Liquid Lines

How Many Pairs of Boots Do You Need to Live in the LBI Region?

Wetsuit Boots, Muck Boots, Work Boots, Fishing Boots ...
By JON COEN | Nov 13, 2019
Photo by: Jon Coen Where else in the world do you need this many pairs of boots?

It’s time for boots.

Being this is November and you’re reading a surf column, common sense would suggest we’re talking about wetsuit boots. And yes, it is time for those. It might be time for gloves, too, the way fall just fell out from under us like that. It’s hard to say since we haven’t been in the water for so long. But yes, you will definitely need to get out the 3-mil boots to surf this week. And in a few more weeks you will need the 5-mil boots. And if the winter gets super cold and you have 7-mil boots, that’s a possibility around the end of January. Word is, Solite has an ultralight 8-mil Custom Fire boot coming out this season. That could be nice for the depth of winter.

But the truth is, we’re getting into the season where you’re going to need all sorts of boots. And living here, I would venture to say, you need more kinds of boots than anywhere else in the world.If you surf year ’round, you need at least two pairs of boots. Some folks will have more for the deep freeze or paddling in the winter. Sometimes you just need a second pair if you don’t want to put on freezing, wet gear for the second session.

Then you’re going to need a pair of muck boots. Yep, if you live on the Island, Mud City, Beach Haven West, Dock Road in Cedar Run, or anywhere near the bay or ocean, a good pair of rubber boots is essential. And anyone who fishes (pretty much everyone) has a good pair of boots for angling. Farias sells XTATUF boots. How many surf shops in the world have those? Of course, these can double as your muck boots. Vans just revamped their Mountain Edition with the Ultra Range Hi DL MTE 2 with weather-treated textile and increased grip. While it’s warm and weatherproof, it looks more like a high top sneaker than boot, but it's made specifically for wet weather and cold water surfers.

And then we usually get hammered by a snowstorm or two each year, so we have to have snow boots for shoveling, sledding and checking the surf. We also live in a very hands-on kind of place. A good portion of locals are carpenters or tradesmen – essentially, people who wear boots. And even if you’re not, chances are that you have some side hustle or serious yardwork where you need a pair of work boots. So, we’re up to owning at least five pairs of boots already, and that’s not counting waders. And then there are Ugg boots. I personally don’t own them because they are the footwear equivalent of oversized sweatpants. I may not have a lot of style sense, but I know where to draw the line. Yet some surfers swear by them.

We’re also pretty hardy outdoors folks here. We hike and we travel to the mountains to ski or snowboard. Granted, you can mostly hike our sandy soil in sneakers, but any kind of rocky terrain requires good hiking boots. So right there, add another one to possibly three pairs of boots.

I have a pair of Doc Martens that I mostly wear to weddings, funerals and the occasional dinner. But we can’t even get into that. I imagine there are some women who have entire closets full of fashionable boots.

So, we essentially live in a place where you might need seven pairs of boots! Tell that to your friends in California or the Caribbean.

WAVE/WEATHER ROUNDUP: Late October into early November is usually a fantastic time on the New Jersey surf calendar. Unfortunately, no one has told the ocean that this year. We’ve only had one swell in the past two weeks and that was mostly windy and difficult, without a lot of waves made until late day.

What we’re talking about specifically was Friday, Nov. 1, our first major southerly windswell of the year. When we get into the right pattern, these swells can be our bread and butter (loved especially by regularfoot surfers). It had all the makings of a great day with hard southerly winds building overhead surf and the wind going northwest that Friday morning. But we’re at the time of year when swells are super fickle. The tides were weird. The wind went super hard offshore. Despite almost everything looking right, this swell was just wrong, according to a lot of people I spoke with, until it dropped very late in the day. And that’s just how it goes sometimes.

When the wind finally chilled out, there were two days of rideable longboard waves on the South End to keep up the minimal amount of stoke. There was a possibility of a small wave when the wind went south last Thursday, but then the front went through late Thursday, killing the surf and leaving nothing but waves going seaward by Friday. The rest of this workweek looks pretty minimal, but Thursday and Friday should be light offshore. This could be a good time to look for a wave around the lower tides, maybe on a grovel board or a log, just to get back in the water.

The end of the weekend looks more interesting with a low-pressure system sliding out of the Gulf of Mexico and up the East Coast. There is the potential for a nor’easter early next week, so keep that in mind. Late November is historically a very active time for storms and swells and we’re due.

HAWAII CALLED: I had the opportunity to spend the last week of October on the North Shore of Oahu, doing a story on the Vans Sunset Pro. The first big swell of the season arrived on Monday, Oct. 28, which happened to be the first day of the event.

