Monthly Archives: August 2013

Nice Stick, Brah


As I am readying myself and my sticks for another session, and to break this writer’s block I’ve been dealing with, I decided to post a couple of pics of my vehicles.

These are Jersey boards.  You can tell by how beat up they are.  Jetties, piers, hunks of crap washed up from the last storm and unwanted collisions all add their mark to a board.  Personally, if your board is not beat up, it is inexperienced.  Same with the rider.

I’m not sure where the long board was made, but it surfed Jersey water for most of it’s life, until I began taking it to the Outer Banks in ’03.  It is a Titan Wind and Sea, 9 feet, 9 inches and as heavy as it looks.  The mahogany stringer is 1 inch thick.  If you get swatted by that board, you are fish food.

I inherited it from my Uncle, himself a surfer from the 60’s. Talk about history, brah.  It is the most prized stick in my quiver.

The Lagooz was made more recently in Seaside Heights, NJ and has a similar history as far as the hydro goes.  At 7 feet 5 inches and made from more modern materials, it is night and day lighter than the Titan.  But it is also thinner skinned and more prone to damage.

The previous knucklehead who owned it thought that painting a castle scene complete with dragons on the nose and flames on the tail was a good idea.  I disagreed and have been having a hell of a time sanding that crap off.  He also didn’t think much of repairing the dings and cracks, so I have had my work cut out for me there, too.

Meh, gives me a chance to work on my fiberglassing skills.

There are a lot of adjectives used to describe surfing – some familiar, others overused or obscure – but it is difficult to convey the feeling of being perched atop a relatively thin foam and fiberglass board with a wave pushing you along, riding something wild and untamed.  Elated, excited and nervous all at the same time.

I wrote this piece about 3 years ago. I was trying my hand at a writing technique – referencing something other than actual surfing to add an element of mystery.

9/26/2010 – Emily

We met in September, 1993.  I won’t forget.  You were my first.

I drove an hour and a half to meet you.  I knew enough to be cautious, but my heart was broken – had been for some time.

Getting hurt more, even killed, were not concerns of mine.  I chose to dance with you despite.

Your reputation preceded you.  I knew you were hard on the boys, liked to slap them around, show them who was in charge.  When I saw you, I understood.  You were sexy, dangerously sexy, and dominant.  I even saw you snap a spine. But I was there in front of you and not about to back down.

Careless might be a good adjective, you trashed better men than me.  I decided to submit anyway.

It was rough.  You made sure that I had to work.  Like a toy, you pushed, shoved and slapped me in the face several times.  It was your version of hard to get.  When I got past the froth you let me ride just enough to catch my breath.

Reality came on hard.  You were bigger than I imagined.  When you came on, you hit me with all you had.  This was no game, it was work.  And I worked hard, because I wanted it.

Even when you held me down, I didn’t feel like I was drowning, although I may well have been.  I kept my wits about me, stayed calm and determined.  Time and again I surfaced, sucking in huge breaths of air as I bobbed in your tempest, salty
sweetness flowing from my mouth and nose.  Then I jumped up and went at it again.  I wouldn’t realize how beat up I was until the next day.

I knew I was done when I tried to ride into shore and you picked me up, flipped me over and ground me into the gravel, sand and shells.  I sliced my knee open through my wetsuit.  Any surfer will tell you, if you’re bleeding, get out of the water.  Few do it.  There were times when I didn’t, but not this time.  It was tough paddling out through the wash, diving under closeouts and near misses.  Too many times in the wash cycle, not able to get to the surface because I was stuck in the turbulence of a big roller, or holding my breath and staying down until my board was past my head, finally getting to the surface to suck in one desperate breath before getting clobbered with another wave.  I was done.

I did what I came to do.  I surfed in Hurricane Emily at Lyman beach, Mantaloking, NJ.  Wave heights were 8 – 10 feet that day.  When you are sitting on a surfboard with only 3 feet of your body above the waterline that is a 5 – 7 foot wall of hard hitting Atlantic Ocean bearing down on you.  You’d best know what the fark you are doing or you will get your ass kicked.  And by kicked I mean you would consider yourself lucky to collapse in the beach break, gasping for air, puking up sea water, tangled in your leash like a farking rat-dog and bleeding from the mouth where your board clocked you. (Yes, got the t-shirt).

Before I even got into the surf I saw a dude wipe in the impact zone and come up with his board snapped.  Out in the lineup, a big wave would closeout early and take out half the dudes there.  Guys would wash up along the beach like trash.  Often times, I was one of them.  A few of us were bleeding. It wasn’t the first time.  Kinda feels good, actually.  Battle scars and all that.

That might be one of the reasons we go back, but certainly not the only.  I cannot describe the feeling of having a wave push you along while you are perched on top of a surfboard.  The power of the ocean.  There is something Zen-like, about it and definitely sexy.  There isn’t anyone but yourself to rely on; just you and your board.

That day was seventeen years ago. I surfed a lot before and after that day, including a couple more ‘canes.  Anyone who laughs about surfing in NJ is unenlightened.  Get your ass out in the big surf and then come back and run your mouth.  Sister Ocean doesn’t suffer fools.

Surfing is something that cannot be described accurately in words. There are too many nuances of the ocean, the culture, the elation of catching a great wave and the hang time in between just watching, reading the water. But once you’re infected, you’ve got it for life.

I’ll be back some day.


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