Liquid Lines

If Wind Turbine Noise Causes Cancer, Imagine What You’ll Get from Reusable Bags and Solar Panels; Plus a Banger of a Swell

Spring Is Tough, But This One Hasn’t Been So Bad
By JON COEN | Apr 17, 2019
Photo by: Paul Boardman After the early April swell came a few weeks of junk surf before Monday turned on. This is a nicely captured set, but the gale-force winds made it a challenge.

America is fascinating and impressive.

This week, I stand behind my country with a type of wonder I’ve never had before. Because it says a lot about our people that we are simply still standing. Or maybe that’s just the euphoria of having a full eastbound and westbound bridge off LBI. Those lanes are so wide and luxurious.

Now, none of us has firsthand experience with what American discourse was like around the turn of the century (not the Y2K one, but the Boxer Rebellion one). Yet I think it’s safe to say our country is at a level of disharmony not seen since the Civil War. I mean, the Confederate flag was obnoxious in 1862. What could go wrong when flying it from a lifted pickup 150 years later, well north of the Mason Dixon line?

There’s a spirit of division, injected with 24-hour news and multiplied by social media. It’s ugly, nasty and certainly isn’t setting us up to deal with the many challenges facing humanity.

And yet, we wake up and go to work every day (well, those over 35 anyway). We buy our coffee. We pay our rents and mortgages. We walk the beach and fish the bay. We raise money for those in need in our community. We clean the beaches and we watch “Game of Thrones.” Actually, I have never seen a single minute of that show … but you know what I’m saying. Despite our very differing opinions, we make it work. We carry on.

Consider that half of America is already in a hungry, grumpy mood because of intermittent fasting, it really is remarkable.

And even though I’m with the majority of the country who’s basically watching the White House like it’s a circus that caught on fire during a hurricane amid a swarm of locusts, I don’t want to write about it every week.

I mean, even from our way-out-here barrier island, we’re living in the Orange Babylon. So it’s a fine line between pointing out bad policy and moral bankruptcy to make sure we don’t ever accept this as “normal,” and beating a dead horse.

But as a surfer, coastal dweller, outdoor writer and general appreciator of the natural world, it’s been this administration’s (a word you have to use loosely considering most summer busboys keep their jobs longer than current cabinet members) attack on our environment that has most frequently grabbed my attention.

During his campaign, he said of the environment, “We can leave a little bit.” With all of his reality TV show scientific credentials, he’s waved the flag of the climate change denial harder than anyone.

“One of the problems that a lot of people like myself, we have very high levels of intelligence, but we’re not necessarily such believers,” he said last year.

Yes, the highest level …

The whole strategy of denying climate change and that it has been accelerated by human activity in the face of accepted data is not new. But it was the first example of politicians arguing against solid scientific facts, which in a way was the harbinger of the current disregard for any truths that don’t back your argument.

The Green New Deal may be a bit ambitious, but it certainly beats the proposal by those who are attacking it, which is … oh, right, there is zero comprehensive plan for dealing with climate change from the other side. (Keep in mind, decades ago, Republicans gave us some actual, solid environmental policy.)

Orange 45 has rolled back rules on air/carbon pollution, made vehicles less fuel efficient, worked to open most of our coasts to drilling, put tariffs on solar panels, pushed for seismic airgun testing, pulled us out of the Paris Accord, rescinded protected natural monuments, lessened protections against endangered species, and appointed one anti-environmental politician before naming a former coal lobbyist to head the EPA.

This is a president who reversed the ban on importing elephant tusks.

The guy makes Darth Vader look like Rachel Carson.

With every decision, he keeps America from leading the world toward a sustainable future, pushing for less clean energy and more of the same fossil fuels that have put us in danger.

So when I caught news earlier this month wherein the ultimate trust fund frat boy told the world that “they say the noise (from a wind turbines) causes cancer,” at the National Republican Congressional Committee's annual spring dinner, what was I going to do?

I’ve been sitting on my hands waiting to write about that. Because this must be true.

And since the guy’s arguments are so rooted in scientific fact, we should probably assume that reusable canvas tote bags cause leprosy. People who recycle are five times more likely to develop dementia. Although vegetarians and vegan diets are much better for the planet, not eating meat will cause them to grow leaves from their arms and legs. I’ve also heard that flesh-hungry trash monsters have formed out of backyard compost piles.

And you can definitely get syphilis from solar panels.

Hang in there, folks, this can’t last forever. Let’s just hope there’s something that resembles Earth when it’s all over.

A DAY OF EPIC: The surf has not been very good to us this last week, but it would be journalistically irresponsible of me to not go back to April 3, which was absolutely bombing. I would say that day can easily get in the running for the best swell of the year.

“For a couple hours, it was probably the most beautiful, user friendly six to eight-foot faces I’ve seen in Cedars in long, long time,” said George Jacobs, who lives in Ship Bottom but grew up in Cedars. He surfed his “home jetty,” the one he grew up on, even if said jetty is actually buried these days.

The storm wasn’t particularly powerful but just perfectly positioned to give us an amazing day of waves. The storm was elongated on a northeast/southwest axis, just to our north, setting up overhead swell with the perfect wave interval and offshore winds. And while we can look at the data to explain the mechanics of the swell, I don’t think any of us can explain just why the water was that cerulean blue.

With the swell angle, it wound up being primarily lefts, long fast lines with heaving clear water barrels that you dream about.

