surfers got the best from Hurricane Earl
By ANNE BOWERS
Hurricane Earl was forecast to brush Hatteras Island, and that thought
sent shivers up the spines of many experienced kitesurfers,
windsurfers, and surfers. Armed with weather knowledge and
sense, the extreme weather elements can provide outrageously fun wave
and wind conditions for the watersport junkies.
How did Earl stack up?
Because Earl swirled into town at night – Thursday night -- and sped
away quickly in the morning, the surfers got the most enjoyment from
“The surf was really good yesterday (Friday),” says Freddy James of Fox
Watersports in Buxton. “The lighthouse was decent but lots of
“Paddling out was pretty easy,” says Scott Busbey, owner of Natural Art
Surf Shop in Buxton. “Definitely some hollow tubes out
there. The young kids had a good time.”
“The waves were awesome,” says Luke Wolffe of Ride Hatteras in Avon. He
surfed at Avon Pier, where he reported that the current was ridiculous.
The beach in front of the motels also had excellent surf.
The kiters and windsurfers spent the day before the hurricane waiting
for the wind to build.
“It was marginal until it was too late,” according to Freddy James, who
also windsurfs. “It only blew like 18 in the
Another thing, there was a lot of debris in the ocean.”
Windsurfers and kiters cruised Highway 12 Thursday before the storm in
search of an ocean session. East winds can produce epic wave
conditions for windsurfers and kiters at the Cove, located in the hook
just south of the Point. It’s rare to get good east winds,
usually once every three or four years. And they are generally created
by approaching hurricanes.
The National Park Service closes the ramps necessary to drive to the
Cove when serious weather is predicted. Even if the Cove went
off, there was no legal way to get there.
Dan Smallwood got some kiting in on the soundside at Isabel’s Inlet on
an 8-meter kite late Thursday afternoon between rains squalls.
“I was pleasantly surprised,” Smallwood weighs in.
It was windier than he had expected. He also added that he
disappointed that he didn’t get out in the ocean because of the
Overnight, Hurricane Earl swooshed by and flooded the island from the
Pamlico Sound, making it difficult to travel around the villages if you
didn’t want to ruin your vehicle. Many stayed home until the
roads cleared. By that time, the winds shifted to the
as Earl pulled away, which really cleaned the surf up on the ocean and
gave the surfers their treat.
The usual post-hurricane surfers were having a blast on Friday morning
because the waves were big, fat, and glassy plus the sets were
well-timed. Cousins Brett and Preston Barley, the Crum
Dallas Tolson, Ryan Langowski, Freddy James, and retired school
principal Ray Gray were among the familiar big-wave surfers.
Big waves require respect. There were some reports of broken
“I got slammed hard against the bottom,” Luke Wolffe says with a laugh.
He made a timing mistake.
“Even though it was pretty, the swell was unorganized, coming from
several different directions,” says Scott Busbey.
A group of kiters got out in the sunny afternoon near Kite Point,
located just north of Buxton on the soundside. They had to
along Highway 12 and walk in because of the high water levels caused by
“It was pretty. The skies were blue” says Stephanie Kiker of
Buxton. “I had a good time.”
Their fun lasted a couple of hours before the winds started to die down
around 3:30 p.m. Considering all the potential for a couple
of wind, this wasn’t much time on the water.
“I know there were people who were disappointed that there wasn’t more
wind,” Stephanie continues, “but I am okay with it. Let’s
get through the storm. I can kite anytime.”
Don Smallwood agreed by saying, “I am glad that we survived unscathed.”
Freddy James said, “I am happy we dodged the bullet, and it was a
pretty large bullet. The surfing was the bonus.”
The wave sailors got nothing at all. By the time the surf
up, the storm had moved away and there wasn’t enough wind on the ocean.
Local windsurfer Don Bowers was okay that he didn’t get out on the
water and said, “I would rather take a good nor’easter any day over a
In spite of the potential for good wind and surf, hurricanes create an
immense amount of work for those who work and live here. The
preparation takes a couple of days. Boarding up windows and
moving everything to higher ground is a major task.
After the hurricane, people do the same thing, only in
This cycle sometimes takes a week to complete. Is it worth it?
Freddy James hopes that “We have had our big hurricane for the
year. I don’t want to have to do the hurricane rodeo again!”