The Maine Thing -- 6/17/98

Sand Beach, site of the next ASP WCT event (fog permitting)

Got the news two weeks prior that I was going to be sent out to Maine! Of course, the first thing on my mind was if there was surf out there. I immediately started sending out feelers in search of any tidbits of info.

I soon found that most of the surfing in Maine is done in the southern regions between Portland and Portsmouth. Unfortunately, I was headed further north, near Acadia National Park. Maybe it was for the better, I thought.

Fortunately, I hooked up with some people who tuned me into the area. Just a couple of nuggets here and there gave me a warm fuzzy feel. I even managed to find a web page about surfing in Acadia, although it turned out to be about a pet dog named Betty jumping in the water. Arghh!

Of course, one of my biggest concerns was the water temps. Coming from a tropical environment, I'm not one to seek out cold water. However, it is a novelty for me, so I approached it with two-parts of excitement to one-part apprehension. My gear included a hodgepodge mix of rubber: a 3/3 Xcel wetsuit, decent Quiksilver gloves, a cheapo O'Neill hood and some thin Rip Curl fin socks. It would have to do.

Another issue would be the tides. It looked like the tidal swing is pretty huge, maybe 20 feet, which adversely affects when and where you surf. When you're used to a two foot differential like I am, this becomes a really big deal--one more factor to put into my surf analysis equation.

Upon arrival on the East Coast, I was greeted with... lousy weather! Although the temps were mild in the high-fifties/low-sixties, fog was everywhere. So much for sightseeing.

The first spot we checked out was up on Schoodic Point, a beautiful peninsula that's separate, but actually still a part of Acadia National Park. There was a kelpy shelf right outside a military base that wedged up a short right slide. Nothing special, but at least it was ridable enough to do rollos and spins on.

Surfing with so much rubber on always makes me feel awkward. Catching waves is more of a chore with a wetsuit constraining my paddling power. I also lose that tactile sensitivity, especially important in bodyboarding. And that hood--makes me feel like a human condom! Gotta deal with it, though.

Surf was thigh-high at best, with only the slightest hint of wind, and water temps probably in the low 40's. The fog cast a surreal ambiance--a haze through which you could barely discern the outline of the mountains. Lobster net floaters bobbed nearby with their owner's boats chugging around somewhere in the blanket of whiteness.

It was great bonding with nature--a totally different facet of nature for me. Occasionally getting away from the tropical environment is fun, especially secure in the knowledge that I would eventually go back to warmer climates.

No killer rides to speak of. Catching some rides in a new place and collecting the slightest hint of an ice cream headache was more than enough to get me stoked.

The next stop was Acadia National Park proper, to a spot called Sand Beach (redundant or what?). Getting there was pretty cool, via a picturesque drive through the foggy park. However, halfway around the one-way loop, I was shanghai'ed by a $10 park entry fee (for a weeklong pass), just yards before the beach. Sneaky buggers!

Surrounded by rocky coastline, the beach is truly an anomaly of the region. Apparently, the bay in which the beach is centered shelters it from sand-stealing ocean currents. Thus, small rocks and shells have been deposited through eons of erosion, eventually creating the solitary beach.

In the right corner of the bay was what we were looking for. A tiny shorebreak wave lapped in, right over some loose kelp. The wave was somewhat reminiscent of a glassy day at Bellows, sans the Portuguese Man-O-War, and just a "tad" cooler.

Despite being small, maybe waist-high on occasion, the surf actually had a bit of punch, throwing me some nice walls and even an occasional tube ride. Rollo sections were frequent, and I even managed one "small-kine" air.

The funniest thing about surfing there was the tourists. Lots of elderly couples stopped by to gawk at the beach. They came, they took their pictures, they left. Only the very few brave ones dared to walk near the shoreline. "Be careful Ethel, you might get wet!"

Surfing is viewed as quite the oddity, participated by only the craziest of fools. It was real entertaining watching them photograph us in the water. Had to put on a good show--if they only knew what they were missing.

It wasn't Surf City, but Maine did have a charm all its own. Wish I could've seen the place with some swell, but I was satisfied with what I got. Anyway, regardless of the size, having fun is the "Maine" thing.

More on Maine: the locals have a cute accent, similar to most other New Englanders (I guess); I saw a lot of BMW's (not the cars); Bar Harbor is quaint; Stephen King lives in Bangor; Maine lobster fresh from Maine is delicious--just ask my daughter!

P.S. Check out another story I did about surfing on the Right Coast back (1993) called Weekends in New England.

Aloha from lobster-heaven,