A Day in the Life of an East End Surfer

Written By: Julie Moore

A Day in the Life of an East End Surfer by Julie Moore His job ended at 5:30 p.m. and he hurried to get to one of his favorite surfing spots to check out the waves. They called the spot “Mary’s” and it was located where a jetty of rocks were planted in the ocean years ago. The conditions looked good today with four good waves in a set, straight down the line. He wished he could call a couple of his friends to let them know the potential he saw out there but his phone was dead. He cursed for forgetting to charge it again. He went back to get his board, coated it with a thin layer of wax and jogged back to the beach. When he got back he saw a couple of the regulars in the water and they greeted each other. It was late in July, going on 7 p.m. now and Mary’s was getting crowded with surfers. In about three minutes time, seven of the older guys with their long boards came out. He guessed word was out that the surfing was pretty good tonight. The waves were crashing on both sides of the rocks. The older guys were on the right side with thicker, barreling waves. He was on the left side where the waves looked cleaner, longer and better for his short board. He looked up and saw a storm system moving in about to clash with the sun that set low in the sky. The impact rippled down through the ocean to meet up with the surfers and its effect caused a perfect storm of ideal conditions. When the wind hits the waves and the spray shoots off the top, the sea shows its face. It was a beautiful sight. He knew he was supposed to be getting home and he headed toward the parking lot. The sunset was about an hour away and it was going to be a spectacular event tonight. As he moved closer to the dunes the approaching storm bent the sea grass northward in the newly whipped up breeze. He attempted to fight the urge to stay but with anticipation of what might be, on a night like tonight, his will was weakening. He pulled out of the parking lot onto Dune Road and had only driven a short distance when he saw his buddy’s truck drive by and as they past each other he noticed his friend’s arm extended out the window in shaka fashion. These boys were not Hawaiian but they knew how to live in the moment and hang loose. He turned the car around and met up with the guys in the lot at Lashley Beach affectionately known by the Westhampton locals as Jetty Four. He told them about the sweet surfing scene unfolding at the beach and they half-heartedly faked enthusiasm but their demeanor evolved like the current when they saw it for themselves. Their nonchalance turned quickly to excitement rivaling the accumulating static in the air, and their paces quickened so they could be a part of the charged-up party in the Atlantic. The best sessions they’d seen in a while were about to begin. He spent the rest of the hour and then some, paddling out and catching as many of these glorious gems of the sea as possible, each better than the next. He pushed himself harder and farther each time. He was exhausted but happy. The paddling, duck-diving and balancing were tiring but as he made it past the breakers, he managed to catch a beauty just before it was too late. He dipped under the curl, came out of the barrel and rode it all the way to shore for an ultimate moment of pure joy. As the wind picked up, the rain began to fall, and the curtain of darkness was about to descend upon him, a crescendo of hail drifted down like nature’s applause, signaling the finish of the day. All those in attendance felt privy to something unique and very special. They raised their fists and started hooting and hollering until they could barely see each other in the twilight that quickly settled all around. The stars were in exact alignment on this night, the beginning of a twenty-four hour window of ripe surfing conditions. These peak performance waves were there for the picking. It was starting to get colder and he had a craving for a cheeseburger and a milkshake. He went home, dropped off his stuff, changed quickly, then headed back out to his friend’s house to eat burgers and plan for the next day. He was tired but the prospect of the possibilities kept him going. They decided to meet at Mary’s at 6 a.m. He was up at 5:50 a.m. He ran downstairs, opened the cupboard and grabbed a hefty handful of cereal to stuff into his mouth as he swigged some milk, grabbed the keys and hustled out the door. Mary’s was already packed with surfers so he jumped back in the car and proceeded on to Cupsogue Beach where the swells were cleaner but undeveloped as yet. He was texting one of the guys who was on his way there and although his friend’s stomach was doing battle with the barrage of burgers they had eaten the night before, he didn’t let that stop him. They met up at Jon Scott’s Surf Shack and headed back to Mary’s together. The waves were breaking at the rock point today and some non-locals were out in the water. The guys respectfully but dominantly took their place at the head of the line for this was the protocol at beaches all over the world. Locals have first shot, visitors get next in line, usually. The visitors left at about 7:30 a.m. and soon after some of the other locals took their place in the water. Some of the old, gruff guys were there. They kept to themselves. The local surf store owner joined the group and discussions involving surfboards and surfing destinations filled the air. Six and seven foot breakers were coming in and the last great surge was coming right out to greet him. He jumped on his board just as his friend did the same and they rode that wave train in to shore, perilously close to tangling up along the way. He cursed, his friend laughed and when they walked out of the ocean, their boss was there checking out the waves. When he commented on the wave stealing friend’s transgression, the friend acknowledged it with a laugh and shot back, “That’s what friends are for!” They all laughed. Of course, there would be payback. He left the beach and picked up a breakfast sandwich at the deli before heading off to work. When work ended, he and his buddy went to the local surf store to check out new arrivals. They made plans to hit the waves out at Cupsogue. When they met there, a band was playing 80’s music and one of the guys pulled out his Dad’s retro wetsuit from the backseat. The color was a screamingly loud turquoise and he cracked the other guys up. The gaudy wetsuit competed for attention with the bright blue sky and vivid green mossy rocks. The mood was light and fun was in the air. They jumped into one of their four wheel drive trucks in order to drive over the dunes. They reached the point where the ocean meets the bay. The waves looked spectacular and so inviting. They could just taste the salt on their lips. They were pumped to get out there and partake of this welcome gift. They waded out and dove in and the reality was just as great as it appeared to be. He was alive in the moment of this day, riding as many long waves into shore, getting barreled, getting back up and making memories. He had surfboard rashes on the inside of his arms and legs in addition to an annoying jellyfish sting but he kept going, nonstop, picking up the nickname, “Wave Machine” for catching so many great rides. He even managed to catch some air off the lip of the face of a wave for the first time today. Then the winds began to change and the water grew colder. He began to shiver from the chill. The sleepy sun was slipping from sight and he dragged himself and his board out of the water and off toward home. He’d be up again the next day and at work by 9:30 a.m. The tantalizing tides that had blown in for the past twenty-four hours had departed for parts unknown but the future held hope. More treasures from the sea were sure to roll his way. He felt deep gratitude for the East End beaches he called home and eager anticipation for the next set of sublime surf sets that would visit his village again.