I’m trying to avoid stepping into the piles of it that soak your entire leg, sock and shoe, freezing you to the core on cold New England mornings like this one. I duck into the small breakfast café across from Boston’s iconic South Station in the dark. It’s six a.m. on a December day and I’m planning on going surfing. My plane was late the night before. It was easier to sleep in the airport and catch an early cab to meet the train. This is the first chance I’d had to meet an old friend, Jimmy Blakeney, for a trip we’d talked about for several years: surfing and paddling the Rhode Island coastline, one of the East Coast’s best surf locales, ideally situated to catch Atlantic swells from every direction. I wanted to meet the paddlers that called this place home, too. They say you don’t know Rhode Island until you know it during the winter. That is, when the locals are the only ones out.
At tiring trade shows and never-ending industry meet-and-greets, we’d planned my trip. And I’d finally made it. Exhausted, but full, I run across Atlantic Avenue to the station where I’ll catch a train for the 90-minute ride south to meet Jimmy. My bag is stuffed with a thick, hooded wetsuit, booties, rubber gloves and a puffy jacket. I’d been told that Rhode Island surfing is for the rugged at heart.