New Board: Coil Blur with a general ride review

As I’ve alluded in a few posts here and a few listings in the classifieds section, I’m up-sizing my quiver due to age, injury, and reduced water time.  A number of you picked up on that and have sent me PM’s discussing the issue since you are in the same boat, so I’ll lay it out here and add a pic of a board that was the result of the same conversation with MD.

The issue:  I aged a few years since I first started riding Coils, gained a few pounds, and developed a tricky hip (labrum tear with some arthritis).  While I insisted I would be the first guy to beat the aging process, I’m accepting quiver modification is now justified.

I always rode under-volumed boards (at least 0.1 ft3 under what was recommended), or at least boards with thin rails to engage in the rampy beachbreaks I usually ride, because I could actively generate speed on the thinner, submissive boards to my liking.  But now, with reduced water-time and cardio conditioning, I’m welcoming a little assistance and glide-and-trim, particularly when the waves are not at their best, or when I’m not at my best.  In fact, a friend of mine shipped his old WiderWiderboard (at 1.0ft3 volume) up from Virgina Beach to me top sell locally for him and I’ve ridden that with great results in more marginal surf and keeping it in my quiver instead, but I definitely wanted something to bridge the gap between OK surf and I’m-riding-my-stepup surf, so I started talking to MD about some modifications to keep me from submarining and fatiguing on my tiny 0.85ft3 boards.

I heard a lot of good things about the Blur, so I contacted Mike with that idea in mind.  We honestly discussed my dilemma and I left him with little guidance besides general length (my height or a little longer), a few thoughts on width (suggested mid 19’s), a small swallow tail, and thruster configuration.  I’ve learned to not get so hung up on the numbers as much as just talk through my capabilities, what I want out of the board, and suggest he proportionally fit the shape to the design and to not obsess over the volume number.

The board here is the result.  6’1″ x 19 1/2″ x 2 3/8″ x 0.96ft3, which is a bit more than my go-to 5’11” x 19 1/4″ x 2 5/16″ x 0.85 M80slim.

Coil Blur kick with color

At first I did not quite believe this board had that much more volume because it is aggressively-foiled in the rails and through the tail (the famous “coil foil”), but the foam must be hidden well because it definitely felt much easier to paddle than my lower-volume boards when making my way out and battling the bitch of a current while trying to hold position against the drift in the lineup.  My first wave was arguably the set of the day on which I air-dropped late, pulled in, and drove for a looong time before getting compressed and worked over by the rinse cycle (all waves were freight-trains this day and most were over-walled but there were moments of glory to be had among the carnage); not successfully ridden, per se, but on that particular beast I considered making it to the bottom and driving through it for that distance in full control to be a feather in my cap, and the hoots and post-ride comments from the crowd suggest so as well.   Found my stride after that one and locked in to a few successful barrels before frozen feet drove me out an hour or so later, but I kicked the tires enough to know I’d be comfortable and confident on it next time around.  A very similar swell a week or so later confirmed those suspicions; it was like Groundhog Day paddling into shallow-water heaving walls that either handed your ass to you or gave you a great barrel that you could just escape before the wall detonated on your tail.

I wish I could tell you how it turns but both sessions afforded very little opportunity to do so, but I can tell you this is a super high-performance design on which I feel very confident to reel in late, weightless drops .  Of the two opportunities I had to turn it, I can say it sliced through both turns like a hot knife through butter and the rockers felt spot-on, but admittedly it’s a small sample-size with which I’m working.

For some, the Qualifier might be their ultimate high-performance board, but to be honest with you this Blur is probably as high-performance as I’ll ever need locally, at least until we start hitting the +1.5xOH to I-really-need-my-step-up category.

P.S.- yes, that is the Kick build with an orange accent; for those in the know, this may be the first time you are seeing Kick in Color.

Wetsuit Boot and Glove Drying Rack

It may be a bit late in the season for this how-to, but we may still have a few more weeks of boots and gloves, and you will likely want to give yours a good drying before storing them away, so maybe it is more timely than I think.

Constructed of 1/2” PVC pipe, T-fittings, and caps.  I find this diameter pipe provides plenty of support; going with a heavier pipe would likely restrict circulation and reduce air exchange (stagnation of moist air is what fosters fermentation and the growth of mold and bacteria that results in stinky bootie syndrome).  The fittings are pretty tight as-is, but I take the time to use PVC primer and cement to fix each joint in place and make them air-tight (more on that below).


