Surfing New Hampshire

Surfing New Hampshire
It had been my first surf trip up the coast from New York. Maine was our end destination. Matt was my companion. We were looking to find waves. After taking more than fifteen detours off the highway and winding down roads that ostensibly led to surf, we found ourselves confronted with the waveless shores of Rhode Island, a perplexingly flat Cape Cod, and the pancake seas of Kennebunkport. That first night, we pitched our tent, Swiss-army-knifed open a can of baked beans, and wondered how many tanks of gas we would burn through before finding a wave in New England.


For the first few days, the most exciting moments of our trip were the disasters: Matt had left important papers on the roof of my car and the papers, as papers do, flew off onto the highway. I had to pull over onto the shoulder and dodge speeding vehicles as I chased down the various documents and manuals that littered a half-mile stretch of Interstate. Matt had also decided to forgo his year committment to vegetarianism with two pounds of fried fish and chips. Economically speaking, this was a sound decision as two pieces of fish cost $5.00, one pound of fish cost $6.00, and two pounds cost $7.00. Biologically speaking, the choice was a nightmare. The car ride for the next few days would include many more stops and four open windows.


We continued along the shores of Maine and after an exhaustive, futile swell-search, we decided to wait out the surf in Acadia National Park. We climbed the unnerving Precipice, clinging to the rock wall as we ascended to the peak, recognizing with hindsight that one false step could have led to a true demise. We ate the requisite lobsters in Bar Harbor and bought the mandatory jars of blueberry jam. And then we checked the reports. The ocean was still flat.


Matt opened up our map of New England and studied the coastline. “Did you know that New Hampshire is on the water?”


I shook my head and he traced his finger on an inch of the state that fought with Maine and Massachusetts to barely poke out into the ocean. On this trip, despite the uncooperative seas, we had checked off two states from our list of states surfed. We figured why not add one more, even if it would take hours of waiting for a wave to bulge.


Surfing New Hampshire


When we reached the Granite State, its thirteen miles of coastline were overrun with weekenders from the mountains. Worse, the ocean looked like a bay. Matt and I drove past the first few horseshoe-shaped beaches.


“We’re running out of state,” I said as the odometer marking mileage in New Hampshire reached double digits.


“What about right here?” Matt said, after we had rounded a curve and he spotted a car pulled over to the shoulder.


I skidded in behind the lone vehicle and we crossed over the asphalt to the seaside. Below us sat a rocky point, where two longboarders paddled about, trawling for waves in a lifeless ocean. And like so many specious lines of swell that seem to lift skyward, but, in fact, keep its shape until flopping over on the shoreline as an unrideable wave, a set of those misleading humps moved toward the pair of surfers. When the line hit the point, the swell did something magical. It hooked around the rocks and rose, lifting enough to pitch forward with apropos force. Both longboarders took off together on a perfect little wave.


Matt and I ran back to the car, arguing over who would get to ride the longboard.




Photo by Jack Marion

Posted on by Noah Lederman in Surf & Snow

2 Responses to Surfing New Hampshire

  1. Matthew

    let’s re-enact this one day, sir.

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