Social Paddling: Paddleboard club preps for weekend fundraiser

Chris Carragher was a surfer his entire life, until he went on his first stand-up paddleboard ride with his niece in 2013. He saw the Isles of Shoals in the distance and he set a goal to paddle to the islands and back by the end of summer.

“My wife and I [had recently] gotten involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters as mentors, so the paddle evolved into a charity ride called Stand Up For Littles,” Carragher said.

In that first year he raised $6,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of New Hampshire — and from there the idea for the Seacoast Paddleboard Club developed.

“I started getting emails and phone calls from other paddleboarders in the area who wanted to join me for [the charity paddle] next year,” he said. “It was kind of like a bucket list thing for me and I thought I was done, but I was just getting started.”

In 2015 Carragher started the club as a way to train for the annual Isles of Shoals paddle, now called the IOS Invitational. Since then it has evolved into weekly paddles at Peirce Island and a monthly beach cleanup.

“We have 75 to 100 members now, so it’s really grown,” Carragher said.

With such a large group, Carragher has seen the club develop into a robust community.

“The people in the club are my favorite part of belonging to it,” said Nick Brown, a member of the SPC. “[These are] super nice folks from different backgrounds, careers and experience-levels [who] all share at least one interest: paddleboarding.”

Sarah Patey, a board member for the SPC, became interested in it because of the different places they paddled.

“The first time I used a paddleboard was a tour [with] Cinnamon Rainbow [in Hampton]. The next year I bought a board package and started taking it on my local lake almost weekly,” Patey said. She joined the SPC to travel to other places rather than just in fresh water.

Carragher likes that paddlers of all skill levels can join the SPC, and that you don’t have to be on the ocean to enjoy paddleboarding.

“Personally, I enjoy the ocean because it’s relaxing. You never know what you’re going to see — whales, dolphins, schools of fish,” he said.

Allyson Strain, also a board member for the SPC, recalls her first paddle with the club in 2014 as a sight she’ll never forget.

“We were out on a beautiful day, [with] flat seas and low winds, and we saw two dolphins,” she said.

The SPC is involved with multiple charities in New Hampshire. Besides Big Brothers Big Sisters, the SPC does an annual Halloween costume paddle with the Portsmouth Halloween Parade. In the past the club has done a Paddle with the Pups event to support the NHSPCA. Every month, the club also gets together at Pirates Cove to participate in a beach cleanup.

“We adopted the beach from Blue Ocean Society in 2017. We’ll collect anywhere from 20 to 40 pounds of trash and debris,” Carragher said. “We preach to protect the places you love and protect the places you paddle.”

For new or aspiring paddleboarders, Carragher advises others to remember to have fun.

“It’s a lot easier than you think,” he said.

Strain’s advice is to paddle within your means, while Patey suggests just keeping at it and practicing.

“Most importantly, be safe!” Brown said.

The SPC has made safety one of its biggest priorities, working with the U.S. Coast Guard to monitor paddlers during events. Carragher said they promote a safety culture for paddles, such as wearing a leash and having a Portable Flotation Device.

“When we go out as a group, we come back as a group. Nobody gets left behind,” said Carragher.

As for the future of the SPC, Carragher is looking for different places to host paddles, such as Maine and Massachusetts. Besides the community paddles, he would like to work with more charities.

“We are always looking to get involved in things near to our heart. [We’d] love to work with animal rescues or anything to do with conservation and protecting the environment,” he said. “We’re always keeping our eye on the horizon for new opportunities.”

The SPC wants to keep the true spirit of the club in mind, emphasizing the importance of having a community around a common interest and also making sure to have fun.

“Really we’re a social club with a paddling problem,” Carragher said.

The IOS Invitational is considered the flagship event for the club. The 14-mile trip has raised almost $90,000 for BBBSNH in the past and has a $25,000 goal for this year’s paddle, which takes place Saturday, Aug. 3. You can catch the paddlers hitting the water around 5 a.m. at Pirate’s Cove Beach in Rye, and they’ll head out to the Isles of Shoals, returning to the beach several hours later.

Brown’s favorite memories of being with the SPC are from the IOS Invitational — regardless of how tough it is.

“Last year was a fog-shrouded start in darkness. The year before had rough sea-surface conditions,” he said.


Paddle Schedule
Anyone can become a member of the SPC for a minimal annual fee and participate in weekly paddles.


