Surf’s up — maybe: Reopening Folly Beach County Park might bring bigger waves for surfing
“We’re waiting for a decent swell to show up so we can check it out,” said Jenny Harris of Ocean Surf Shop.
If you go
WHAT: Folly Beach County Park has reopened.
WHEN: 9 a.m. (Daily hours 9 a.m.-7 p.m.)
WHERE: 1100 W. Ashley Ave.
ADMISSION: $8 per vehicle.
PARKING: More than 200 spots.
FACILITIES: Lifeguards, portable restrooms and outdoor shower area, with snacks and drinks for sale.
Watch out, Washout. Folly Beach’s east-end surfing mecca might have a little bit of a new rival on the west end. It would be an odd benefit from the controversial Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission project to save its nearly overwashed park grounds.
The renourished park reopened Wednesday.
For park planners, the prospect of a swell was unexpected, but not for surfers. Groins, it turns out, occasionally improve surfing, usually by creating a rip current along the “downstream” wall of the barrier. The rips make waves bigger, and a scoured deeper bottom downstream of the groin keeps waves together longer.
In fact, one of the occasional “off season” surf spots on Folly is the remnants of a groin built decades ago where the park begins.
Groins are barriers run from the beach into the surf to trap sand in the flow along the shore and to slow the erosion of the beach’s sand. The renourishment project groin, built at the park’s other end, is steel sheet piling with a concrete cap, armored with boulders and gravel at its end.
Groins are controversial because they divert sand from downstream beaches.
Park rules prohibit surfing, but the new groin is at the park’s west, or downstream, end. In other words, the potential surfing sweet spot is across the groin from the park.
It would take just the right combination of wind and tides to kick up surf at the park groin. Most surfers are sticking to the Washout and other tried-and-true spots so far.
But more are trying the groin every day. Chris Stackley of Ladson took his kiteboard into the new chop recently.
“It has made it a little better down there, not that it was much of a surfing spot before,” he said. “It needs almost a north swell to be any good. Whether it’s going to be a great surf spot ... probably not.”
Except that Folly Beach overall is now set to be renourished later this year, which will put a temporary damper on Washout waves. But the renourishment will end at the park, and that might enhance the groin waves.
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