Liquid Lines

Liquid Lines’ Off The Wall Predictions for 2020 and Beyond

Old Barney Tear Down, Wave Pool Rumors, and Amphibious Vehicles
By JON COEN | Jan 08, 2020
Photo by: Paul Boardman It's a new year. Chris Huch waits to see what 2020 will bring. We have some ideas.

Surf City, NJ — Happy New Year and welcome to the first Liquid Lines of the new decade. Just a warning: I may have a hard time adjusting to the ’20s, being as I’m still stuck in the … well, the ’90s in my head. Black Sails in the Sunset is still AFI’s new album. I’ll get there – just bear with me.

I’ve actually been wondering about what this new year and new decade will bring, and I thought I might make a few predictions based on the way things have been trending in the last few years on LBI and in the surf world in general.

For one thing, I see the surf being very, very good this year and beyond. You, however, will usually not be scoring very good surf. You will be at the wrong spot every time.

Yep. You may occasionally catch it good, but I have a feeling that in 2020, you will see more and more Instagram posts with an epic photo accompanied by a poetic caption about how amazing the waves were yesterday, even if you didn’t catch any of them. Hell, some days might just be flat, but there’s a photo that looks a lot like that epic swell last winter. You were just at the wrong spot – or it was the wrong tide? – when you surfed, or the wind was wrong. But it will always be firing on social media.

My second predication is that Barnegat Lighthouse is coming down. Let’s face it, Old Barney is getting ... old. The lens and mechanism need work. The whole thing needs to be raised or flood insurance is going to be astronomical. And … well, it’s just time for an upgrade.

I suspect the state will sell it to one of the big Island development/realty companies, which will tear it down, then build a 5,000-square-foot box with three garages underneath seven bedrooms right on the inlet. It will be a smart investment, something that can really generate income for those eight weeks of high summer season (well, OK, six weeks, considering cheerleading dance squad camps for mainland schools start the first week of August now.)

The builder will use vinyl that looks so much like cedar shakes you can hardly tell the difference. And every month, when the maintenance crew comes to spray chemicals on the weeds, the chemicals will actually smell like cedar to make it very realistic – because if there’s one thing we value here, it’s authenticity.

And I’m not so sure that it will come in 2020, but I have a feeling that as we get deeper into this decade, Arbor Day will become a bigger and bigger deal on LBI, specifically between North Beach and Holgate. Each year on the last Friday of April, we will build up excitement for this amazing holiday. Hey, if the weather’s nice, it could even start the shoulder season for local businesses. I can see a village of local artisans and enviro groups being invited to set up tables.

Standing on pavers and landscape stone, we’ll market it and hold events honoring the last scrub pines in Surf City, Ship Bottom and the various mid-Island Long Beach Township communities, commemorating these final few plants on our barrier island, the kind that used to provide oxygen, shade in the summer, wind protection in the winter and novelty esthetics all year ’round.

And I don’t want to start any rumors, but are we getting a wave pool? I have nothing to base this on, but the rise locally of go karts, arcades, ziplines and giant golf courses suggests that we don’t have enough to do around LBI. Couple that with all the new artificial waves that have opened or been slated for construction in California, Europe, Virginia Beach, Australia and even our own East Rutherford, N.J., and it would seem just a matter of time until there’s an artificial wave somewhere in the westerly woods of Barnegat or Stafford.

I’ve also heard some ideas floated around to save taxpayers some money. For one thing, when the 2020 NFL season starts, the Island and mainland municipalities will be scaling back 80 to 90 percent of their police force whenever the Eagles play the Giants. They have found there is zero crime and zero auto accidents for the entire game. They have yet to figure out why that is. But they do see an uptick in domestic disturbances directly following these games, so they will have the full force back starting late in the fourth quarter.

I also see a very good year for the auto dealerships on Route 72, which will start selling amphibious vehicles like the new Chevy Salamander that gets 5 mpg, the Chrysler Limnodynastidae, which gets 7 mpg, and Tesla’s new Komodo Dragon (fully solar powered).

Hey, folks, we have to face the fact that nuisance flooding on LBI and some of the bayfront mainland communities is becoming more common, and driving through high tide saltwater isn’t very good for your Acura. Eventually we’ll all need more-effective vehicles to get to work, drop the kids at school, visit 100-room hotels, and go to beach cleanups (love the planet).

You know, a lot of these alarmist environmentalist say human reliance on fossil fuels and meat-based diets greatly affects climate change, which contributes to sea level rise. But only like 98 percent of scientists are in agreement, and Leonardo DiCaprio has a pretty significant carbon footprint, so you can’t really believe that. Plus, are we supposed to stop driving our SUVs, keeping our vacation homes climate controlled and eating steaks? I mean new record heatwaves, Australian fires and more-intense hurricanes could all just be a coincidence.

But in all seriousness, I do see some good things for our community in 2020. Each year, LBI is doing a better job of attracting new visitors, and while it’s becoming tougher and tougher for a local family to afford life on this Island, at least our shoulder seasons and events are making the money season longer.

