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Totally off topic- Pools vs. Ocean NOT the SAME!!!
#406496 08/11/14 01:03 PM
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Murph Offline OP
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Not sure it this is a rant or I'm depressed about it or frustrated or what but for those whom my rant might 'possibly' help someday instead of bore, please read if you are planning a vacation to an ocean large open water area.

Friday, I took the day off to go kayak surfing as there was a north wind that brings big, fun waves to the beach on the other side of my bay. The radio had 'properly' announced dangerous surf conditions but like many Islanders, I grew up in the waves so those announcements tend to draw us to the beach instead of keep us away. I was also wearing a life jacket, had two friends with me and, most importantly.... I know what to do in a riptide or an undercurrent.

Every summer that I go play in the waves (swimming or boating,) you inevitably see some tourists (or unwary locals)who are also attracted to the big waves. No argument, it's fun and it's great to see them having a blast in the refreshing waves on a sunny day, but........!!!!!

Inevitably, somebody who thinks they are OK because they are a "strong swimmer" gets a little to close to where the waves are starting thier roll and poof! They are sucked under.

Most times this is just like a quick suck of your legs towards the ocean. You fall and it's gone almost as soon as it's starts and you quickly pop up, a little freaked out and with a little salt water cough as a reminder of what happened. Scary or fun, depending on the person.

However, other times, that pull can persist as the water under the surface is being sucked down and towards the ocean as the waves race to shore. "Undertow."

A little further back, now that you are in deep water, the current heading out to sea can be so close to the surface that you can not swim to shore, even on the surface. "Riptide".

What many people, who are not used to the Ocean, don't realize is that even a "strong swimmer" can not swim against this current, if it's strong enough. When the Ocean wants to pull you out, it Wins!!

If you know what you are doing, there is minimal danger.

--> An undertow is like a spinning tube of water. If you don't fight it, you will eventually pop back up somewhere. It might be suddenly over our head when you pop up, so be prepared for that but know you will pop up!

Obviously, your natural inclination will be to try and swim straight up to the surface. Even if you are just a foot or two under, you may not make it if you fight it. Relax, let it pull you under, out, wherever...knowing that it will release you in just a few seconds if you let it.

--> A riptide can be powerful and scary as the shore starts to get further away but it can't be everywhere. Do not swim directly towards the shore. You will tire out before the ocean does. Swim diagonally along the shoreline until it feels like it's gone. Eventually, you will reach it's end and it's usually not very far at all.

OK, why the rant now...

Friday, I had to paddle over to a couple caught in a riptide. They were inarguably strong swimmers but it was obvious that they were frantically trying to reach shore but they were actually moving away from it.

Because of the size of the waves, I thought it better to not get too close and just yell advice from a distance verses accidentally slamming thier heads with my kayak in a wave. They stayed pretty calm and followed my advice to follow me to the right and eventually the sand bar shape under the water changed enough that the riptide was gone. I followed them in and they were just winded but grateful as they realized they were getting nowhere trying to swim straight to shore.

I'm not saying I saved thier lives as they were in pretty good shape and they had at least changed to a 45 degree angle of attack to try and get closer to a shallow sandbar on the right so they would probably have been OK.

It's not the first time I had to go offer some advice to some swimmers in a riptide and usually that's all it takes. Only once did I ever feel like I had to rush to someone side and I threw her my life jacket to her, just in case, that time.

However, when I got home later that afternoon feeling pretty good about things, the evening news began with a story about a girl who got caught in a riptide on a another part of the Island. She drowned. This pretty much crushed my good mood.

I'm all about fun and adventure and I truly believe everyone has a right to accept thier own level of risk. However, to make that decision, you should know what you are doing. You may be a champion swimmer in a pool but swimming in the waves is not the same thing. It's a blast, so enjoy it if you dare but know what to do if you get caught in a current.

If you don't know or don't feel comfortable with the fact that you may have to submit yourself into being the ocean's toy for a few minutes before you can regain control, then don't swim in the waves.

Sorry for the long post. Just had to get it out of my system.


With great power comes Awesome irresponsibility.
Re: Totally off topic- Pools vs. Ocean NOT the SAME!!!
Murph #406500 08/11/14 01:57 PM
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Charlie Brown, you're a good dude.

Growing up in Southern California, I used to hit the beach every summer, and I've had do deal with a few undertow/riptide situations, but I always had my trusty bodyboard with me. It came in handy quite a few times when I was sucked/pushed pretty far from shore and I would have tired myself out if I'd had to swim back to shore without assistance.

I think it's healthy to get occasional reminders about how puny you are in the face of forces of nature. I also think it's healthy to know what you're getting into and know how to stay calm and use your head in potentially dangerous situations.

I'm sorry to hear about the girl. When a child dies in a way that could have been prevented with a bit more knowledge on the parents part, it's always tragic.


