I can’t remember the last time I surfed New Hampshire. For my first few years surfing the breaks around Jenness were my home spots - changing out of my wetsuit on the small strips of lawn that flank the side street that runs parallel to Straws Point spots was weekly, sometimes daily, ritual. But now that we’ve been in Maine for the last year and a half, even though we’re exactly two miles from the NH border and the NH beaches are arguably equidistant it simply doesn’t even occur to me anymore to surf down there.
But Trevor and Sam were headed down that way there for a sunset session and allegedly the swell had relented enough to allow us long boarders to make it outside. By 3:30 the sun was fading fast and so we raced to suit up and head out. The waves were still coming in head high with occasional overhead sets and it wasn’t an easy paddle out, but we all made it. There was a cluster of people over by the point, but we lined up roughly with the Cable Beach entrance, I think in part because it was the quickest way into the water.
None of us were having great luck and I wasn’t paying too close attention to T and S, but I managed to score a couple of decent rides. It’s interesting how dramatically different a wave ‘feels’ when it approaches the height of one’s body, like you’ve suddenly become the underdog once you’re dropping in and literally “face to face” with the wave. More on that another time.
At any rate, 45 or so minutes in Trevor signaled that we he was taking his next wave in, which was fine by me because I the light had drained from the sky to the point where my nerves were starting to kick in. After battling a massive charlie horse in my thigh of all places on the tumble into shore, Trevor and I met up on the shore watching Sam and waiting for him to meet us.
The odd thing was, every time he seemed halfway to shore he would paddle back out. T and I assumed he was waiting for his “best” wave to be his last - I mean, who doesn’t hope for that each and every time out?
So we waited, 5, 10, 15, 20 minutes longer, by which point it was, by our measure, dark. Dark enough, at least, that we lost sight of Sam and our anxiety was ratcheting up with each minute. We agreed I would run back and check the car, just in case he managed to slip in and past us. No luck there, but I grabbed my phone while I was there and ran back to Trevor who was walking down the beach, towards the Jenness parking lot, eyes seaward. I asked if it was time to dial 911. He said, it didn’t seem premature. I tapped the digits into my phone and held off for 30 more seconds, knowing the very serious series of events that would set into motion.
Literally seconds from pulling the trigger, I spot, 100 yards down the beach a dark figure emerging from the whitewater. I couldn’t see his board at first and assumed that he had, in fact, gotten into some trouble out there. We run over and Sam jogs up to us, excitedly asking if we’d seen the last couple of waves he’d caught.
I have to say, I envy the daredevil, but not as much as I appreciate the caution.