Winter Dull Drums
Well it's winter. No matter how you stack the ice and snow beside your driveway, we are in the heart of it.
I understand that seasons in some places mean the difference between a 3/2 and a short sleeve 3/2. But not here. How many places in the world can you get away with trunks for three months and then wear a 5/3, boots, gloves and hood for an equal time?
Everyone loves fall on the East Coast. And why wouldn't you? The water stays warm, the surf is consistent, and the crowds have gone home. But eventually this season of bliss gives way to winter, and not December's shoulder season feel, but real winter unforgiving winter when the water is cold, the surf is inconsistent, and the crowds have gone WAY home.
Let me clarify this. First off, January and February are known for epic days, but they are rarely more than a one-day swell, before the Canadian air-laden front blows the swell to nothing on the following morning. It can stay flat for days. And the streets become so empty that locals have been known to wander about, talking to themselves.
Over the past few weeks, I've been observing the things that go on in this extreme season, when the receding tide can leave a layer of ice on the rocks. Where I live is indicative of most East Coast towns, though maybe a bit more seasonal. The few bars that are open are filled with wind-burned faces, and you basically know every single person in the place. Most businesses have shut down. Not only have the young girls who once rolled down the street on cruiser skateboards in bikinis gone for the season, but simply seeing a female that isn't hitched or related to one of your close friends becomes a rarity.
And with this kind of cold doldrums always comes some behavior along the lines of silliness and insanity. Usually, there's no one authority around to say whether it borderlines on a numb nuts stunt. A few younger guys I know had the brilliant idea to drive their car out onto the beach because the sand looked hard. Needless to say, it wasn't. The little two-wheel drive coup sunk into the tidal sand and was enveloped by the tide. Classic winter time move.
We've had our share of waves. Nothing like 2008, mind you. That was a year for the books. No this has mostly been a few hours here and there of moderate swells, with a couple runs of back to back small days.
The water here is down to about 36. In the last few years, we've skated by with warmer water, in the 40s for the dead of February. This has pretty much been a commitment every time you paddle out. We've had a few snowfalls, but no big macking coastal storms. If you believe in stuff like the Farmer's Almanac, we're supposed to get quite the maelstrom in early March.
Most of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic have fared similarly. The water off the Outer Banks is in the 50s. They've had a bit more snowfall in New Hampshire. You get the idea.
So there you have it. I'd like to end by saying something like spring is just a few weeks away. But realistically, we have that fifth season to look forward to, known as "late winter," which often lasts into May. Don't break out the trunks just yet.