Waiting For The Thaw

Waiting for the Thaw

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It is April 2nd and the rivers here in Maine are still not ready. Our local paddling message boards are like virtual ghost towns with the occasional post asking if anyone has had eyes on this river or that. The response, thus far, has always been one word, Frozen. Local river races have been postponed and there is still enough ice out there to walk across our waterways without falling through.

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Sounds pretty depressing right? Well luckily we have the ocean. Here in Maine the ocean remains “mostly” ice-free all winter long. If you have the right gear and some gumption you never have to have an off-season. Even a few of my White water only friends have joined me out on the sea for some winter fun thanks to our reversing falls. These spots such as Blue Hill falls, and the Sheepscot reversing falls provide us with reliable year round white water to play in. They will run depending on the time in the tide cycle and they change with the size of the tide range.

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Here is how it works:
In Maine we have a semi diurnal tide cycle, which means we have 2 high tides and 2 low tides every 24 hours and 50 min. This means there is roughly 6 hours and 15 minutes between high and low tide. The middle two hours of this 6-hour cycle is when the flow really gets going. So for example: if high tide is at noon in Portland ME then Blue Hill starts running at roughly 9am and the Sheepscot at 2:30 pm. That’s because the wave at Blue hill forms on the Flood tide (tide coming in from low to high) and the Sheepscot wave forms on the ebb tide (tide going out from high to low) It sounds a bit confusing but it is well worth the effort trust me. When you get on the nice glassy wave at Blue hill and carve nice turns for minutes on end you will agree.

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Generally the Sheepscot is a play boat spot and Blue hill a sea kayak spot. I have paddled all different styles of boats at both spots from 18-foot sea kayaks down to the much shorter play boats and here is what I have found out. My Karma RG performs better than any boat I have paddled at Blue Hill and my Rock Star and 4 Fun are my favorite Sheepscot vessels. At Blue Hill the RG is the perfect blend of hull speed and maneuverability, which allows for fast bottom turns and total control on the wave. My Rock Star and 4 Fun are both equally awesome at the Sheepscot. The way they feel on the wave is very sporty, fast and intuitive. As we await the inevitable thaw here in the North East we do not have to wait to get out and paddle some super fun water. So the next time your favorite local runs are frozen come on up to Maine and we can show you some true paddling gems. And if you play your cards right you may get treated to some of the best, freshest lobster on the planet.

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