Liquid Lines

Surf City Answers the Question, Freaking Freezing Water, Fewer Groms, and Our State Government Is Brilliant

... OK. It’s the Opposite of Brilliant
By JON COEN | Jul 05, 2017
LBI saw plenty of waves and happenings over the July 4th holiday.

WE ASKED, SURF CITY ANSWERED: Last week in Liquid Lines, we discussed the rumblings among surfers and beachgoers at large about Surf City opening all of its beaches to surfing outside the flags. As it stands now, there is one designated surf beach in the town called Surf City. Ship Bottom (right next door with similar beachgoing traffic) has allowed surfing outside all the flags for 15 years. Barnegat Light has always allowed it. This year, Long Beach Township got on board the progress train, becoming somewhat of the critical mass in the movement.

A petition was started with the goal of gaining 500 signatures that is now closing in on 1,000 signatures. The petition was dropped off this week with the hopes that the issue would be added to the agenda of the July 12 meeting at Surf City Borough Hall at 7:30 p.m.

This is your chance to have your voice heard. The town of Surf City is considering changing an ordinance that has been in place for five decades. That says something about the (relatively) new mayor. This is the opportunity for all the surfers, particularly those who vote and pay taxes in town, to calmly state their case. There is already a presentation being planned. Points to consider are the safety factor of dispersing waveriders and the economic value of bringing more beach users to town. If you do speak, it works best when you stay polite, calm and on topic.

And a Liquid Lines side note: There is apparently one person at Surf City Borough Hall who uses email, and that is Municipal Clerk Mary Madonna. Surf City doesn’t use email. Consider that for a moment. As mentioned last week, the borough has little to no web presence or real-time communication with the public. It’s difficult to even find out when the borough council meetings are. Seriously. Google it. You won’t find any discernible information. Without being overly dramatic, the less the public knows, the less we can participate in democracy.

Perhaps we give Surf City the benefit of the doubt and assume it has some cutting-edge creative agency designing a slick modern website as we speak. If not … hey, Surf City, it’s 2017. With all due respect, it’s time to step it up.

FREAKIN’ FRIGID: This past winter was not particularly brutal. There were times, in fact, that it felt like we were getting away with something. But Mother Nature has this running joke with New Jersey where she likes to lull us to sleep and then draw a mustache on us with a Sharpie. It’s funny. Then sometimes she smashes us in the face with a shovel. This year that came in the form of a few mornings in the 40s in late May and June. Thanks, Ma, hysterical.

And now that we’re going through all the usual “firsts” of summer (the unofficial start, the actual first day of summer, and now July 4 “when summer really starts”), Mother Nature is continuing to have a good laugh.

I’m not bemoaning the weather. By all means, the thus-far mild, summer has been a pleasure. I’m going to go ahead and call this an epic summer for sleepin’ weather. How’s that claim? I will take hoodie evenings and flannel mornings all summer. What I wouldn’t mind, however, is for the ocean to get warmer.

Last week I wrote about the Saturday swell that was virtually empty. I’m sure that had a lot to do with the cold water. One local beach patrol told me they estimated it dropped to 52 degrees that day. I’d say it was 54 or 55, but no higher than that. After that swell, the ocean did come up a tad thanks to some straight-east winds on Wednesday, but I have to estimate that most people on the beach still weren’t swimming by mid-week. A sea breeze picked up, which turned into another relentless southerly blow by Thursday, forcing the temps back down and making for another cold-water weekend. And I do mean cold.

We came out of winter with water temps above average, and there were a few points in the last few weeks that it has gotten marginally warmer. But those were short lived. We really can’t catch a break with the water temp so far. That’s especially a bummer when you see how good the sandbars are set up for pushing groms into waves.

The winds went back and forth between south and west through the early week, but now hopefully we’ll get some comfortable, trunkable water temperatures.

SURF ROUNDUP: June was truly a very good month of surf. Although the wind and tide didn’t always get right at the same time, we certainly had swell. Even the chilly water temps didn’t diminish the quality several days.

Following the fantastic waves of June 24-25, it pretty much went flat. The surf did come up late week, but only with those whipping southerly winds. The wind was light offshore on Sunday morning. The surf was mostly clean, running waist-to-stomach-high, fun on a long or shortboard.

The wind was south again Sunday afternoon, but Monday morning was offshore and even cleaner, pretty much perfect glass. And while the surf was a little smaller, there were some really sweet little peeling waves rolling off the bars. You probably could have made it work on a groveler board, but it was damn fine on a longboard. And though the wind did come onshore, it was late and not very hard. And even though the swell dropped out, it was clean through evening.

We may be looking at a pattern change for late week with lighter east winds instead of those ferocious southerlies. There won’t be anything epic, but we may see bumps of swell with onshore winds, which could be fun if the water warms up.

OUR STATE IS BRILLIANT: Since we just celebrated Independence Day, I think the most patriotic thing I can do is point out the complete failure of our state government last week. When Gov. Christie and the state Legislature couldn’t come to a conclusion on the budget, the state government shut down last Friday night. That meant all state parks, including Island Beach and parts of Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, were closed on Saturday morning. And then Christie was seen with his family at Island Beach.

That was the hard-news part. You can’t make that stuff up. Now here comes the editorial: Of course, it takes two parties to have a disagreement, but when you are a governor who is less popular in his own state than Pizza Hut’s Hot Dog Bite Pizza, you do what you have to do to keep your coastal state parks open on Fourth of July weekend. And I don’t want to unfairly link Chris Christie to little cocktail weenies and low-quality melted cheese, but that’s just poor leadership. In a state as industrialized and densely populated as New Jersey, Island Beach is a shining gem. To stay in that taxpayer-funded mansion and lounge on that beach was about the worst decision he could have made short of burning down a pet store.

The upside to writing a column is that you can dig into entertaining stories like this. The downside to your paper coming out on Wednesday is that all the one-liners have already been told. But I will say that a lot of people are flat out wrong when they say that he’s given up – that he’s a joke and he just doesn’t care anymore and that with his dismal approval ratings the only job he might be able to find in the public eye is villain in the next Batman movie. But those people are wrong. I think there’s a chance we could see Chris Christie making decisions and shaping policy after January. After all, the White House still has some cabinet seats to fill, and they like a guy with this kind of attitude.

UP AND DOWN THE ISLAND: There’s not a whole lot happening this week as everyone recovers from the big holiday week (and a half). Next Friday, however, Ben McBrien returns to LBI to show his work.

McBrien is an Island original. He grew up here and still remains one of the top two surfers to come out of LBI. He moved to Philadelphia about 10 years ago, and even though he’s some 75 miles from the ocean, still surfs better on a weird, pink mid-length than most of us could ever wish to.

Today McBrien is more of a Monmouth County surfer, as he gravitates around a family beach house in Ocean Grove and prefers surfing up that way. (Southwest winds are offshore. Can you blame him?) He’s also become an accomplished fine art woodworker. On Friday, June 14, he will show his work at the Ann Coen Gallery in Surf City, with a show called Black Celebration, which is sure to bring everyone out of the woodwork. (See what I did there?)

This week looks to be mild and less windy with low tide in the middle of the day, quite perfect conditions for family fun. I hope everyone keeps on enjoying the red, white and blueness right through this whole week. If you’re a local making one third of your yearly income this week, may it be prosperous. If you’re just down to enjoy your time off, may your hammock hold strong.

joncoen@thesandpaper.net

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