I’ll admit it: I’d been dreaming of moving to California. Warm weather, consistent waves, taller mountains were all dancing around my mind like a cluster of free spirited twenty-somethings at Coachella. But amidst my pining, the Atlantic Ocean woke up.
My two day excursion began at 4am. I fixed a quick home-style Egg McMuffin, collected my surf and photography gear, and hit the road in the trusty old Subaru Outback.
I arrived in Montauk just after 8am and began shooting photos from my favorite spots. Lately, I’d been shooting with a shutter speed at 1/400th, but after watching a few clips of Dylan Brayshaw, an Australian surf photographer and vlogger, I decided to up my shutter speed. To do this, I needed to increase my ISO above 200 as well (my camera doesn’t do very well with high ISO’s, and I tend to keep it around 100-200). So what were the results? I find the photos at 1/800, 1/1000 and 1/2000 to be much crispier than the photos with my previous settings. So, if possible, it's worth it to adjust ISO / aperture for the benefits of the shutter speed.
After shooting for two hours, I couldn’t wait any longer to surf. I suited up and went out with my 9’6” Channel Island single fin. I paddled out at a nice left point, which actually reminded me of Salt Creek in California.
I caught a few nice long rides and was feeling confident and greedy. I spun late on a bigger wave—but was too late. I bailed out the back and immediately felt the eerie freedom, which occurs when your surfboard is no longer attached to your leg. My leash had broken and I was floating untethered.
On these occassions, I like to opt for a messy bodysurf rather than ducking under waves. I find it's faster and helps avoid potentially wasting energy being stuck in a rip current. Plus, it’s fun. So I slid down a few waves, then carefully belly slid my way over some rocks and made it to shore. My board was getting battered by the waves and rocks, so I trotted over and rescued my beloved single fin before something irreversible happened.
The board sustained quite a few dings. I returned it to my car, grabbed my 6’0” Hayden Shapes Shred Sled and went back out. I got some really great rides and I don’t know why I hadn’t been on the smaller board to begin with. The waves had plenty of size and power.
After that, I got back out, shot more photos until about 5pm, then went looking for a place to stay. Amazingly, I checked Kayak.com for a hotel in the area, and one of the nicest hotels, Montauk Manor was only $100/night.
I booked the room. Then grabbed a burger and beer at the Shagwong Bar & Grill, and spent the rest of the evening editing photos on a plush couch by a fireplace in the lobby of the Montauk Manor, before retiring to my two floor suite facing the Long Island sound (Fort Pond Bay, specifically). If you're looking for winter recommendations in the area, Whalebone Magazine has a great roundup of choices here.
By the time my adventure was over, I was surfed out. My muscles were so tight, I could feel it while turning the steering wheel on the drive home. And since the forecast is calling for more waves on Tuesday, the West Coast is the furthest thing from my mind at the moment. It's funny how quickly the mind can change after a great day of waves.
Key Swell Attributes:
5ft @10s E 92 Degree
Report and photos by Ross Cauvel