July 18, 2008
Bertha produced a welcome few days of fun surf
By DANIEL PULLEN
and teachers aren’t the only ones enjoying the lazy days of
summer. High pressures and southwest winds along the Outer Banks lull
the Atlantic into a laid back stupor in the summer months. The raw
swells of the winter and spring months subside into gentle, rolling
waves from June through August.
It is a great time to learn how to surf and to enjoy the warm water,
ranging from 73 to 80 degrees. Wet suits get shed for trunks and
bikinis, and brain freeze is replaced by sunburn. If you’re a
surfer, there are three places you’ll be at any given time on any
given day in the summer -- checking the Web or watching the weather
channel to find out the latest tropical forecast, standing on a dune
staring at the ocean and praying for some good sets to roll in, or in
the water, even if the waves are, as usual in summer, flat. It is still
fun to paddle around and to occasionally catch a good wave.
Since the middle of June, I confess that I was cringing at the thought
of writing a summer surf article, because it seemed like the ocean had
gone to sleep. Every surfer on the Outer Banks sat anxiously waiting
for a weather pattern in the Atlantic that would produce surf. It
seemed as if it would never come, but it did.
In the beginning of July, Bertha, the second named tropical system in
the Atlantic this year, brought much sought after surf. Though it
didn’t produce the swell that we thought it might, the slight
chance of decent waves was like throwing crumbs out for the dogs. We
all eagerly took up our boards in droves and headed to the beach,
hoping to get in on the action.
Surfers are a strange kind of people. We want and need hurricanes
because they produce the only swell that we receive in the summer time,
but we don’t want them because, of course, once they get close to
land, they cause a lot of destruction. I guess you’d say we like
our relationship with hurricanes to be balanced with the scales tipped
in our direction. We welcome the storms when they produce good surf,
but only when their stay is short lived and they dissipate over the
ocean far away from land.
Bertha hit it pretty much right on the mark. Just when Bertha was
forecast to make its northeast turn in the middle of the Atlantic, it
shifted slightly west close to Bermuda, which put the Outer Banks in
the swell window. With semi-light winds, it produced a few good days of
fun surf. It wasn’t the best surf we’ve had. But it was
surf -- a much-welcomed sight after two flat months.
Summer equals crowds everywhere on the islands, and the crowds in the
water are made up of surfers starving for good waves. In mid-July,
times in the water were tense, but conditions were favorable across the
Outer Banks. This spread the pack up and down the coast -- as opposed
to the swell in May that was concentrated in Rodanthe.
And in the blink of an eye, the storm has come and gone. The pack has
retreated home, and already we are glued once again to the tropical
forecast – keeping watch on the disturbances in the Atlantic,
hoping that the next storm will produce some good waves- and just like
Bertha- head back out into the open sea.
The photos that accompany this article were taken on Sunday June 13.
The water was packed that day, so thanks to all for not running me over!
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