Hurricane Ivan Pushes Dolphin Cove to the Breaking Point!

Surfing in Dolphin Cove, South Padre Island.
Surfing in Dolphin Cove, South Padre Island.

Big Wednesday! Hurricane Ivan produced a marvelous three day swell for the lower Texas coast. The swell peaked around 16′ at 16.5 seconds on wednesday. Incredible numbers for our area, the only thing missing was an offshore wind direction.

Big and gnarly on the outside!
Big and gnarly on the outside!

Huge waves crashed on the third sandbar and showed the full height of this swell. It was barely rideable because of treacherous currents, but a few people ventured out to surf these rare gulf monsters. One board payed the price and snapped like a twig. The nose eventually washed up into the ship channel and a couple of surfers were rescued by the Coast Guard. It was too crazy out there…much safer in Dolphin cove. Or was it?

Waves in Dolphin Cove were coming in at a steady 5-7 feet with an occasional eight foot clean up set. The crowd that arrived to surf the cove was tremendous and overwhelming. Nearly every wave had at least three people on it. Someone shoulder hopping a wave was affectionately coined a ‘party wave’ by onlookers in the parking lot. It was a sad display of etiquette, or lack of, and became a reminder that crowds and point breaks just don’t mix. Not only did the surf style suffer for the individual, but the images captured revealed more of a barnival than a shred fest.

Choppy but fun as hell!
Choppy but fun as hell!

The cove only reached a rideable point for one day. After that, on thursday, it was surf-business as usual out front along the beachbreak. The waves were still breaking on the outer bar, and some even wrapped all the way onto the inside. Long beautiful waves peeled and reformed from the tip of the jetties to out front of the pavilion. With the right board, and the right choice of wave, you could grab one from rather close to the channel marker and ride it all the way to the sand. The currents had calmed down and the size dropped by several feet. The water was clear and sparkling and temperatures were perfect. You had your pick of wave, 10 foot on the far outside, 5-7 in the middle and waist to chest in the corner by the rocks. Plenty of room, and lots of action!