I haven’t surfed since- I forget.
Sure, I went a few times this winter but it sucked. No waves in the past, and none in the foreseeable future. My muscles have atrophied. My mind isn’t into it anyway.
Oh, sure, you’re spozed to go have fun during an epidemic where people are dying everywhere?
I was surfing at Lido beach on Long Island as the twin towers collapsed on September 11, 2001. I could see one still standing and then none. It was the first hurricane of the season- first swell all summer, and I wasn’t going to miss it.
Yet as I lay there on my board and watched the cloud-colored smoke drift southward resting upon the sea unlike clouds which drift far above, I had to get out. I sat there on the beach with a few others figuring out how many people had just died as we were surfing. I guessed 5,000, and was glad I was wrong. Yet the disgusting stench that enveloped my soul on that memorable day is the same sensation that I’ve had on the couple-a occasions I’ve stepped into the water to surf since January. I find it impossible to surf with that feeling in my heart, but I’ll give it another try if this hurricane comes our way. I guess I would rather have rain.
This winter the storms are coming at steady one week intervals. FOUR SUNDAYS IN A ROW, this one makes five. It looks like one hell of a storm too fri/sat/sun.
The color indicates the obvious, and the length is long fetch for large period groundswell. Long periods gather up all the little shitty waves at less than nine seconds and shoves them all into huge waves over 12-13 seconds (time between the peaks). These waves are not to be underestimated, and can do lots of damage to shorelines and boats and people. Ireland, England, Spain, France, and Portugal will be the beneficiaries of this storm in a week with waves over 50-60’ tall. Killer conditions.
Wind shifts between noon and six into favorable conditions, and that’s when you’ll see my truck there.
Just heard this again. Can’t wait for Friday, Saturday.
Songs in head. Water and coffee in belly. Testosterone in veins. Heart in throat as we slide down ten foot wave faces in 30f air with 25 mph wind.
Keeps us aliiive.
Wave sizes and intensity is growing from this morning’s predictions. Gonna be a doozy \/\/\/
Ok- the reality:
I got there- holy shit I have never been in stronger wind. Full throttle wind gusts almost knocked me over the cliff and down the global warming eroded muddy slope. My favorite place to surf looked like World War Two-era North Atlantic naval warfare movies. More white than water, totally unsurfable.
It sure was interesting to go there and see the unmolested wrath of Mother Nature having her way with mankind. Dangling state park signs whipping around dangerously on their chains. Large trees toppled over on top of power lines stretched down almost to the ground, about to snap. People’s clothing pressed against the upwind side of their bodies.
I seriously almost got knocked down a few times.
Typical winter sky. Drab. Bleak. Possesses just a smidgen of hope, like our threatened democracy.
Ok, I got there and got in around 9:30, parking lot completely full, 100+ surfers in as if it were a hurricane swell. Crowded!
Sky dreary, waves loud, front row seat as I get my wetsuit on.
No wonder the parking lot was completely filled. It was a large, perfectly formed blend of nice weather, weekend day, powerful waves, and storm winds.
It was cold- I got out and warmed up a while then got back in and surfed another three hours... didn’t get cold again! More surf coming fri/sat. Winter surf is great.
Add incoming tide- 2-3' and it looks ok. Bringing longboard just in case. Two wetsuits too in case I want two sessions.
Sometimes going to surf is a crap-shoot. Sometimes I surf like a pro, sometimes like a beginner. The waves looked ok but I just couldn’t surf on them. I’m thinking it’s been a long time since I went, and maybe it’s the short period- who the hell knows? I don’t really care as long as it doesn’t happen too often.
This is a sport that doesn’t recognize those who deserve recognition. If you are an out of shape fat lazy slob (self description), Mother Nature will remind you Just who it is that’s in charge out there. It won’t be long before you wish that you hadn’t had that extra food, how you should have taken up a getting in shape attitude while you weren’t surfing.
