When you think of surfing Maine isn't exactly the first place that pops into a persons head. Yet there I was late October with a friend from work who had sold me on the idea of a road trip.
Wait, lets back up a bit.It was a Sunday morning and snowing lightly. I was bored and going slightly insane because I could see on the web cameras there was surf - it was unridable. All of the nearby spots were closed out and deadly. No one was out. Enter my work friend who texted me the link to a web camera up in Kennebunkport, Maine. So this is the deal; when there is basically a death inducing washing machine tide of storm surf hitting New Hampshire and Massachusetts it sometimes, not always, pumps a swell right into a south facing cove at Kennebunkport. I was unaware of this having only moved to the region a few years earlier. I was about to get a lesson.
We met up at the NH/MA stateline where we promptly abandoned my buddies vehicle and transferred his gear into the back of my yuppee urban assault vehicle. On the ride up, I had lots of questions. I'd just turned 40 and was a little worried about the conditions. He told me "don't worry about it getting out is difficult but once we are out there it is on." The trip, on a cool dismal autumn day is nothing to write home about. It was grey, cloudy and boring. Getting from the highway to the beach was a few twisty roads but inside of two hours I found myself staring at the cove wondering if I was going to survive.
The picture above is from a later visit when the waves were much much smaller. The wave faces reached up to eight feet easily at the prime break. There were two or three smaller breaks to the north of the main break I could see firing. The surf was big and clean on the outside: of that there is no doubt. The inside was another story. Washing machine is an understatement but I put my faith in my friend. He had surfed this spot since he was a kid and knew how to do it. So I suited up standing in snow and followed his every move. After several brutal half duck dives I found myself outside of the impact zone, then something amazing happened. The sun came out.
This is an uncredited (if you know who took this let me know!) picture of the actual conditions. By now it was around 3 PM late October and the sun blazed a happy deep orange across a blue green sky. I lost track of my friend as he went for the prime break but it didn't take long before I suddenly had a bunch of friends. The vibe in the water was pure positive stoke. We all knew, I think, we had come across a special moment in time - at least for me it was. Then it was my turn in the line up I hear a voice shouting go man you got this!
I paddled at an angle with the breaking wave going south and dropped into a four footer. The sun lit up the wave in front of me as I charged down the line going so fast I didn't even think to try a cutback (I don't think I would have pulled it off if I had). That drop in and firing off is a permanent memory for me at least until I can't remember things anymore. While I had many more rides that visit, that first one stuck forever. At some point I remember being too far in and a guy still was trying to give me the wave. That is probably the nicest thing any surfer can do for another. I didn't get his name but I remember he looked kind of like Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters.
I outlasted my buddy and remarked how awesome that was since I was forty and he mumbled something about me wanting to say that all day. That is not to say it was all sunshine and roses. It was also pretty hardcore. Big waves, tight rides and cold water. My buddy had gone in after three solid hours of surfing and he could barely move his arms. I remember on the ride up he had to take a leak and waited until he was in the water. By the time I got out I don't think either one of us cared. How we got back in the cold dark barely functional is beyond me. But we did.