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Last Update - Aug 21st 2009 [ Science ]
Last Surf - Jul 15 @ [ Ogunquit, 3+ ft offshore]
- Boston Buoy -
- Current Wave Loop -

Local : Wed February 26, 20 / 11:12PM

Surfing in the Northeast:
What to wear, what to ride, where to ride, best times of year.
Surfing in the Northeastern United States (Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine) can be very good. Most guys/gals up here are die-hards and will go out in any sort of weather year round. The water can be as warm at 75-80 degrees mid summer and drop down to below 40 degrees in the peak winter month of February. I am writing this article for those of you who will be uprooting and coming out here and don't know what to expect.

There is surf in the Northeast, ok? That being said, the best times of year are Winter, Spring, Hurricane Season, and Fall. Winter, Fall and spring being the most consistent. Average surf days here would be between 1-2 feet 6-10 days a month, 3-4 feet maybe 4-5 days a month, and 6-12 feet maybe once a month after a large storm or post hurricane. Then again, we do have flat spells just like everywhere else on earth so it is not uncommon to go a full 2 weeks without surf. In the winter we see a lot of Nor Easter storms that park themselves off the coast of Maine that produce very large and cold surf. In the summer/fall months we are glued to the 50 minutes past the hour tropical update on the Weather Channel checking the latest progress on any Tropical developments that could become a hurricane and work its way up the coast.

What to ride:
As you can see the surf here is under head high most of the time so you don't always need that 6'0 thruster to have a good surf. Most people have a 2 or 3 board quiver. A longboard is a necessity for those small days (which are many). I also recommend a longboard for those cold winter months as they provide more float and paddle much faster to get you to the lineup. Believe me, it is no fun duckdiving through sets in 38 degree water. Your head will feel like a frozen pineapple after 2 or 3 go unders. Your other board should be a funshape or a shortboard. Reason being that they are a lot of fun to surf at the many point breaks that exist and it is good to jump on another board every now and again. Shortboards are great in hurricane swells in the summer, you have plenty of top to bottom wave, you don't have to wear much rubber (if any at all) and you can duckdive the large sets without getting cold at all. I would also like to add another ingredient to the mix. The Northeast sees extreme temperatures, we have winter days that are below freezing and summer days that top 100 degrees. Make sure to purchase the right wax for your stick before you get to the beach. So anyway, a longboard and a shortboard is the ideal setup (especially for fat old guys like myself).

What to wear:
If you think you have what it takes to do the year round gig you will need a few things. A winter wetsuit, boots and gloves. You will be in this suit from December to about Mid-April. That's 5 months boys and girls, so you better get a good one. I own a Billabong 6x4x3 zipperless. The magic of the suit is that it is pretty light, very warm and has good flex in all the major joints. The only downside is the pricing, suits of this type are pricey but well worth it. There are a number of shops that sell used suits as well, but just remember the water will be cold and the air will be even colder sometimes even snowy. That is a rotten time to discover the used suit you just picked up has a small tear in the back. Now, in the spring, you can start to thaw yourself out by going to a 3x2 with boots and gloves and then just a 3x2 (unless its a rocky point, duh!). For a short while in July/August you will finally have the opportunity to shed everything and trunk it, which is the ideal condition for most. It is at this point that all the wanna-be's and the "summer-surfers" come to roost and get in the way with their out of shape bodies and shiny new boards. After this happy happy time though the fall will start late September and you will slowly layer up for another winter.

Ok, I am not going to totally sell out here, but, in general terms. Rhode Island will pick up a lot of pre hurricane surf and any other low pressure area surf heading north a few days before anywhere else because they face straight south. The next place to pick up this type surf is the Vineyard, Nantucket, Cape Cod and then New Hampshire, Maine (in that order). Spots that work real well for Nor Easters are Maine, NH and Massachusetts. Most spots really like a west, south west or northwest wind, but there are many nooks and harbors that will take a north, northeast wind. You will want to seek these places out because it is a predominant wind in the Northeast coming down out of canada.

Anywhere you go though you will not run into too much attitude, the water will be clean and comparatively speaking to the more tropical spots around the world - the lineup will be almost empty. Do have fun, don't be a jerk. Hope this helps.

the boss

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