Icah Wilmot

Before the storms from Hurricane Matthew arrived, we knew it was going to be pretty bad. The weather took a while to show up as the storm just sat south of us for a few days, and the swell built up slowly with no major activity. But once it started coming up, it sent some heavy rains to sections of the island, causing flooding in parts of the capital city. In Jamaica, we are in the hurricane highway, so to speak. We are used to seeing storms sing by us, and because my family lives on the beach, we are used to seeing it get pretty wild.

 

Ishack Wilmot

We were in full hurricane watch once the system crossed over into the Caribbean. We weren't sure what category it would be when it got here, but it was expected to be huge. The projected path and all the forecasts had Matthew hitting the eastern end of the island, then traveling north from there. Flood watches, landslide watches, slippage watches — we were expecting the worst.

Icah

The waves were epic. In the days leading up to the storm, the waves just kept getting bigger and bigger. We surfed every day of the swell. The day before the storm really hit, it got to about 15-20 feet. The swells are a lot more powerful during hurricanes, and there is way more water moving around. Big, powerful, thick waves, with clean offshore conditions all day, as the wind was blowing toward the storm. Everywhere was perfect.

 

Ishack

It was like ten Christmases rolled up into one. The waves were perfect. For as long as I can remember in my surfing life, we have wished for waves like this, and we finally got them. The waves started hitting four days before Matthew even got close enough to be a threat.

Icah

The biggest day of the swell, we surfed a spot that hasn't been surfed since the ‘60s, called Lightbourn Corner. It was breaking about 6-7 feet and was the only place not closing out. Everywhere else was 20-foot plus and almost impossible to get out. It had an outside section over some shallow coral heads with a long hollow barrel that ran down the beach, with a few sections mimicking Macaronis. Trading off tubes out there with my brothers and dad was the icing on the cake.

 

In the early mornings, evenings, and in-between sessions, we would paddle out behind our house at a spot which is usually ankle-high, breaking off a reef. But the swell was producing solid double-overhead waves that barreled way outside the reef and across the bay.

Icah

The last day of surfing, the storm went a bit too much north, taking the swell with it, so we packed up and headed to the north coast. Driving around, we saw a wave barrel at a river mouth. With no means of getting to the beach, we had to ask directions from local fishermen and used our 4-wheel-drive to travel down and surf a place called Hope Bay. It was insane: 15-foot-plus on the sets, breaking fast and heavy.

 

Ishack

It's hard to pick just one moment when we had five full days of the best surf of our lives. Waking up every morning was like waking to an awesome dream. Seeing all of your friends and family surfing perfect waves, watching the level of stoke and excitement among the crew there, surfing brand new spots that were firing like Indo – It was seriously like living an epic surf movie for five days.