Perfect Wave Bayhead New Jersey Winter

When I saw the ocean, I couldn't believe my eyes. A set formed upon the horizon and peeled along the sandbar. I felt like a kid again. Photo: Joanne O'Shaughnessy


The Inertia

On Friday morning, I woke up to the sound of rain drops tapping on my window. When I opened my eyes, I stared at leafless trees swaying in the wind; above was a dreary sky painted with different shades of grey. Weather like this had become a regular occurrence over the past few days. Once “Blue Monday” passed, we were the recipient of one rainstorm after another. This didn’t help to raise the morale during a two week flat spell.

Today, waves were finally rolling in. Onshore winds made conditions stormy, but beggars can’t be choosers. The ocean looked like it caught the flu just like everybody else. The wind was scheduled to turn offshore in the afternoon. But what if it didn’t? Playing the waiting game is always a gamble. This wouldn’t be the first time that the wind switched after dark, and it was flat the following morning.

Throughout the day, I hit refresh on the surf cams too many times to count. I was on the edge of my seat. Actually, I fell off a few times. I was consumed by an overwhelming feeling of excitement when I looked out my window and saw the sun pushing the clouds aside. The front had passed and the flags were pointing towards the ocean. The wind made up it’s mind and decided to shift offshore. This was exactly the kind of medicine the ocean needed.

I was a block away from the beach when a red light interrupted my fun. Traffic seems to last an eternity when you’re trying to get somewhere. I heard waves crashing on the sand and I could almost taste the salt coming off the Atlantic. So close, yet so far. For a moment, I considered parking on the side of the road and making a mad dash for the water.

When I saw the ocean, I couldn’t believe my eyes. A set formed upon the horizon and peeled along the sandbar. I felt like a kid again. It had been a while since the sun and the moon aligned for my favorite spot to do its thing.

The air was almost 60 degrees. Did spring come early? Will we have a mild season after all? Just as those thoughts were going through my mind, a slap of 40 degree water hit my face. The ocean wanted to make sure I knew it was still winter.

The waves were just too good to get out of the water. I stayed out long after the sun set, still trading off waves with my friends. As I was walking back up the beach, I thought to myself, “There’s no place like home.” I wasn’t exactly clicking my 5 millimeter booties together like Dorothy and her ruby red slippers, but I came pretty damn close.

When it’s flat for a while, you’re really able to appreciate any swell that the ocean decides to send your way. You get hungrier every day that goes by without it. You close you’re eyes and it’s waiting for you in your dreams. Days turn into weeks and you start to lose hope. You wonder if there will ever be waves again. Sometimes the best sessions are the ones you don’t expect.

Read more from Tommy Petriken on TheTommyLog.com.

  • ScottTX

    “Sometimes the best sessions are the ones you don’t expect.”  I couldn’t agree more man!

    Reminds me of the time me and 2 buddies paddled out at Surfside, TX where the hurricane had eaten away the beach, causing residents to build up boulder fortifications where the sea had taken back the land.  This day, the sky looked like pure crap, but peeling 3-4 footers made their slow advance and we paddled out.  Soon a dense fog moved in off the Gulf of Mexico and all we could see were silhouettes of our fellow riders, slicing down the line, concealed.  With our sight diminished, we….-listened-….could only listen for the approaching waves, and by instinct made our turns to paddle into vacant wave faces.  Rain started, onshores picked up and we ended the session.  My connection with the ocean on that ghostly, gray day remains one of my favorites of all time.

  • http://twitter.com/aquasadj Nick

    the feeling of being home is so mystical. seems to touch the soul. great article!

  • nory

    the passion of a surfer…..passionately shared

  • http://www.themoceanproject.com/ skye

    great story man and so true!