(Nov. 29, 2019) Ah, winter has started and with it “winter surfing.”
It seems to be a whole other genre, a whole other category.
Wetsuit gear predominates, becoming extremely important. Not only does cold water become an issue but cold air as well.
The classic scenario of an ideal surfing setting is that of a warm situation: boardshorts, bikinis, palm trees, islands and outside showers.
Instead, the full wetsuit is hopefully dry from the last session, as well as the boots, gloves and whatever is worn on the head be it attached to the full suit or not.
In a large way, our area is a sort of winter surfing paradise, if it’s dared to even conjure such an idea.
Primarily, there are no restrictions. There’s no such thing as out of the water by 10 a.m. and not back in until 5:30 p.m., even though a two-block rotating area is allowed.
Traffic is minimal and parking plenty. One learns what establishments stay open for a post session warm-up and a hot beverage.
Little tricks become part of the routine.
Don’t park your car in the shade. Hopefully, the sun is out and a vehicle becomes a welcomed heated area warmed by that bright orb despite it being lower in the sky.
Find a spot out of the wind to change into and out of that wetsuit. All the better to have that sheltered area warmed by the same sun that infrareds the car or truck which becomes so welcoming.
A couple of good size towels can become very handy. Also, a container for wet garments, especially wetsuits.
A simple five gallon bucket goes a long way in this regard. Upside down it can even serve as a seat, the perfect height to get those pesky boots on and off.
I used to drive home after a surf session still in wetsuit gear, to jump in a warm shower, washing both myself and the gear all in one step.
Despite good coverage on the seat and floor of the driver’s side, a rusting out of the floor board stopped that practice. This proved to be another trick learned in the process of winter surfing.
There’s also the notion of continuity.
It’s tough to maintain even the slightest level of performance with long layoffs. Even just to a point of enjoyment, it seems so much better to have some consistency.
And lest we forget we’re dealing with the variances of mother nature. It can be flat or unridable for weeks. The wind can be unfavorable or the tide all wrong.
Plus, the movement of sand in our beach break situation gets exacerbated even more than usual with the periodic beach replenishment.
So there you have it. Surfing in the winter, pretty cool! Or is that pretty cold?
– Dave Dalkiewicz is the owner of Ocean Atlantic Surf Shop in Ocean City.