Friday, May 6, 2016

Surfin' at Reid


Rebecca and I had a Wilderness First Aid class at AMC’sKnubble Bay Camp over the weekend, so we thought we’d make the most of the trip by squeezing-in a paddle somewhere. The surf report hadn’t looked promising, but since Reid State Park was nearby, we decided to swing by there and have a look, grudgingly shelling-out the $12 to the iron ranger at the gate (up from last year’s $4 a person- time to get an annual permit).

I wasn’t convinced we’d find good waves, so we had a quick look from atop Griffith Head, as much a landmark for its iconic coin-operated binocular devices, swiveling weightily out toward The Cuckholds lighthouse, Damariscove Island and the lighthouse on Seguin Island, as it is for the rocky bluffs that they stand upon. This is a good place to eat one’s PB&J while deciding that yes, those waves look good enough to go for it. When surf is the goal, one quickly adopts some of the radder-than-thou, dude-worthy lingo that still lingers in the teen-age skate-slacker part of the brain… so yes, we decided to go for it.

This is probably exactly the kind of behavior that keeps the fourteen-year-old mind live and kicking inside the 51 year-old body, and when you get into the surf, it’s a mindset that serves you well. Depending on the usual variables of swell and tide height, the steep shoreline at Reid often has steep, dumpy waves that break close to shore, but that 14 year-old mind just didn’t care and said “let me at ‘em.”

We started catching some short, lively rides right away. We got the first capsizes out of the way, and properly invigorated, proceeded to have a blast as we made our way down the beach to the most promising-looking area, catching waves as we went, occasionally landing right on the beach. The waves were biggest and dumpiest beside the rocky point (Little River Ledges) that separates the two beaches, but we continued on to Todd’s Point to ride the lower, but easily catchable surf that rolled slowly over the sandbar into the inlet. A couple of rangers patrolling the shore with garbage buckets paused to watch.

We finished the day with more rides back near the rocky point and did manage to get properly thrashed once or twice, which in an odd, invigorating way, after a long winter, just felt good. The shoreline is so steep there that I often got dropped high on the shore by a wave, but managed to quickly spin around on the sand and begin slipping seaward again in time for the next wave to buoy me away. 

After a particularly thrashy take-down, Rebecca took a break on shore and snapped a few photos - long enough to develop a hypothermic chill – perhaps another useful spring rite, making that part of our first aid training a little less hypothetical. In this case, treatment took the form of hot chocolate in the car with the heat blasting. As we tied our boats atop the car, the rangers stopped by and said they’d enjoyed watching us. I felt an inner relief that we’d dropped our twelve bucks into the iron pay tube at the gate, and concluded that it was well worth it. 

The rangers chatted about other paddlers (most of whom, they said, worry them) and mentioned the couple that had come through a few yearsback on their Lubec-Key West trip and camped (illegally) on the point. Since I’d followed that blog, I was able to inform the rangers that the couple had made it all the way - quite an accomplishment, even if their campsite researching skills needed a little work.

We warmed-up in the car en-route to Knubble Bay.

More information about paddling in this area is available in my guidebook, AMC's Best Sea Kayaking in New England, in the Georgetown Island chapter.

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