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March 20th, 2019
Posted In: Articles
Surfing at night can seem a bit intimidating. And for good reason. When the sun goes down and the moon comes up, paddling out into even the smallest of waves produces a nervous excitement. The mystery of what lies beneath your feet increases and your senses elevate to adjust to the shroud of darkness. Relying more on instincts, you scan the water for approaching waves, revealed only by a few flickers of reflected moonlight.
But you don’t have to be a GoPro sponsored surfer with all the latest LED light technology or the vampire type straight out of the movie Lost Boys to go surfing at night. With some preparation, precaution, and commitment, seeking surf at night might be on your list of things to do this summer. Weighing fear against exhilaration, surfers answer the primal draw of the ocean with secret sessions at night for novelty and necessity.
There are situations where lights from a pier or other source illuminate the surf zone enough to actually see the waves at night and keep locals stoked around the clock. Surf parks and wave pools are popping up featuring innovative underwater lighting and stadium-style lighting. But a night surfing endeavor is more likely to involve hitting the beach on a warm full moon night for some laughs with your crew. The important factor to maximize fun is safety.
Add LEDs to your board like this guy! Image courtesy of: surfertoday.com
Understanding ocean conditions and your ability to handle them is a top priority for surfing in broad daylight and cannot be emphasized enough for anyone thinking about hitting the surf at night. Knowing a spot like the back of your hand certainly helps but the best options are sandy bottom beaches with no hazards or obstacles like jetties, rocks or pilings. Go where you are familiar with the waves and anything that is on the bottom.
There is no substitute for ocean experience for making decisions on the side of safety. When in doubt, don’t go out. The sun will rise soon enough! There will not be any watchful lifeguard supervision to have your back. Also, local laws may prohibit accessing the beach at night so avoid getting stuck with a citation and do your homework.
Always surf with a buddy or a group at night and never go out alone. You will have more people to share the adventure with and more eyes looking out for each other. Be aware of the ability levels of those in your group. Night surfing is not for everyone and is best enjoyed with an experienced group of surfers.
All the etiquette that applies to surfing during the day is of increased importance at night. Dropping in on each other is no bueno when it’s dark and wearing a leash will help you and your crew from taking a lost board to the shin or head.
Without the sun to keep you warm, wearing a wetsuit will extend your time in the water no matter the climate. Pull on a fullsuit or vest for insulation as the nighttime temperatures drop. You also want to be able to see each other so to boost the safety level, wear glow sticks, headlamps or strap on a Lume Cube for added visibility. Your eyes will be affected by the light, so best to use them on the back of your board as you shred the night away.
What better way to celebrate a full moon than being in the water to watch it rise? Besides the added benefit of increased light, it will be hard to resist howling at the moon as you slide down the line on a shimmery little wave.
Can night surfing be as rewarding as scoring a glassy pre-dawn surf before the crowds or waiting for one last wave under the fading colors of the sunset? Probably not. Surfing at night has low expectations for memorable waves but can be a great adventure for your fun-loving crew. So light up the night, dress for success and grab the soft boards or standup paddle boards. There is a whole new world out there waiting to be discovered.
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