Early August in 1976 as a tropical system was approaching Hatteras, I lived in a flimsy mobile home in Salvo. By the 8th it had developed into a major hurricane with winds peaking at 120 mph. Hurricane Belle was the first storm since I’d moved to Hatteras Island that people were suddenly evacuating.
My good friends Johnny and Linda Hooper welcomed me into their brick home where I spent the night as the center passed within 60 miles offshore. The next day as Belle sped northward, winds shifted more westerly as huge swells poured ashore. Conditions were favorable for some great surf.
With a board and photography equipment in my Volkswagen bus, I headed to the lighthouse. The only spot to handle such a radical swell, it was tumultuous and defied my skill as a surfer. Not many were able to paddle out past the giant breaking waves. Discouraged surfers washed in on the beach and only watched. Not many were successful in making waves.
From the dunes I took a few pictures with a 650mm Century lens attached to a Nikon on a tripod. The best ride I saw was when Terry Metts of Frisco, dropped in on what some would call a solid ten-footer. Tall and lanky, he was barely halfway down the face and it was still well over his head. He had the skill, stamina and the board to pull it off. Brian Jones also a Frisco surfer, lies prone on the face of the wave, hoping for the best, while another paddler punches through a thick lip. It was chaotic with constant, relentless swells.