The following morning had a little left over, but nothing compared to the main dish. There was a tiny, clean wave on Saturday, April 6, but the early tide ate it up. Since then, it’s been a mixed bag of mostly junk.

I heard a few reports over last weekend of “fun-looking” waves, as in “yeah, the waves looked fun.”

“Did you surf?”

“No.”

That’s a common case in April. There was swell. It was somewhat clean, but no one wants to put on all that wetsuit gear to surf foggy, disorganized surf all alone. I assume there were a few fun ones to be had somewhere, but I never got confirmation.

Sunday night was something of an “opening day” to spring as a front rolled through with powerful thunderstorms following half a day of southeasterly winds. The t-storms didn’t bring an instantaneous west wind as they tend to in the summer when fronts come through, so we had to wait it out on Monday morning.

The front lagged behind and came through at about dead low tide. The wind was offshore as the tide came up, but it quickly switched to west/southwest and accelerated to 40 mph. Still, there were barrels to be had, and that’s always worthwhile. While it wasn’t a huge swell, the tide and direction were optimal. Unfortunately, that tiny hint of southwest at that speed made it really tough.

And the wind only got stronger. It actually turned straight offshore in the late afternoon, but there were gusts clocked at 50 mph, which isn’t much fun for anyone. All in all, a fun day with plenty of waves, but overall, that wind marred a great swell. And then the wind honked long into the night, feeling a lot like those February nights. Such is the nature of April. Between tides and winds, spring can be tough.

SLOW PROGRESS: OK, it’s springtime. I think both winter and late winter are finally over. Now we just have to hang in there through the painfully slow seasonal process of waiting for the ocean to warm up and the general “greening” that puts us all in such a good mood as humans.

I was recently muttering about how I’d like to just fast forward through these slow weeks when I was reminded that as Aprils go, we’re getting off easy.

First off, the surf temp is actually above average, and that’s even with the south winds we’ve had. The Atlantic City gauge is up near 50, so we are likely just below that. In past years, we’ve struggled to get out of the low 40s by mid-April. 50 is a very solid landmark in this journey toward summer. It’s definitely time to start lightening your winter wetsuit load.

The air temps have been mostly average. We usually get those couple of perfect days, especially on the mainland, and those have certainly been enjoyable. But we also usually get those brutal pokes of cold where it continues to drop down into the 30s with the threat of freezing temps. But not so much this year. It’s safe to plant your cold weather veg and a few folks have had their outside showers on for some time already. The 10-day forecast for the Island doesn’t have us dropping below 50.

HAPPENINGS: Life is starting to pick up around these parts. We’re officially in the “Home Depot” season where we fight to find time to enjoy the nicer weather while many of us are carrying giant workloads around our jobs and six side hustles before summer. When you find yourself at Home Depot more than twice in a single day, it’s time to admit that you might have a problem.

Our local paddling champ, Jonny Skolnick, took part in a 24-hour paddle last Saturday in Monmouth County. He and other in a team of 10 raising money for families battling cancer had prone paddlers in the waters of the Shark River and into the ocean for the entirety of 24 hours, paddling relay style.

Skolnick was obviously spent, as he had only a half hour sleep and paddled for seven hours in the whole 24, but was extremely high on the experience. And they raised $6,000.

This Thursday is the Health & Wellness Expo at the Mainland for the ever-growing portion of the surf population that is concerned with such things.

There’s not a whole lot happening this weekend on account of Easter. But it should be a fairly busy weekend. Easter falling this late in the season betters the chances of good weather, decent temps and a lot of folks coming down. I’ve already seen a few non-locals, easy to spot wearing tank tops on chilly days and heading into Home Depot in long, flowered shorts. Locals know better.

But if this winds up being a big weekend and the weather stays on our side, the Island could see a strong early season, something we haven’t had of late. And all indications are that it will be a banger of a summer business-wise.

Most of the Earth Day festivities and cleanups happened last week. Earth Day is this Monday, April 22. I heard that Trump is celebrating by having all the big oil execs to a White House dinner consisting of a freshly clubbed seal pup.

April 28 is the Red Rocker Record Fair at Manafirkin Brewery. The namesake is the long-gone Bay Avenue record store, which is now the Pretzel Factory.

Somehow, I doubt this salty snack shop will have Jane’s Addiction’s Nothings Shocking on vinyl. But at the first Red Rocker fair last summer, the legendary original owner, Bruce, told me he remembers all the surfers coming into his shop for the latest Revelation Records releases in the ’90s. Brought a tear to my eye.

While we wait on May events to take shape, Sauce Festival is June 1 at Bicentennial Park in Beach Haven. The Hop Sauce Tune Up race, however, is at the Taylor Avenue bayfront at 9 a.m. that morning. Racers come from far and wide for this event and it’s a great way to start a day that will involve a lot of yummy foods and drink.

A few other events have also been slated recently. June 29 is Shapefest at South End Surf ’N Paddle. July 13 is the seventh annual LBI Paddle Classic at Bayview Park, the Jetty Coquina Jam is July 28 and the ALO Longboard Classic is Aug. 10.

Look for some waves to develop this weekend and hopefully clean up by Sunday. The weather looks warm, albeit wet at times. If you’re traveling, best of luck. If you’re staying put, well, maybe Easter won’t be a winter holiday for a change.

joncoen@thesandpaper.net

 

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