The East Coast Microcosm

The East Coast Microcosm
[IMAGE 1]by Sean Slater

The East Coast is considered the small-wave capital of the world. Our waves can, from time to time, show us world-class form. Although this doesn’t happen as often as we’d like, many of us churn with excitement when it finally does. Swells create an energy of sorts in the small towns and cities up and down the Atlantic coast. I wish I was going to tell you how unreal it’s been lately, but we’re going into summer now and we usually expect a pretty frustrating flat spell until we see signs of the first hurricanes starting to spin off the coast of Africa. Instead of going on and on about the impending flatness, let’s talk a little about some things that set the East Coast apart from everywhere else.

I can remember working in a surf shop about twelve years ago, and I sometimes sold items that made little sense to me, things I’ve only seen on the Atlantic coast. The first on this list would be the leash floater. This is a bobber for a leash that, let me try and sell you this, actually floats the leash on top of the water exactly like a fishing line. The makers of the product said it was used for “more speed,” but I can’t say if it works because I’ve never tried one. What about those stick-on channels? I may be mistaken, but I’ve never seen those on the West Coast. It’s just an assumption, but these might slow you down slightly while giving you more bite on your turns.

Up and down the Eastern Seaboard, you’ll find some less than appealing beachwear stores¿usually there’re two on every corner that has a surf shop. They harbor a vast display of sunglasses, rafts, beachtowels, sunburn in a tube, and much, much more all for around a $1.99 each. Oh, wait! I can’t forget about cooler-umbrella chair. You can load up the car with goods on the way to your favorite surf spot for around five bucks.

When traveling on the East Coast, keep an eye out for strange munchies you might stumble upon. There may be a boiled-peanut stand on your way to surf, or a huge jar of pickled pigs’ feet on the counter when you get gas. Another choice would be to look around for one of the local “raw bars” that sell raw oysters, raw clams, assorted kinds of shrimp, and maybe a little alligator tail. Alligator meat tastes just like chicken¿isn’t that strange?

Wildlife is something I believe most people, especially surfers, have an interest in. The East Coast has a flourishing environment. We coexist with so many different species of animals, it’s unreal. Not many people are aware of how many animals are around us at all times. Most of the southern part of the East Coast is like a gigantic wildlife refuge. Manatees (also known as sea cows) float fairly abundantly in the intracoastal rivers. They’re the most harmless docile creatures that live in Florida’s brackish (salt and fresh water mixed) swamps and estuaries. A dugong in Australia or Indonesia looks very similiar to the manatee.

If you decide to go fishing on the East Coast, a good source of bait would be sand fleas or fiddler crabs¿they’re everywhere. The fiddler crab got its name from its appearance, one claw’s bigger than the other. I guess it looks like it’s playing a fiddle, or something. Sand fleas are hard to see, but while walking out for a surf, you’d notice how they form tiny “V”s in the sand at the tide line.

Horseshoe crabs are some other creatures that might cross your path on the way to the lineup. They have a hard shell shaped like a horseshoe, hence the name “horseshoe” crab. They also have a hard tail and stiff spiderlike legs with tiny pinchers. During certain times of the year, horseshoe crabs can be found in the thousands stretching up and down the coast of Florida.

I guess I don’t have to mention the mass destructive swarms of mesquitos that dive bomb humans before dark or after a heavy storm here on the East Coast¿mosquitos and the East Coast go hand in hand. What about the harmless lovebug that’s bborn and dies in less than 24 hours, multiplies three times faster than any other lifeform, and was developed by man? The lovebug was created by scientists to be a mosquito killer, and their plan backfired. Now all lovebugs do is die on the hood of your car and ruin the paint job.

Some of you readers might say, “What does this article have to do with surfing?” Well, not much, I’m simply giving a few examples of what seperates the East Coast from other places in the world. Our surf is not what makes our coast unique. Surfing is life, but there’s more to life than just surfing.