Weekly Paddle – Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.
Every Tuesday night from May through September, the SPC community paddles begin at the Peirce Island boat ramp in Portsmouth and typically go four to six miles. Members are encouraged to arrive by 6:15 p.m. to be ready to paddle by 6:30 p.m. The paddle lasts for approximately two hours, and members must have proper safety gear.

Weekly Paddle – Sunday, 9 a.m.
On Sunday mornings from June through September, the SPC hosts paddles starting from Pirates Cove Beach in Rye. These paddles are recommended for intermediate to advanced paddlers and travel for eight to 12 miles. Paddlers should arrive no later than 8:30 a.m. and prepare for a three-hour trip. Members must have proper safety gear.

IOS Invitational – Saturday, Aug. 3
This annual event raises money for Big Brothers Big Sisters of New Hampshire and is a 14-mile round trip to the Isles of Shoals off the coast of Maine and New Hampshire. There will be six teams taking the challenge this year. While registration is closed, you can cheer on the paddlers as they start their trek from Pirates Cove Beach at 5 a.m. The paddle normally lasts five to six hours.

— Danielle Roberts


Lane Memorial Library in Hampton hosts its annual Touch-a-Truck Event featuring Dana’s Towing, Hampton Fire & Rescue, Hampton Police, Hampton Department of Public Works, Hampton Parks & Recreation and more. Explore police cars, fire trucks, construction vehicles and many others on Friday, Aug. 2, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Centre School parking lot in Hampton.

Expression through abstraction: Local artist’s work on display at Hampton Town Hall

At 72 years old, Tim Gilbert’s life has been one full of family, work and responsibility. But after retiring from his 40-year day job of advertising design, Gilbert finally has the time to invest in the passion that’s inspired his entire life: painting.

Gilbert can often be found at his studio at the Art Center in Dover, where for the past two years since his retirement he’s been hard at work honing the craft he loves. Although Gilbert still helps run Sweet Hannah’s on Hampton Beach with his daughter and son-in-law, which takes up much of his time in the summer, he is mainly able to paint full-time. This focus has awarded him newfound recognition in the world of art, beginning with his exhibit at the Hampton Town Hall.

Gilbert is the July Artist of the Month at the Hampton Town Hall as announced by the Hampton Arts Network, with an exhibit featuring three of Gilbert’s paintings on display.
“For me, Tim’s paintings are visually interesting,” said Julie Martinelli, the secretary of the board of directors for the Hampton Arts Network. “Being abstract, his paintings allow the observer to use imagination and have a unique experience.”

Gilbert’s artwork falls within the bounds of abstract expressionism, an art movement that began in the 1940s and put America on the map as one of the new-school leaders of art. He finds abstract expressionism to be a truly moving experience for both the creator and the viewer.

“It’s exactly that: an expression through abstraction,” Gilbert said. “It’s shapes and sizes and relationships and color and motion and balance and unbalance. But it’s to create a sensation, a positive sensation when viewed.

It’s the viewer who determines if it’s positive or not. And the thing is, I like painting that way because it’s a little spiritual in nature.”

Gilbert first showed a proclivity toward art in boyhood. Surrounded by a family of musicians, Gilbert was encouraged to be creative, and took to art as a means of creative expression. He began painting as he grew older, taking art more seriously once he hit high school. Gilbert would go on to attend Syracuse University and study fine arts, and eventually graduate with a B.F.A. in advertising design and a minor in painting. Gilbert was especially inspired by professor Larry Bakke, the head of the painting department at Syracuse.

“Bakke taught us how to put paint on canvas freely but with a little discipline in terms of our subject matter,” he said. “He was a very powerful teacher and mentor for a lot of people.”

Gilbert took a break during his college career when he found the opportunity to travel. Working his way through Europe, he and two friends jaunted through Sweden, Rome, France and other European hotspots for around nine months. During this excursion, Gilbert took advantage of the opportunity to view some world-class art in foreign cities that had much to offer.

“I always spent a lot of time in art museums — the Louvre, of course,” Gilbert said. “I spent two weeks in Paris just because of the Louvre. But I was just traveling, and I was a young guy, I was having a good time, too. … It was a good experience.”

Once Gilbert returned to the States, he started a family while finishing his degree and realized he would have to soon join the workforce to provide for his wife and children. So, despite his love of painting, he pursued advertising design, opting for a career choice that would allow him immediate financial support. Though he still painted throughout his busy adulthood, Gilbert never had the time or the means to take it as seriously as he would’ve liked. That’s all changed since he entered retirement.

