Wintertide: New Jersey’s Harsh Winter Season as Captured by Christor Lukasiewicz

Zak Cook coming of the bottom on a mean New Jersey growler.

Zak Cook coming of the bottom on a mean New Jersey growler.

“When all the world appears to be in a tumult, and nature itself is feeling the assault of climate change, the seasons retain their essential rhythm. Yes, fall gives us a premonition of winter, but then, winter, will be forced to relent, once again, to the new beginnings of soft greens, longer light, and the sweet air of spring.” -Madeleine M. Kunin

Although winter officially ended on March 20, I awoke this morning to a fresh batch of thinly layered snow to brush off my car. As I put my boots and heavy coat on, heading outside with scraper in hand, it served as a reminder that winter conditions tends to linger around here. This “past” winter was an extremely brutal one for us weather wise, but there were many great days of waves to be had. That tends to be the flow here, savagely cruel storms are followed by hard offshore winds and good surf. Even though a good amount of the swells created some fickle conditions at many breaks due to swell direction, winds and shifty sandbars, with a little searching you could find a nearly perfect wave on just about every swell we had. Some will say this is the best winter we’ve seen in a longtime.

The winter surfing experience is relative based on where you live. But for a surfer like me in New Jersey it means wearing a lot of rubber from head to toe, water temperatures that are nearly freezing, winds that want to blow you off the face of wave, less people in the water, more tube time and everyone who doesn’t surf thinking you are absolutely insane for going in the water.

Below is a collection of photos as captured by Christor Lukasiewicz of our New Jersey winter. We hope you enjoy.

Alex Brooks slipping into a backside barrel

Alex Brooks slipping into a backside barrel

Snow and frigid offshore winds are part of the winter experience here. Facing the elements is not for the weak.

Snow and frigid offshore winds are part of the winter experience here. Facing the brutal elements is not for the weak.

An unknown surfer taking advantage of hollow waves breaking close to the shoreline

An unknown surfer taking advantage of hollow waves breaking close to the shoreline

The definition of the pig-dog. Tightly packed in a backside tube section.

The definition of the pig-dog. Chris Wilson tightly packed in a backside tube section.

“All Heaven and Earth Flowered white obliterate... Snow...unceasing snow”  ― Hashin

“All Heaven and Earth
Flowered white obliterate…
Snow…unceasing snow”
― Hashin

An unknown surfer boosts a backside air on a foggy morning session.

An unknown surfer boosts a backside air on a foggy morning session. Surfer: Alton Lutz

What happens next can be glorious or dreadful. The moment of truth awaits.

What happens next can be glorious or dreadful. The moment of truth awaits. Surfer: George Joseph III

One of the beauties of a New Jersey winter is with a little searching you can find a perfect wave without another soul in sight.

One of the beauties of a New Jersey winter is with a little searching you can find a perfect wave without another soul in sight.

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.”— Edward Abbey. Surfer: Mike Hughes

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.”— Edward Abbey. Surfer: Mike Hughes

Brutal offshore winds, empty line ups, and overhead waves; welcome to winter in New Jersey

Brutal offshore winds, empty line ups, and overhead waves; welcome to winter in New Jersey

This was a small day, but the shape was perfect and I surfed it with only one other person. Also the sea smoke made for a mystical vibe. Guiding my log through a fun backside barrel.

This was a small day, but the shape was perfect and I surfed it with only one other person. The sea smoke made for a mystical vibe as I guided my log through a fun backside barrel. Surfer/Author: Shawn Zappo

When most would be curled up under the blankets, a lone surfer sits and enjoys the beauty of sea smoke

When most would be curled up under the blankets, a lone surfer sits and enjoys the beauty of sea smoke

Tubes, tubes, and more tubes. This is what winter surfing in New Jersey is all about.

Tubes, tubes, and more tubes. This is what winter surfing in New Jersey is all about. Surfer: Damian Lugo

Perfect waves and the seagulls have it all to themselves.

Perfect waves and the seagulls have it all to themselves.

Even on the smaller days with more mild weather, the water was frigid. I had a few fun ones this day at the city by the sea.

Even on the smaller days with more mild weather, the water was frigid and physically stiffening. I had a few fun ones this day in less than stellar conditions. Surfer/Author: Shawn Zappo

Just about everywhere you went this winter beach "replenishment" was in full effect. Luckily most sandbars held up due to all the active swell.

Just about everywhere you went this winter beach “replenishment” was in full effect. Although many sandbars were temporarily ruined, many held up due to all the active swell.

"By the deep sea, and music in its roar: I love not man the less, but Nature more”  ― George Gordon Byron

“By the deep sea, and music in its roar: I love not man the less, but Nature more” ― George Gordon Byron

An amazing skyline view with surreal clouds and fiery colors peaking through

“The sea is emotion incarnate. It loves, hates, and weeps. It defies all attempts to capture it with words and rejects all shackles. No matter what you say about it, there is always that which you can’t.” ― Christopher Paolini

An empty wave from the official last swell of our winter season here in New Jersey. A hint of spring in the colors and conditions.

An empty wave from the official last swell of our winter season here in New Jersey. A hint of spring in the colors and conditions.

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Growing up in New Jersey, Shawn discovered and quickly immersed himself in the sub-culture of surfing and skateboarding in the mid 80’s. With a diverse and eclectic background, Shawn has walked the path of a competitive surfer, Hare Krsna monk, action sports industry player in NYC, DIY theology and religions major, and a touring punk rock musician. Now a father and self-proclaimed seeker of the “soul” of surfing, Shawn enjoys sessions with friends at uncrowded peaks along his home state’s shoreline and writing about his surf related experiences.

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