Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Snorkeling the Cove


A long-planned exploration of the bottom of a heavy local spot. The hot shots ride the outside break. On the outside it's a nasty drop, but an otherwise fun right. But the rip outside is legendary. Ships have sunk here for crying out loud.

Inside the re-form peels right, about waist to chest high, but only during a nor'easter. So nice, but this is New England, there has to be a catch.


Hence the snorkel exploration. Surprise, mid tide and the botton is sandy, and rocks are well below log-depth.

The only catch is figuring out a place to park.

I look forward to doing a report of logging the inside. The hard core dudes will be risking it all for parking lot bragging rights. I'll be trimming on the inside, if I can park.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Thacher Island Kayak Adventure


It’s been a true blessing to have grown up with a commanding view of Thacher Island. The twin lights. (due to circumstances somewhat beyond my control, I’ve had to return) Anyway, as a kid I drew endless pictures of it, the 2 lighthouses, each building & shed, the rocks, etc.

In college in VT, daydreaming in Logic class, I could draw a near perfect rendition of the island as seen from my house by memory. What better way to kill 50 minutes?

It fascinated me that the towers are on an exact north-south axis. The north tower was extinguished during WWII, it was such a land mark and Uncle Sam didn't want to make things any easier for the U-boats. Also, any U-boat kapitän worthy of his iron cross could (and did) true the boats compasses at night. After the war they never re lit it. Wild stuff for a 8 year old back then.

But before I bore you with yet another history lesson...

I went there once, in 1982, the last year of it being a Coast Guard Station. My friend Tim & I went there on his dad’s 14’ Boston Whaler, we pulled it up the ramp, walked through the garage/gatehouse, and were summarily asked to leave after a quick stay. The Coasties ware nice enough, just doing their job.


Since then the island has become a National Wildlife Refuge open to the public. Acres of bull brier and poison ivy have been cleared for footpaths. You can he North Tower. The boom in kayaking locally has made it a favorite destination for paddlers.

My brother who lives even closer to the island that me has a kayak, it was an impossibly hot day, so it hit me, I’ll take the Kayak out. As an extra Bonus, his (often) darling daughter miss K. joined me.



The paddle out went quickly, I can’t describe the excitement as the twin towers loomed closer and closer. The image of the island was stamped in my mind, from 40 years of seeing it from one distance; it seemed oddly different, as it got closer. Keep paddling!

We got there, having been there a few time before, miss K. knew what to do, which was good, since I sure didn’t. Kayaks go on the flat concrete slab, silly. We pulled it up the ramp, walked through the garage/gatehouse, and were summarily welcomed for an enjoyable stay. The keepers were nice enough, just doing their job.


Walking around the island, I learned a few things:

• Thacher Island More wooded than I thought, lots of my favorite tree, Wild Black Cherries - Prunus serotina, Sumac, and even an Apple Tree!
• Gulls are very aggressive – this is their house, don't go near the nest, difficult since they are everywhere.
• left point break on south tip – I’m, gonna surf that long, peeling low-tide break.
• The tower! Wow – a sacred experience.
• When I have my house I’m doing my kitchen floor like this, in honor of this special place, it should be simple:


• My Niece is growing up, she has poise beyond her years, she’s going places,
• I see the place differently now


See all my photos from that day:

Read more:

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Bertha’s Bounty

Cape Ann is an island, both geographically and psychologically. The latter fact is reason to get “off the rock” whenever the occasion rises. Tropical Storm Bertha was such an occasion. It’s old news now, but this storm had been hyped on the surf reports for a week, and it was slow getting here, but on Monday it Arrived, and the entire New England coast was lit up.


Go North (MH, Maine) or South, (RI) that was the question. Well a glowing NH report plus $4.17 a gallon gas gave me the answer: New Hampshire. An hour up 95 and I was there.

Pulling up to the wall, Jackpot! A weekday off and finally I was at the right place at the right time. Chest to shoulder high with light offshore, I took a few perfunctory pictures and suited up (yeah the water was freezing for July, mid 50’s, so glad I had the full wetsuit). The Tyler 777 model was in its element. Right after right after right. Satisfying bottom turns, climbing to the top of the waves face, a cross step (just one, I’m stout these days), and a fun turns. Repeat many times.

