Liquid Lines

Sweaty Gripping a Summer Slipping

Summer May Be Humid and Flat, But You’ll Still Miss It
By JON COEN | Aug 15, 2018
Photo by: Paul Boardman

Mid-August. How did we get here?

This is about the time of year some folks start getting a little antsy on LBI. Any business owners and locals doing 70-hour workweeks who didn’t have a countdown to Labor Day now have one. Some of ’em can do quick multiplication to tell you how many hours until they walk out of work on the evening of Sept. 3. A lot of locals used to head to The Quelle for that first drink to celebrate the off-season, but being that bar has been closed the past few years, they just kind of wander the streets – the very empty streets.

NFL preseason football has already started. Kids are registered for soccer. High schoolers soon will be sweating through double sessions. Walmart is advertising $219 computers for back-to-school (don’t buy a computer for $219, please.) And the fruit flies are here.

Many waveriders are looking beyond Labor Day, too. This summer has seen some clean waves and some big waves, but never at the same time. It’s safe to say surfers are looking forward to the more-serious storm systems, the big south swells and nor’easters that create critical barrels, even when it means throwing on all that rubber gear.

As we start a fast slide down the backside of August, it’s understandable that some folks are itching for Tumbleweed Tuesday (it’s a local term). But I’ve got a soft spot for August that seems to get softer every year. I’ve often said that August through the holidays is my favorite time of year, and I stand by that. And yes, I understand that it’s a bit noncommittal to pick a whole five months as my favorite time of year, but compared to that godforsaken crap we call “spring,” I feel pretty confident in my opinion. This upcoming stretch is, quite literally, warm summer water, ice cream, the striped bass blitz, fire pits, flannels, the Jetty Clam Jam, hurricane season, nor’easters, empty streets, “Oc-tube-r,” Halloween, crisp autumn nights, and Christmas morning, proverbially all rolled into one.

After that comes the long winter. And to be a true Island local, you have to find beauty in it, embrace the bipolarity of where we live.

But while we love a good snowstorm and the powerful, dense lefts that come firing out of the North Atlantic, you can’t get fresh Jersey blueberries for $1.99. You can’t wake up at 5:30 a.m. and check the surf in just a pair of stretch boardshorts. There are no Sizzler Pancakes in the garden at the Sand Box Café. You don’t chat with your summer neighbors while pulling ripe tomatoes off the vine. You can’t go leaping into the ocean with your kid at every low tide. You certainly don’t have 17 hours of daylight.

Not to mention that when we’re thoroughly broken from shoveling snow to get to that nor’easter swell and hold-downs in 34-degree water and sunset at 5 p.m., we then get three months of cold and wet, waiting for summer.

I’ll take this time of year just fine, thank you.

A LITTLE HELP OVER HERE: Let me add an asterisk to that statement above. I’ll take this time of year *so long as we get some ridable waves.

The last week and a half or so has been bunk. Late July saw us in a constant flow of southerly wind and waves. Normally our summer patterns are rife with southeasterlies, but those tend to die each night and stay down through the morning.

This year’s midsummer pattern was unique in that it never let up and also gave us a few days of overhead waves. While having some energy in the ocean was nice, the end of the pattern was something of a relief when the strength of the Bermuda High over the Atlantic eased up a bit.

Then we went back to evening glass and clean mornings. Unfortunately, it also brought us our first stretch of surf under knee-high all summer.

Flat spells are just a part of summer; they really can make a surfer go crazy. I do think it used to be worse, however. Today we have a lot more options for tiny surf. Groveler boards let us mimic performance surfing in small surf, and the revival of heavy, old-school longboards can make tiny waves fun. While I’m not a fan of SUPs in the lineup, they can turn 1-foot waves into something worthwhile. And you’re certainly not bumming anyone else out, because the surf is too small for anyone else. Hence, it’s rarely ever “flat.” It’s certainly not like the flat we get in the winter when those northwest winds actually have swell going away from our coast.

