Fall means a lot of things to many folks; for some it’s back to school, some it means football season, and for surfers on the East coast it means waves. Once the gears start turning towards fall, the Atlantic really starts to see some activity. Tropical storm systems bring long period ground swells towards Atlantic coastal towns, and every surfer is frothing after waiting all summer to surf something better than knee high wind chop.
Hurricane Bill did exactly what surfers and homeowners alike dream of all summer, stayed far enough offshore to not bring poor weather with it. The media could not of hyped this swell any more than they did. By telling people to stay out of the water, they did nothing more than send novices and people who quite honestly shouldn’t have been out in the conditions straight towards the shore.
Despite the crowd, Bill delivered a nice long period swell with 4-6 foot (Hawaiian scale) A-frame bombs to the South Carolina coast. The winds were favorable early Saturday and Sunday morning, but by noon the southwesterlies tore apart the conditions and those who had gotten out of bed a little late were left with nothing but giant pieces of junk, and those who had cracked it at first light reaped the benefits of their knowledge.
One thing that was almost as noticeable as the giant steamrolling sets that graced Folly Beach, were the number of “surfers.” Perhaps due to the lack of swell all summer or even the incessant media hype, but the number of folks who were equipped and experienced for conditions like this were far outweighed by those who weren’t.
If Bill is any sign of what the Atlantic has in store for the East coast this Fall, then we can be sure that we are going to get tubed. However, beachgoers should know their limits and leave the beach a little cleaner than they found it.
Austin Dandridge is a James Island resident who works for TheDigitel.com. He is an avid surfer and rides whatever he feels like; from a piece of wood, to a five foot nothing twin fin, to a modern thruster, to a ten foot longboard.