With a small swell forecast for Southern California combined with a dash of foggy notion a few of the crew chose to head east for Independence Day this year. Hurricane Arthur was just starting to present himself to potentially deliver some epic surf to the New York area so I packed up some shred gear along with two Isle Inflatable’s and headed to the big Apple.
I chose to bring both a 10’2 and 12’6 inflatable in hopes of sharing the stoke with New Yorkers of all shapes and sizes. One of my favorite parts of traveling with isups is to see people make their first couple strokes standing on water for the first paddle. It is a very similar situation to teaching a kid to ride a bike when you first let go with no training wheels on. The excitement and self realization of “Hey I can do this”, makes even the grouchiest of adults get a quick glimpse of life through the eyes of a child learning new things.
Flying with the Inflatables was a breeze as I have done it a hand full of times now. I checked both isups in and found them both to be in good shape after a direct flight from SAN to JFK. But, Carrying two of them with my luggage did prove to be a bit of a challenge. I ended up dragging one and learned that this is a sure fire way to wear a whole in the bottom of your travel bag. So, if your traveling alone maybe just stick with one. Ultimately I made it to a cab and they both fit nicely in the trunk.
Waking up early on the 4th Arthur had delivered plenty of rain and high winds but no sign of any swell. So, as any good American would we fired up the grill and cooked some Kobe burgers and waited. I had only chased one Hurricane for swell before on the east coast and that was Ike in Florida may years ago. This would prove to be a much different chase.
The experience of tracking a hurricane on the 4th of july with a committed to the CORE working class surfer is unlike any other surf safari in the world. Even with all of the distractions of beach pool party’s and BBQ’s the NY working class surfer keeps his eye to a hand full of trusted and well analyzed web sites along with the occasional call to eyes on the water for the eyeball report. From Long Beach to Montauk there are a lot of options and variables with the most important one being Wind Direction.
There is not a lot of time for speculation once the spot has been picked. It is a dash to the car with what gear you can fit at your apartment in the city with a planned stop by the family’s house in the suburbs to revisit the archived quiver. It was looking like Arthur was strong enough to grab and dust off the rarely used east coast 6’8″ pintail gun. After we retrieved a few more back up boards from a once submerged basement during Hurricane Sandy the crew’s energy was starting to rise, the next stop was the beach.
Being on the east coast it is easy to commonly mistake the direction of the ocean as east but, Long Island actually faces south. Long Beach is a city in New York, Just south of Long Island, it is located on Long Beach Barrier Island, which is the westernmost of the outer barrier islands off Long Island’s South Shore. With the angle that Arthur came up the coast all of his category 2 energy was pointing straight at Long Beach and the strong winds out of the north look to be straight off shore.
Using street names or land marks as the names of the surf spots up and down the beach we first checked Mushrooms then ended up further west on Laurelton. There were crowds of surfers of all skill levels in the water at first but as the swell became consistently overhead it sorted out the novice and tourists. There was a hand full of local pro’s mixed in with the working class and as long as there was no blatant snaking everyone was all smiles and high fives. At first the only people on the beach and boardwalk were surfers but as Arthur passed and the sun popped out so did the the festive patriotic people of New York. I was able to hang out on the board walk and snap off some of my favorite empty wave and barrel shots to date. The crew surfed for about 4 hours until last light. Knowing that there was going to be some left over swell in the morning we opted to skip out on the parties for the evening for a delicious fresh seafood meal and an early bed time with sweet dreams of more swell in the AM.
Headed East to Montauk
We set the alarm for sunrise as we had a 3 hour drive from the city to the far eastern point of Long Island. Montauk was originally a small fishing village that has now become a popular beach destination for many of the city folk. Since it sets on the far southeastern end of the Island it is the most exposed to any swell that Mother Atlantic has on offer.
We arrived early and were stoked to see some leftovers still pouring in from sir Arthur so we suited up for one more short board session before breaking out the blow up Sweeps, AKA(SUPS). The Cool but somewhat technical 10 minute hike down a trail and some fragile cliffs reminded me of my home break Blacks in San Diego. The water temp is similar to California this time of year in the upper 60′s so trunckable for the brave but comfortable in a spring suit.
With sir Arthur well out to sea the swell seamed to continuously drop off throughout our session, so after about an hour in the water we were ready to switch gears and pump up the sweeps. We had a friend staying on a large boat in one of the many near by marinas so we stopped there first to ready all the SUP gear. Our first paddle was a relaxing cruise amongst the Yachtsmen of Montauk. With perfect weather and little wind we probably did a couple of miles just winding through the inland waterways and Marina’s experiencing nothing but positive holiday vibes from everyone we passed. When back to the boat is was right into SUP lessons that pretty much lasted the rest of the weekend since we only had two SUP’s and about 50 new friends ready to try it.
So to offer some perspective I just got back from 2 weeks in Indonesia ffollowed by a week in Costa Rica then Mex. As a true born and raised west coaster that spends most of my spare time in Mexico I had rarely looked at New York or even the whole east coast as a proper surf trip destination. This trip has truly changed my perspective and you can bet that the next time a Hurricane pops up off the east coast with a similar look as Arthur I will be applying my new found knowledge to track and strike in hopes of seeing these conditions again. THANKS!! doesn’t cover how greatful I am for my friends and tour guides on this trip. Keep killing it boys and girls and looking forward to my next visit.!!
About the Author & Photographer - Jesse Wright spent the majority of his youth in the back country of Idaho and Colorado snowboarding and chasing the snowboard circuit. After the millennium he headed toward the coast and never looked back. A former pro snowboarder turned surfer hes an avid shortboarder and paddler and when he’s not running his German Shepard or working with his media company he can be found on foreign shores mixing it up with the Isle Surf & SUP Crew.