Nov 30, 2010

Poor Conditions Good Fun

Well, I'm 5'8" and the 'set' waves were about a foot over my head with some good power.  It was all over the place today due to the strong onshore wind but that wind produced some fun sections.  Less talk more pictures.

I took photos until it started raining.  The shots....

See this kids face and determination!?  Well his name is Justin and if you think he's putting a lot of heartfelt effort into this ride go check out his new blog.  Lot's and lot's of pictures over at

See you all day tomorrow.  I have the day off.

Mike C

Leave a comment...the button is up there near the title
Nov 29, 2010

Have Hope

For waves that is. I have a bunch of days off and waves are on the way. Conditions will be hit or miss but I think it's time for some proper pictures to be posted. Lately no pictures ive taken have been blog worthy. From here on out it's quality over quantity. In the past I just put a bunch of random shots up.

Update via iPhone cause I'm lazzzzzyyyyyyy and I'm watching Restrepo. Just wanted to keep everyone updated and I haven't disappeared.

Mike C
Nov 18, 2010

Yesterday Morning

So what happens when you take your clothes out of the washing machine?  You put them in the dryer to get them all nice and wrinkle free.  I guess you can say after Tuesdays washing machine session the Folly wave gods decided to 'dry' out the waves Wednesday morning.

That was a pretty stupid intro Mike...

Even though tide was low early yesterday morning (Wednesday) the leftover waves were clean, about waist high, and fun.  I opted to surf rather than take pictures with the dropping tide and surf.

Mike C
Nov 15, 2010

Why It Didn't Work

From disappointment comes anger and from anger comes ignorance.  Most of us here at Folly Beach and the surrounding area were blown away when we arrived at the beach Saturday morning to find barely rideable waves.  But what happened?

Since Hurricane Season I've been really researching how waves are formed.  Initially I was curious how close a storm needed to get in order for us to receive waves.  I found out that it really didn't matter how close the storm got it mattered how intense it was and whether local and surrounding wind conditions would favor the swell.  Take this for example: California can receive a huge South swell from storms raging off the coast of New Zealand thousands of miles away.

Late last week the mega low pressure system that produced waves for beaches from the Mid Atlantic states to Southern Florida really began to strengthen.  Winds were blowing from the NE at a sustained 40mph plus for hours and hours on end.  That doesn't seem like much but the distance in which the winds were blowing in the same direction (called the 'fetch') was immense; nearly the whole Eastern Seaboard of the United States. The longer the winds are blowing in the same direction the longer the period the swell.  So with a fetch nearly the size of the Eastern Seaboard buoys were showing 15 second plus intervals with sea heights running into the 20ft range give or take.

We all love those longer period swells because we know they pack all the power to do your Jordy Smith double grab airs.  But if you call Folly Beach your home break you may want to rethink how long is too long of a swell period.  If you've been surfing around this region of the United States you've probably heard about the continental shelf, how big it is, and how it detrimentally effects those big swells.  I always took it a step further and asked why is the shelf was such a big deal.  I mean it's still pretty deep out there and it's just a wave on the top of the sea.  Right?

Yes it's deep out there but not deep enough for this past swell.  The continental shelf off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia can extend as far out as 100 miles plus.  This sets up a bad situation for long period swells.  I always thought most of a waves energy traveled near the surface of the ocean.  I couldn't have been anymore wrong.  Most of a swells energy travels well below the surface of the sea.  The formula below dictates how far down a particular swell period will travel below the surface.  And it really has nothing to do with the height of the wave it all has to do with swell period.

Depth of Wave = (Swell Period²)(2.56)

The buoys from this last big swell were showing an average of about 15 seconds.  If you plug 15 seconds into the above formula you get 576ft.  The deepest part of the continental shelf off of our coast doesn't even come close to that depth.  200 feet is the maximum depth of the shelf; and that is pushing it.  When that 15 second swell came barreling into the shelf more than half of the energy of the swell was getting eaten up by the ocean floor. 

