What I learned at Fishtival

Sea shanties by the Prescott Park fountain

What I Learned At the Second Annual NH Fish & Lobster Festival, aka Fishtival, Yesterday Afternoon in Portsmouth, New Hampshire

1. My camera is dying a slow and cranky death.

2. A whole steamed lobster with melted butter and lemon should be served with more than one tiny paper napkin.

3. 4,000 seafood lovers will eat everything up before the event is officially over.

4. Local fishermen don’t like the federal government and don’t mind sharing that information.

5. When given the opportunity, small children will poke dead fish in their soft squishy eyeballs.

6. If you find a lobster trap washed up on the beach, call Fish & Game (Durham office) to report the number on the plastic tag attached to the trap and it will get back to its rightful owner.

7. The Seacoast is blessed with an abundance of decent restaurants and lots of weird, interesting, delicious creatures locally harvested from ocean and bay.

News coverage. Event info.


Sunflower in our garden

We are having warm and pleasant September weather. Harvest Moon and a long twilight on Wednesday evening coincided with the autumnal equinox. Hurricane Igor passed well to our east earlier in the week, sending swells and big surf to our shores.

Town government is picking up again, with committees and boards getting to work on budgets, the capital improvement plan, long-range planning, land preservation, and the next cable TV contract. Today I need to finish typing up the minutes from the cable franchise agreement public hearing last Monday.

Red maple at pond edge

The dog and I hiked into the White’s Lane woods yesterday and took a trail out to the edge of the red maple swamp. We found that indeed the maples are turning red. Red squirrels were especially chirpy, and seemed offended by our presence.

I’ve got a photo in the Hampton Union today. It’s a cool local story: Chauncey becomes town’s first clock-keeper. People like George help keep this town running.

Change is a measure of time and, in the autumn, time seems speeded up. What was is not and never again will be; what is is change. – Edwin Teale

Summer? That’s a wrap.

Ring-billed gull on the wall at North Beach.

My sister drove up from Woburn yesterday and we went for a leisurely walk in fresh air from North Hampton Beach to Fuller Gardens and back, then decided to refuel with some lunch. We drove south to the North Beach area near Cinnamon Rainbows Surf Shop, parked for a few quarters, and walked to the Secret Spot to get a to-go lunch.

The Secret Spot says it’s here “to bring a quick, healthy, delicious, Caribbean-style product & vibe for surfers.”

Having nothing close to the beach like this gave us the perfect opportunity to get a surfer’s energy replenished after a session. From our organic Brazilian inspired breakfast bowls and smoothies, to our gourmet coffee, breakfast burritos, original wraps & salads, Secret Spot can get you refueled and back in the line up!

Non-surfers like it too. I ordered a Chicken Salad Wrap and my sister got a Turkey Loco Wrap, with chipotle mayo. While we waited, a very small boy touched every single bag of potato chips in the shop and nobody freaked.

We crossed Ocean Blvd and had a picnic on the wall, facing the ocean, and attracted the attention of a few patrolling gulls. This ring-bill became Ann’s special friend.

Our food? It was all good. Menu.

I am a bitter clinger to summer

Hampton Beach yesterday, when it was still summer.

It was summer because it was bright and breezy and 71 degrees, and the sun could cook you with its one big eye. But clouds that were merely decorative yesterday, like helium-filled vanilla cotton candy balloons, have today thickened into a gray, joy-obliterating blanket of sky scum. It’s 61 degrees. Windows are closed.

Our perfect summer is coming to a close as well. And mere memories are so unsatisfying.

Another gull on the wall

Getting inside a seagull’s bubble. Annoying the wildlife.

I walked most of the length of the North Beach seawall yesterday, along with many other fast walkers of the morning going forward brightly into the day.

Something there is that doesn’t love a seawall and it’s the sea. This one was built in 1992, I read on a plaque near the southern end of it, but it’s weathered and crumbling in parts, and has been rebuilt along several stretches.

The farther I walked, the more I thought about this wall, and the other walls that hold back the ocean, and the more interested I became. Other than its intended purpose, this Wall is a fascinating geographical feature, a practically beloved destination, a hangout, a handrail, and a perch from which to observe the water, horizon and more.

What’s SUP?

Hampton Union and Portsmouth Herald: What’s SUP?
By Amy Kane

HAMPTON — It’s a surfboard, but the surf is optional.

Stand-up paddle surfing, or paddleboarding — SUP, for short — is a water sport from Hawaii that exploded in popularity along the New Hampshire coast this summer.

“It’s different and new, and you can do it when there are no waves.”

With those words, Brian Warner, 12, an avid surfer who spends summers at Hampton Beach with his family, explains why he is interested in the stand-up way to get out on the water.

Brian is one of many people this past season who has taken advantage of a free SUP demo on the ocean across the street from Cinnamon Rainbows Surf Shop in Hampton Beach.

On a recent Friday evening, Brian and his dad, Eric, stopped by to try a couple of SUP boards in the calm cove at the far north end of North Beach.

The boards themselves are “super-stable picnic tables,” explained Kyle Linseman, an employee from Cinnamon Rainbows who has presented many demos this summer with boards from the shop.

SUP novices begin on their knees to get a sense of balance and paddle use, then stand up in the middle of the board with legs shoulder-length apart and toes pointing forward rather than in a classic sideways surf stance. Paddling is accomplished with long, smooth strokes.

“It can be a workout depending how hard you paddle, but it’s also meditative,” said Linseman. “It’s perfect for here in the summer, where we don’t get many big waves.”

Dave Cropper, owner of Cinnamon Rainbows, said the shop has been offering SUP boards for three years, but sales really took off this summer.

“It’s a great fitness sport, impact free, and a great core workout. I can’t say enough good about it,” said Cropper.

SUP boards retail from $799 to about $2,000. The surf shop does not rent boards at this time, but does offer private tours for $35 per person, including gear, instruction and an hour and a half paddle at your own pace through September.

“You do need some experience out on the water,” advised Linseman.

“The boards weigh 30 or 40 pounds and, if there’s wind, you are the sail. You need to be aware of situations that could come up.”

Linseman leads many of the private tours. He said he especially likes low tide and calm conditions. Rounding the point towards Plaice Cove, paddleboarders can spot fish and other sea life in the water around them.

Linseman invited his girlfriend for a paddleboard ride one night recently and the two of them marveled at the phosphorescence stirred up by gentle paddle strokes.

Nate Gilman, another Cinnamon Rainbows SUP instructor, said SUP boards are great for getting away from crowds of surfers fighting for waves.

You can catch a wave on a SUP board, too. Gilman recalls a sunset evening last summer when he was on his way to a concert in Hampton Beach and a friend let him borrow his SUP board to ride a few waves — which Gilman did barefoot, and never even got his jeans and button-down shirt wet.

Aaron Alzapiedi, 21, is an intermediate level surfer from Massachusetts who attended several SUP demos last summer and this summer with his friend Mike Shea. Paddling is easy, but catching waves is harder on a SUP board, he said.

“On a regular board, you’re on your stomach with the wave behind you and you are more stable when the wave hits,” he said.

Gary Porter, 24, recently moved to Hampton and was looking for things to do in the area when he read about SUP in an online chat forum and attended a demo. Porter inherited a long board from his grandfather and he surfs now and then, but thinks he may prefer SUP.

“I would do this more; it’s more my style,” he said.

Nancy Farrell, 49, of Hampton, attended a SUP demo for the first time. She liked the workout, and loved the perspective.

“In a kayak, you’re tucked in. When you’re standing on a board, you are elevated. It’s nice and peaceful, with a feeling of freedom.”