I’m hopeful Stafford Township will follow through on the conversation and look into finding a location for a skatepark. There have been some positive meetings now, and all stakeholders are being considered. On the surf front, there is no replenishment scheduled for 2020, and our beaches are mostly in good shape. That could change with a single nor’easter, but for now it’s very good news. I’m also hearing some rumblings about more options of public transportation this summer, which are always welcome.

WHAT THE ACTUAL SURF?: Well it’s certainly winter by any measure, and Mother Nature decided to provide us with fairly raw conditions on Sunday for the first logical day to take down the holiday décor. Thanks, Ma.

We do have an extra eight minutes of daylight since the winter solstice back in December. Ask any surfers who struggle to get those afternoon sessions after work and they will tell you it ain’t nothin.’

Thus far, late fall was colder than winter, and we’re kind of skating by. The ocean temp is currently in the mid-40s, chilly by any stretch, but unfortunately, it will likely keep dropping through the month. February and March are generally the coldest months for surf temp. Then starts the painfully slow climb back toward summer.

The surf was pretty lackluster during The SandPaper’s break. Christmas Day was forecasted to have a wave, but it wound up being super high tide in the morning, and then the wind came onshore. There were a few waves to be had in the afternoon, but nothing to include when writing out your holiday cards. The surf was small to mostly flat for a week, and then we had an overhead swell on New Year’s Eve that was really rideable at only one spot on the Island. There were some good ones, but not a completely epic swell. Thus far, the waves have been barely rideable in 2020.

Look for something more substantial by later in the weekend, more along the lines of a spring storm than a winter maelstrom. We’re supposed to get a pretty solid whack on Saturday. If you have the day on Sunday, keep an eye on the wind forecast. If we’re forecasted to get any kind of southwest or west/southwest, it’s always worth it to take the drive up Parkway North and find somewhere that handles that wind angle better. Northwest winds, stay put.

I should note there’s no snow or even cold snaps in our foreseeable future. Next week looks pretty warm and wet.

THE STATE OF PLASTIC: Here’s some good news to start the year, as long as you’re not a lobbyist for the plastic industry. New Jersey lawmakers are working to pass what would be the strongest plastic reduction law in the country. This bill that has been working its way toward the governor’s desk would greatly reduce the amount of single-use plastic that gets distributed to the public, winding up in our environment and waste stream.

The bills, S.2776 and A. 4330, would ban single-use plastic bags and put a fee on paper and reusable bags as well as banning plastic straws and polystyrene. Last year, a statewide plastic bag ban came in front of Gov. Murphy but he vetoed it, looking for a more comprehensive and effective bill. This would be that stronger legislation. The Jersey Shore Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, Clean Ocean Action and Alliance for a Living Ocean are all encouraging citizens to contact representatives in support.

I should note that none of the sponsors of this bill were from the shore counties. It might be time to consider a little diversity in our coastal legislators.

WINTER SLEDS: Winter isn’t usually a time we talk too much about surfboards. We talk a lot about small wave design, alternative surf craft and longboards in the summer. During the fall, we discuss the sexy lines of a performance shortboard. But from December to May, we just kind of deal with that old reliable as the three-season-old wax gets darker from our wetsuits.

But maybe we should talk winter boards for a moment as there are more options today than ever before.

It stands to reason that you might want a little more foam in the winter, to float the extra weight of not only the winter suit, but also all the water that it’s holding. Extra foam isn’t the worst thing in the world for getting into waves, either. The best surfers on the Island will ride boards that are just a tad thicker than their usual sticks. But there are a lot of average surfers who really beef up for winter.

But it also makes sense to think about your glass job. I’d say that a full half the waves we surf in the winter are in hard offshore winds. Having a heavier board provides more momentum when you’re paddling and standing up against a stiff offshore gale, as opposed to a featherweight board that might just get blown right out the back. Yes, they are slower and you’re not going to throw them around as easily, but it’s a pro/con thing you have to weigh out with your wave count.

STARTING THE YEAR WITH PIZZA AND PANCAKES: This is traditionally a slow time of year – like really slow. But there are always a few things happening if you know where to look.

On the 14th of every month, Fusaro’s Pizza and Pasta donates $1 for every pie sold to David’s Dream and Believe Cancer Foundation with Let’s Raise Some Dough. The winter is a slow time for DDBCF, so it’s a good time to think of them next Tuesday. Plus… pizza.

On Jan. 19, Alliance for a Living Ocean will have a Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser with info and merchandise for sale. Ten bucks gets you a full breaky and a chance to learn about the things our local nonprofit is up to, especially for folks on the mainland who don’t always make it across the bridge for events and fundraisers.

The Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences will start its Science Saturdays on Jan. 25. I will have more specifics on the exact programs in my next column.

Looking ahead, this year the Jetty Rock Foundation and the Tide Table Group will present the Arctic Outreach on Feb. 29. Mark this on your calendar and, if you can, think about getting involved.

Also, tickets are now on sale for Bad Religion and Alkaline Trio at Convention Hall in Asbury Park on April 10. If there’s one thing LBI people love, it’s a good Alkaline Trio show, complete with a giant group of people in some kind of extravagant form of transportation and usually a trip to the hospital to get someone’s stomach pumped.

Enjoy your start to the new decade. Try to make LBI a better place. And if any of my predictions above provide fodder for the Island rumor mill, I take no responsibility.

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