Now that half the energy is gone from the swell it still has to travel through shallower and shallower water when it finally reaches the Washout.  Have you ever noticed waves doubling up during the long period swell events?  Doubling up is the result the continental shelf and shallow near shore waters refracting the swell making it a mess.  Making things even worse was the angle of the swell.  Folly Beach more or less is a Southeast facing beach.  A Northeast swell will not only be heavily angled when it reaches our shores it has even more time to decay over the continental shelf.

Hurricane Earl worked in our favor because he was so close to our shoreline.  The swell period didn't have enough time to formulate into a mega long period swell.  Earl actually produced waves so close to the continental shelf the swell just formed in the presence of the shelf instead of being impacted by it.  This is usually the case with most of our hurricane swells.

Hopefully we've learned from this past weekend what our coastline and beaches can and can't handle.  Of course I am no scientist I am just curious.  I've done a little research and from that research, I've compiled this
post.  Some of the information may not be totally accurate but I've tried to make it as accurate as possible.  Please leave me a comment by scrolling to the top of this post and clicking on the comments link if you have any questions, corrections, or general comments.

Thanks for making it all the way down here and taking the time to read everything.

Mike C

sources: surfline, stormsurf, noaa
Nov 14, 2010

Massive Disappointment

We should have known better.  With such a long period NE angled swell how could we have thought that type of swell would wrap into our coastline?  It seems with every incoming swell we forget about the dreaded continental shelf that shaves down and refracts (negatively) every long period swell trying to push into the Southeast.

What made things even worse was the hype.  Never ever believe the hype ever again.  Bad things happen when a swell is hyped to the magnitude we saw of this previous 'swell.'  The amount of people in the water Saturday was ridiculous.  The Washout was packed beyond capacity and the waves were terrible. 

Pictures?  Yeah I got some pictures but before I took some I thought to myself when I was in the water, "Is it even worth taking pictures?  Is it just better to stay in the water and get run over by funboards?"  I opted to stay in the water most of my time at the beach. But I did take a few shots.

One good thing did happen at Folly this weekend though.  Las Olas surf shop decided to organize a paddle out for Andy Irons this morning (Sunday).  Rest peacefully Andy. 

All photos below are from Saturday...

I was so tapped out by the sight of the dreadfully small waves I started taking bad photos staring directly into the sun

Hampton was the happiest guy out riding his new longboard.  Only if we all brought our longboards Saturday. 

Of the 40 or so photos I took Saturday it took me like 30 minutes to choose which of them I was going to put up here on the blog.  They all were so terrible and reminded me of the night before forecast "head high glass" and arriving at the beach early the next morning and getting shocked by the sight of knee high blahness.

Blah is a good way to describe this weekend and the upcoming forecast of flatness. 

This is the most depressing post I have ever written!  I'm going to go curl up next to my broken ...Lost Rocket and hibernate.  Leave a message to let me know when the waves come back.  Goodnight.

Mike C
Nov 10, 2010

Forecast is Holding

Usually good forecasts for our area come and go.  By the time the swell actually gets here everything blows up in our faces.  Listen.  We are still pretty far away from Saturday but with such large weather systems (high pressure over the US and the big storm in the Atlantic) it's going to be pretty tough for conditions to change drastically.  One thing is for sure.  Waves will arrive.  Local winds are looking good but we all know what can happen. 

Yipes!! Forecast for S-Turns, North Carolina.  Winds will be howling onshore at 30 plus.  I retract my previous statement that North is where it's at.  Obviously the size is there though...
Here at Folly we'll be closer to the head high range.  Seaweed has the ground swell running at a 16 second interval.  Yes that is for Folly Beach.  I don't think I've ever seen that high of an interval forecasted for here.

Central Florida will greet this swell nearly head on.  The swell will be much larger down there compared to here.  Local winds are still up in the air unfortunately for the Sunshine State.  Currently it looks like most of Florida will have some cross shore/onshore conditions.  Hopefully it cleans up down there. 

