Wish You Were Here: Tropical Storm Erika – Reborn Off Folly Beach?

by Chris Dixon


The Remnants of Tropical Storm Erika. Will She Be Reborn off Charleston? Photo: Chris Dixon

Last night the remnants of Tropical Storm Erika rolled out off the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina and and spun up over the Gulf Stream. This morning, the results of that spin were plainly, and beautifully apparent off Folly Beach, South Carolina.


Erika’s Swirl. Photo: NOAA. 

I rolled up at the south end of Folly just after dawn this morning and was greeted by a stunning, curved arc of grey-purple clouds, green ocean and a flawless thigh high swell. I grabbed my standup paddleboard and pointed it towards an ephemeral sandbar somewhere between a half mile and a mile to the south that was showing occasional whitewater. Folly’s northern and southern stretches are ringed by these shallows. If it’s low-tide and glassy, swells wrap, bend and peel across them before disappearing into deep water. If you know where to look, well, you get the picture.


Nobody Out. As is Usually the Case. Photo: Chris Dixon

Beneath that gorgeous sky, I was joined by a momma dolphin and her baby as they herded and fed on huge shoals of mullet. Pelicans soared above and dive bombed into the bounty, while spooky swirls of water indicated the company of bigger, more pelagic creatures. I was all alone.


The Blob Reborn. Image: NOAA. 

Way out at the bar, I found waves that were small, but utterly perfect, and if I rode one, I reckon I rode thirty. Eventually, Erika’s remnants seemed to be moving offshore, the sun rose higher above the horizon and the computer and paid work beckoned. A line of four swells marching in from offshore. The third of these looked to be the biggest, and it seemed the momma dolphin thought so too. She and her baby butterfly stroked into the swell as I paddled for it and soon we were all carried well into the inlet by this peeling little ribbon of energy. I stuffed the memory of that perfect little moment in my back pocket, and paddled back towards civilization. — CD

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