Words & Photo’s by Ethan Smith

Fall is here and the swells just keep rolling in. I miss the days of high school and community college, when all could be postponed or dropped and in the blink of an eye I could be in my car, driving south towards that long stretch of heaven known as the outer banks. Watching the perfection that followed hurricane Nicole, five hours away in the confinement of my mountain locked town of Blacksburg, where school work rules all, I was doing everything I could to fight the urge to blow off my classes and make the long trek across the state, like a few friends who weren’t in engineering could manage to do. I overcame the desire, and stuck my head in my books, trying not to think about what I was missing. I must like self-torture because for some damn reason I continued to check the cameras at which I would curse and the cycle would continue. Instagram is the worse. If you miss a swell there’s always someone you follow, who caught it and happily shares it with everyone. I’m sorry to all that miss a swell I’ve posted in the past; I feel your pain and I want to apologize ahead of time for what’s to follow.

This past Friday down south was apparently really good and just like the swell from earlier that week, I missed it. The day before, I saw that there might be something in Virginia Beach, so after my morning classes I hauled ass down to catch it before dark. Of course, VB was terrible and not even worth paddling out. I then get a call from a friend who drove down south that morning and to my delight, he tells me just how great it was and how I should have been there. Don’t you love that. He tells me he’s camping out for the next day and that I should come down. Well, I look at the forecast and see thirty mph winds and air temps in the fifties, but there was supposed to be a three to four foot wave, and so I say, “what the hell, what’s two more hours,” and drive down.

With the wind, camping was going to be a nightmare, so lucky with a last min call we found a place to crash. We wake before the suns up, and the sound that greets us was not a pleasant one. It was howling outside, screen doors were flapping, trees were shaking, the whole house was swaying. I say to myself, “what the hell was I thinking, thirty mph offshore winds and under head high swell, when does that ever turn out good.” A quick check in Rodanthe and like I feared it was blown out, a two foot crumble at best. We drive south. Lighthouse had the only surfable wave and so of course there are thirty plus guys on it. My friends don’t even paddle out. Being so desperate for a wave I make the best of it for thirty or so before I give up and take my suit back off. We got skunked, or so we thought. After killing some time at the Buxton skatepark we drive north and stop in Avon on a whim. Every ten min there was a good one but it was too fast and shifty. It didn’t make the cut, and I am so glad we didn’t waste time with it, because the next spot brought tears to my eyes. We rolled up at the Rodanthe fishing pier and lord behold we see three to five foot perfection, breaking on both sides and not a soul out there. We snagged countless barrels for hours on end, eventually a couple surfers caught on but it was so consistent we didn’t care in the slightest. I finally got my fix and worked my arms to a pulp. What a turn of events.

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