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A gorgeous Sunday at Popham


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If you were basing your paddling plans on the marine weather reports yesterday (Sun, 10/26) you would likely have stayed home. Fortunately, there was a handful of us who ventured east to Popham Beach to paddle the gifts that mother nature, with her overnight southerly winds to 45 kts, had prepared for us.

As the vehicles rolled in we were greeted by a Maine Fish & Game officer responding to reports of cars with Massachusetts plates loaded with kayaks and heading for the Beach.

11 paddlers in all, 5 Sea Monkeys and the rest a mixed group working with John Carmody on surfing.

The day began a grey overcast with 20 ~ 25 kt SSE'ly winds but by 1000 or so breaks had begun to appear in the clouds and the wind was steadily easing and it wasn't too long before we had clear blue skies with temps in the low 60's.

We were 11 paddlers in all; 4 skilled enough to feel comfortable exploring the surf off eastern Popham Beach. By report, it was quite lively to say the least. Most everything viewed from a distance was breaking/dumping and rather chaotic and that was confirmed by those that headed into it.

The rest of us headed north a couple miles to a broken dam at Parker Head. It was a fun place to play in some well-defined eddy lines as the extra water, pushed into the Millpond by those S'ly winds, spilled out with the ebb. We returned to the beach below Fort Popham for lunch and then headed out into the tide race to play. It was a perfect day; a decent tide to start with the ebb exceeding predictions as it progressed due to all that water heading back to the sea.

We had become one group of 11 again and after some rescue practice in the tide race we all headed to the day mark at Jack Rock. The surging standing waves looked pretty big from a distance but I can assure you, they were considerably bigger up close. I had never been in anything of this magnitude and found myself just south of the day mark where the waves were 4 ~ 6 ft and I could not seem to make any progress upstream toward quieter, less chaotic water. I got knocked over once and rolled back up and now instead of actively paddling, I felt all my concentration became focused on staying upright. I got knocked over again but this time I could not seem to get into position to roll; I felt stuck straight up and down and ran out of air/time... I swam. My plan then was to drift downstream out of this chaos and re-enter but a handful of paddlers came to my rescue and assisted me back into my boat.

I felt pretty humbled to be honest, having never needed a rescue aside from practice. (A big thanks to the Sea Monkeys in attendance) At any rate, a valuable learning day. Unfortunately, the best thing would be to follow it up by getting right back into it today but that was not to be.

Off the water around 1700 or so. A great day!

Perspectives from others who attended would be appreciated.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Jon--just when you think your getting pretty skilled, the ocean always throws something like this at you.--- God just doesn't want us to get too cocky I guess sounds like you had a good day though

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Jon S said: "--just when you think your getting pretty skilled, the ocean always throws something like this at you."

I always appreciate getting a lesson from Neptune and having the luxury being around to use it another day. There's no substitute for time on the water in as many different conditions as you can find.

That's one of the things I like most about paddling on the ocean... You'll always have more to learn.

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