Saturday, November 12, 2016

Sandy Hook Launch

MM is a friend of mine who lives in Monmouth County, basically the stretch of land from the I-95 corridor over to Sandy Hook. She's outdoorsy and athletic, into things like winter camping and biking and climbing and hiking. She's also a surfer, in the board sense, so while we met in a kayaking instructional class, she's always talked up how we should try some surf sometime.

So, last Monday, I drove all the way down to Sandy Hook and met her in one of the parking lots on the ocean side, to survey the scene. Sandy Hook is a long spit pointing almost straight up towards the NYC harbor; it receives a lot of swell on the ocean side, and has a protected bay side, albeit with a lot of fetch. It's a short walk from one side of the hook to the other, so paddlers have their choice: ocean side or bay side.

I've launched from the bay side before. I've heard of people launching on the ocean side, but it's challenging. First of all, along most of the short, the water level rises quite sharply; you can even see this standing on the bank, where a gentle slope of dry sand abruptly dives into the water. The waves are therefore a bit dumpy, and hard to get into the water at all, let alone paddle against.

On this particular day, the other challenge was a steady F4 wind lingering from the previous day, pushing with swell, to create some short period waves (5.2, 5.4 seconds) with wave height of three to four feet. Put this together with the dumpy characteristics, and what we saw was constant rollers cascading just past the shoreline, washing up, and then falling out to be recirculated by the next wave.

MM knew a spot near a jetty though. Also, the shore extended out a bit, so the break was farther away, and while we were still watching foamy hills come up to the shore, it wasn't quite as intimidating.

Here, take a look for yourself.

We decided that the surf zone was, at best, going to be more work that it was worth: it was short, and there wasn't a lot of runway to come off a wave before landing, and coming out again would be a lot work, even assuming no out-of-boat experiences. So, we decided to "circumnavigate" the Hook to the bayside, what MM and her local buddies call a "reverse hooker".

As we proceeded north-ish, we took steady wind abeam, along with swells. You can get a good idea of wave height at about the 2:10 mark in the video above. Generally 3-4 feet, with occasional 5. There were moments when we couldn't see each other, so we kept close.

As we came around the hook, we paddled over a large bank known as the False Hook. As the tide was flooding in, there wasn't as much action there as we hoped, but we had some current and small swell as we paddled past the channel marker.

The entire day was sunny and brilliant, and we could see for miles: ships coming in from sea; the skylines of Manhattan and Jersey City; Romer Light, just two miles away, even the bridge connecting the Rockaways to the rest of Queens.

The bayside had much flatter water, though by no means still. We paddle along the now-familiar shore, past Horseshoe Cove, landing at a small beach that was literally across the street from where we parked. We washed up and had lunch, and that was our day.

Sandy Hook is an interesting place to paddle. It's far to get to, and once there, specific features can be a ways off from paddling. All the same, it's proving to be a good place to go to work in conditions that are hard to find in NYC.

No comments:

Post a Comment