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Big waves and cold days: Full report

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Last Sunday and Monday we headed down to the coast — Mackenzie was my wingman as everyone else could only grudgingly look on from workplace wave cams and a couple phone calls … “soo.. how was it !?!”.

Sunday was windy — very very windy. There was swell but the biting wind made it tough to sit out in the water. We surfed at Jennes – only to get blown a good 1/2 mile down the beach – as it was a waste of energy to try and stay in one spot. I only know of two spots in NH that can protect you from a strong north wind — and this was one of them.

Big rouge waves and some messy small peaks were a good warm up. Couple good rides but nothing to write home about — messed around on the inside where it was small and sheltered. Semi-empty lineup’s were nice. Wore my 5/4/3 with my boots (no gloves) – water temps weren’t bad. Just that damn wind. Sunday night we stayed at a nice “posh” hotel and warmed our chilled bones in the hot tub.

We both knew it would be cold Monday morning — but wow. Woke up at 6am, breakfast at the free hotel buffet/restaurant and headed out to the car to find it covered in frost. Headed straight for the wall to find it HUGE and scary. No one out. Didn’t notice this sail boat that was in one of my photos. More about that later.

We bee-lined it up the coast; checking 6 or 7 spots until we decided that the only spot we could safely paddle out (did I mention it was HUGE ? We past by NH’s most famous point break that was well OH and heaving) was the spot we had surfed Sunday night (inside left of a point). We suited up around 8am and paddled out (me on the longboard and Mac on his elder quad fish). Not sure why I chose the LB — guess I’ve become comfortable with it.

We tide was low and the paddle out looked LONG. We tried to find a semi channel but the sets were relentless. After about 15 mins of just waiting waist deep I retreated to see if there was another way. Mac had tried to duck dive his way out and just got beat down – you could make it under a couple but one misstep would send you right back to the shallows.

We found what looked like a more mellow way out. Took me a solid 30 minutes of fighting to finally get a lull and scramble out. A testament to long summer of surfing and being in decent shape. The longboard really helped me motor a solid 500 foot paddle past 6-8 foot freight trains. Mac wasn’t so lucky — even with his shortboard he couldn’t find a way – but he didn’t give up and finally joined me way way out where the biggest sets were breaking.

Truly amazing scene. Us two and 2 other guys. Most waves between 5-7 feet and some solid sets every 15 minutes that topped 8/9+ easily. Strong offshore wind made them tough to catch – the few I was able to get into were FAST — almost too fast for my comfort level but we had fun.

After a good long session we made our way north looking for some smaller waves that matched our noodled arms – finding a right hand point into a sheltered bay. The point wasn’t really working but the bay offered some shelter and fun 5-6 foot walls that you could get in and around with ease.

Last story: as we headed north on our way out, we stopped by the wall to snap some picts and check the swell. That sailboat we had overlooked before was now beached up on the sand and BUSTED up. Keel gone and mast broken with no obvious way of getting it out (10 concrete wall behind it). Funny how we didn’t even notice it’s impending doom in the AM excitement.

If we get go again – it will be very cold water surfing. We’ll see.


2 responses to “Big waves and cold days: Full report”

  1. […] Bissonnette has a wickedly inspired set from last weekend’s foray into cold water surf: Big Waves and Cold Days: Full Report. Talk about inspiration. whoa. and some serious size in a few shots. The photo set is definitely […]

  2. Steve Avatar

    Ralph has some excellent write-ups and photos – much better than mine !!


    … he’s even got the details on that boat that ground ashore !!

    “My brothers and sisters, this week’s abundant surf was truly a gift. And I would hope, that you all got to sample some of it. Because there were waves a plenty. I guess, I should really start with Monday. Even though the swell started on Sunday. It was that early Monday morning sunrise, that gave way to stacked up lines, that were stretched all across the horizon.

    Big Green walls just marching in from the Northeast. Shaking the foundations, of everyone’s sleep mode.

    That Nor’easter came in with conviction. Those lines were every bit as solid and powerful as any Easter before it. There’s no denying that. And if you don’t believe me, why just ask the boat Captain who lost his 32 Schooner off of 18th Street on Monday. The name of that craft (are you ready for this?) BLOWN AWAY. I kid you not. She went down in a huge set.

    A large wave hit her port side and she snapped the mast, and then, she flipped over, only to have her keel ripped off. At that point, she was at the ocean’s mercy. And as we all know, Mother Ocean has no mercy, especially when she’s in the growing stages of a powerful Northeast Swell.

    And we were all there.

    Virtually very photographer, who’s ever submitted a photo to this blog was there. Waiting for the inevitable. The high tide Smashing on the Rocks. I said we were like “rubber neckers” on Rte 95 after some Tractor Trailer turned over. Seeing a spark and waiting for it to hit the fuel line. That may be a bit of an extreme comparison, but not by much.

    Really, it was both sad and entertaining.

    The Captain was learning valuable marine lessons at a high price. He dropped two anchors off her bow and then tied a line to one of the parking meters. This had disaster written all over it. At one point, the meter line was so taut that I thought it was going to snap and decapitate an innocent bystander. I remember thinking…”Whoa, if I can get that scene on video, I might have the most watched clip on YouTube.”

    Thank God the line came undone.

    But you know the old saying… “when it rains it pours.” The poor owner of the boat was sitting in his pickup with his dog. As he backed up pulling away from the wall, he put his vehicle in gear, when his drive shaft fell off. Oh dude…

    It’s a hard way to learn about New England waters and Nor’easters in general. But life is full of learning lessons. The BlownAway is still sitting there on the beach. And there’s a new swell rising. If you want to catch any of this yourself, she’s down off 18th Street.”

    Go hit his site to read more and see tons of photos (surf and boat smashing).