Being a surfer in New England is not easy. The water is usually frigid, the ocean usually flat. What waves we do get tend to be locally generated, with winter nor’easters usually creating the biggest surf.
The highlight of every New England surfer’s year is hurricane season. No, it’s not easy to cheer on storms that can wreak havoc elsewhere, but the fact remains that these tropical behemoths typically don’t mess with New England (this year’s Irene being a notable exception), they generate large surf from great distances away so there’s usually nice weather here on shore, and they’re in the fall which is when our water is warmest. Throw in the bonus that they tend to arrive after Labor Day so the crowds are even smaller than usual and it’s a great recipe.
So imagine my delight when I returned home to New England just in time for Hurricane Ophelia to cruise northward through the Atlantic. Ophelia’s trajectory was perfect: a few hundred miles offshore so there was no destruction, and straight north past us here in the north-of-Cape-Cod section of the region. Sadly, Ophelia had one fatal flaw: speed. She blew past us at twenty-five to thirty miles an hour, so she didn’t spend enough time in the window needed to send significant swell our way. What could have been an epic Sunday and Monday turned into a “cross your fingers for Monday” situation. So cross my fingers I did. All weekend.
And there was payoff. Finally.
This afternoon, I had a truly primo surf session. DeLIGHTful, even. Simply wonderful. And not just any surf session. No, this was at my home break, the wave I grew up surfing. A place where I have the most intimate knowledge and the deepest connection. MY place. Home.
For about half an hour, forty-five minutes, I had this break all to myself. It was spectacular, with high-performance waves peeling along an underwater sand bar before unloading in a hollow shore break just off the beach. Head high, glassy, lined-up walls, with warm water (even by SoCal standards: my 3/2 fullsuit was much too warm) and bright sunshine amid puffy cumulus clouds…all to myself. Yes, all to myself. With no one to battle, no one to have to outmaneuver, I got more waves in thirty minutes here than I’d get in an hour-plus in San Diego County. But more than the wave count was just the simple pleasure of being able to surf casually, nonchalantly. Without having to worry about positioning in the lineup, I enjoyed a carefree session where I could instead focus on the act (art?) of riding a wave.
No, the wave wasn’t some razor-sharp, super-hollow Hawaiian reef break. Hell, it’s not even a shitty beach break in L.A. County. But it’s mine and it’s home and it was wonderful. Bottom line: I had the kind of session this afternoon that gets a surfer stoked for days and weeks on end. It was that good. And all I can say is, “thanks.” To the Atlantic, to the planet, to the universe: one big “mahalo” for an afternoon to remember.