I’ve loved being on the water since my earliest memories. Living in Monterey, California, through elementary school introduced me to the ocean through twice-daily dog walks along the beaches and ragged rocky shores at the end of our street. Cannery Row and Hopkins Marine Station were a fifth-grader’s stingray bike ride away. Sea otter and large sea-lion populations were ever-present, as were their predators.
That immediate coastal environment provided my friends and I with seemingly endless fun, discovery, and awe. There were calm days and storm days, flotsam and jetsam, enourmous seals both alive and dead, shipwrecks and drownings. All of that instilled in me an interest in marine biology and a wary respect for the vast oceanic big-ness that surges there always just beyond water’s edge.
And then there’s surfing. I remember my first time in a surf shop and the smell of surf wax and wetsuits. And I remember that first surfboard I got close to and touched - seafoam green rails, clear white deck and bottom with a single fin. Must’ve been ‘65 or ‘66. I persuaded Mrs. Chase and my 3rd grade class that we should march as surfers in that year’s annual Monarch Butterfly Parade. Black tights and t-shirts for wetsuits and I shaped most of the cardboard cutout “surfboards” and fins myself. We painted’em up. Third grade, and 10 years from learning to swim.
That’s how it started, and rather a lot has happened since then. Tens years on a wonderful lake in New Hampshire. 50,000 nautical miles in the Navy. Coastal tug boat work out West. Windsurfing. Boatbuilding. Three-years living on a sailboat. Marriage and fatherhood. Return to New England, on the coast of extreme southern Maine. And always the surfing thing.
Then along comes stand-up paddleboarding - a combination of surfing and boating and exercise and coastal exploration. What could better for someone like me? The answer is: Doing it with others who love that kind of thing - and a mission!
And here we are, thanks to Chris Carragher and the Seacoast Paddleboard Club that he founded as a fundraiser. Thank you so much for your support of the Isles of Shoals Invitational Paddle benefiting Big Brothers and Big Sisters of New Hampshire. You are making a lasting positive difference in people’s lives, both young and . . . less young!
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