Some time ago the Wolf had told me Mattituck Inlet on the Long Island Sound had great wavesailing when conditions were right. I asked “then why do we never go there” and he said launching at the inlet was insane. You had to climb down a slippery jetty, have someone pass your gear to you, and then leap into the inlet and shlog out to the Sound, where things were good. Getting out of the water was also a two-person operation. As a kid I’d spent a lot of time clambering around slippery jetties with a fishing rod, but slip-sliding down rocks managing a board and rig in 25mph winds didn’t sound like much fun. So I was happy that the crew never chose to sail there.
Until yesterday. Arriving I could see what the attraction was…beautiful generous waves funneling Scott and the Wolf (already on the water) into the protected inlet, where they’d turn around and head back out into the action. I saw the infamous jetty to the right (with some gear apparently waiting to make the climb down) but also saw what looked like a mile of perfectly beautiful beach to launch from. “Why can’t we launch from the beach” I asked?
Fisherman: “The shore break will annihilate you.”
I rigged a 4.5. Jon Ford (Dispenser of Wisdom) walked over and mentioned that he was launching from the beach…he had a spot about 200 yards upwind of the jetty that he liked. Sounded good to me.
We get to the spot. Six feet from the sand, three-foot waves are slamming down and carving a drop-off. Twenty feet behind them is another impact zone. There’s no way to launch here. Jonathan says “it’s all timing. You have to wait for a moment when a big wave isn’t coming, run out, throw your gear over the first break point, waterstart and or somehow get yourself another twenty feet out to pass the second impact zone, and then you’ll be fine.”
Incredibly, I pull this off after waiting five solid minutes to pick/guess my moment. When I finally get to the outside and think about a wave, I realize that I don’t know how to sail the spot. I look around and see nobody else is on the water. Two rock jetties are pointing straight at me and the waves are driving everything into them, so I head right back to the beach. I’ll wait until there are people to follow.
I land. Jon Ford launches. I see that Fisherman, Peconic Jeff, Scott and the Wolf are now also back on the water. So I attempt to launch again.
It’s not going to happen. I am thrown, bashed and smashed again and again. That I managed to protect my gear was my big accomplishment, though after the board got thrown into me (sending me face first into the sand) I said “the heck with this” and started walking my gear 200 yards back to the jetty. How bad could it be?
I meet Frank there (also a Mattituck Inlet newbie). Frank has been told how the launch works, so we go to check it out. “We’re looking for a knife,” he says.
You can’t make this shit up.
We find a filleting knife sticking in a hole in a rock. Frank says the word is that you use the knife to cut away seaweed from the footfalls you’d like to use so you don’t break your neck slipping on the way down. Or you can use the spots that other people have cut away. The side of the jetty is steep and slick, and for two minutes Frank and I try to climb down without our gear. It’s hard. Climbing down with the knife seems dangerous. Unimaginable with board and rig, despite the evidence sailing around on the water. Frank says “I’d rather try the shore break” (which I’ve described to him). I agree.
We walk our gear 200 yards to Jonathan’s launch, where Frank declares the shorebreak to be the worst he’s ever seen. At this moment the wind shifts, and everyone agrees we should leave and go sail at Iron Pier. Which we did.
(Photos by Peconic Jeff, who is mas macho than me for launching from the jetty. Top: Fisherman gets some of the good stuff. Bottom: Jon Ford points out the obstacles to Frank. I can be seen down the beach to the right...when I arrive the wind will shift and we'll leave, much to the dismay of the seagulls gathered to pick over my remains.)