First Winter Surf in Time of COVID

Pretty much gave up on paddling from spring through the fall because of parking restrictions and crowds along the beaches. Reacquanted myself instead with backpacking the White Mountains and seeking out wild trout in the uncrowded places with my flyrod. Actually, looking forward to doing more of this again in the coming spring through fall. :slight_smile:

However, we have had a couple of nice noreasters since winter started. With some nice swells rolling and much less crowded beachs, I found a rekindled interest in breaking out the paddle and waveski and heading out.

December 1 (or 2?), we had some great weather and 4-5’ swells rolling in. Nice enough that we had more than the usual smaller numbers of surfers, but still not so much than one couldn’t find a more solitary spot if desired.

The shoulder/head height waves were enough to test me as I hadn’t surfed since early spring. My wind clearly is not what it was now that I have not had to do a daily 1.5 hour bike commute to the office (which I haven’t seen since March). Had instances where I was sprinting maybe 2/3 ways through the break zone and feeling winded. Not a good feeling when facing one or two oncoming waves looking to break on top of me…

Had a couple of good hours of riding. Only a couple of flips. No biggie as the roll was still working, even after the lay-off. So, on the last ride in, I got flipped by the foam pile. Since I was going in anyway, I dropped my paddle and went to release the belt. I tried, the belt didn’t release. Tried again, same thing. At that point, I was in maybe 2’ of water. I pushed against the bottom and tried to get back over. Got a breath but didn’t right the ski. Tried the belt again with no success. Thinking to myself, “Well… this is a pretty stupid way to die…” I tried again, unsuccessfully… Finally, it occurred to me to pull my mitten off and go for the buckle release barehanded. SUCCESS! The “hard knock lesson” is to not get complacent and test everything. I haven’t worn mitts since last winter. The mitts really dulled the ability to locate the buckle release. In the attempts at releasing the buckle, I was first calm and then began to feel urgency by the third/fourth try. However, by then, my mind had “locked in” the response, each time thinking it would work. Luckily, I finally broke out of that mindset and went for something different.

Here is my fix to the minimize the chance of not finding the buckle release (addition of a red ball to the buckle end):

Yesterday, was my 2nd winter surf of the year. Pretty much the same waves as the first winter surf, except for the fact there wasn’t any sun, the snow remains from the epic nor’easter we had several days ago.

The colder temps have definitely put the kabosh on the fairer weather surfers. There were only several surfers out when I got there.

I mentioned in another thread about my disaster with the Infinity Stinger Waveski, getting taken by a gust last year and thrown over the seawall onto the rocks below. Well, it took months to drain, dry and patch the cracked and gouged out tail. You can see the patches by the inexact match of coloring in my repair job. But, the aestethics to me is not how it looks but how it surfs. With respect to the latter, the Stinger is still a beauty. :slight_smile:

Today was my third winter surf. The break was just clearing out from the fog that had engulfed since early morning. No one else out (folks still working I guess, while I am on the first day of my two week holiday vacation).

Waves were in the 3-4’ range. Way more mellow. Never felt winded trying to get out through the break zone. Never felt I was going to get flipping head over a$$ by a breaking wave on the paddle out. The riding was mellow and shorter. Never needed a combat roll. Instead, took some rolling practice outside the break zone every so often. And, the buckle release worked fine when I got inside and called it a day. :relieved:

Mahalo – for surf, for life.


So good to hear from you, sing. Glad you weren’t injured or worse in those brain-fog moments with the mitt.

Welcome back Sing. Was wondering how you were doing. We have had some amazing waves this Fall; we also have had some amazing crowds all Summer and Fall. It’s like every day in the parking lots is the 4th of July. Lots of Arizonies and inland CA types who don’t believe in viruses. I too found I was in pretty poor shape for the first day of real winter surf. Have not been to the gym since February 15th 2019 and my home work outs mostly consist of walking up and down the hills by my house. My son loaned me a fancy E-bike and I have been using that a lot. I only use the power assist for steep hills, and when you kick in the electric afterburners it gives a grand illusion of being a fit 20 year old again and zipping up the steepest streets. My son Ian did the waveski trick where the belt release got rolled under in his lap once. I noticed he was in trouble and helped him get out. We experimented a bit to see what to do if the belt wouldn’t release, you can kind of dog paddle your head up to the surface and scream for help, works on my Stinger … anyway Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas etc… Hoping next year is better. I did an Solstice Sunset Surf tonight in small waves where I knew there would not be a lot of surfers around. Beautiful clear evening. Air temp was in the low 60s, water about 59. Surf was crap but for a few hours I felt about ten years younger.

Thanks, rookie. Yes, good to survive for another day. Addled mind or not. LOL!

I can’t imagine SD in the warmer months. The beaches and breaks around were horrendously crowded during spring through fall. Dropped by one time to just walk and some racist a-hole got on my case because I was wearing a mask. Wanted to kick his tush. Too many folks around. But hopefully Darwin and COVID took care of it for me.

Yeah, another reason my wind is suffering, haven’t coached at the MMA gym since March. Have the heavy bag in the garage. But, not the same motivation. I gained 5 pounds also because of the significantly reduced exercise level. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

Yeah, glad you got and enjoyed. I felt pretty good yesterday too. Today, not so much… My body is aching! :grimacing:


Good to see you back Sing.

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Yes I have to agree it’s good to read your post again. I have done more sailing than paddling. Getting out on weekdays no weekends. I also have been fly fishing more. I have lost a bit of weight, but haven’t got the exercise I normally get. Have mostly been living like a hermit since March. Might be wise to have one of those seatbelt cutters with you, just incase.

Good to see some of the “old timers” are still around and, apparently, well in these crazy times. :+1: :muscle:

Stay safe into the 2021.


