The story of an east coast storm chasing surfer
Follow along as Nova Scotia-based professional surfer, Logan Landry shares the tales of chasing swells during hurricane season.
Before we hand you over to Logan Landry, let us set the scene for the adventure you’re about to dive into. It’s late September and hurricane season is coming into full effect on the east coast of Canada. Logan lets us know that the waves coming could be the best we’ve seen in years. We can feel his excitement through the phone and we ask him how one makes the most of hurricane season and he says, “I’ll fill you in when I get home".
Taming the Tempest
By: Logan Landry
The Graveyard of the Atlantic, a common phrase you hear within the ocean fearing folks around these parts. Ingrained into their narrative from generations past with tales of bounty and loss of life, all materialize from the depths of this wild Atlantic.
Every year hurricanes collide with our rugged coastline bending and morphing swell lines into a rideable matter. For the surfers that are chasing it, it's an endless pursuit of adventure and bending the sheer power of nature to our will. For at least a few seconds we are in control of this colossal energy that brings towns and cities to their knees.
The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season was predicted to be one for the books. So as Hurricane Teddy approached our shores, we set off as we do chasing and obsessively reviewing charts and websites trying to figure out how to best tackle this storm.
Every storm is different and feels more like a living organism than a storm; it bends and shapes, and just as you think you have figured it out, it keeps you guessing. Great triumphs and failures all in the same storm, That's what keeps the hunt worth it. Year after year, the excitement returns like a soldier going to battle.
As I look over with one eye open at 3:00 AM, the alarm screams, ok time to jump out of bed and load the truck. As the lights flicker on and all the gear for the next few days gets tossed into the bed of the truck, the excitement builds. This is the start of the season, the first glimpse of real waves in months plays through your head. As we drive into the darkness, anxiety builds with what the day will bring.
I pull into the driveway of master photographer and partner in crime Scotty Sherin’s house. He comes blazing out the door with a grin from ear to ear as we send it down the coast. As the day breaks, we pick our spot on the coast and make our way to the trailhead. Making our way to the beach with gear in hand we start to see water. There it is, the first real waves we have seen in month reel down the line of a perfect left-hander.
Hours pass, the perfect wave after perfect wave roll though, hooting and hollering close friends into epic waves, these are the days we live for. When all the struggles and miles spent getting skunked and the early wake-ups all wash away invalidated pursuit of finding the perfect waves we all envision, and then as the day winds down and we talk of days to come and what to expect.
At last, time to set up camp and relive moments from the day and speculate on what tomorrow will bring. We all look up at the display of light that the night sky has put on for us, as we hear the approaching storm swell crash on the beach.
We wake up to the cold overnight frost on the tent and as we load up the truck in the dark with anticipation of the first glimpse of light to see what this swell has pushed in, but what we see is disappointment, very minimal swell and funky conditions.
We ponder to ourselves, is it the tide? Did the swell pause and do something different?
The thing with hurricanes is they feel like angry moody living things. One minute they are your best friend and the next they are trying to destroy you. As a surfer, we are fascinated with them, the beauty and destruction all formed into one vortex of a storm that travels half a world for us to meet them and try to dance with the sheer power in a silly pursuit of riding a wave.
After sitting it out for hours and looking at our phones trying to see if technology and science have a grasp on what is going on, it looks like the storm took a pause off Bermuda.
We decided to just go with what we have in front of us and make the best of it and hope it gets better later.
Overnight the weather service said Hurricane Teddy would be hitting us, so we did what any surfer would do, we decided this would be the day. 100km winds and over 120mm of rain always makes things interesting, as well as a storm surge up to 5 ft to top it all off and buoys reading 45 feet at 16 seconds. This was looking like an exciting day ahead.
We set off to one of our go-to waves that can handle the size, as we showed up the swell was getting bigger and bigger each set. We scrambled to get our suits on and wax up our bigger wave boards. We paddle out to see even bigger sets crossing the horizon. It’s time to surf. If you're not on the first wave of the set, you won’t be able to see the waves behind it because the wind is so strong the spray hides it.
We eventually reached a point where the spot is not holding the swell anymore and we decided to try some other locations we don't often surf.
We drive down the coast and see Teddy’s full wrath as towns flood and white water covers as far as we can see. We make it to a spot we surfed a few years back and immediately notice the waves are the biggest and longest we’ve ever seen here. We put our wetsuits back on and run up the coast to paddle out, dodging downed trees and trying to no get swept into the cliff as the storm surge comes in. After getting out there we realise the waves are absolutely perfect and some amazing rides are had. In fact, I am 99 percent sure I surfed the longest wave of my life. According to my google earth surf it was around 1.17KM long.