It all started in late February, I was scrolling through Instagram and I saw Kelly Slater’s Instagram story. He had posted the wind forecast of the Outer Banks. So I checked the forecast and the next week reaching 21 feet. Texted Jesse Hines and we started getting amped about it.
I went to my teachers and asked them if we could work together to get my work done early so I could miss a few days of school to document this swell. All of my teachers were on board to make it happen, except for one. By the time the swell was over, she was fine with it.
Tuesday night, March 6th, I saw an article come out from the OBX Sentinel. It was talking about ‘Big Wednesday’ and how all surfers will be scrambling to find a place to surf because its going to be sooooooo massive! This stuff makes things worse because it raises all of our expectations. Also, the Bonner Bridge had been closed for a few days but was expected to be opened overnight.
Wednesday morning, March 7th, I woke up at about 5:45am to meet Jesse Hines on Hatteras Island. Jesse and I talked on the phone at about 6:00am and we were both on our way down. I was driving up to go over the bridge and there was an officer that I know running the bridge. He said it was open to 4WD only. At the same time, a guy coming from the other side of the bridge rolled his window down and said, “There’s about 3 feet of water back there and no road. I don’t think you want to drive.” I pulled into the Oregon Inlet fishing center and called Jesse so we could ride together. Not kidding, the exact words from Jesse were, “I’ll be there soon…I have to stop and dispose of some bodily waste.”
As we were finally ready to go over the bridge, we were next in the line, and they closed the bridge. Right in our faces. We were so bummed, no idea when they were opening it again.
Christiaan Van Vliet (he made it over the bridge just a few minutes before us) called me and said that an officer told him they planned to open the bridge later in the day. We were just hoping we don’t miss it. Jesse had talked to Brett Barley and he was saying we weren’t missing anything. He said it was too big and not surfable yet.
We headed back into town just waiting for the bridge to open again, Jesse went home, I went to the coffee shop and checked some spots around town. It was so close to being clean and ripable.
At about 12:00 the bridge opened up again and we charged it to the island. It looked like a war zone, 2 feet of water, there wasn’t a difference between the dune and the road.
We made it to the spot that Brett found. Robbie Vallad told us that only one wave had been caught and they had been dragged into the beach. Jesse and I watched the waves for probably 30-45 minutes and I saw one of the biggest waves of my life surfed by Brett Barley.
We went back to the car, Jesse got suited up, and paddled out. It took him about 17 minutes to make it to the lineup and by the time he made it, Brett’s group had caught their last waves. Jesse was in the lineup by himself when he caught his wave. It was massive.
Literally 1/2 mile down the road it was chest high and where we were it was touching 20 feet.
The next morning we made it to Buxton by 7:00am. It was firing, everyone surfed until about 10:00 and then we waited, and waited, and waited, and waited. Camped in our cars all day and the waves just got worse, worse and worse.
The two days that I skipped school and filmed with pro surfers were two of the best days of my life. Unfortunately, I went back to school on Friday and then missed one of the most legendary Winter swells the next week.