But this week saw some days that were literally flat for the first time all summer, and other days that were basically flat at the high tides. The wind managed to kick up a few scraps for the early week, but it’s been pretty minimal.

I should point out that this is pretty odd for August. For one thing, late August normally sees some kind of “nor’easter week,” either a few days of cool dry north air that kicks up some rideable surf, or a full-on storm event to remind us of the volatile weather just on the other side of Labor Day. But more famously, August ramps up to the historical peak of hurricane season.

While hurricane swells frustrate more than they facilitate, we still go into them with high hopes each year. By July, if we haven’t had a hurricane swell yet, we’re eyeballing the tropics for formation. By early August, we’re usually keeping tabs on one system or another. By this time of year, we’re either getting waves or seeing when the swell will peak. At this time last year, we were about to see a historic, dazzling show of 10 straight hurricanes with waves that lasted right until October.

This year, we’re just sitting on our hands. In fact, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association just scaled back its predictions for the 2018 season in the Atlantic, now predicting a less active than average hurricane season. As quiet as it seems, however, the Atlantic is still ahead of its average for this time of year. The short-lived Tropical Storm Debby was the fourth named storm of the year. Although we got only traces of swell from Hurricanes Beryl and Chris, we’ve already had two hurricanes. So there has been activity, but it’s been rather uneventful and, thankfully, hasn’t caused much trouble for anyone.

Both the short-term forecast and tropical outlook are very bleak right now for surf. That gives us plenty of time to learn about the president’s new Space Force. Wow.

EAT YOUR VEGGIES: OK, who’s hungry? I definitely think that in the time since I’ve been writing Liquid Lines, my readers have become a little more conscious of what they put into their bodies, and in some cases that has meant more vegetables and fish and less meat. Surfing, in general, has become more health conscious. There are a lot of pescatarians around LBI.

But whenever someone considered a vegan and vegetarian diets, there is still the guy who is suddenly sooooo concerned about where that person will get their protein. Keep in mind that this guy has no concept of any other dietary structure and may have prostate cancer by the time he’s 35.

The truth is that there have always been a few surfers who are tuned into healthy living. There were certainly some vegetarians among the counter-cultural followers and spiritualists. Think Aussie Nat Young back in the ’60s and ’70s. Today, some of the best surfers in the world are more into carving waves than meat.

Rob Machado was raised vegetarian. Tia Blanco is an outspoken vegan, as are surfing’s swooned-over couple Alana Blanchard and Jack Freestone. For guys like Dave Rastovich, it’s part of their marketable lifestyle. Kelly Slater has always been a champion of the environment and earlier this year stated he had done a vegan diet for a full month. John John Florence is leaning toward it.

And I like to let readers know about new and exciting things that come into the surfing sphere, so I thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to talk food, specifically non-meat.

Before I get into any of this, it just makes sense to check off Living on the Veg vegan cafe in Beach Haven Gardens and Pangaea Natural Foods on Bay Avenue in Manahawkin. These have been the go-to spots for vegetarians and other health-conscious folks for years. And two weeks ago, Healthy Habits opened, in the location that was formerly the Shwee Tea Company in the Manahawkin Mart.

But specifically I want to mention the two new plant-based products that are game changers for those who don’t eat meat, or for those looking to eat less meat. They are the Impossible Burger and the Beyond Meat Burger, two new plant-based burger patties that are fantastic meat substitutes. I grew up eating meat but cut it out of my diet 20 years ago for a pescatarian diet (and still love to fish, clam, crab, etc.).

I love both of these. Meat eaters are actually blown away by how much they taste like meat. And I have yet to come across any vegetarians who are turned off by that.

The Impossible Burger is 220 calories, 13 grams of fat and has 21 grams of protein. It’s made of wheat protein, coconut oil, potato protein, and heme, which is a basic building block in plants but also in animal muscle.

The Beyond Burger is 290 calories, 22 grams of fat and has 20 grams of protein. It’s made of pea protein isolate, expeller-pressed canola oil and coconut oil. It’s also organic and should be noted that it’s 4 ounces to the Impossible patty’s 3 ounces.