I hate saying it but we might have the best conditions once again like Earl. Crowds at the Washout. FUN. 

Drive to Florida!

What do I know though?

Mike C.  
Nov 8, 2010
Okay, I think it's safe to say now the tropics have officially shut down.  It's pretty cool we got all the way to the "T's" in the 2010 tropical storm names.  Otto was my favorite name.  What's next?

Old Man Winter has already awoken in the Northern Atlantic.  The time of year has come for those big NE storms.  A BIG one is gearing up to send some freight train size swell to the usual spots that can catch a NE/E swell.  This storm is going to get big, like as big as the whole Northern Atlantic.  Winds will be howling for days in the same direction which is very favorable for a long period ground swell to form.

That's a big storm.  It's kind of crazy how the winter storms move more or less from North to South then off to the East and the big hurricanes move West than go from the South to the North. 

Here in South Carolina we should see some good sized waves from this system with favorable winds but a 4 hr drive south may be the best bet this weekend if you're in search of overhead plus waves.  Local wind conditions for Florida may be iffy though.  An even better choice may be the 4 hr drive North.  Lot's of choices to make but it will be the weekend so escaping the crowds will be tough. 

I'll finally be able to take some good surf pictures.  It's been a while.

Mike C
Nov 6, 2010
photo courtesy
 Earlier today an emotional Kelly Slater after winning his 10th World Title at the Rip Curl Pro Search Puerto Rico dedicated his win to Andy Irons.  It was an amazing thing to watch live.  The sun poked it's head out, barrels were abundant, and to top it all off Kelly started off the heat with a 10 point ride.  Congrats Kelly.

Waves have been fun the past few days.  A little small and mushy at times but still worth getting wet.  I decided to dawn patrol it this morning and yesterday morning.  We had such gloomy weather this past week I needed to see the sunrise and celebrate it with some surf.  This morning it was a balmy 39 degrees as I got into my car.  The pictures I took this morning are indescribable.  Not really because of the waves but the combination of the sunrise, a little swell in the water, and the surface fog; it was pretty surreal.

Mike C. 
Nov 3, 2010

You Thought It Was Over

 First and foremost I'd like to take this space to convey my condolences to the Irons family.  Yesterday the surf community lost one of their best.  Andy Irons.  I'm going to let Kelly Slater, one of Andy's good friends, describe how special a person Andy was and how much he will be missed.

"Andy was an absolutely gifted individual. I'm lucky to have known him and had the times we had together. I feel blessed that we worked through the differences we had and I was able to learn what I'm made of because of Andy. We enjoyed many quiet times together with our girls in the last year and I got to know a happy, funny, innocent kid who was happy to live every second with the people he loved. I'm so sad. My thoughts are with Bruce and Lyndie and their parents and all of his many friends around the world. It's a huge and far too premature loss for all of us. He was the most intense competitor I've ever known and one of the most sensitive people. He had so much life left in him and it hurts to think about. We look forward to his memory living on with our memories of him and his child on the way. There are a lot of uncles awaiting his arrival. I really miss Andy. He had a really good heart. With love, Kelly"


Rest Peacefully Andy

Okay. Just as you thought Hurricane Season for the Atlantic was over, Tropical Storm Tomas is currently skipping over the Caribbean Islands into the open ocean.  He was born in the still very warm waters of the Caribbean ocean.  With a little help from a trough coming off the Gulf Sea and the cold front we are experiencing now, will court Tomas to the North spurting him into the Atlantic.  Tomas is expected to remain a Tropical Storm when he reaches the cooler waters of the Atlantic.  That is good news for us.  The winds Tomas will be producing in the Atlantic will be enough to send us a fun sized long period November!

Wouldn't that be cool if he just stalled out Sunday and just chilled right there for a week.  Waves for days! hahah not a likely situation but looks like he'll stall for a little.  Still a good look.

