Sunday, September 24, 2017

Waves are thugs: Never turn your back on one

Strolling the surf line with your sweetie in Hawaii is near the top of the list of life's pleasures. But you don't want this picture postcard to turn into a crime-scene photo: It only takes one wave to wipe you out, and it happens more frequently than tourism commissions want to publicize. 

The fellow above (at the far end of Lumahai Beach on Kauai), is watching the action, so he was able to turn on a dime and run like hell when the foaming water came rushing in.

This couple got off with just wet shorts and a few laughs when the sand suddenly became water. When the surf is up, you want to stay well back from where the sand is wet, and always deep an eye on the breakers. Fortunately, you can move faster than they do if you react in time.

The Queen's Bath on Kauai is a lovely place to soak in pools in the reef, when the swells are flat. On this day, even being on this reef is suicidal. This couple is just above the impact zone, but still in a dangerous position. When out on the reefs, stay well back from wet areas, and watch the waves for many minutes before deciding a walking route. On high-surf days, a freak rogue wave will arise that is lethally larger than its companions.

The good news is that the ocean is totally safe if you use good judgment. Trailblazer guides have sections on how to read the dangers on the shore, in the surf, and on the trails. Additionally, the specific hazards associated with a trail or beach are noted.