I will spare you the detailed measurements as your needs will vary based on hand/shoe size.  You may want to consider making it so that it fits inside a plastic bin so you can relocate the entire setup while still dripping wet.


Finally, if you really want to soup it up, tap a brass hose barb (this one is a Watts 1/8” ID x ¼ in MIP; part number LFA-85, available at Home Depot) in the center of the rack, drill one hole in the end of each pipe ending inside the boots and gloves (you may be tempted to go crazy with the drill and make each pipe look like a Wiffle Ball, but that would actually reduce the airflow to the toe and fingertip areas; one ¼” hole as high up on each pipe as possible will maximize the flow from fingertip/toe to cuff).  Finally, hook an aquarium pump up to pressurize the system and get some air flowing through the system.  The airflow does not have to be forceful; just a little bit of flow will carry dampness out of the wet items.

Finally, I sometimes get asked for advice on how to de-funk boots and gloves.  For the most part I just keep up with rinsing with fresh water and drying them completely after every use, but for best de-stinking results, you can wash them in a rubber-safe soap; there are a number of commercially-available wetsuit shampoos, but when the smell starts to get bad I add a little Simple Green in a bucket of warm (not hot as it can damage the rubber and adhesives) water, soak them for a bit, rinse generously with cold water, and dry them out using this pressurized drying rack.

You need a Variant surfboard

Maybe this sounds familiar: Recently, the wind was onshore for over a week with conditions ranging from junk to “meh”, and once the waves finally cleaned up last weekend my schedule was jammed.  So, I was dry for almost two weeks, miserable, and going absolutely looney.

After watching the cameras from my desk at work (and anxiously watching the hard offshore winds beat down what little swell lasted into the early work-week), I finally found a window to surf last night, and arrived at the beach to dead low-tide and knee- to thigh-high conditions at best.  I contemplated running home to grab a longboard, then thought about bagging it, and finally decided to just get in since I had my Variant (by Gallery Surfboards ) and I’ve rarely had a bad session on it, even in the most craptastic conditions.

What happened next was either great luck or something magical if you must assign a metaphysical angle to it: the waves bumped up to chest-high, maybe even shoulder-high on mega-set, on the incoming tide resulting in conditions that really allowed me to generate blistering speed, let loose, clear the cobwebs, and return to a state of sanity.  Eventually the winds turned North and made a mess of the conditions, but that hour-and-change of pure fun was a bonus that I would have missed out on if not for the fact that the Variant lured me into the originally-borderline-pitiful conditions.

With summer (and summer surf conditions) rapidly approaching, I’m less anxious about the crowds and weak conditions than in past years now that I have this secret weapon in my quiver.  I know that I can only glide in straight lines on a longboard for so long before getting bored out of my skull; the Variant allows for speed, driving, and rail-turning that you may think impossible in waves that barely break, and can hold its own even when the waves approach the head+ zone.

The board in question:


Since this was a totally-solo session (at least until a pack of teens and early-20-somethings paddled out on top of me despite there being miles of empty beach and peaks in either direction… what’s up with that?) there are no photos from last night, but here are some past photos in similar conditions (All action photos credited to Gina Petruzzelli) .

Sak on a Variant by Gallery Surfboards

And a little proof that the board can handle bigger conditions as well:


Wetsuit Drying Rack Suggestion

This wetsuit drying rack, built out of 1.25” PVC pipe, has a couple advantages over throwing it over a deck railing (splinters, exposed to UV, runs the risk of the wetsuit freezing in the winter) or hanging it in your shower (it would be in the way and might scare the crap out of you or others in your family by eliciting Psycho shower scene flashbacks) on hangers.

Made with 1.25" PVC pipe

Wetsuit drying rack suggestion

Firstly, if you use it in your shower or tub, it is easily removable.  You can see the base was made to fit a utility tub to catch the drips, so you could even locate it outside the shower or even on a tiled floor in some other room.  A good hint is to make the rack high enough so that neither the ankle or wrist cuffs touch the floor/bottom of the tub, but low enough so they hang inside the tub so no drips can escape it and pool on the floor.


