Hatteras Windsurf Guide- Ocean Launch- Isabel’s

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If the East facing beaches get out of control in a big NE, head on down to Isabel’s. You’ll usually find a nice, clean wrap around swell, and fairly off shore wind, setting up some epic down the line port tack wavesailing!

The dunes are kind of high here, so expect a wind shadow close to shore. Also, beware the “Hatteras Express,” a free ride down to the Inlet in the 5+ knot littoral current that’s usually ripping down the beach. I usually use a bigger board than I think I need to help with getting out.

Trust me, the wave rides here can be so completely unreal, that it’s worth dealing with all of the hassle of getting through the shorepound and inside section!  So if you get denied, gather yourself up and try again and again and again…  it’s worth it!

At spots with super fluky offshore wind, like Isabel’s, I find that bearing way off the wind, but purposefully taking a very narrow grip on the boom helps to get you moving and out through the impact zone as fast as possible.

Izzy’s during TS Noel (Photo: Ed Donnely)

The narrow grip is to help you sheet in and out as you get hit by 20 degree wind shifts, and those pulses and lulls that often have a 15 knot wind speed difference, seemingly every few seconds…  Yikes!!

Low tide will see less shorebreak and current on the inside, but heavier waves and more current on the outer bar.  High tide will see the opposite.  Mid tide is usually your best choice.

Getting There: Park in the soundside lot between Frisco and Hatteras Village. Use the walkway over the dunes. NOTE- You can also sail the soundside from this launch- especially in a NW, N, NE, or East wind. Beware of shallow spots, though…

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Hatteras Windsurf Guide- Ocean Launch- Ego Beach

Want to try sailing the Ocean?  Ego beach can be a great spot to get your feet wet.  Wait for a SW afternoon with small swell, and when you get overpowered at the Hole, just carry your stuff up and over the dunes, and it’ll be perfect at Ego Beach!

North to NE winds work OK at Ego Beach, but you’ll encounter a ridiculous amount of current, so you’d probably be happier at The Lighthouse.  South to SW winds are really the preffered wind directions for Ego, offering side to side-off starboard tack conditions.

The shorebreak can be pretty big, so you might want to watch someone else get out to see how they time it.  Also, the wind is usually a little fluky on the inside, so it helps to grab a bigger board than you think you need.

The sandbars are constantly changing out there, so sometimes Ego Beach has a beautiful outer bar peeling away…  and other times it has nothing but massive shorebreak.  Take a look before you carry your stuff up and over the dunes to see if it’s the right spot for the day.  Sometimes it’ll be 1000x better just a few hundred yards up or down the beach, so use those high dunes as a lookout perch and pick your spot!

If you do go out at Ego, take a close look at the beach and the dune line before you go so that you can recognize where you launched from.  Sometimes it’s pretty hard to distinguish where home is once you get out on the water…  Luckily, you’re never further than 50 yards from the highway, so if you do get lost you can always go hitch a ride back to the Hole!

Getting There: Park at the Canadian Hole and carry your gear over the dunes. Use the paths, and adhere to any postings/closures.  Sometimes you can drive on the beach from Ramp 38, but it’s usually quicker and easier to just walk over the dunes from the Hole.

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**All photos on this page are courtesy Andrew Scalia**

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:

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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.