Horror at the beach

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posted on Jun, 15 2014 @ 10:02 AM
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It started as a normal, happy day at the seashore. My sister, "Elle," my 11-year-old niece, "Bren," and I were vacationing in a big, remote beach house on the North Carolina Outer Banks, and enjoying a laid-back holiday filled with long walks, seashell gathering and wading in the surf.

Trying to help my niece overcome her fear of the ocean, I coaxed her into the water about thigh-deep, and we rode waves to shore on her inflatable raft. The surf was a little rough that day following a storm that had moved through earlier, so our escapade was rough and tumble, filled with giggles and our eyes stinging from the salt water as we struggled to keep a grip on the raft's rope and stand up again. My sister looked on for a while, and then decided to join the fun. She took the raft out, and we watched her ride a wave, laughing as the waves brought her into the shallows. She went out for a second run.

Suddenly everything changed
I was horrified to see that Elle was suddenly much farther out to sea, up to her neck in water and without the raft. "Need the raft!" she gasped. It took a second for me to grasp that she was really in trouble, and not just playing. I turned shoreward for a second, directed my niece to go toward the beach, and then plunged after the float and waded after Elle -- who was now even farther out -- with it. When I got within range of her, I pushed the raft out to her. Seeing that she caught it, I turned to my niece, intending to scoop her up and carry her onshore.

Then, things really went South
Somehow, in a mixed up, slow-motion moment that only lasted a few seconds, my niece and sister came together on the float and I found myself 30 feet away from the pair, and unable to touch the bottom. I swam a bit, thinking I might have just stepped into a trough, and tried again. No bottom. By this time, I was another 10-20 feet out. A huge wave crashed over my head, leaving me breathless. I yelled to Elle, "Bring the raft this way!" and tried to tread water.

There's simply no way that I can convey the horror of being caught in a rip current. I had heard of them before, but the actual experience didn't feel like I imagined it would. There was no rush of water, no sense of being pulled along, only the horrid realization that every few seconds, I was much, much further out to sea. Even then, it was still dawning on me what had me in its grip.

Roughly 100 people drown from these currents in the US annually, and I can see why. No matter how you tell yourself to remain calm and avoid fighting the current, every fiber in your body screams at you to swim straight for the shore. It's the worst thing you can possibly do. I tried it, and rapidly realized I was getting exhausted and wouldn't last long. I said a quick prayer and rolled over onto my back. "OK," I told myself, "Just stay like this for a minute and get your breath." Much calmer now, I remembered the rip current advice I had read, and began backstroking parallel to the beach toward my sister. Eventually, and much to my relief, they reached me.

Still not out of danger
The three of us clung to the raft, but the current was still dragging us out. To make matters worse, my niece had become hysterical, pulling one corner of the raft so it went into a tailspin and screaming every few seconds, each time another wave washed over us. We were all in danger of being swept from the float, helpless into the rolling ocean. My sister somehow got Bren's chest up on the raft between us. I said to my niece, "Bren, look at me. We need your help. I need you to stay there and kick your feet in my direction. "I caaaann'tt!" she wailed and then relapsed into hysterical screaming as another wave hit us broadside.

I looked her dead-on and commanded in a deep voice, "You can, and you will!" In that brief second, her eyes grew large and she was more afraid of me than of the sea. But kick she did. Then, I convinced my sister that we needed to swim parallel to the shore, and we all began to work together in a good direction. It took much longer than I can relate, but eventually we began to feel sand beneath our feet. We both tried to dig our toes in, but the undertow kept making us lose our grip. We started to go back out again.

'Not going to die here today
We're cut from the same cloth, my sister and I, and I think our angry stubbornness (which we call "tenacity") kicked in at about the same moment. "Oh, h_ll no, this is not dragging us back out!" I could see the same thought reflected in her expression. Eventually, after numerous tries, we found that we could walk, and soon realized that we could wade. The water became shallower. Before long, we were dragging ourselves and Bren onto the dry shore, flopping there like so many beached whales. Poor little Bren couldn't stop crying. "It's OK. Go ahead and cry it out, honey," we told her.

Things I've learned since

    - Rip currents are on the surface of the water, not the same as the undertow which is at your feet. They pull you out to sea, not down.
    - They can range anywhere from 10-20 feet wide to hundreds of feet wide, in a column stretching out from the shallows into a mushroom shape.
    - They can move a swimmer at a rate of 8 feet per second, faster than even Michael Phelps can swim.
    - Rip currents are stronger at low tide, and they often occur near sandbars (where we all think it's cool to wade because you can walk out so far).
    - As I experienced, you don't feel yourself being pulled out in a rush of water. You feel stationary because the water is moving with you. It's just that you're farther out to sea every few seconds.
    - A good, stiff shot of vodka is just the thing after surviving such an ordeal.