It’s a long running joke that Hawaiians famously downplay wave size. By their scale, it’s half or less the size you think it is. If you say the surf is 8 foot, they say it’s 4. If you say, “Yeah, that’s what I meant, it’s about 4 foot with bigger sets,” they will reply that it’s actually 2 foot. Keep up the conversation and eventually they will tell you the waves are not even 1 foot and these are waves smaller than their kupunawahine (grandmother) would ride.

I was out at Lanikea’s with Mikey Gaudioso of Surf City on a 6- to 8-foot morning. A local started talking to me and he described the conditions as “not flat.”

It’s not very helpful either.

But I spoke to Billy Kemper, the Hawaiian charger who has won the WSL Big Wave World Tour event at Jaws three times and he was calling it 10- to 12-foot “Hawaiian.” That means that you and I would be calling it 20- to 25-foot waves, even being conservative about the faces. Either way, it was a spectacle. And yes, there are other spots that are smaller and more rideable when that happens, but all the Hawaiin regular Joes are still on gigantic guns.

I don’t fly with boards to Hawaii because I’m usually working and I never really know what I will be riding anyway. So I hooked up with LBI native Sarah Dodds. Dodds has been living on the North Shore now for 10 years, currently with her boyfriend near Sunset Beach, and really has Hawaii wired. She lent me a 6’0 that I rode every session.

It was mostly good to catch up with an Island local and see how she’s made a life for herself on Oahu. Many of us remember when she was still in high school, the only female in the water on the coldest of winter swells, not backing down at all, or slaying the first few Jetty Coquina Jams. Well, she’s grown up, has a job at the Turtle Bay Resort, a nice pad in a great North Shore neighborhood, a quiver of boards, and she’s still not backing down at all in the surf.

RUN FOR THE HILLS: For those who have another type of boarding on their minds, Killington was the first ski resort to open in New England this season. It had a solid opening day on Nov. 3. The first weekend was just for various pass holders on the North Ridge area serviced by the new North Ridge Quad. Then it opened to the public the following day.

Killington makes a great effort to make this boast most years. They put a lot of money and resources into snowmaking. This is still pretty early as they usually open around Thanksgiving. Sunday River, Maine opened this past Sunday with one lift and four trails.

According to NOAA, the next month is supposed to be a bit colder than average in New England, which will help all the hills. The downfall is rain. If they don’t get those rainfalls, they can keep the base and it should be a good season of riding for those who don’t surf year ’round, or those who do and like to ride waves and snow in the same week.

LOCAL HAPS: On Monday night, the Elovaters played at Folk Across the Street.

Now that we’re getting into the holidays, most local events will revolve around twinkling lights and hot cocoa. Man, I love me some hot cocoa.

Those will kick off with Made on Main at the Union Market on Saturday, Nov. 23, a cozy outdoor market featuring handmade gifts by talented artisans. They will also have the fire pits roaring and pictures and face time with the big guy.

On Friday, Nov. 29 (that’s the day after Thanksgiving) the Arlington hosts “Movember” Shave the Date from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. presented by Swing Graphics. This has become a traditional area fundraiser for David’s Dream & Believe Cancer Foundation to raise awareness and provide hope for male patients battling a cancer diagnosis. You can support by donating to one of the ambassadors or showing up at the Arlington and getting a haircut the day of.

Saturday, Nov. 30 is Shop Small Saturday in the LBI Region. While the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce always has a feel good way of wording it, I will put it more bluntly. This is your chance to support the small businesses in our area by spending your holiday shopping dollars locally instead of getting generic gifts at the big box stores, where the money leaves our areas and further pads the bank accounts of the wealthiest people in the country. 2019 is a tough time to be in retail and the more you can do to support local businesses, the better.

The day culminates with the Lighthouse International Film Festival showing the film “Emocean” at South End Surf N’ Paddle in Beach Haven. This film is described as a salty blend of stories by the eclectic assortment of people sharing tales of adventure and their relationship with the ocean, a love letter to the sea woven through with experiences from surfers, filmers, fishermen and marine scientists and watermen. The event runs 7 to 10 p.m. Light refreshments will be served. Advance tickets are $5 and they are $7 at the door.

On Dec. 6, South End Surf N’ Paddle will also host Open House for Alliance for a Living Ocean at 6 p.m. This will serve to teach folks what ALO does and is also being billed as a general membership meeting. They will also screen the film “Smog of the Sea.” If you’re interested in getting involved in a local nonprofit, this is a really good way to get acquainted.

The 40th annual Ship Bottom Christmas Parade is Dec. 7. That gives you three weeks to decide which boots to wear.



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