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Breaking Down Horseneck

January 16, 2016 - State Park, Nobody Out

Nobody really surfs Horsneck Beach and I'm not sure why. It's almost always empty for surfing, year-round. In the winter there won't even be another person on the beach, for miles. It's a bit ominous surfing here in February, grey skies and sub-freezing temperatures. But that doesn't mean it should be completely empty all of the time. On those same days of emptiness, there's literally a hundred guys surfing in Newport, beaches that face the same direction.

Horseneck is located at the end of route 88, directly south 60 miles from Boston, I spent a year living down there in a harbor town a few miles drive from Horseneck. I've explored this desolate beach area extensively and I think I've surfed all sides of it. If you explore, Horseneck is worth the time.

You can't surf the State Park in the summer when the lifeguards are on duty, but the rest of the year, and before 8am, you can surf wherever you want. The parking lot is huge and $13 a day... or you can buy the state park pass for $60 and get in a bunch of parks year-round. The waves aren't as good in front of the parking area, but it can be if there's sizable swell, which happens often. The best spot is right on the edge of the State Park and Baker's Beach. There's no parking there unless you have a Baker's Beach Club membership, which you probably don't. You can walk down to Baker's pretty easily in about 5 minutes, or you can try your luck on the side of the road in the neighborhood adjacent to the beach access road. Baker's has a great outside sandbar that works best coming off a low pushing to a high. When there's size it can get world-class.

To know if there are waves at Horsneck, it can be tricky. There aren't any real meaningful surf forecasts that I can find that are specific to this beach. There is a website that tells you how the waves were for the day, after the fact, but there are no cameras and the size is often a bit inflated. Here's what I do to forecast Horseneck. I check the Magicseaweed bouy for South Shore Beach, RI (It's only a few miles away). If that buoy is up I then check the Surfline report for south facing beaches in New England. As an indicator I can look at some free beach cams at Easton's (1st Beach) and I'll also check Warm Winds in Narragansett to see how the angle is doing there. If it's got too much east in the swell, Horseneck isn't the call. So what I'm looking for are bouys to indicate swell height and cameras to show me angle. In general, if there's South/SW swell in the water, and the wind is decent, Horseneck is a good option.

I will sometimes choose Newport over Horseneck because I like the wave form better. But I'm not a fan of Newport crowds. So I'll give Horseneck a real good look BEFORE I make my mind up to go to Newport. There's a crusty group of dudes that have the good Newport spots on lockdown whenever it gets epic big, so I avoid it on those days. Horseneck will be comparable with nobody out. If it's truly gigantic, then Ruggles and Matunuck are the only call for most. I'll take my chances on the Baker's Beach sandbar. Both Horsneck and Newport are about equal distance drive from me now, one forks left, the other right.

I now live back in the Boston area, so we'll see how often I make it down to Horseneck moving forward. But now I have New Hampshire, the same distance to the north... and the waves get REALLY GOOD up there, picking up most angles of swell. I'll do a New Hampshire surfing blog soon, it's a great place to surf year-round.

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