The Impossible Burger isn’t sold in retail locations yet, only in restaurants. Wally’s in Surf City is serving them. Or if you’re going for a fast-food feel, you can get sliders up at the White Castle in Forked River.

Pangaea has had the Beyond Burger in the past and will have them any week now. Beyond is now available at ShopRite as well. But take note: It is not on the shelves with the usual vegetarian options like Garden Burger, Boca Burger, Gardien and Morningstar Farms. The aim of Beyond Burgers is to lure over meat eaters, hence they are shelved with the meats by the deli. Interesting marketing. I bought the last pack the other day, and apparently they are having to restock pretty often.

Both burgers are healthier than eating meat and much better for the environment. Plus you don’t have the whole slaughterhouse situation. If you want to be truly healthy, just go eat straight veggies. But if you want to add a tasty burger to the mix, these are it.

AUGUST HEAT: I’m wondering if we’re going to get any days this summer where the humidity isn’t 105 percent. For as hot as its been, I don’t think we’ve rung the 100-degree bell. But we sure didn’t get much reprieve from hazy, hot and humid.

In local news, Terry Deakyne has had one setback after another in getting Island Surf and Sail open this summer. Local contractors are still playing catch-up after the heinous April, May and June. At this point, it doesn’t seem the doors will open before Labor Day. He did report that he’s been doing some specific board and wetsuit sales by phone or online, and the season hasn’t been a total wash. He’s got some neat things planned for the shop experience when he does open up and will be back to outfitting paddlers, kiteboarders, surfers, wakeboarders, snowboarders and the growing interest in foiling.

Just want to let everyone know that Surf City is done with this round of beach replenishment. Weeks Marine is packing up its gear and moving out of town. This means that all beaches will be open as the last of the gear moves away from Fifth Street. And it does seem as if there’s a sandbar off the beach, which is good. It has just been hard to decipher with no swell. Now Weeks Marine will send the Magdalen, the hopper barge, up to Harvey Cedars to move that project along.

Now to fun stuff. Tonight, Wednesday, Aug. 15, the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences presents some offerings from the international Wildlife Conservation Film Festival. This Wednesday will feature “Elephants in the Coffee,” “Gardeners of the Forest” and “The Poachers Pipeline.” Tickets can be purchased at LBIFoundation.org.

On Thursday, Aug. 16, Five O Six Surf Boutique will host the BROs by Britt Macrame Workshop. The workshop is $40 to attend and Includes all materials to make your macramé plant hanger, including the pot and plant. Hang out with some locals and leave with something to hang in your kitchen, loft or dorm room.

Next Monday evening, Aug. 20, is the Barnegat Bay Challenge, a paddle race put together by the Ship Bottom Beach Patrol. Registration is at the Ship Bottom bay beach, where the race starts. It’s a 5-plus mile race that goes south first, around Flat Island and then back north around Cedar Bonnet Island, finishing back at the bay beach. This is really a very cool race as it gives opportunity to rowers, stand-up paddle racers, surf skis and prone racers. Let’s just hope it’s not the windiest night of the summer.

As of now, it looks as if there aren’t a whole lot of official events for Labor Day. September starts a whole season of local events, and we’ll keep you updated on that.

In the world of global surfing, the Surf Ranch Pro, the first official WSL World Tour event at Kelly Slater’s wave pool, is Sept. 6 to 9. For the first time in WSL (or ASP) history, you will have to buy a ticket to see the live event. It will no doubt be historic, but I have to say that unless I’m watching a good friend from LBI ride it (as Brian Farias had the chance to do) or three surfers catch a wave on one board, I am already tired of seeing that wave. It will be up to the Tour guys to find new ways to make it exciting.

That’s it for this week. Look for the lower tides to find something to ride. And go buy a bag of fat Jersey peaches. Can’t get those in a few months, and you’ll wish you had.

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