Friday, December 5, 2014

Otter Point

Nate Hanson photo
Life had been a little stressful lately. In addition to getting our final show together in the gallery, we were preparing to move. Our apartment was a minefield of piles: keep this, yard-sale that, maybe, don't know, etc. We were ready to get out, and Nate, having just returned from several weeks in Washington DC, essentially homeschooling the kids at museums, was ready for a break as well. Monday, the first day of December had a warm-ish forecast, up to 50 degrees, but with a bit of wind and rather big seas. It seemed like a good idea to get out and play before the water turned too cold.

Nate Hanson photo
We briefly considered the six-hour round trip to Popham Beach, but settled instead on the south end of Mount Desert Island, launching at Otter Cove where we found waves breaking over a ledge- plenty of gentle three to four-footers- and rode them again and again. We could hardly believe our luck- these were great waves, and some of them took us for long rides where we could think about what we were doing and try to improve technique.

After lunch though, we tore ourselves away and paddled over to Otter Point, where big swells came rolling in. At first it looked a bit imposing, like we might not find anywhere close to shore where we could play. Then Nate suggested we try out the water behind a big rock. The swells would come in and smash against the rock, expending most of their energy before seeping into the cauldron behind it. All we had to do was watch for the big ones and hang-on.

The sun shone brightly, lighting up the foam like snow. I was struck by how beautiful it was- the massive green waves that appeared on the horizon and exploded just beyond the ledge, reaching around and over the rocks with bouncy piles of water and foam. I managed to hang on to my camera and get a few shots as the waves knocked us around.

I posted a few shots on Facebook and they received some "not for me" comments... which is correct. This isn't a spot for everyone. It might not be very enjoyable if you don't have good bracing skills, a dependable combat roll and the ability to perform creative rescues. And of course we'd just spent the morning surfing, and were primed for some bumpy water. We took a careful look before going in, watching to see what happened when the biggest sets rolled-in.

But in reality, we mostly just hung-on and enjoyed it. Despite the big appearance, it was a relatively safe spot with low consequences and easy-enough escape routes.

We continued around the point, looking for fun spots, and the adrenaline, or perhaps lunch began to wear off. The surfing alone is enough to take it out of you, and we hadn't been paddling much lately.

As the late afternoon light  began lighting the hills we paddled past Otter Cliffs and found a few more features. The swell was smaller on the east side.

But plenty big for some fun.

We finally decided we'd had it and turned around, heading back toward the launch. The tide had changed just enough that it felt like an entirely different stretch of coast.


Unknown said...

I just love reading this - even though it's past my ability (I love the roughish stuff at least and long for the opportunity to build more skills). Great photos also.

Iana said...

I am in total awe. You guys are amazing!
I hope you have a blast writing your next chapter.
Stonington won't feel the same without you and I will miss you both very much.