I can explain it to you but I can't understand it for you.
Re: Totally off topic- Pools vs. Ocean NOT the SAME!!!
Murph #406502 08/11/14 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted By: Murph

--> A riptide can be powerful and scary as the shore starts to get further away but it can't be everywhere. Do not swim directly towards the shore. You will tire out before the ocean does. Swim diagonally along the shoreline until it feels like it's gone. Eventually, you will reach it's end and it's usually not very far at all.

You ARE a good dude.

But did you mean parallel?


::::::: No disrespect to Axiom, but my favorite woofer is my yellow lab :::::::
Re: Totally off topic- Pools vs. Ocean NOT the SAME!!!
Murph #406504 08/11/14 04:45 PM
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I did indeed mean to say "parallel" to keep it as the safest advice but for myself it depends on the current strength. Sometimes, I'll point inwards a ways off the parallel, just to negate the outwards drift a bit as I move down the shoreline.

It depends on your confidence and how energetic you feel at the time, I suppose but yes, parallel is the safest advice.

Thanks Mark.

And thanks for the kind words on the girl's passing, Peter. However, I should have used the term lady as I never heard her age but she was an adult. Not a child but still tragic.


With great power comes Awesome irresponsibility.
Re: Totally off topic- Pools vs. Ocean NOT the SAME!!!
pmbuko #406505 08/11/14 06:01 PM
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Originally Posted By: pmbuko
Charlie Brown, you're a good dud...

But Peter is still going to pull the football away at the last second.


Fred

-------
Blujays1: Spending Fred's money one bottle at a time, no two... Oh crap!
Re: Totally off topic- Pools vs. Ocean NOT the SAME!!!
Murph #406506 08/11/14 08:39 PM
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Hi Murph,
Swimming is swimming but the ocean is definitely not like a pool or even one of the great lakes. My first visit to Myrtle Beach South Carolina I had my own experience with a riptide and yes it was scary at first but once I understood what was happening it was OK, I had heard about riptides but had no previous personal experience. Just had to go with the flow, ended up a long way down the beach from where I had entered the water initially! I am or rather was a strong swimmer but felt quite helpless for a few minutes. Left with a healthier respect for the power of water/waves. Really a good informative post Murph, albeit the tragic loss of live, I am sure your bringing this up has the potential to benefit others if they face similar circumstances. Just my .02
Jeff

Re: Totally off topic- Pools vs. Ocean NOT the SAME!!!
Murph #406508 08/11/14 10:07 PM
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Did you hear about the wahington woman that drowned near crowbush friday? Sad stuff. But who swims 225m off shore in surf conditions!? She must have been a lifelong endurance swimmer who misjudged the conditions. Sad.

Re: Totally off topic- Pools vs. Ocean NOT the SAME!!!
Murph #406521 08/12/14 11:51 AM
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That is actually who I was referring to. Very sad. I hadn't heard the exact details though. The radio when I was driving my buddy home said she was swept out to sea. That may have just been early speculation. It's a different scenario if she choose to swim further out on her own but still the same result. Very sad.


With great power comes Awesome irresponsibility.
Re: Totally off topic- Pools vs. Ocean NOT the SAME!!!
Murph #406546 08/13/14 04:08 PM
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People are sometimes too stupid to realize the obvious and as such, laws are drafted in the hopes that it helps to deter the stupidity. Case in point, needing to have a minimum number of lifejackets on a boat. Too bad the law doesn't say you have to wear them.
Another case from Australia:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnew...eed-frenzy.html

I have no sympathy for the truly idiotic or those who think they are somehow so strong they will overcome all odds, like the power of the the ocean!

We live on the prairies in river land. Currents are always strong.
In our round pool, just last weekend, i demonstrated to our daughter what currents are like and how we cannot beat them by swimming. You get two bodies in a circular pool with float boards and move around the circumference pushing water in front of you to begin the water swirling. Then, turn around and try to swim against the current in the pool.
She now much more clearly understands how playing near the river can be dangerous.

Good on ya Murph for knowing your crap in those situations! Always bring a throw rope and small spare (possibly gas cartridge inflatable) flotation device as well as a whistle. I'm sure it won't be the last time you come across someone in trouble.
cool


"Those who preach the myths of audio are ignorant of truth."
Re: Totally off topic- Pools vs. Ocean NOT the SAME!!!
Murph #406729 08/22/14 03:05 PM
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Great post Murph!

I got caught in a Riptide swimming off the coast in Kauai many years ago. I was an excellent swimmer and also in very good shape at that time. Totally freaked me out. I had heard about riptides, read about them - a bit, but never actually been caught in one or knew how to get away from one. Kauai is a small island, and the beach was getting pretty small and I was getting real tired. It finally let me go about a half mile from the beach. I was freaked out thinking I would not be able to swim back to shore. I did eventually, and ended up a good mile from where I had planned. I read up on them after that near death experience.

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