Advent, Day 15: Thor’s Gale

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 The Maine for an adventure a day, each day of this advent season — big or small, by land or sea, with friends or solo, in image or word, exuberant or contemplative, real or conceptual. We live in a state of wonder, its wide open spaces anticipating our
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In the wake of Hurricane Sandy Penobscot Bay was riled up for some time. In gale-force conditions Thor Emory of Thorfinn Expeditions challenged the wind and the waves. All safety precautions taken, he lived to tell about it.

Thor Emory, owner of Thorfinn Expeditions, has been out in Penobscot Bay over the past two days. The NNE winds have been in the 20-30 knot range with higher gusts. Using a 17′ SIC Bullet stand up paddle board, Thor has been riding the waves and winds from Lincolnville Beach to Rockport. The Bullet has a foot-controlled rudder which allows the paddler to actively steer the board. “Downwinders” are a form of stand up paddle boarding (SUP) that involves running downwind and riding from bump to bump (wave to wave). The bigger the conditions the more skill is required, and combined with cold temps – Maine fall/winter downwinders are very committing. Thor wore a drysuit, booties, gloves, and a hat. He also carried a pack with water, some food, communications, and an inflatable life jacket. Around his ankle he wears a coil leash which keeps the paddler connected to the board.

“Yesterday was pretty wild out there. It was feisty! It is a crazy feeling to have Mother Nature literally throwing you out of Penobscot Bay. A couple of gusts almost took me off the board and a few waves did. My GPS watch hit 10-13 mph several times,” reports Thor. “Penobscot Bay is a special place on days like yesterday. Downwinders in places like Hawaii are becoming very popular. Pen Bay, when the winds are out of the north or south can be pretty ideal, albeit a little colder than some areas. Generally you get a 1/4 to 1/2 a mile or off the shoreline and then run along the coast. From Rockland to Searsport you can ride the waves the whole way.”

Thor tends to head out when most others prefer to avoid Penobscot Bay. He enjoys capturing footage of adventuring in elevated conditions.