Thanks Leslie, its been a great ride!

Pool water barrels.

Day 5:  As we come to find the peak of our bodies physical capabilities in serious distress, we all arise on Day 5 with the aches and pains from the day before.  Personally my arms  are jacked from running the jet ski and shooting from it, along with my legs from over 4 hours of shooting in the water.  Gathering around the coffee machine is first concern getting going every morning.  The night before we had made the decision to leave early and most likely head south again, as the wind was clocking around to the west.  Willie joined us again as we packed the truck with boards, food, drinks, and 5 very tired dudes.  We check the usual spots to the north as indicators of where to go for the rest of the day.  We make our way down to Skips and launch the skis to offshore winds and perfect peeling barrels.  Smaller than the day before but perfect.  The water is clear as glass. We went out to a remote break, with no one else out.  There we anchored the skis outside and I shot fisheye for nearly 3 hours while the guys traded off sets.

Little paddle out for Mike.

Before we all went our ways on the skis, Willie had brought the ashes of a recently passed away friend, Mike and we spread them our over the break…..perfect waves.  Pretty cool.  The day before we had seen some sharks but nothing today, although we knew they were still there. Conditions couldn’t of been any better.  The sun was blazing and it seemed sunblock was no match for the continuous harsh rays.

Nader duck dive.

The sand was pink on this beach.

The tide started to rise and fatten up the waves and we were starched,  ready for some food and water.  We jetted back to the beach with the skis, loaded them up, ate sandwiches on our way and headed to the southern end of the island with the hope that the newly redirected winds to the west would light up the left.  It too was a nearly impossible spot to get to without a boat or ski as we were on the outer most reefs.

Nader feeling out the outer reef afternoon session before nailing some barrels into his archive.

We actually had a crew of about 9 guys in the lineup with the others coming on a boat.   It was firing, 1-2 ft overhead.  I hadn’t  shot here before, which meant the options were open but it could also take time to figure it out.  After dropping the two guys  off on my ski, I headed into what I thought was a channel.  I was shooting with my 70-200 in the housing.  With the blowing offshore winds, along with the constant monitoring of incoming sets, that turned out to be much harder than I had expected.  The spray constantly got onto my lens, cleaning it after every set or move I made on the ski.  Nearly getting caught inside on a set, made me rethink where I would shoot.  With the anticipation of something like this happening I had also packed my other lens and port to swim fisheye.  It seemed like a pretty hard spot to swim fisheye with the changing peak and sketchy inside section.  The guys were getting caught inside with set after set on the head.  After constantly struggling to get the anchor to grab on the ski I finally was ready to change my lens and swim into the break.  It was not easy with 10k in my heads dangling above 25ft of water trying to switch lenses and ports.

Three peaks yet to be surfed.

Swam in to the break to discover how I would get pounded for the second session of the day swimming.  Nearly everyone was getting barreled but it was all over the place, sometimes on the takeoff and often on the nasty inside end section.  I went to the more likely consistent end section and quickly found the current to be stronger than my legs.  The inside reef threw me around like a rag doll but still managed to get a few shots.

Cappy carving his way on another one of Leslie’s gifts to the Bahamas.

After about an hour of that I decided to go shoot the takeoff barrel instead to hopefully stay out of the inside section.  It turned out to be much easier to swim!  After two hours we called it a day at about 5:30, loaded everyone up on the skis and headed back to the launch beach where we had parked the truck and trailer.  My ankles and newly punchored hole in my foot from stepping on a conch where shot but relieved to be done!  After loading everything up and not getting stuck in the sand we hauled the skis out and met up with Skipp and his family for our last meal.  5 days of shooting takes as much or more of a toll on me than surfing.  Every night when everyone else is resting or long asleep I am up editing the days photos and working to keep up.  Good times but also a lot of hard work!  The drive back at night we all struggled to keep our eyes open.  The trip turned out to be a score and Leslie delivered after all.  With some good local knowledge and patience you can score a hurricane by yourself in a lot of places on the East coast.  This was another great opportunity to shoot the guys on the trip and get some great images for them.  Thanks again for following along on another one of my adventures to photograph the waves of this crazy world!  Special thanks to Cliff, Nader, Cappy and everyone else that made my trip possible.

© 2012 Ben Hicks