February 07, 2023 4 min read
I’m often asked about what my typical East Coast surfing road trip entails. Well, the thing is, there’s no one typical trip, each one always ends up being completely different.
At the start of each trip, you never really know where you are going to end up, or the type of weather and waves you’ll find.
With a wealth of weather forecasting apps literally in your hand at any given time, you can of course have a bit of an idea, but as we all know, not even the world’s best can predict Mother Nature’s erraticness. You just have to hope for the best and expect the least, all while making memories along the way.
That’s certainly what we did when myself and a couple of friends chased the swell from Hurricane Ian on our recent trip up the East Coast. Here’s a few words from this trips on-the-road diary:
I woke up expecting offshore winds and 2-4ft of swell, but once I reached the beach I discovered quite the opposite. The waves were flat and the winds were blowing.
I instantly started scouring the East Coast surf and weather forecast, desperately trying to find a surfable wave nearby.
Within minutes, the stars seemed to align when I noticed a swell was on its way to a zone 14-hours drive north of where I currently stood.
Before filling the gas tank of my van and hitting the road, I hedged my bets and called fellow Katin team surfer and friend, Nick Copenhaver, who was familiar with the region where the swell was headed. After a few clicks and scrolls, Nick gave me the green light - the forecast was looking promising.
Realizing we had a trip that might be worth documenting, I called photographer and friend, Luke Kothera, to see if he wanted to ride along. Two hours later, we were on the road headed north.
Several caffeinated beverages and road snacks later, we arrived on Nick’s doorstep just past 1am. We tried resting our eyes, but found ourselves laying restlessly thinking about what boards to ride and imagining visions of the type of waves we were hoping to score. One thing we knew for certain was, no matter what Mother Nature offered up, we had the right boards at arm’s reach; two longboards, two mid lengths, three fish, and a couple high performance shortboards.
After a couple of hours of sleep, we were up at sunrise with another day of driving ahead of us. After a big breakfast and coffee at Nick’s local diner, we were back on the road again heading north.
We arrived at our final destination just before nightfall and came across a hole-in-the-wall bar plugging live music. Inside, to our surprise, were a bunch of familiar faces and some friends we’d spoken to via social media, but never met in person. We enjoyed a few cold beers and plenty of laughs, listening to incredible local band Liminal Space. Our new friends offered us a place at a local farm to park my van for the night and a warm fire to enjoy a few more beers.
As the sun rose the next day, we packed up camp as the crisp offshore winds started to blow. As long as the swell had filled in overnight, we were sure the waves were going to be on.
We hurried to the beach and as we pulled up we were greeted with long, peeling rights.
While it was smaller than we had hoped, the conditions were perfect for our longboards and the local surfers welcomed us as if we had grown up there.
We surfed all day, occasionally coming in to rehydrate and refuel. After countless hours of back-to-back waves to the shore, the daylight disappeared and we made our way to the local pub for dinner and a few beers.
We woke the following morning to a stronger offshore breeze and a bit more swell, so we decided to take our chances and look for a different wave to surf. Cruising the coastline, searching every nook and cranny, we stumbled upon a wave we never thought we’d come across on this trip - a 2-3 ft left point break, offshore and peeling. It was a far paddle to get to the waves, but we decided to try our luck. And luck was in our favor. For hours, we shared nothing but laughs, waves and perfect visions of each other, surfing alongside the beautiful cliffside by the wave. As the day wore on and the swell began to fade, we knew our surfing safari was coming to an end.
The next morning we hit the road and made our way back south.
We might not have scored the exact waves we had gone looking for, but we had a blast and made new friends in the process, while managing to surf some novelty waves that rarely break.
As we made our trek home, we talked about where our next road trip would take us and the waves we would score. Until then, it was back to scrolling the multiple weather apps on our phones, looking for the next swell to pop up.
See you out there. Saxon W.