Please remember this and live to tell about it!
You have two choices if you find yourself in a rip current: 1) Swim parallel to the shore until you're out of the current and then swim diagonally toward the shore and 2) Let the thing take you out to sea until it dissipates, which may be hundreds of yards out, and then swim sideways/diagonally toward the shore. Method #1 is truly exhausting but gets you back on terra firma more quickly.


Stay safe, everyone!
edit on 6/15.2014 by graceunderpressure because: (no reason given)




posted on Jun, 15 2014 @ 10:08 AM
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How terrifying! I am so glad that you and your family made it through that nightmare!! Good of you to include the information on rip tides as well!!



posted on Jun, 15 2014 @ 10:29 AM
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a reply to: Night Star
Thank you, Night Star. It's one of those things you always think "happens to someone else." When I told my mom about it she had never heard of a rip current, which is what made me post, here.



posted on Jun, 15 2014 @ 10:36 AM
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This has never happened to me in my pool.
I also know for a fact my pool contains no sea creatures.
There is a reason why I only swim in my pool if I have the choice!



posted on Jun, 15 2014 @ 10:56 AM
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You seem to have forgotten the most important thing, which should be number one on the list!
ALWAYS insist on any children wearing a life jacket when playing in the ocean.
Adults can choose whether or not they want to tempt fate, but a child without a life jacket? Not a good choice, IMO.



posted on Jun, 15 2014 @ 11:06 AM
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At the mouth of the Brazos River, where it meets the Gulf of Mexico, there is a hell of rip current. Many people have drowned or been swept out to sea there. I have experienced it and barely escaped. You got lucky. Water has no mercy. Glad everybody is alright.



posted on Jun, 15 2014 @ 11:14 AM
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And this is why i don't like beaches (and i'm an Aussie!
)

Glad you and your family are okay.



posted on Jun, 15 2014 @ 11:15 AM
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a reply to: graceunderpressure
The very same thing happened to me in Hawaii. there was only one person on the beach and my husband who was far away looking at the sand so not watching.

I tried to swim in and kept going further and further out, it was really terrifying. I was really panicked!it was very very deep water already off the shelf.

I was saved by a pig. The Man on the beach had a pig, the pig was swimming and pulled out like me, but then I saw the pig swim parallel to the shore and slowly make his way at a slight angle to the beach and I copied the piggie!

I learned but didn't know then:


If caught in a rip current:
Stay calm.
Don't fight the current.
Escape the current by swimming in a direction following the shoreline. ...
If you are unable to escape by swimming, float or tread water.
When the current weakens, swim at an angle away from the current toward shore.

edit on 15-6-2014 by Char-Lee because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 15 2014 @ 12:40 PM
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a reply to: graceunderpressure

I go out to the obx every year. Alot of shark attacks many under reported because of tourism. Ive seen some large sharks pulled in. Saw a threw her reeled in last year from the same peer people were swimming and surfing by.

One year my brother and I went out before a storm and the waves were coming in hard and pulling massive amounts of sand out changing the angle of the beach.

Ive heard if you get pulled out in a rip tide you let it take out out a bit and swim diagnally in further down the beach.
Honestly with the sharks there i rarely go out past my knees (except fighting waves or on a board). Most attacks are in about waste deep water.

I also remember on year a guy was killed by a plane trying to emergency land on the beach. Its engines were off and he had headphones in and the wing clipped his head.



posted on Jun, 15 2014 @ 12:56 PM
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a reply to: Char-Lee

good advice swim parallel to the shore...I already knew this but good to post for people to know...so how does a pig know to do this,but, us smart humans do not unless we read it or heard it somewhere. Glad everyone was okay in both stories.

www.bing.com...=detail &mid=476A5AA11C99AB94B71A476A5AA11C99AB94B71A

some clips of the beach and how to visually tell if there is is a rip tide ^



posted on Jun, 15 2014 @ 02:19 PM
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Stay safe in the water!... The ocean has a mind of it sown and shows no mercy when she acts up. Rip currents are very common in the OBX area and here in Virginia beach.



posted on Jun, 15 2014 @ 03:44 PM
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a reply to: research100

Weird but that pig I believe completely saved my life. (glad i am a vegetarian :-)

I live a mile from the beach, but the water is cold here so we don't swim here. we have people die here all the time from sneaker waves. The water can go from friendly to wham...completely different in a second!



posted on Jun, 15 2014 @ 06:55 PM
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a reply to: graceunderpressure

Your member name REALLY suits you.


Thank you for sharing this very frightening tale! I was caught in one once, in Myrtle Beach, south of where you were at. There were no life guards on duty in the area I was in and no warning flags present. In fact, the only beach I have ever been to in South Carolina that had a lifeguard was in Hilton Head.

Were there no rip current warnings/flags at the beach you were visiting? No life guards? I feel so sorry for your little niece. I hope she will learn to love playing in the ocean, but understand it's power too.



posted on Jun, 15 2014 @ 06:57 PM
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originally posted by: Meldionne1
Stay safe in the water!... The ocean has a mind of it sown and shows no mercy when she acts up. Rip currents are very common in the OBX area and here in Virginia beach.


