Thursday, May 29, 2008

Where to Windsurf at Edisto Island

If you're ever vacationing in Edisto Beach, South Carolina and you want to windsurf or kiteboard there, go for it! But first, check out this guide I made, in response to an inquiry in an old post.

Edisto may not be a great spot for "real" waveriding, but it is a good spot for intermediate windsurfers to get comfortable sailing in the ocean for two reasons: 1) The waves are usually small enough that once you wade out into chest deep water you are past the breakers and can uphaul safely, and 2) The west side of the beach is on a sheltered inlet where you can launch with no waves at all. The currents at Edisto can be pretty strong, though, so in addition to selecting a spot on the beach with the amount of waves you are comfortable with, you need make sure you pick a spot where the wind and the current are not going in the same direction. Fortunately, there are enough beach access parking areas that you can find a good spot for almost any wind and tide conditions. In the summertime, the wind usually comes from the SE, S, or SW and gradually picks up from morning to afternoon.


If you want a spot with no waves, launch from a beach access near either #1 or #2 on the map. If the wind has some W in it, it will be blowing onshore at these launches, so you won't have to worry as much about current. However, if the wind is more S or SE, then these spots are only sailable on an outgoing tide. (You can get tide and wind forecasts from the weather channel in your beachouse.) The only advantage of spot #1 over spot #2 is that if the wind is from the N or NE you can still find sideshore conditions if you go to the very last beach access at spot #1. It's a good "chicken out" spot to sail if the ocean is nasty with a NE storm.

Spot #3 on the map, White Cap Street, is my favorite place to launch at Edisto because it works in just about any wind and gives you access to interesting water conditions. There's a sandbar that extends southward from the point, which is a fun (but challenging) spot to play in breaking waves and voodoo chop. It's also a good spot to be if you know the tide is going to switch during you session, because you can easily switch from the E to the W side of the point to keep the current in your favor.

Spot #4 is not an exact location, but could be any beach access along the SE facing main beach of Edisto. The only difference between spot #4 and other access points further to the NE end of the beach (up by the Piggly Wiggly and the State Park) is that the waves tend to get smaller the further S you go towards the point (spot #3). This is due to the wave-breaking action of the sandbar at the point. So basically, if you want big waves you should launch closer to the State Park, and if you want smaller waves you should launch closer to the point.

Have fun.


Anonymous said...

James, thanks! I'm going in June, how is the water temps mid-June?

James Douglass said...

The water feels totally tropical from June through September and the air is very warm day and night. No need for a wetsuit of any kind. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks1 I'll post my comments after the trip.

Anonymous said...

Very nice descriptive map. You know what it is like end of October? Heading there for two weeks.

James Douglass said...

Anonymous- The wind direction will be more variable and dependent on passing frontal systems in October, but if you are there for two weeks you should definitely get at least a few days of sailable wind. Bring as much of your gear as you can fit. Also, you'll probably need at least a light wetsuit.