“It was difficult, because I didn’t have a studio and it’s tough to work in your cellar and so on and so forth,” Gilbert said. “And I work on a large scale, and I’m messy. … I’ve only been painting seriously the last year and a half, two years; I’ve dedicated myself to get back into painting. You’ve got to paint every day to be serious.”

With the time to dedicate to his craft, Gilbert has been able to tap into what he calls “the groove”: a period of time where an artist is creating stunning pieces that are the result of painting almost every day for months on end.

“Most canvases, you hate them,” he said. “It’s only a few that just pop and make you go, ‘Wow, where’d that come from?’ You’re always pushing a style, another style; it’s an evolution, it really is. You don’t just sit down and say, ‘I’m going to paint something.’ It flows through you.”

Of Gilbert’s three paintings on display at Hampton Town Hall, only one was created while he was in his “groove.” Yet he says the other two are solid canvases and strong examples of his style and artistic zeal.

Gilbert believes the opportunity to display his work is just another chance for exposure and to continue doing the thing that he loves.

“When someone loves one of my pieces, it’s one of the most rewarding things in the world,” he said. “My oldest daughter just admitted on Facebook that she stole three of them when she left the house as an adult. She didn’t steal them, I knew she had them, they’re hers, but she just loves them. That’s what you really appreciate — it’s not money or anything like that.”

Gilbert’s work will be on display at the Hampton Town Hall until Aug. 2 where the public can visit and view the canvases during regular business hours. Visit for more information on Gilbert’s art.

— Caleb Jagoda

*Featured photo: Painting by Tim Gilbert. Courtesy photo. 


Thirst of its kind: UNH grads introduce new spiked still water

A new spiked still water — think of an alcoholic seltzer, but without the bubbles — is now available in more than 300 independently owned stores across New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

NOCA, which stands for “no carbonation,” comes in three flavors – dragon fruit mango, watermelon lime and triple berry. It contains 4.5 ABV, 95 calories, two grams of sugar, three grams of carbs and is free of any artificial ingredients. The water is filtered and features a fermented cane sugar base.

The story of the drink’s genesis came out of the desires of three friends to “take a risk” and launch a unique product of their own. College friends Alex Febonio, Galen Hand and Richard Roy all graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 with plans to pursue careers in finance. But it wasn’t long before they decided they wanted to do something different.

“We all went to college … during the spiked seltzer boom. It was the big thing at the time, pretty much, because at the end of the day, it was a healthier option than soda due to its low sugar content,” Febonio said. “But then Galen said one day that he didn’t like carbonation. So we looked at what options there were on the market, and at the time, there was nothing.”

When the three friends realized there was a niche to be filled, they started asking friends and family members if they preferred carbonation.

“A lot of people actually came back to us, and said no,” he said. “They’d tell us that if they had the option to, they’d drink something that was still, but that also had the same health benefits. So then we just kind of ran with it. … All of the flavoring is natural or organic, with no preservatives. That plays a huge role in what you actually taste when you try the drink.”

Febonio said he, Hand and Roy spent considerable time in his apartment testing out different flavors. All three were members of the Atkins Investment Group at UNH during their college days, using their university connections to their advantage in starting their new business venture.

“We reached out to some alumni who were a huge help to us, [by] just advising us on how to raise capital and actually go to market with a product,” he said. “They actually [connected] us with Vital [Design] in Portsmouth, which did all of our can designs.”

The company is headquartered in Newmarket, but the drink and its cans are manufactured in Baltimore, by a company that NOCA has contracted with to produce them and ship them back up to the Granite State. Febonio said the group were also connected with Tyler Kelly of New Hampshire Distributors, who helped them branch out to get their product in several area convenience stores and corner stores.

You can easily find the nearest store to you that sells NOCA by visiting the website and entering your city or town zip code. Depending on the location, you can either get individual 12-ounce cans or boxed cases of six cans each.

The next steps, Febonio said, are for NOCA to appear in larger chain stores and supermarkets like Market Basket and Hannaford, and to eventually obtain enough funds to sell the product in even more states. In the meantime, Febonio said he or his two other co-founders go to nearly a dozen locations across the state each week to do samplings.

“We’re … at a table in a store and get people to engage with us and try it, and that seems to resonate with people,” he said. “I definitely think, especially when you’re just starting out with a new product, the samplings are important because you can get it in someone’s hands.”

