the existing beach and fortunately the sandbar still looks good.

All of Surf City’s beaches are open again. Luckily, it seems most of town does still have a sandbar for wading and a wave for surfing. As one Surf City surfer noted, it’s not as good for longboarding as it was, but you can still get shorter waves on your groveler board and sometimes those are punchier close to the beach.

It’s a much sadder situation in Harvey Cedars. The Harvey Cedars Beach Patrol opened up some beaches to surfing outside the flags this year, but each beach that gets pumped loses its sandbar. That town has a much different beach profile and the sandbars have been buried. I’ve heard stories of several injuries reported on post-fill beaches and the Army Corps of Engineers hasn’t seemed too interested in modifying the beach slope this time around as they had tried in the past. The result is a steep drop-off into deep water and a pounding shorebreak. The only thing resembling a silver lining would be that with all the start and stop of the hydraulic pump, we could see some irregularities to the shoreline in the formation of temporary coves and points, but don’t get too excited.

Sadly, the only thing to level out the sand is wave action and motion in the ocean, and we have zero of that in the forecast. In the past, summertime pumps have often been followed by a tropical storm drive-by to get us back to a nicely shaped beach. Moderate storms will keep the dunes, help redistribute sandbars and keep the sand “in the system.” Looks like that won’t happen until fall.

To see exactly what I’m talking about, check the Surfline Hudson Ave. surf cam sometime. Compare it to the Spray Beach or Ship Bottom cameras at mid or low tide. Even on the smallest days, you’ll see a bit of whitewater on the other cams. But the swells in Cedars just dump a foot off the beach. Again, we understand the value of the projects, but it comes at quite a cost to recreation.

MO’ HAPS: Last Wednesday, Farias and Hammer Surf School hosted a local Waves of Impact event. This is an organization that gets kids with special challenges into waves. For these kids who were born with challenges, riding waves can be a transformative experience.

The wind was honking south and conditions were anything but easy, but Farias, Hammer and crew took the kids into some really fun waves. It’s one of those times that you’re extra proud to be a surfer.

On Aug. 14, Alliance for a Living Ocean will host a free screening of “A Plastic Ocean” at Farias in Ship Bottom at 8 p.m. This film has played around the Island a few times in the last few years and has always sparked some great debates. Plus Farias is one of the businesses that did away with plastic bags long before it was an ordinance. Bring your own chair.

It will be a busy week at Farias as they are also hosting the Vans Stoke-o-Rama board drive until Aug. 15. Vans has long sponsored the Gudauskas boys: Dane, Pat and Tanner. All three have put their mark on competitive surfing and are otherwise known as the Positive Vibe Warriors. Last year, they collected used surfboards and brought them to Jamaica for underprivileged kids. This year, they will collect boards and travel to Trinidad and Tobago to deliver them to those affected by last year’s hurricane. You can drop off used boards at the Ship Bottom Farias and get a discounted pair of Vans on Aug.15 when the Vans Team will stop by the shop.

On Aug. 16, Five O Six Surf Boutique will host a Macramé Plant Hanger workshop. Now you may be thinking that your kitchen doesn’t need a macramé plant hanger. Well, I beg to differ. Every kitchen needs a macramé plant hanger.

Beyond that, the Barnegat Bay Challenge is Aug. 20, a 5-mile paddle on the bay run by the Ship Bottom Beach Patrol and the most challenging of the local races. You can be sure the winds will be blowing.

And in what I am calling a stellar idea, on Aug. 30, Long Beach Township will show Jaws at Bayview Park while you sit in the bay on a floatation device of your choosing. It may have been done before, but it’s a first here. Nice work.

Not much we can do about the heat, but let’s hope the rain is behind us. This starts one of the best times of year around LBI. Treat it accordingly.

joncoen@thesandpaper.net

 

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