Hatteras Windsurf Guide- Ocean Launch- The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse serves up some of the heaviest waves on Hatteras Island.  It’s also pretty much the only East facing beach that works in a NNE to NE wind, thanks to the Jetty system that breaks down the littoral current.  Be careful- this is the kind of spot where a waist high wave will send you right down to the bottom, rag-dolling you and your gear along the sandbar.  I would bet that the Lighthouse has claimed more broken windsurfing gear than any other launch on the whole East Coast.

That said, when it’s good, and you’re on top of your game, this place can be sweet!  Expect 3-5 bottom turn waves reeling left off the Jetty, or some nice backside rides on the peak 50 yards south.  The wind is usually fluky on the inside, so use a bigger board and fin than you think you need, and use the wave to generate speed down the line.

Launch up near the Jetty, generally within 30 yards of it (on the downwind side).  The Jetty helps to break down some of the massive amounts of Littoral current that the east beaches see, but it also has it’s own issues- If you get too close to it, the current will suck you right upwind and slam you into the rusty, busted up chunks of metal (not good).  Also, the closer you get to it, the weirder the wind gets with lots of swirls and gusts and lulls.  And finally, all of the littoral current that was blocked on the inside gets accelerated and shot through the holes in the jetty and around the end of the jetty, so expect a few different current zones as you make your way off the beach.

If you’re getting worked and drifting half a mile down the beach, turn yourself around, head back to the beach, hike back upwind to the Jetty and start all over again.  You’ll make it out, eventually.

Be courteous to any surfers who may be in the water, even when it’s blowing 30.

Getting There: Park in the lot at the “Old Lighthouse Site.” Carry your gear over the dunes. Check it on the map- you can see the Jetty sticking out and the waves wrapping in:

View Larger Map

Here are some videos shot at The Lighthouse:

Cold Weather Windsurfing at the Lighthouse from Andy McKinney on Vimeo.

Solo Survival Sesh from Andy McKinney on Vimeo.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, October 23, 2008 from Andy McKinney on Vimeo.

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