— Matt Ingersoll

Visit to find a store near you that sells NOCA. You can also find them on Facebook or Instagram @drinknoca for news and updates.

Upcoming tasting events
Thursday, July 18, 8 to 10 p.m.: Charlie’s Tap House, 9A Ocean Blvd., Hampton
Friday, July 19, 6 to 8 p.m.: Thompson Tavern, 421 Central Ave., Dover

Southern Sounds: Hampton Beach hosts a week of live country music

While 10-gallon hats and cowboy boots aren’t something you see every day in New Hampshire, the Hampton Beach Village District brings the spirit of the south to the Seacoast every summer with Country on the Coast week, this year happening Sunday, July 7, through Thursday, July 11.

That week a miscellany of country music acts will perform from 3 to 9:30 p.m. each day at the Sea Shell Stage on Hampton Beach. WOKQ radio station will be broadcasting the entire week and doing giveaways; local

Hampton restaurants Boardwalk, Purple Urchin and McGuirk’s will host and sponsor different days of the event, and headlining act William Michael Morgan, a country singer and songwriter from Mississippi whose top music video for the song “I Met a Girl” has over 17,000,000 views on YouTube, will close out the week on Thursday night. All of the music and entertainment will be provided free to the public by Hampton Beach Village District.

John Kane, the Marketing Director at Hampton Beach Village District, said the performers are well-known in the country music scene but their fame doesn’t stop them from interacting with the crowds at Hampton Beach.

“They’re all headliners; these guys are all big,” Kane said. “They’re not off-limit acts, even though they come from Nashville; they’re great to deal with. William Michael Morgan will come down and talk to everyone, have his picture taken with everyone, shake everyone’s hands. … They don’t have the attitude; they’re just down-to-earth people.”

One of the performers, whom Kane called “a great personality,” is Michelle Jackson-White, a line dance instructor who has taught in New Hampshire and Massachusetts for more than 20 years but recently relocated to Nashville, Tennessee. She will be returning to the Granite State to lead an hour-and-a-half-long line dancing instructional session each day of Country on the Coast from 5:30 to 7 p.m. It is her second year performing at the event, as she was part of last year’s inaugural Country on the Coast. Her husband, Kevin White, will also be performing at the event on Monday night from 7 to 8 p.m. and from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. as part of his Kevin White’s Tribute to Garth Brooks band.

Kane said that he didn’t expect huge crowds for Jackson-White’s country line dance sessions last year, but he was in for a surprise.

“At first we thought we’d only have a few,” he said, “and then there were like 40 people up there and they’re all really into the country line dancing.”

Jackson-White’s line dance sessions will consist of beginner-friendly dances, which she said will be different from the dances at last year’s event. No dancing partners or previous dance experience is needed. Every session has its own feel and flow, she said, because of the fresh crowd that floats in each day.

“Every single lesson was different because there were different people, so it was kind of neat, because people that were vacationing would come, but locals would come as well,” she said.

“It’s fun; the dances are really easy, and then, when we all do it together, that feeling when we all dance together [is] just nice.”

Country on the Coast has one big change this year: the start time. Each day events will begin at 3 p.m., instead of noon.

“It was a little too warm, you know,” Kane said of the noon start time last year. “If the sun hits it right on that stage, you feel it.”

According to Kane and Jackson-White, the people involved with organizing Country on the Coast strive to provide free, high-quality entertainment for all ages and a little slice of country for New Hampshire.

“The hats are there, the ladies have the boots on, they line dance, they have a good time,” Kane said.

“I feel like a lot of people under [age] 21 don’t always get to experience live music,” Jackson-White added. “Kids love music. … It’s neat that everybody of all ages can go and sit outside and get some live entertainment. It’s a great opportunity that they provided for people.”

– Caleb Jagoda



Sunday, July 7
3 p.m. – Angela West and Showdown
5:30 p.m. – Michelle Jackson-
White line dance instruction
7 to 8 p.m. and 8:30 to 9:30 p.m.
– Kenny Chesney Tribute

Monday, July 8
3 p.m. – Martin & Kelly
5:30 p.m. – Michelle Jackson-White line dance instruction
7 to 8 p.m. and 8:30 to 9:30 p.m.
– Kevin White’s Tribute to Garth Brooks

Tuesday, July 9
3 p.m. – Maddi Ryan
5:30 p.m. – Michelle Jackson-White line dance instruction
7 to 8 p.m. and 8:30 to 9:30 p.m.
– Nick Drouin