While the fit of the pipe connections are tight enough to stay-put on their own, I glued them with PVC cement so I can lift the entire assembly all together (rack and wetsuit) if I have to quickly relocate it.   I did leave the T connection between the base and the vertical posts so I could disassemble it to adjust the height or if I have to stash it in a closet or transport in the car.

Concerning the Elevated Water Issue and Calls to Dredge the Bay

There has been a lot of hearsay and conjecture regarding the elevated waters in the bay, and a call-to-action demanding the bay be dredged to alleviate the issue. It is unlikely debris (including sand and soil) are the cause of this as Archimedes Principle does not apply due to the fact that the bay is not a closed system. If you drop a bowling ball into a tub, the water level will indeed rise. The problem is, the bay is not a closed-system like a tub; it has open drains (inlets) at each end.  That is the first problem with the dredge-the-bay argument.

Secondly, while it is true that water levels in the bay have been running much higher than usual, so have water levels in the ocean and the inlets (there are plenty of tide gauge stations online, including one in Barnegat Inlet itself), demonstrating that the source of the flooding (the ocean) is high, and water, via gravity, wants to equilibrate and find a common level; it just so happens the location of that equilibrium point involves Barnegat Bay.

In fact, I am looking out my office window, which is right in the mouth of the an inlet (where the bays have unrestricted passage to drain back into the ocean), at a flooded marsh surface, and am keeping an eye on the tide via an array of USGS depth sensors to time my egress so as to not get trapped here by a flooded-out road until the next ebb late tonight. It is the ocean that is flooding the area here, NOT a bay allegedly swelled by debris.

USGS tide sensor at Little Egg Inlet

Great Bay Blvd just starting to flood

So, why is the ocean higher than usual? This can be explained by the fact that we are in a strong –NAO pattern, which sets up a high-pressure block over Greenland, which traps storms against the NE coast, causing extended periods of surge, thus increasing the duration and severity of coastal flooding events. In fact, this phenomenon is what caused Sandy to make that bizarre left-turn into the coast and is what has been causing storms to park near the coast and flood our shores since then.

Add to that that we are also in a +PNA pattern, which sets the stage for coastal storm development. Then note that we have a –AO dip in the jet stream feeding developing coastal storms with an ample supply of cold air. All this nurtures Nor’easters and supercharges them once they form.

If you need more explanation of all of this, please refer to the featured article I posted on March 5th titled “Some science behind the upcoming storm (and why people in the know are making a big deal of it)

This issue is much bigger than what happened/is going on in the tiny lagoonal estuary we call Barnegat Bay; it is a hemisphere-affecting phenomenon. I only hope the decision-makers listen to scientists who know better and not bow to the dredge-the-bay-from-shore-to-shore advocates pushing for well-intended but misguided gutting of the bay. Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to see a solution devised, but not based on mis-information and hysteria, and not at the expense of destroying the bay itself.

Current NAO, PNA, and AO


Some useful links:


Winter Storm Saturn sort-of-post-mortem comments

Well, post-mortem may be an erroneous descriptor as the storm is still quite active offshore of our coast and will continue to affect us for days to come, but since the dramatic wind and rain has backed off for now, it’s worth paying the subject a visit.

If you tuned in to the news or kept your eye on social media over the last 24 hours, you know that Winter Storm Saturn did indeed cause quite a bit of storm-surge flooding in certain areas, and considerably less in others; it seemed like the further south you looked, the greater the surge.  A few factors were at play in this phenomenon:

The storm ejected a bit south than originally predicted; entry into the Atlantic off the DelMarVa region was modeled, but it appears the center of circulation over open waters wound up being over the Carolinas.  That put Delaware Bay and Chesapeake Bay right in that trouble zone (just north of the “eye”) during the height of the storm; water entered the mouths of the bays but had no way out and stacked up.  I’ve seen some footage of cars up to their side-view mirrors down in Ocean City, Maryland and at least one floating in a wash-out in North Carolina.

In some localized cases, the strong sustained NE-NNE winds through the height of the storm appear to have pushed water towards the mainland side, relieving flooding pressure on the bay-side of the barrier islands but causing trouble at some low-lying communities situated in/near embayments on the mainland.  And while that eventual shift to N-NNW was good for some areas, assisting tidal drainage in North-South oriented bays like Barnegat, it cause trouble for communities on north-facing shorelines within bays like Tuckerton Beach and the north shore of Long Island, pushing water towards them.