After a couple of hours of this, I went back to the car, checked voice mails (none – yes!) hydrated, and went back out, this time a few blocks to the south. Part two was just as fun, but with the incoming tide, it was all lefts.


By 4:00 I was wiped, I was busted out, surf wise. And so satisfied with my turning, my drop knee has come of age. The trick? Use the ball of the foot, silly! I shot a few more pics and drove back to Gloucester, wondering what I might have missed on the Cape Ann breaks. I did take a side trip to Seabrook, stopping by Zapstix (a super surf shop), and checking a low key spot - I'll be back there soon.


I pulled up to Long and….bwaah bwaaaaaaah. Nada. Knee to waist and closed out. Complete satisfaction, I went with my gut and it paid off.


It was a workday, so I couldn’t leave until after 4:00. So I did, this time with a special co-pilot, Janet! I needed more of that New Hampshire ambrosia, and Janet needed to get off the rock as well. Hampton Curtain Call, and we were going to rendezvous with another surf bud, Special J. (See last summer’s post about Janet). Taking a mini surf trip with a friend is so much better than going solo.

Not quite as good as the day before, mostly lefts, and very sectiony. Unlike the day before which gave up clean long lines. It did get fun just around sundown, and since I was with Janet & Johna, the trip was a total blast. The topping on the cake was inhaling the moonrise, shooting more pics, post surf beer & lobster mac & cheese, and again, as the French say, bonne compagnie.

Bertha’s been good, so far.


I was going to give you a blow by blow of the rest of the week, where the rest of the swell was squandered chasing closeouts on Cape Ann; it really sucked, really. We’ve all had more than our fair share of depression sessions, dear readers, so I’ll spare you this time. The lesson, it pays to travel and break the routine, as much as I love dear Cape Ann. But see how poor it was?:


Next time: Thacher Island adventure!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Easy Glide


Summer is here. Yup, all the clichés too. Crowds, kooks, flatness, dog days (no complaints here – remember – the ground actually freezes in Jan.) no surf zones & hours, waaa.

OK, friends, I’m going to he the contrarian.

Riding the smaller waves we have this time of year forces us to be resourceful, not only where to surf, but how to approach the wave. Do you do the late take off? Chase it down from way outside? Or will the wave behave the same way, only smaller? I find myself thinking about it, yes – a cerebral approach!

Learning from choices, and experimenting – that’s the opportunity now. Practice cross stepping, head dips, whatever you want, run off the front of the damn board, who cares!? There’s no penalty!

Hell, anyone can surf a perfect waist to chest peeler. But when it’s only knee to thigh high, squeezing an actual real ride out of the wave is hugely satisfying. This ability divides the kooks from the passable donkeys like yours truly. Easy glide.

Paddle, paddle, hook into the face, and aww yeah, you’re weightless, or so it seems. It’s like I just got away with something. You still get that graceful glide. An aquatic free lunch – ha-ha. And if I may…if you don’t have a longboard, you’re SOL. Rock on with your bad selves, bro’s.


Riding these small and often imperfect waves, wherever, with your friends it where’s it’s at. Period. Yes, given the choice, who wouldn’t take perfection? No, it isn’t all time, not epic; you won’t be talking about it in the parking lot next winter. But I promise you this, ten years down the road, friends, you’ll remember dorking around in the warm water with your buds almost as much as anything else.

Next time – an all Big Bertha issue!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Summer Thunder

We have been having intense thunderstorms the past few nights. Right now It's Sunday at 11:30 and we are standing by to be slammed again here at the Overlook.

Here's a shot from the porch on Friday night. I'm pretty stoked on how it came out. On a tripod with the shutter open for 30 seconds. The one's that I missed were truly awesome.

The funny thing: about an hour later it was calm, moonlit night, straight up warm breezes, crickets chirping, the whole nine: