Surfing in the Northland


Wintertime in New England comes with many benefits—Mikey DeTemple and I have found that uncrowded winter swells are one of them. When a Nor’easter kicks up on the radar, one of us is pretty quick to call the other to start laying some plans.

This particular storm was no different, aside from the fact that we already had a few feet of snow on the ground to start, which just added some excitement for Mikey’s drive north from NYC to meet me at the Maine coast. While there were plenty of unknowns as there are bound to be when dealing with winter weather, one thing was certain—once Mikey escaped NYC he knew he wouldn’t be fighting crowds in the Northland.


With the days being so much shorter in the winter, that means waking up in the dark, shoveling out the truck, and loading it up all before the sun breaks the horizon. With seven-plus inches of snow on the ground, it does take a bit more time to get out to those untracked beaches and far off points. Luckily, Mikey has the truck for the job. I honestly think that for him, driving in that much snow out to some remote beach is as fun as the surf. With coffee made we head down the road to get the first peek of offshore spray over the freshly plowed snow banks. This first glimpse sets the tone for the day. Usually a quick morning surf in subfreezing temps ensues. Sessions only last an hour or so when it’s this cold. You choose your waves wisely.

After a quick pause for late breakfast. A drive to some more remote and beautiful beaches is in order. The truck reeks of the wetsuit, booties, and gloves set on the heaters trying to dry. An extra winter suit is a must for this time of year. Mikey knows all too well how painful it is to pull back on a freezing wet winter suit.


If we’re lucky, by mid afternoon we’ve reached our next spot without getting buried in a snowbank. With the sun setting by 4:00 and the temps dropping rapidly thereafter, a quick afternoon session is on tap. I usually hover around the truck at this point to have it running and warm when Mikey gets out. No fun struggling out of six mils of rubber with frozen lobster claws.

All for the love of surfing in a beautiful place. Alone.