RIP Charles Jackson (Wave Kiter Lost at Cape Point)

UPDATE (9/23/2011): Charles Jackson's body has been recovered on Portsmouth Island south west of Ocracoke. See Island Free Press for more details.

Tragedy struck the Hatteras local kitesurfing and general ocean watermen's community this past weekend when Charles Jackson was lost during a sesh Sunday at Cape Point.

The Outer Banks Voice and Island Free Press broke the story earlier this week and a massive search was underway to find him. His gear was recovered; however, the location of Charles remains unknown. Conditions Sunday were pretty intense especially for the east facing beaches. We had swell generated by TS Maria hitting the beach along with close short period wind swell from the weekend nor-easter formed offshore. Basically a recipe for extreme caution if venturing into the ocean on the east facing beaches. Couple the ocean rage with heavy south flowing current, and a launch at or near Cape Point in those conditions is a very risky proposition. It would not take much to be swept out to Diamond Shoals and onward into open ocean.

This is the first time I have heard of an ocean side loss on the Outer Banks of a "experienced" ocean rider, whether kitesurfing, windsurfing, or surfing. I have been here nearly 20 years and in that time there has been tragedy on the sound side numerous times; however, this is the first I have heard of in the ocean. Interestingly, the Outer Banks has some of the most wicked surf anywhere when it ramps up and rages. Though luckily riders can find calmer/cleaner seas simply road surfing around Cape Point (east facing on SW wind, south facing on NE wind) to where conditions are side-off shore.

However, to take on raging onshore conditions with minimal let up in the white water walls is not fun but more "survival sailing." Coupled with river like current, especially running out to a "Cape Point of no return" adds to the danger factor.

All in all, I envy places such as the north shore of Maui where even though conditions can get radically huge, there remains a level of control. Predictable reef breaks, clearing channels, and constant jet ski lifeguards and helicopters in the air provide for a relatively safe environment, even if its huge out there.

However, here in Hatteras, as with most wavesailing spots around the world, those who venture out are on their own, and at the mercy of the sea. If you run into trouble, odds are you may be lost especially in wicked "survival sailing" conditions.

For a glimpse of conditions that particular day, Keith M sent me this pics he shot at the Old Cape Hatteras Lighthouse location where "Toe-Side" Tom is on a ride followed by the wave consuming him in the rough stuff. Note, Old Lifeguard is about 3 miles north of Cape Point where Charles was lost.  Definitely an intense day for anyone out there.


At 7:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting photo. Accounts on other blogs said it was side off when Charles launched. They also stated that after losing all his gear he was seen standing on a sandbar 30 feet from shore waving for help. Regardless, I have sympathy for his family and friends, at least he died doing what he loved.

At 10:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just read Park Service thinks they found his body at Cape Lookout........ sad day........Pete

At 11:17 AM, Blogger PeconicPuffin said...

Sorry to hear it. We lost a solid local sailor this year, and know what a punch in the gut that can be.

Condolences to all who knew him.

At 6:08 AM, Anonymous Russell Blackwood said...

In the early 90's a young surfer from Va. was swept from the Lighthouse to the Shoals, never to be seen again.


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