At Home With Hurricane Joaquin

October 27, 2015 • Swell Gallery

Written by  Dick “Mez” Meseroll

I would love to know how many miles I have flown, driven, walked, jet-skied, hiked, paddled, climbed, sailed, swam, or ran while chasing hurricane swells in my life, either to surf or photograph them — but especially photograph. While I always tried to find the time to surf on all those adventures that took me up and down the East Coast, the Gulf Coast, the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Canada, and Mexico, photography was always my main focus when chasing a tropical system. And the lengths I’ve gone to have not always been considered safe nor sane in many quarters — but that’s only because those quarters don’t surf and just don’t understand how driven we are to be there, at the right time in the exact right place with so many variables at play. And don’t even get me started about the pre-Internet days planning and plotting with so little information available and not at your soft, pink little fingertips on the handheld device of your choice.

Sometimes you just get lucky and the right time and place comes to you like meteorological mana dropping right into your lap and honing in with perfect waves, swell direction, and conditions that you can find just by walking down to the beach at the end of your street. Hurricane Joaquin was one of those occurrences here where I live in Melbourne Beach, FL, with several days of beautifully tailored four- to eight-foot waves that lasted all day and all afternoon, and again into the next day — a stunningly rare feat for Florida in general. Some places were bigger and caught the white-hot spotlight better with crowds wanting the size challenge while others, like here in the “South Beaches” as the 10-mile stretch from Melbourne Beach to Sebastian Inlet in southernmost Brevard County is known, just had mile after mile of uncrowded perfection starting with the sandbars at the end of my street.

  • Somewhere between Ocean Avenue and Sebastian Inlet — not normally on the radar of most, but going off in anonymity with nary a soul around. Photo: Mez
  • Jim Cantore gets his froth on as Joaquin percolates off the Bahamas. Say what you will about “The Grim Reaper's” on-camera antics, but compared to the “new” Weather Channel, with their Good Morning America/The View style blinged-out studio sets, GQ’ed weathermen with gelled, highlighted hairstyles, and pretty ladies with vapid smiles and tight skirts, Cantore is old school at heart. His genuine excitement is the single best thing remaining from the good old days when John Hope ruled and it was all about the weather and nothing more. Photo: Mez
  • Spessard Holland National Wildlife Preserve, Melbourne Beach, FL. Photo: Mez
  • Eddie Guilbeau, rock n’ roll fantasy at the end of his street, the legendary Ocean Avenue in Melbourne Beach, FL. Photo: Mez
  • Meanwhile, a few miles south down at a firing Spanish House, Eddie switches it up and chases bait and barrels. Photo: Mez
  • Spanish House, dreamy. Photo: Mez
  • Why wouldn’t ya? Backdoor hombre at Spanish House. Photo: Mez
  • As unreliable as Sebastian Inlet has become since the jetty re-build, there are days and waves of glory still to be found. OK Signs making us forget how much we miss First Peak — at least for a day anyways. Photo: Mez
  • Sebastian Inlet enjoyed the lightest crowds seen at most Brevard breaks during Joaquin — and the “crowd” enjoyed her right back. Photo: Mez
  • Let's be glad they don’t show the common sharks of Sebastian as well. Photo: Mez
  • South side Sebastian bait ball... Wonder what's chasing the fish that are chasing the bait? Photo: Mez
  • (Left) One large Crevalle Jack, south side Sebastian Inlet. (Right) One large lens over the shoulder. Photo: Mez
  • Ray King, Floridana Beach. Photo: Mez
  • Orchid Island — out there. Photo: Mez
  • On either side of Sebastian Inlet, nobody has spent more time nor ridden more waves than Johnny Oed. Respect. Photo: Mez
  • Johnny Oed, pulled back Orchid Island view. Photo: Mez
  • Dave Speir, Bryan Hewitson, and ESM Senior Photographer Jim Ready from Maine talk over the morning session atop the Sebastian Inlet snack bar, discussing the many possibilities for the afternoon go-out. Photo: Mez
  • Jim Ready muscles a longboard snap back out at Orchid Island. Photo: Mez
  • Jim awaiting a lift on the Orchid Island water taxi. Photo: Mez
  • Joaquin's swell wasn’t ideal for Orchid Island, but this fickle spot on this fickle swell still had some magic moments if you could line them up. Hewy and Jim hoping for two more behind it. Photo: Mez
  • You simply can’t say enough about how good it is to see Eddie Guilbeau back in the water... And flat out ripping the shittake out of everything he catches. Photo: Mez
  • Jim Bob Sheridan ruled the Joaquin Floridana sessions on his longboard this afternoon/evening. He had the peanut gallery frothing. Photo: Mez
  • Eddie Guilbeau, wail tail, Floridana Beach. Photo: Mez
  • At the end of this non-descript and secluded Floridana Beach access trail lies Joaquin perfection... Photo: Mez
  • ...And Terry Thompson is extremely stoked he knows the coordinates. Photo: Mez
  • Pete Mendia made the wise choice and left Palm Beach County for the beaches of Brevard during Joaquin's swell. Photo: Mez
  • Jeremiah Graves, framed for eternity through the Floridana Beach fence. Photo: Mez
  • Mike Highberger finds his own slice of Joaquin perfection at Floridana Beach. Photo: Mez
  • (Left) Pete Mendia gearing up at Floridana Beach. (Right) Spanish House green gold. Photo: Mez
  • You know the old adage about making your last wave a good one? Eddie Guilbeau does and follows through with this twilight, end-of-the-session punt at Ocean Avenue before trekking the two blocks back to his house and a good night's sleep. Photo: Mez
  • Table for four, wave for one, Floridana Beach. Photo: Mez
  • Johnny Oed, deep at Floridana Beach. Photo: Mez
  • Hurricane Joaquin is long gone, but memories (and photos like these) of his brilliant perfection in parts of southern Brevard County will remain long after. Photo: Mez
  • Melbourne Beach sunset over the Indian River — the perfect exclamation point to an amazing run of waves thanks to Joaquin. Photo: Mez

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