Ocean City Today
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May be necessary to travel to find best surf

Surf Report
By Dave Dalkiewicz | Mar 29, 2018

(March 30, 2018) Sometimes it’s necessary to travel to get the best surf.

After a relatively mild February, March came on with a bang. After a couple of months of winter most folks in this area are ready for some warm weather and the much-anticipated start of spring.

March 1 is the start of meteorological spring, but as we saw, winter just kept on pounding. Pound it did with five, yes five, Nor’easters of varying degree.

New England bore the brunt of most of these heavy weather events but we received quite a bit of swell in this area as did the entire East Coast.

I spoke to and/or heard of people traveling to New England, New York and New Jersey. Pictures of Assateague Island and even as far south as Fort Pierce and Stuart, Florida, appeared with notable size and quality.

Sometimes it’s necessary to travel to get the best surf.

I often think we’re spoiled in this area regarding the surf and access. In Ocean City anyone can pull up to the beach on most streets, park a car for free, assuming there is an available spot, and have short passage to the beach and ocean. This isn’t the case in a lot of places.

There are towns in New Jersey where “dog tags” are required. A fee has to be paid and an accompanying proof of that payment – the aforementioned dog tag – just to be able to get on the beach.

Some towns feature huge, old money, summer beach homes that front the beach and make it almost impossible to get to the water’s edge.

I’ve have a good friend who lives south in Accomac, Virginia near the coast in an area where upon first look on a map one would think there’s quick and easy access to the beach and surf.

“Not so fast,” says Scott Webb.

If Scott wants to surf he either has to drive north to the Chincoteague area or boat out to a barrier island, closer, as the crow flies, to his home in Accomac. All of this requires enough time, expense, and effort that it frequently becomes “not worth it.”

On a recent afternoon, in this almost past merry month of March, I ran into longtime friend and area resident, Dave Whigam, as we both checked the surf conditions.

Dave’s a keen surfer and was looking for a second session having surfed earlier in the day. There was still enough swell with a favorable wind though the tide was too low. We both thought that Assateague might be a better call but too long of a drive.

David was lamenting the situation even though he lives in West Ocean City. He works in town and tries to fit in go-outs before and after his job hours so even though Assateague isn’t that far away his consternation was understandable.

Sometimes it’s necessary to travel to get the best surf.

Not too long ago a tall, glasses-wearing guy walked into the shop claiming that there were “no waves around here.” I diplomatically disagreed with him and the discussion continued.

He explained that he lived in Dover, Delaware and managed the golf course, there on the U.S. Air Force Base. Offering an invitation and a phone number his culminating comment was, “It’s six hours from my house to Matunuck. Do you want to go?”

He was referring to an area in Rhode Island that has very good quality surf on the right swell. As far as he was concerned, limiting his surf experience to this fabled spot was satisfying enough at the time.

Apparently he wasn’t going to chase the conditions in his more “local” area, resigned to the idea that a one-way, six-hour drive was just fine when the conditions warranted the journey. His surf time was going to be of the best quality even if it didn’t happen that often.

Sometimes it’s necessary to travel to get the best surf.

I too become jaded at times with such easy access to the ocean. My “back yard” has often been the site of a pretty decent “wave field” all within short walking distance.

Lately though, as in the last few years, it hasn’t been that way. Hopefully that will soon change and improve, what with all the March Nor’easter activity. Until then it’s not too late in the new year for a resolution.

I should heed my own advice. Road trip to New England or Florida? Short drive to Assateague? Overnight to Hatteras? Even a survey of town to check on recent movement of sand and the best “street” on a particular low, mid, or high tide.

Sometimes it’s necessary to travel to get the best surf.

— Dave Dalkiewicz is the owner of Ocean Atlantic Surf Shop in Ocean City.

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