Winter surf on the Outer Banks

20160110_155002El niño is creating some crazy weather in North Carolina. On Christmas Day, we were on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, it was 70°, the ocean temperatures were in the 60’s, and there was waist high surf. (Apparently, we were a day late for the real swell.) Fast forward to the second weekend in January 2016, and another swell was hitting the OBX. With a sub-topical storm system north of Bermuda and a strong weather system moving through the region, the surf was cranking in Kill Devil Hills.

I drove from Raleigh to the Outer Banks during the afternoon of Saturday, January 9. I was secretly hoping to get in a surf session before dark, but the Atlantic Ocean was showing big, unorganized swell and a stiff current. No thanks. In fact, the surf was bigger than what I thought it would be. Plan B.

I ran a few errands, including a quick stop at the Outer Banks Brewing Station and then Harris Teeter for some dog food for Rex and Sox. My mom and I grabbed some take-out from Pok’s Art. Yummy Thai-Asian for dinner. The NFL playoffs were on, so we watched some of the games. I went to my friend Tony’s place down the street to watch the second half of the Steelers vs. Bengals game. Then it was time to rest.

Sunday, January 19, 2016

20160110_155826I woke up to pouring rain, so I reset the alarm and went back to sleep. Once I got out of bed, I had some breakfast, then headed to Lowe’s. After that, a quick surf check at First Street. Wow, the surf was still big: Solid head high and a stiff current going south to north. The water temp was 49° and I decided to wait for low tide.

I finally paddled out around 2:30 pm. I got my ass kicked on almost every wave. The surf was at least head high (6-foot), but most of the waves going by me were bigger that that. It was an easy paddle out. I timed it well and didn’t have to duck dive any big set waves. I was wearing a 3-2 full suit and booties, no gloves, no hood. The current was strong and the wind was pushing water all over. Every wave I tried to catch was pushing the water up the face of the wave. One wave I caught held me up so much, that I lost my balance after standing up and I canon-balled down the face of the wave. Ouch. And it was all in slow machine (added for dramatic effect).

I surfed for an hour and unfortunately, didn’t really catch a good wave. And to top things off, the wave that had the most potential, meaning, I was in the perfect spot to take-off, someone was right in front of where I was going to drop in. He apologized immediately, but man I was totally bummed. My surf session was really a test of winter surfing. It was big, brutal, cold, and drifty. Despite the warm air temp of 70°, the surf was quite the challenge.

20160110_170609After my session, I watched all the rippers tear it up at Hayman Street. Check out the videos below—they’re really awesome. For the rest of the day, I watched a great sunset on Bay Drive, grabbed some takeout from Mama Kwan’s, and watched the NFL playoffs. (And I wrote this blog.)

My original plan was to head back to Raleigh, but the surf looks like it’s going to hold up for Monday, so I decided to extend my stay and adjust my work schedule to get a few extra waves.

The surf scene at Hayman Street, KDH

Solid winter surf at Hayman Street, KDH

Winter surf in Kill Devil Hills

Great surf and sunset pictures

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About Shibby

Jason Hibbets is a senior community architect at Red Hat which means he is a mash-up of a community manager and project manager. At night, he wears his cape and is a captain for the Open Raleigh brigade, as well as a co-chair for NC Open Pass. Jason is the author of a book titled The foundation for an open source city--a resource for cities and citizens interested in improving their government through civic hacking. While writing the book, he discovered his unknown superpower of building communities of passionate people. Jason graduated from North Carolina State University and resides in Raleigh, NC with his wife, two kids, two border collies, chickens, lots of tomato plants, and a lazy raccoon somewhere in an oak tree. In his copious spare time, he enjoys surfing, running, gardening, traveling, watching football, sampling craft beer, and participating in local government--not necessarily in that order, but close to it. You can follow him on Twitter: @jhibbets

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