Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Waveski: Back to the Surf!

After staying away from the waves for most of the summer, I've finally gotten back to the surf a few times in the last 2 months. Fall is the best season for surf here in New England, in my opinion (read my post Why NH Summer Surfing Sucks). Hurricanes pump regular wave action into the Gulf of Maine, parking options open up, and you don't have to keep an eye out for bathers who invariably swim directly in front of your line. The summer water temperatures carry over for a few weeks, so you can get away with a spring/fall wetsuit and no hood or heavy gloves are required. Traffic to and from the beach is largely gone too, so getting to the waves is much quicker, and this offers multiple location options (sometimes even during the same day). As long as the sun is shining and the wind is down, conditions can be quite comfortable.  

Like getting back to anything you haven't done in a while, there's always a bit of rust to knock off when you start up again. Add to that some trepidation caused by aging and one too many gnarly scenarios, and a little knot can hit your stomach if you're heading out into anything bigger than you're sure about. Even small waves can be a challenge to your nerve (hey, we're not all Laird Hamilton, right? 😉). Getting those first few rides, and regaining your confidence is crucial. I was fortunate to get those rides over Labor Day weekend - on a freakishly hot day for early September in New England. I surfed in shorts and a 2ml vest, and I felt like I was in bath water for the session. I caught a bunch of rights off a break pretty close to shore at Jenness Beach in Rye, NH - at least, until a dad and his two little boys started working the shore break with boogie boards down the line from me. Them and a bather enjoying the last of summer water temps shut me down from that spot, and I nearly called it a day when my wife showed up at the beach to get some sun. After a few minutes of consideration, though, I decided to try the left that looked like it was shaping up off the point at the north end of the beach (I know it as "Straw's"). That was a decision I was very happy with.

Straw's Point: 

The left peels off the point and gets pinched between the rocks and a rip current that forms in a consistent spot a little farther south, off the beach. This has the effect of slowing the wave and holding it up as it reforms 1-2 times - making it surfable all the way to the sand, just about. Then, the rip is a handy escalator back out to the break. A couple of board surfers were the only others playing on this left, but they paddled far out past the point to catch the occasional larger waves that hit in every third or fourth set. I noticed a decent break forming somewhat farther in to shore along the rocks - which I now had all to myself. The good size ones were pitching up to 4 feet, which can be a fun surf on a waveski, if the waves are strong enough and fast enough. They were. I caught at least 20 before I called it quits. It was also a test of my nerve, because I got stuck in the rip last season - and got a little help from a boardie who towed me in close enough to shore to get my feet down. Aside from heavy seaweed right at the beach, conditions couldn't have been better for my first real surf in a few months.
Nahant Beach, Lynn Beach and Lynn Shore Drive:
Nahant Beach and Lynn Beach can pitch some great waves - algae can be a problem, though, and so can the smell. 

Since then, I've been out a couple more times - and have been paddling onto some larger waves. I've traveled to at least one spot I haven't surfed in over a year (Nahant Beach), and tried a brand new one (for me, anyway - the north end of King's Beach in Swampscott ). I've had the chance to test out my new seat, which works great after I shaved off some the rear support rim (I kept the side rims, though - they hold me pretty tight without any sliding over the deck). I've also tested a gasket I added to the deck hatch, which works like a charm - I've taken on almost no water.  

With the days getting shorter and a chill in the air, most folks are thinking about a toasty fire and a warm sweater. I'm thinking about the wave forecast.

TB on the Water