"Go Because You Can" - that mantra actually originated from Seattle resident Troy Nebeker who did a round the clock 24 hour paddle relay back in 2015 with five friends to raise money for others in their community who were battling cancer. That single event grew over the years into a global effort. That quote refers to celebrating gratitude for being healthy by giving back to others who are not as fortunate.
"Go Because You Can" can have another meaning. Hurricane Ian got me thinking about that quote. Is there a bad time to go out into the windy and wave driven conditions that tropical storms and hurricanes produce? Is there guilt in going out when others have sustained storm damage from the same storm you're enjoying?
Perhaps you shouldn't go out if you're putting others in danger (EMT, Fire/Rescue, bystanders) or if the storm just passed and there is a great deal of damage in the area. Going out in conditions that are above your skill level is obviously not a good idea. It puts you and others in danger. There's definitely no shame in sitting it out if you don't have the experience or you're not comfortable in rough conditions. But if you have the skills for rough conditions, and it isn't total victory at sea and the storm isn't on top of you, then you should go!
By Thursday September 29th, we were aware of the massive destruction in SW Florida. Charlestonians know what its like. 1989's Hurricane Hugo is still on everyone's minds any time a hurricane spins up in the Atlantic and goes through the Caribbean. We've had a lot of flooding and damage from other storms since then. At that moment on Thursday, there was nothing we could physically do. There is a lot that can be done, in various ways, in the near and far future to help those in need in areas hurt by the storm's wrath.
The next day, Friday September 30th, Hurricane Ian arrived here as a Category 1 storm. We were fortunate the storm moved by us offshore and made landfall north of us. That path and the offshore winds kept the expected storm surge at bay. Power was lost in many areas. There was relatively minor flooding and relatively minor damage from fallen trees. It could have been a lot worse. Unfortunately, our neighbors north of us at Pawley's Island and the Grand Strand sustained more of the storm's fury and damage. By Saturday morning, the sound of chainsaws and leaf blowers were heard everywhere as everyone was beginning to remove debris and clean up their yards. And true to Charleston ocean athlete form, some took advantage of the clean up surf conditions.
So yeah....Go. Go because you can. Go with grace and humility. Go because you have the good fortune at that moment to take advantage of the conditions. Go because you never know when you won't be able to get out there.
And that's exactly what many local Charleston ocean athletes did the day before Hurricane Ian arrived in our area. There was action at all the beaches and in the harbor. I was able to capture some of the action in photos and video in the harbor off James Island's Melton Peter Demetre Park (formerly called Sunrise Park as some still call it) and at the north end of Folly Beach.
The NE wind was approximately 25-30 mph, gusting up to 35-40 mph during the time I was out there with the camera. The overhead set waves at the north end of Folly were forming nicely on the outside and inside breaks in the side-off conditions.
John Cutter (wing foiling) and David Buckley (windsurf foiling) were commanding the harbor while Morne Diedericks (kitesurf), James Corgill (kitesurf), Scott Hyland (kitesurf), and Noah Zittrer (wing foil), among others, were commanding the north end of Folly Beach.
I hope you enjoy these photos. If you haven't already, check out the Instagram Reel video I posted late last week. I plan to do a longer video edit soon, so stay tuned.
written & photos by Mac Barnhardt