Also, once the storm ejected off the coast, it initially took more of an eastward track instead of the anticipated NE path.  That resulted in an easing of the surge in the northern half of the state as time went by rather than increased surging from an obliquely-approaching storm; while northern and central NJ did indeed receive quite a bit of swell and surge (including some overwashing of seawalls, breaching of dunes weakened by Sandy, and some minor to moderate street and property flooding), the fetch of the winds (illustrated below) was maximized for southern NJ and the aforementioned DelMarVa region, resulting in feet, rather than inches, of surge in roadways and low-lying communities.

Illustration of the fetch from Winter Storm Saturn.  Image credit:

So, the assessment of this storm to date is that it was a bit underwhelming in some areas (particularly if you were anticipating and bracing for the worst or a bit inland and hoping for a snow-event), overwhelming in others (particularly in the coastal areas in the southern half of NJ and DelMarVa), and absolutely fascinating due to it’s complexity.  Also, despite improved weather today, Saturn has stalled a bit over the Atlantic thanks to that -NAO I addressed in my post on Monday, making a turn to the NE, and receiving energy and moisture from another system approaching from the west via the Great Lakes, so it will continue to throw precipitation, swell and sideshore winds at our coast through the remainder of the work-week, which means continued storm surge (particularly around high tides) and sustained swell, which means further erosion of our already-battered beaches and dunes.  Since it ain’t over, I may post a post-post-mortem down the line, but this should feed your brain a bit for now.




Some science behind the upcoming storm (and why people in the know are making a big deal of it)

So, why is everyone making a big deal about the upcoming storm? Besides the obvious vulnerabilities to our Sandy-damaged shorelines and communities (ocean and bayside areas will be vulnerable to coastal flooding, erosion, and wash-over events due to increased water levels and wave heights; low-lying areas inland may also be susceptible to flooding from nearby creeks and even storm drains), there are a number of variables that are coming together that may have cumulative (bad) effects.

First is the fact that it looks like the storm looks like it is going to have tight circulation, with an “eye” and the appearance of a tropical storm/hurricane, which means conditions may mimic the effects of one as well. Here is a screen-grab of the wind prediction posted over at

Because it looks like this storm is going to eject somewhere off the Mid-Atlantic seaboard and be slow to move off, it is likely that the tri-state area is going to be on the “wrong side” (North) of the storm’s center, receiving strong NE-NNE-N winds for a good period of time, maximizing wind, waves, and storm-surge.  This means that nearshore waters and back-bays will likely have trouble draining as the tidal ebb out to sea will have to fight a continued surging of water towards land.  Again, I’ll post a screen-grab from illustrating this point:

The good news is that we are between the new and full moon states at the moment, which means the storm surge won’t have too much of an assist from the lunar tide.


Now, let me introduce a little equation punctuated with some humor:

(+PNA)+(-NAO)+(-AO)= OMG!

(I added the “OMG!” for comedic effect, but the three variables on the left side of the equation are legit)



The PNA (Pacific/North American Teleconnection Pattern) is a driving factor in storm formation in the northern hemisphere.  Associated with the strength and location of the East Asian Jet Stream, it encourages or suppresses storm formation.  A –PNA brings warm weather up from the South, which encourages tropical development (this is the mechanism by which Hurricane Sandy gained strength as she moved up the Eastern Seaboard), while a +PNA state brings cold weather down from the Arctic and fuels winter storm development.  We are currently in a strong +PNA.



The AO (Arctic Oscillation) sets up either warm air over the eastern half of the United States during its positive phase or allows cold, dry arctic air to plunge southward during its negative phase.  This plunging of cold, dry arctic air can fuel developing winter coastal storms.  A shift from a positive to negative AO at precisely the “right time” set up conditions to spawn a Nor’easter that then fused with Sandy, resulting in her transformation from a warm-core hurricane to cold-core hybrid storm) as she approached the eastern seaboard.  This is what appears to be setting up for this mid-week storm (not a hybridization, but rather the development of a true cold-core Nor’easter).



