Florence kicks up gnarly waves for local surfers

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Wrightsville Beach saw a handful of surfers early Tuesday take advantage of Hurricane Florence’s influence

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH – Brendon Jacobsen beat the sun to the beach Tuesday morning.

The local surfer had his board in the waters off Wrightsville Beach before 6 a.m., just as the sun started peaking on the horizon. This, he said, was the magic hour for catching the waves churned up by Hurricane Florence, still hundreds of miles off the coast.

Jacobsen has surfed every day this week, but this morning, he said he began to really see what Florence could do.

“It’s fully nuking, man,” he said. “It’s been consistently building each day. But today, it’s fully nuking.”

While nuking is not a commonly used phrase for most people, Jacobsen knows what he’s talking about. He pointed out toward the water to show how the waves are kicking up and crashing clean. By 9 a.m., it’s already a little rougher than daybreak. Jacobsen said the wind is starting to exert its influence over the waves, making the current stronger and the hits harder.

>>READ MORE: Click here for complete coverage of Hurricane Florence.

With the wind’s arrival, he calls it a day – for now.

“It’s such a bittersweet thing when a hurricane comes around, you know?” he said. “It’s going off in the waters, but I also have to get my stuff together.”

At Wrightsville Beach, as a mandatory evacuation sends most people fleeing town, some came out to see Florence’s impact firsthand.

Most around Johnnie Mercers Fishing Pier weren’t residents, but national media setting up to report on the storm. A few residents were on beach chairs as if it was a normal day. Two pulled metal detectors from their cars to scour the beach for any new finds washed up by the high tide.

As Jacobsen head home, Colin Kern and Adam Gartrell were piling out around 9:30 a.m.

To their right, sun and blue skies. To their left, lightning and cracks of thunder pierced through dark clouds. But for these locals, it was all about what stretched out in front of them.

Kern has surfed every day this week, but Tuesday was the first time Gartrell headed out.

As they blazed a path to the water, Kern said it was all about the vibes when he hits the water.

“I look for my soul out there,” he said, laughing. “I look for myself out there.”

More sincerely, he said he likes these early storm waves because they are a lot easier to catch.

“When the waves are sent from a few hundred miles away, there will be a rip to them but they will actually be pretty clean,” he said.

Gartrell said they live within sight of the beach and planned to ride it out like others.

But for now, they just wanted to take advantage of waves advancing Florence’s arrival.

“I’m ready to get out there,” Gartrell said.

As for Jacobsen, he plans on surfing again Tuesday night after work and possibly Wednesday morning. Beyond that, it’s all a pipe dream.

“There is this intangible fantasy of coming out on Thursday morning, but I know that’s not gonna happen,” he said.

Reporter Hunter Ingram can be reached at 910-343-2327 or Hunter.Ingram@StarNewsOnline.com.