It was great to surf again, but on this particular day I was reminded how important it is to stay in shape so when extraordinary swells arrive, I can go out there for HOURS. As it was, I surfed about four hours and felt it for three days afterwards.
Hopefully, I’ll have great stories this winter from the storms that visit during the kkkkold months.
Two stormy days kicked up a substantial swell that rolled in yesterday am. High swells and long periods with very dark skies and rain and almost 60f.
Periods of no wind and glassy water alternating with strong gusts and downpours made it interesting. At times, there were long waits but then a lot of sets would roll in back to back. Occasionally huge waves reminded us who was boss.
When I was there it was low tide. At this particular spot low tide makes one cautious. You paddle for a wave and look down ten feet below you only to see a broken back in your future if you make a mistake. Black boulders lurking, waiting for the hapless adventurer to visit.
To the left is this catcher’s mitt. Don’t wanna get friendly with this family. I have seen beginners who don’t belong here washed up upon this jetty unable to leave, repeatedly assaulted by wave after wave after wave. BLOOD. There is NOTHING that anyone can do to help the foolhardy when this happens.
One time about ten or or fifteen years ago I heard
HELP, I can’t move!!!”
I looked over towards the voice and saw a guy being washed up on the boulders just floating on his back, shouting but not moving. I was THE ONLY ONE who paddled like crazy over to him. Four other people from shore went towards him also.
The aggressive waves kept pushing him up on the rocks and gravity pulled him back down, over and over again. It took me a few minutes to get to him, and when I did I found that what we had to do to get him out sounded easier than it was going to be. My surfboard, attached to my left ankle with a leash, tangled with his, and our boards kept smashing against the rocks and each other.
I knew that the sooner we got the boards outta the way, the sooner we could get him out so inbetween waves we got rid of the boards as others held the floating guy against the bashing waves, keeping him off the boulders as much as possible. All five of us wrestled his body over towards the left where sand and slippery rocks meets the sea. Incoming waves, in their demonic way, tried to thwart this Herculean effort but eventually we got him out.
He could talk just fine. We asked him questions, and it became apparent that he could not move any part of his body, and could feel no pain. The ambulance arrived and we all stepped back so the guys could find out more. They cut off his wetsuit, poked, pinched, and prodded and theorized that he had broken his back or severed his spinal column. Off he went in the ambulance to an uncertain future.
I was fucking astounded that I was the ONLY ONE of the surfers there that day who valued the well-being of another human-total stranger, over passion for surfing. Fucking disgusted at humanity describes one third of my hatred for people that day.
After I finished surfing I got out, got dressed, and went to get something to eat before I went home. On the way out of town I stopped back to watch for a while before leaving and started chatting with this guy who was watching too. After a while, I said “you look familiar.”
He replied “I should, you pulled me out of the water this morning.”
Turns out, he HAD somehow disconnected temporarily his spinal column but in the hospital his feeling started to return. He could move again. He got up and was able to regain all of his lost sensations.
Whatever happened that day to him I will never know, but whatever it was is a tribute to the magnificence of the human body that we all inherited from our ancestors and Mother Nature.
Surfing sometimes has a local’s possessiveness about it. The townies somehow feel that they own the place, and the hostility of a few is tangible. I have surfed in several places around the world, and the biggest assholes I have come to recognize are right there in that town. I guess if I lived in this town, I would feel the same way sometimes. All that melted away that day for me after the ambulance left the scene as one guy who had helped us pull him out declared to me that he was awarding me “honorary local” status. I went home and told my young son this story, and to this day, he sometimes reminds me that I am an “honorary local.”
typical nor’ easter bar graph. East swell with NNE heavy wind. There’s only ONE place I know of to surf in crappy conditions like this... but I’m not gonna say where.
Hi, my name is
David Benjamin and I started swimming in Chappaqua, NY., swam for Badger swim team, Mercersburg Academy, NC State University, then Westport YMCA masters. I got bored of the ol' back and forth of competitive swimming and the high cost of skiing. Surfing took over and I never looked back.