| August 26, 2009
A helicopter tour of the surf from Hurricane Bill
. . . UPDATED WITH MORE SURFING PHOTOS
By DANIEL PULLEN
For surfers, Hurricane Bill, was a lot of hype and then a lot of letdown.
The storm, which at one point was a Category 3 hurricane, passed more than 400 miles off the Outer Banks on Saturday, Aug. 22.
Generally, when we have storms this big off the coast, there tends to be too much swell in the ocean for good surfing.
However, I ended up getting sucked into the hype.
I tried to go flying with Dwight Burrus of Burrus Flying Service, but
the engine in his plane was being repaired, so I rented a chopper for
Ocracoker Larry Ihle, who owns a helicopter, was excited to fly me up toward Pea Island. Another photographer joined us.
It was of the coolest things I have ever experienced.
We headed to Pea Island, where some friends of mine were surfing the outer bar about an eighth of a mile out in the ocean.
The surf never got as big as predicted, but it was still rather large.
We hovered for about 45 minutes, trying to photograph my friends.
They had two Jet Skis to make sure everyone was safe, and if the surf
got big enough, they planned to do tow-ins, in which they tow each
other into waves via Jet Ski.
When we first arrived, there were two 8- to 9-foot sharks about 100 yards from the surfers. I was glad I was in the helicopter.
The doors had been taken off the chopper, which made it a lot easier to
take photos, but it was sometimes nerve-wracking when we were making
banked turns and all that was keeping us from falling 500 feet was a
It was neat to see the swell in the ocean from a bird’s eye view.
Overall, I didn’t think the beach erosion looked that bad,
although it wouldn’t take much from a northeaster to do some
damage all over the island.
And now surfers are eyeing Tropical Storm Danny, which is forecast to
be close to the Outer Banks as a minimal hurricane Friday night late or
early Saturday morning.
And, finally, I want to give a special thanks to Larry Ihle.
columnist and photographer Daniel Pullen works at Natural Arts Surf
Shop. His photos can be seen and purchased at www.surfintheeye.com)
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