(Nov. 6, 2020) The month of October produced quite a bit of activity in the ocean.
Granted, there was a few periods that were lacking, but overall the month was one to remember. This was most evident during the third week.
A large long-period swell was produced by Hurricane Epsilon, which was centered way out in the Atlantic. It produced overhead waves for days.
Incredible, one would think, except that as large as the waves were a problem ensued that was just as large. The swell was too straight-on to the beach with practically no angle.
The paddle out could be tough, but this is a given in any large conditions.
If one was lucky enough to cleanly paddle into a wave, by the time that person got to their feet and reached the bottom of the wave it was closed out for half a block on either side. No right, no left, just a full on dumping closed out wave.
Yes, some tubes were had and some waves did hold up but this was more, much more, the exception than the rule.
Unfortunately, this is what frequently happens in this area in a long period, sizable swell.
The bottom can’t seem to handle it, plus the periodic pumping of sand and leveling of the beach exacerbates the whole situation.
Still, the excitement is evident. Our average conditions are generally in the knee- to waist-high range, which can be fun enough, but when the ocean starts to roar with a swell of this magnitude people pay attention and try to take advantage even if the result is a heavy butt whipping.
Most often a swell like this might only last for a half a day, maybe a few hours, but this one went on for days.
It was so heavy that a planned Eastern Surfing Association-Delmarva district contest was actually called off. It would have been just too much for most of the younger divisions.
I can remember teaching my 11-year-old son how to surf back in the day and there’s no way I would have sent him out in conditions such as these.
Hurricane season is always a time of anticipation and technically it’s not over yet.
We can typically get our “everyday” ridable conditions that can be fun, especially when local winds are favorable, but this one was different, way different.
There was no question as to what held the upper hand. The ocean was the boss; no argument.
– Dave Dalkiewicz is the owner of Ocean Atlantic Surf Shop in Ocean City.