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No WAVE November

There weren't a lot of opportunities to surf my beach in the month of November, outside of a few sloppy and choppy wind swell events. There were a few days on the south facing beaches of Westport and Newport, where swell and wind conditions were worth driving for. But life's obligations did not afford me a big enough window to escape and make that happen.

So I'm putting the frustration that was November behind me, and looking forward to some winter swell as the season in the Northeast transitions from cool to straight-up cold. October provided two months worth of waves, so having a few weeks off for my body to recover wasn't necessarily a bad thing. I did manage to paddle out on two occasions in November, both surpassing the waist-high range in size. There was a lot of wind, but my South Florida upbringing paid off, and I was able to use my sandbar slop skills to slide into a coupe of fun sections.

Whenever the wind hawks out of the south, and there's east to northeast swell in the water, Nantasket offers some protection on the harbor side. Finding the right spot takes some local knowledge, parking is tricky for non-residents, and on legit good days crusty old locals won't permit you waves anyway. So these aren't great spots for exploring. I'm mostly tolerated by the elders, and I hardly ever surf these spots when they're going off, out of respect... I let those crusties have it to themselves. Could I go out there and mix it up with them? Yes. But chances are if conditions are that good in those spots, then G Street will be fun at the right tide as well... and on G Street I surf alone for the most part, especially on weekdays when people are at work.

teasing empty peelers on the wrong tide

Recently, we had a really strong ESE wind swell on the south shore, with 45 mph+ winds. It was victory-at-sea conditions for almost all of New England. Nobody was surfing. But something told me to go check a few places in my neighborhood... and I was rewarded for my curiosity. It was pretty wobbly, crumbly, and bumpy, but there were these peelers that would come across the point every so often, when a set angled in the right way. Again, nobody was out. So I gave it a go. I sat out there a long time without much for a quality wave. The current was sweeping pretty good, and trying to stay on the spot that I'd seen those peelers was proving to be difficult. I was also riding a super-light 5'11 fish, made of epoxy and carbon fiber, when I should've been riding a heavy polyurethane longboard. My poor choice in wave craft paired with the sloppy swell was proving to be too much to overcome. Two more dudes paddled out. It was time to start thinking about putting an end to this failure of a session.

After trying to scratch into what turned out to be an unmakeable section, I got caught too far inside. Then, I saw a solid set approaching in the distance. I knew I couldn't get back out there in time to catch it proper, AND there was a crusty sitting on a 10-foot Dewey Weber that probably wasn't going to let me have my choice anyway. So I didn't hustle. But then Dewey let the first wave roll under him. This was my opportunity. I caught the whitewater 20 feet inside of him, and aimed for the shoulder... my 5'11 Lost Puddle Fish in Black Dart construction did not let me down. When I made it around, I found myself in a nice little round pocket. I carved this bowl for nearly 300 yards, until my legs were shaking. I thought to myself, would this ride, from this shitty session, actually take the crown for longest ride of the year? It might. I think I wrapped around this wave at least six times as it peeled along the rocks. When it finally died in the deeper water of the Boston Harbor, I turned around and saw those two dudes bobbing in the surf, tiny little dots on the horizon. I left them to have the rest of that session to themselves.

Moral of the story? Just paddle out. Just do it. You made the effort to check it, and it is rideable, so just go... waiting around for quality might mean you're waiting a long time. And in a month where the days of rideable surf are few and far between, you take what you can get. You celebrate anything outside of what you thought was possible. In this case, I scored what may very well turn out to be the longest wave of the year. I'll need to go back and check my 2022 Dawn Patrol stats to be sure, but either way the session was a win.

Another positive outcome from this surf was that I wore 5 mil boots and a hooded suit... and was still able to manage the take-offs on a 5'11 board. Usually, I have to go longer and thicker when the winter boots and hoods go on. But I was able to surf a summer groveler for this session. I think i've finally figured out the sweet spot for my winter dimensions, and I won't have to rely on the big boards as much moving forward. I'd rather choose a log or a midsize because I WANT to surf it, not because I have to surf it. But for me the special dimension combination for wintertime shortboards and fish are extra-wide but thinned-out tail block, extra foam along the stringer and under the chest, flatter nose rocker, and thicker/heavier glass treatment. I've stuck with PU/Poly in winter until recently, and this year I plan to push the Black Darts as far as they'll go. I'm sure there will come a point where I give in and start grabbing the overstuffed boards to make everything a bit easier, but until the real cold happens, I'm going to mess around some more.

I've actually got a NEW custom stick ready for pickup. I ordered a twin fin design from my favorite local New England shaper and ripper, Shawn Vecchionne. I haven't had a dedicated twin fin since they were the standard in the late 70's and early 80's. My first twinnie was a "borrowed" 5'6 Hot Buttered from Cory Fizer's garage. I surfed it for a couple of months until he made me give it back to him. Bro, Cory, where you at?? But that Terry Fitzgerald Hot Buttered rainbow shape led me down a rabbit hole of Australian surfing that was a big influence on me as a kid. MR was my first surfing hero, watching him in the Hawaiian Triple Crown events, riding a twin fin, on ESPN late-night television. (This was before Hot Summer Nights series was even a thing in the 90's. At some point I won a VHS surf video in a raffle that featured this other radical Aussie named Michael "Munga" Barry. My Munga Militia tape got worn out I watched it so many times.)

But back in middle school I purchased my first new surfboard from BC Surf-N-Sport in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. It was made by Gee Rainbow of Escape Surfboards, who was also heavily influenced by Australian board design, and a Nev Hyman disciple. That 5'6 Gee Rainbow twin fin that I rode from 7th-9th grade was made at a time when glass-ons were the only option. But this rad little stick had a small center box to add a trailer fin. Gee was paying attention and he was way ahead of the curve. He belongs in an East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame, no question. OK, I'm really off on a rambling tangent now. Let's reign this thing in.

On a final note, I'll be dropping my holiday gift recommendations to add to your lists, or to clue you in to some cool ides for the surfers in your lives... so look out for that in the next few days (2020 gift guide). If you read this far, YOU RULE, and I appreciate you visiting my blog. If you live in the area, the Forecast Links have all been updated, so bookmark the page and know when to go. I hope you're surfing where you are!


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