Ohhhh, the nonreleasing lap belt thing…even though I didn’t get many wave days with my wave ski, I had one of those OhSHT events, too.

Mine was not a case of mitts vs bare hands. What happened was when I got flipped, the ski moved in such a way that the belt ended up TIGHT across my hips instead of a little farther down. Too much tension did not allow the buckle to release! Fortunately, after several failed attempts my feet hit bottom sand—shallow water, yay—and I stood up, wearing the ski as if it were a big bulky brace against my backside. So at least I could breathe while working in enough slack for the buckle to release.

I wonder what % of wave skiers have their own nonrelease stories. Glad you got it undone in that frigid water!

Seadart, I hear ya about the Zonies running around maskless and heedless. We get too many of those in the Four Corners, and I’m NOT talking about the Navajo rez residents coming to buy groceries; most of them do mask up.

Drove by Nantasket a few weeks ago, was hoping you’d been getting out. That’s great about the backpacking. I updated a lot of my gear to a lightweight setup a few years ago, but didn’t go this year with the virus and all. I don’t know if you have tried the Long Trial in VT, I’ve been trying to finish a small section every summer. I find it to be a very nice trail, especially where it branches off the AT north of Killington, not too many people. And there is usually a shelter, water source, and privy every 5-7 miles. Being an out of shape flatlander that’s about all I can handle in a day.
I started striper fishing around Quincy, mostly on the sand bar heading out to Thompson. Don’t catch much but gets me outside for a few hours. Went over to the dark side and got a small skiff, can putt around with the wife and kid. Never thought I’d enjoy a motorboat but it’s been a blast, feels enormous compared to the sea kayak. Haven’t been paddling much except for a 2 week Maine trip my friend was kind enough to include me on.
Hope you get more winter surf, the weather has been pretty nice, even though it’s finally cooled down.

Nice rig!
Is it an inflatable?

Picked up an older Carolina Skiff j14 with a 10hp 2 stroke tiller motor and a trailer. Mounted some rod holders on it and it’s been a decent little fishing boat. Easy to trailer.

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You must have been rockin’ a shorter ski. My Stinger is a longboard, @ 9’. I am not sure if I can “stand up” with the ski strapped around my hips. I imagine if I were to hunch over, maybe… I suspect it would be still be difficult, with the tail still in the water and getting whacked by the foam pile. Only way to find out… Going to have try that. :thinking:


The waveski is epoxy/fiberglass over a foam core. Essentially, it’s a surfboard that one surfs in a sitting position and paddles, rather than ride with a standing position.


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Sounds like a good fish chaser, on calmer days. :slight_smile: In Quincy, I have had luck striper fishing on the ebbing tide on the downstream side of Thompson Island sand bar. That side drops off more than the upstream. Also good on the ebbing tide, is the various sandbar areas 100 -300 yards off the mouth of the Black Creek. Don’t get in too close at night, less you risk getting hit by long casting surfrod fishers who hang out at the creek mouth. Veezie’s Rocks, Hangman’s Island and Sunken Ledge are also striper hangouts in Quincy Bay.

If you fish the channel between Peddocks and Rainsford. There are rocky high spots with boulders 30’ -40’ down that hold Black Bass. Again, I seem to have better luck on the ebbing tide.

Hospital Shoals SE of Rainsford is great spot for fluke fishing in the summer months. A bit crazy there if there are any swells coming in. Depending on the stage of the ebbing tide, you can find yourself on facing an unexpected breaking wave, or worse, a set of them!


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Yes, it is short: 7’4”. The other thing is that this mishap occurred after I pulled my feet out of the footstraps first—the wave motion then slid the ski (with me belted in) so that it was above my head when my feet hit sand and I stood up. And I was hunched over, all right.

I had practiced unbuckling first most times, but an experienced wave skier warned me that he had broken an ankle one time when his belt was open but the foot was still under the strap as he got tossed around. So this time I removed my feet first, only to experience a different kind of ARGH.

After that, I practiced removing feet from strap and unbuckling simultaneously. Easier said than done.

Wow. 7’4" high performance ski. I have four HP skis in the 7’8"-7’10" range that I don’t ride much at all. These feel way to unstable now that I am 10-15 lbs heavier than when I got them. Feels like I am just doing roll practice when I take them out because I am so unstable and get easily flipped by any significant size wave.


Haha, that makes me feel better about being a bit of a wimp picking days to play Will There Be Nice Surf or Not? I got the ski from a maker who lived maybe 1.5 to 2 hrs from my then-home, and his home was right near water that was notorious for being hard to catch at the right time unless you lived really, really close to it.

I happened to love this area because of its relatively wild scenery and a sandy beach (also some rocky ones). With the sea kayak, when the waves died down to nothing, I could shrug it off and just go for a beautiful paddle. With the ski, meh. I wasn’t experienced/skilled enough to have fun in steep waves, and paddling flat water on it wasn’t worth the drive.

One time—and this was on a good day—I encountered someone I knew from the town I lived in. She said she and BF always brought their snorkel gear in case the SUP surfing went flat. On this day, it didn’t go flat, though. It was the best I got there, and then it turned bigger and more violent. I decided to stop before I got thrashed. So I never got good at it; just not enough practice.

The ski is a work of art, literally. The creator paints custom designs, and I suggested a doozy of one. He did an incredible job! I’ll try to dig up a pic showing the painting he did. I don’t paddle the wave ski at all now and am keeping it for the art work, LOL. I should’ve donated it to one of the marine science centers to display the art he painted on it.


Thanks Sing, that’s a lot of prime spots, I’ll check 'em out in the spring!
Happy holidays and I hope you get out on the waveski in some sweet waves!