The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

GONE SURFIN', SURFIN' TAMPA BAY
I was recently chatting up this young lady who had just moved to the area. She asked me what the surfing scene was like in Tampa Bay. When I told her there was no real surfing scene here, she couldn't quite believe it. "All these beaches here, and nobody surfs?" she asked, incredulous.

I've run into that before. People from other parts of the country (I think she was from Ohio; somewhere in the Midwest, anyway) seem to assume that miles of beaches equals surfboards, glassy waves and hangin' ten, dude. The fact is, this isn't Oahu, and the water conditions on the Gulf of Mexico side of Florida are usually too calm for any serious wave-riding (the exception being when a tropical storm or hurricane passes close by, and then you have to be more than a little meshugah to be out on the water anyway). From what I understand, the conditions get slightly better on the Atlantic side of the state, especially on the Space Coast expanse between Palm Beach and Daytona. But even there, surfing is a similar experience to what the rest of the Eastern Seaboard has to offer: Fair at best, and hardly worth comparing to southern California and Hawaii.

Still, where there's a beach, there's a way, as this hardy little band of St. Pete Beach surfers can testify. The waves may not be much, and the thrill comes more from submerging yourself in 50-60 degree water than from actually riding, but I guess it's something.

I suppose I'll now have to revise my area surfing report, the next time I'm picking up women in a bar.