Not everyone welcomes company. In fact, Mozak predicted that some fellow frostbiters would chastise him for talking to a reporter. " Maine surfing is the biggest secret in the United States," he says. "There aren't a lot of surfers up here, and they like it that way. They're extremely protective of what they have. As Mainers put it, they don't want people from 'away.' "
Sure enough, I received a call a few days later from a second-generation Maine surfer, who discouraged me from writing this article, for fear that it would invite an influx of surfers. "If it's a question of money," he said. "I think we can work something out." He offered me $7,500 to abandon my inquiry. He blamed Mozak for popularizing surfing's last uncrowded outpost. "He came up here with the intention of turning this place into New Jersey, one surfer at a time," the worried man said. "Every surfboard he sells rips out a bit of my soul." This sense of protectionism might ring true if the conditions resembled those in places like San Clemente, Calif., or Hanalea Bay in Hawaii. But I found it hard to imagine clamorous invaders beating their way through the snow to participate in the frosty opposite of The Endless Summer.
The 100 or so winter surfers scattered among the rugged bays east of Portland are less concerned about a foreign invasion. For one thing, the 12-foot tides disguise their favorite spots. "You could drive by half a dozen times and not see any break," says Joe Crary, a guide for sea-kayak trips who started surfing 10 years ago at age 36. "The seventh time you might see a perfect wave." Because the breaks are ephemeral, the surfers converse at length on the vagaries of winter weather patterns and tide cycles. "My phone starts ringing days in advance of a swell," says Crary. "I don't even want to think about my phone bill."
The wildest breaks were first surfed by Jay Speak-man, who moved from Maui, Hawaii. in 1970 to work as a lobsterman on Little Cranberry Island, just south of Bar Harbor. Speak-man, later joined by his brother Chris, scouted offshore breaks while hauling lobster pots on his boat. Their fellow lobstermen overcame initial doubts (one threatened to summon the Coast Guard if the brothers surfed) and began to call in wave reports on the radio from their remote routes. On winter workdays the Speakmans would drop anchor and retrieve surfboards stashed in the engine hold. "Those winter swells were every bit as challenging as the waves on Maui," says Jay, who now lives in Oregon. "I guarantee we were the first to surf 90 percent of those places." No wonder. Most were weed-covered ledges accessible only by boat. The most remote of the Speakman destinations was Mount Desert Rock, an island 20 miles out to sea, inhabited only by seals.
Jay Speakman barely scratched the surface before moving to New Mexico in 1985. The serpentine Maine coast is said to be 3,478 miles long, not counting the coastlines of the 2,000 islands offshore. The Down Hast archipelago extending to Nova Scotia still contains a multitude of unsurfed breaks. "In some ironic way, Maine has preserved the pure essence of surfing," Doug Dryburgh says. "It's uncharted territory. It's surfing's final frontier."