Wednesday, July 10
3 p.m. – Houston Bernard Band
5:30 p.m. – Michelle Jackson-White line dance instruction
7 to 8 p.m. and 8:30 to 9:30 p.m.
– Timmy Brown
9:30 p.m. – fireworks

Thursday, July 11
3 p.m. – Kevin Herchen
5:30 p.m. – Michelle Jackson White line dance instruction
7 to 8 p.m. – Old Town
8 to 9:30 p.m. – William Michael Morgan

Fired Up: Smokey Bear celebrates 75th birthday in Hampton Falls

In 1944 a mascot was created by the USDA Forest Service and Ad Council with one goal in mind: to educate the public on the dangers of forest fires and ways to be cautious and cognizant of the risks of participating in any fire-related activities. His name was Smokey Bear, and 75 years later he still lives on. To celebrate his big 75th, Smokey is going on a nationwide tour, and along the way he’s making a stop at the Hampton Falls Fire Safety Complex.

Coordinated by the Hampton Falls Free Library and the Hampton Falls Fire Department, Smokey Bear will visit the Seacoast on Tuesday, July 9, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in what Hampton Falls Fire Department’s Fire Chief

Jay Lord said is Smokey’s first visit to the area in around a decade. Over the course of his hour-long visit, Smokey will be meeting and talking pictures with visitors while a forest ranger reads to children, educates them on fire safety and gives them a “touch-a-truck” opportunity with a wildland fire engine, courtesy of the Forest Protection Bureau.

Additionally, the forest ranger will show off some equipment that the Hampton Falls Fire Department uses to fight fires, including the different types of clothes they wear.

“We’ll kind of vary it along the lines of how interested the kids are and what their age group is,” Lord said.

Hampton Falls Free Library, along with 60 other New Hampshire libraries, submitted an application to receive a visit from Smokey. It was one of six libraries in New Hampshire, selected by the New Hampshire State

Library and the New Hampshire Forest Protection Bureau, to host Smokey, and the only library on the Seacoast.

The event is free and open to the public, and Hampton Falls Free Library Director Barbara Tosiano said she hopes for a big turnout and expects plenty of Boy Scouts to be in attendance. Although the event is geared for children, Tosiano said adults can attend the event with their children, or, if they don’t attend, their children can teach them a thing or two after spending an hour with Smokey Bear and the forest ranger.

“Adults are welcome to the event, but like everything else, if you educate children and you empower children, then they educate the parents,” she said. “So, if you teach children about the importance of being careful with things like campfires, matches, fireworks, etc., then the children become aware of it, and they actually educate the parents.”

Lord explained that fire safety is something everyone should be knowledgeable about, regardless of their age or home state. He said that although forest fires are much more prevalent in California and western America, they can still happen in the New England area if people aren’t careful.

“We don’t get the 100,000-acre fires they have out West, but we have a lot more moisture, so we don’t have as high as that potential,” he said. “But, you know, four or five years ago there was a 200-acre fire in Ossipee, and two years ago in the fall there was a 175-acre fire in the White Mountain National Forest. So we get them, we just don’t get the 10,000-acre fires.”

Lord also gave some tips to prevent forest fires and any fires that get out of control, saying the No. 1 thing to keep in mind is that “every fire starts small.”

“Before they start the fire, make sure the area around it is clear. There’s nothing that the fire can transmit to and get away from them,” he said. “Have a shovel, have a water source, either a bucket or a hose, and then, when they’re done, make sure that the fire is out and truly wet and cold.”

“A fire is not out until it’s wet and cold and mixed in [with] the water and the ash is all together, and then it’s truly out; don’t just leave it,” he continued. “A lot of problems start with people just leaving campfires, and then the wind comes up and blows a spark and off it goes.”

Lord and Tosiano both agreed that, despite teaching kids the facts of fire safety, people have to keep in mind that they are just that — kids — and keeping it fun while including vital information is a must for an event such as this. Thus, Smokey plays an integral role.

“I think the kids will be thrilled to touch a truck and to meet Smokey, and then they will hopefully learn a little bit about fire safety, particularly in the woods,” Tosiano said.

“[We’ll be] teaching them fire safety and kind of making it tangible for them,” Lord said. “‘Oh yeah, Smokey told me X, Y, Z,’ so they can associate it to something, especially for the little kids. Kids don’t care about facts. Kids care about ‘Oh, I need to do this because.’ It’s all education.”


— Caleb Jagoda