The NAO (North American Oscillation) is part of the Arctic Oscillation and is another strong driving factor in storm movement in the Atlantic basin.  A +NAO leads to increased westerly winds around the arctic and keeps cold air constrained to higher latitudes.  Storms are allowed to move freely, and if a strong Bermuda High is at work, they latch onto it and ride it like an escalator into open water.  Conversely, a -NAO results in suppressed westerly winds, allows cold Arctic air to slip south, and allows a “blocking high” to setup over Greenland.  This blocking high, true to it’s moniker, hinders storms from moving off to the northeast; they get “stuck” against the coast, and if a cold-core storm and fed an ample supply of cold arctic air (see AO, above), continue to churn (throwing swell and surge against the coast).  This –NAO is what happened during Sandy, and what is happening now; this storm will likely get held against the coast for an extended period of time by this blocking action.


Hopefully that explains some of the science behind why this storm is the talk of the town.

On a final note, looking back to the coastal flooding we experienced on December 27th, which was a news-worthy event in itself as it flooded out a number of homes in low-lying areas that had never been flooded out until Sandy came along:  Unlike the upcoming event, it came during an extreme lunar tide, so its surge had a bit of additional help in that respect.  That said, it was under a +PNA, -AO, +NAO state, so while a broad, slow-moving storm, it had a clearer path out to sea (thanks to less blocking) than this one will likely have.  Regardless of these minor differences, the similarities between the two systems are enough to serve as a heads-up regarding what we may soon experience.


Barrier Island Migration

Harvested from Google Earth, this image speaks volumes on the issue of barrier island migration.  The principle is that during periods of sea-level rise, barrier islands will “migrate” inland via erosion and long-shore transport of sediment followed by its deposition elsewhere.  All this is facilitated by storm-driven wash-over events, such as those that occurred during Superstorm Sandy, that “push” (the actual mechanism is more akin to disassembly and reassembly) the barrier island back towards the mainland.  Conversely, during periods of sea-level fall, barrier islands will relocate sea-ward due to reduced erosion and increased near-shore sediment deposition at and just beyond the ocean-front margins.

Google Earth screen-grab of the Holgate-Forsythe border

The image here is the south end of Long Beach Island (LBI), showing the populated, and “hardened”, area of Holgate in Long Beach Township and the preserved natural area of the Forsythe Reserve to its South.  For the most part, fortification has stabilized the developed portion, but for anyone who is familiar with the area, it has come at the expense of the beach (hardening a shoreline often accelerates erosion at the beach front) itself, and many ocean-front houses exist under a constant state of threat by waves and surge, while the preserved natural area has been allowed to follow the natural path of Westward migration and thus has self-maintained a healthier beach profile.


Some may take this information as proof that fortification/hardening of the beach front works, but many experts in the field feel that what some consider a permanent solution is actually a temporary fix, and likely provides a false sense of security by convincing people to stay-put, actually putting them in harm’s way by providing erroneous reassurance.  Bearing in mind that rising waters, storms like Sandy, and likely time itself may eventually prove futile the efforts made to nail-down the island where it currently lies.


Another interesting point to note is that, while the Forsythe Reserve area did indeed experience over-wash and breaching during Sandy, these breaches have filled in via natural sediment transport, requiring no human intervention, since the event.

Adding some perspective to “The Dune Debate”

I just got back from a business trip to South Carolina.  A sight observed during a walk down to their beach puts into perspective the chatter and debate about the small engineered dune systems (translation: small piles of sand with a little dune grass planted on top) being reconstructed and/or newly-considered (and in some cases protested) on beach fronts in my home state of NJ versus more expansive and robust natural dunes (pictured) such as those in the Pawley’s Island area that were embraced and incorporated in their development.

Some may debate, with validity, whether the development shown in this photo is too close to the ocean, but it can’t be debated that dunes such as these provide far better protection than the little piles of sand we call dunes in NJ. Except for some preserved areas (such as those in Sandy Hook, Island Beach State Park, Barnegat Light, Forsythe, etc.), dunes such as these are the exception, rather than the rule, in NJ, which is a shame as they provide far better protection to that which lies behind them, be it natural habitat, wildlife, or people and their possessions such as homes, businesses, and infrastructure.


As you can see, there are multiple tiers and elevations to this dune, the vegetation is far denser and more diverse than what we see on ours, and if you click through to the full-size image you can see how elevated walkways were constructed over the dunes rather than cut through them, which would weaken their integrity during storm surge events with significant wave action.

Something to consider in the ongoing debate.