The Atlantic is just so rough in North and South Carolina for some reason. I haven't been to VB, but I will take your word for it!



posted on Jun, 15 2014 @ 10:50 PM
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Having spent my childhood growing up in neighboring Wrightsville Beach, NC, I am very familiar with the dangers of currents and rip-tides, AND the over-abundance of stinging moon jellyfish..though not typically life-threatening, having been stung twice in my life after brushing up against one of these suckas, their sting is pretty painful- it's similar to being pepper sprayed or a fairly severe sunburn, that pain lasts for hours (And come low-tide, expect to find dozens of these medusae beached, BUT THEY CAN STILL STING YOU! So make sure to educate your kiddos and keep an eye out)

There are preventative measures one can/should take when frolicking in the big blue: being a trained swimmer/in good health/practice holding your breath; educating oneself about the relative terrain and danger zones (there are plenty of educational/informative tools online); however, the most effective thing to do if you find yourself in a rip current is SWIM PARALLEL TO THE SHORE.


Also- highly recommend Wrightsville Beach/Wilmington as not just a great vacation destination, but an AMAZING place to live.
HAPPY AT WRIGHTSVILLE:

m.youtube.com...

a reply to: graceunderpressure
edit on 15-6-2014 by ltinycdancerg because: (no reason given)
edit on 15-6-2014 by ltinycdancerg because: (no reason given)
edit on 15-6-2014 by ltinycdancerg because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 16 2014 @ 09:26 AM
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originally posted by: nugget1
You seem to have forgotten the most important thing, which should be number one on the list!
ALWAYS insist on any children wearing a life jacket when playing in the ocean.
Adults can choose whether or not they want to tempt fate, but a child without a life jacket? Not a good choice, IMO.

Nugget, you are so right, and I hope other people take this advice to heart. Normally, my sister is overly cautious about her daughter's safety. I guess we both thought that, since we were just playing on the "baby waves" and standing in water just above the knee, there was no danger. Now that I think of it, many other children were playing in the surf -- much smaller kids -- and none of them had any protection. We must all be more careful!



posted on Jun, 16 2014 @ 09:46 AM
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originally posted by: Char-Lee
a reply to: graceunderpressure
The very same thing happened to me in Hawaii...I was saved by a pig.


Charlee, your story is simply amazing!!! That pig was a godsend, and you were so smart to follow its example. Wow. 'Glad you made it out OK. People who have experienced this type of ordeal know just how helpless and small you feel in a big ocean.



posted on Jun, 16 2014 @ 09:58 AM
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originally posted by: GogoVicMorrow
a reply to: graceunderpressure

I go out to the obx every year. Alot of shark attacks many under reported because of tourism. Ive seen some large sharks pulled in.

Honestly with the sharks there i rarely go out past my knees (except fighting waves or on a board). Most attacks are in about waste deep water.

I also remember on year a guy was killed by a plane trying to emergency land on the beach. Its engines were off and he had headphones in and the wing clipped his head.


Ironically, I told myself I wasn't going to let a fear of sharks keep me from enjoying the ocean. Here's what I didn't know:



Source: www.theguardian.com...

Even though this chart reflects statistical data from Australia, I imagine it's much the same in the US. So, we're all in deeper peril from rip currents than Jaws. That said, a shark attack would be a much more brutal death than drowning. As for the plane, I think if a plane clips your head, killing you, it's probably just your "time to go."

The OBX are so peaceful, they lull you off your guard, but I will be much more mindful of ALL the dangers in the future.



posted on Jun, 16 2014 @ 10:11 AM
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originally posted by: lovebeck
a reply to: graceunderpressure

Your member name REALLY suits you.


Thank you for sharing this very frightening tale! I was caught in one once, in Myrtle Beach, south of where you were at. There were no life guards on duty in the area I was in and no warning flags present. In fact, the only beach I have ever been to in South Carolina that had a lifeguard was in Hilton Head.

Were there no rip current warnings/flags at the beach you were visiting? No life guards? I feel so sorry for your little niece. I hope she will learn to love playing in the ocean, but understand it's power too.


Lovebeck, thanks. I agree that Grace was with us that day. There were no lifeguards present, no rip current warnings or flags, and nothing to indicate any potential danger -- just a fine, sunny day. I think next time we go in the water, especially with a child, we'll look for a beach with lifeguards and have the kids wear life vests. My niece did get back in the water the next day, only up to her knees. She'll have a healthy respect for Mother Nature, which is a good thing, but I was glad to see her get out there again.



posted on Jun, 16 2014 @ 10:14 AM
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a reply to: ltinycdancerg
Ltiny, the image you posted was taped to the refrigerator door of the beach house we rented. I think it helped save our lives! Yeah, I've seen plenty of jellyfish, too. Lots of creepy stuff out there, but it's still a great place to visit.





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