But we all know nothing is ever promised so all we can do now is hope.  Currently our local winds are looking good for the arrival of the swell which should start pumping in early next week.  And you better believe I'll be out there with the camera, new lens, and tripod shooting stills and video.  Get focused.

Mike C.
Nov 1, 2010
Don't get excited it's knee high.

Although the waves have been fun, conditions for taking photos have been poor.  Almost everyday it has been onshore with the sun glaring off the ocean really bad.  Even though the conditions were marginal for shooting I do have a few photos from the past week or so.

I snapped my Rocket in half the other day.  Not like the nose or a little chunk of the tail, I'm talking directly in half.  When it happened I didn't even notice my board was in two pieces until I yanked my leash and got a handful of delaminated glass and tail. 

It was my only board, the waves were fun, and it was like my second wave. I was so depressed.  The way it went down is I tried kicking out of a wave, got launched, and basically karate chopped the board with my front foot off the back of the wave. 

After being depressed the whole morning I manned up and dug into my 'emergency fund' of money.  I valet at a hotel downtown so usually all the tips I get I put into my 'emergency fund.'  My Rocket was my most favorite board I have ever ridden.  Mckevlins as well as every shop in America can't keep Rockets in stock they are so popular.  The only rocket they had was a 5'10".  Not an option for my size.  Another board I had never ridden was in my future.   

Over the past few months there has been a lot of chit chatter about one of Dane Reynolds' favorite boards now available to us mortal surfers. The Dumpster Diver.  Usually I hate when Channel Islands or any other board company describes a board on their website by starting, "Kelly was looking for something with a little more..." or "Kelly has been experimenting with..."  I'm not Kelly Slater and neither are you so I hate the, "Well Dane loves this board so you will too!"  I can't do airs or massive hacking turns so I pay attention to what the heck I need aka the dimensions.

I was in need of a new board quick.  Waves were on the horizon and I was boardless.  Like I said earlier lots of people picked up Dane's new favorite board named the Dumpster Diver.  Inspired by a shortboard's shape but with enough foam for us here on the East Coast; it was one of my first choices.  Two things kind of weirded me out about the Dumpster Diver though.  First a few people who surf a bunch better than me that have the board said it took them a while to get used to it.  That made me stressed.  Second, I'm used to snub nose boards like the Rocket and RNF.

But it had a bunch of foam to compensate the shortboard shape so I dumped off my tip money and got the Diver.  I took it out that afternoon and parked at the end of the Washout.  With everyone saying it's gonna take a while to get used to I didn't want to look like a total idiot.  Tide was dropping out and the waves were running about waist high with a bit of push. Fun. 

First wave I paddled into I went right over the handlebars.  Great, it's gonna take me until next hurricane season to get used to this thing.  One good thing I noticed right off the bat though was that it paddled a lot easier than my Rocket.  Both were the same size (5'6") so I was happy about that.  Second wave I paddled into I learned from the last and popped up a bit quicker and was pleasantly surprised how responsive and so much quicker the Diver ran down the wave than the Rocket.  After getting a few more waves I was stoked I pulled the trigger and got the Diver.

I was actually happy I snapped my Rocket by the end of my session I loved the Diver so much.  Turns are a hell of a lot easier and feel fluid, speed can be achieved instantly, and it's really light under your feet.  Before I got the Diver I never really rode anything other than a fish type board with forgiving rails and swallow tails.  The Diver's tail and rails I'm guessing are making things a lot easier for my type of surfing.  I'm pretty light on my board. 

All in all I'm still happy I broke the Rocket.  I've been riding the Diver for a week and hey, maybe I'll be surfing like Dane next hurricane season. (kidding)  Yes I'm happy I broke the Rocket but I still wish I had it.  It's a really fun board and if I had a bunch of money I'd get another one.  That's why I'm going to fix it.  You might be saying, "Mike C. you're so stupid.  How are you going to fix a snapped in half board?"  My answer is I really don't know but I have an idea. 

When I have a bunch of time off work I will post pictures of my repairs to my Rocket.  It's going to be fun...

Mike C.