To any of you who know this spot (which won’t be named on here), unless you are extremely familiar with the spot, an expert surfer and very strong paddler please do not EVER surfer here on an OUT-GOING tide and when you surf here don’t sit deep! If you are deeper than the guys who surf here regularly there is something wrong!
Yesterday, despite warnings from myself and Dave (on different instances) two guys who were very intermediate surfers (and should have never been out there in those conditions anyway) and also one more advanced surfer- were caught in what is renowned as being a very strong current- this happens all too often at this spot due to peoples lack of knowledge and/or not listening to advice from locals and usually people realise quick enough and paddle their hearts out to get out of it. Fortunately one of the intermediate guys struggled his way our of the rip and the more advanced surfer did too (he was caught in it earlier in the day and confessed not to having listened to my advice and was exhausted and scared after a half an hour gruelling paddle to safety). This left one of the intermediate surfers caught in the rip. I had kept an eye on him while I surfed to see his progress getting back and it was ruining my surf a little bit as I started to get concerned. I said to myself I’ll get a couple more waves then walk round to check on him. I estimate by the time I had walked round the guy may have been paddling hard out for around 40mins. On my way walking round I said to Mal to keep an eye on him (most people hadn’t noticed him) and to keep his phone handy in case the guy’s situation got worse. When I got there it looked like he was beginning to give up and was even sitting on his board waving for help- he was definitely panicking. The guy has been paddling AGAINST the rip the whole time (never paddle against a current) and was being dragged further and further out exhausted. I was really concerned at this point and I couldn’t go after him (then two of us would be in trouble). I started screaming and waving my board to get his attention- it took some time. When I finally got his attention…
I directed him in with my board and hand signals. He seemed to kind of listen and I felt relief. But then he changed his mind and continued again against the current and I could see him moving backwards again ???? [[ Further out to sea at this particular spot is one of the most dangerous stretches of water imaginable- the strength of the tide combined with the huge swell travelling against them causes standing waves the size of small houses – I don’t even know if a lifeboat could rescue you or even find you in amongst that (if you would even last long enough in that turbulence to be worth rescuing). ]] I screamed and screamed until I was losing my voice to make him listen to me ????. This was the point I almost ran back round the corner to ask a friend to call the lifeboat- I tried to weigh it up, as I didn’t want a false alarm for the lifeboats but yet had the situation worsened rapidly how could I live with myself being so close to making that decision but deciding to wait- I opted to give him literally 30 seconds more to listen to my instruction.
Finally again he was taking my instruction, at this point I was exhausted from the screaming and waving! But he was listening and making slow progress… I knew he was almost giving up so I was shouting and air paddling with him, trying to motivate him and give him rhythm to follow praying he wouldn’t give up or stop for even a second.
Then our prayers were answered! A medium set wave was approaching! (Some of the bomb set waves this day were 3x the size of me) ????????. This was a good thing! The wave would help push him onto the rocks and at this point ROCKS are you friend! Dry land! I was elated with relief????. I shouted and screamed and directed by waving and pointing my board for him to continue and catch the wave… But he ignored my instruction…turned around…scared of the wave…paddled back out to sea…back into the current…and back into danger! ????. Demonstrating his complete lack of knowledge of the sea. I was about in tears at this point screaming so hard hardly a sound was coming out sometimes ????????. I resumed directing and shouting, I think he realised my dismay at the decision he had made and resumed following my rhythm paddling. Again, he was making slow progress thankfully. He must have been knackered! He finally made it into shallow water, and eventually up onto the rocks between set waves.
I ran down to greet him, well, actually express my anger at him. Maybe I shouldn’t have been angry at him, he was probably in shock having been through that ordeal but my adrenaline was up high having felt responsible for his outcome and I although he had been panicked I’m not sure if he quite appreciated just how much danger he was in and how close he came to being lost at sea (or his fate being in the hands of the lifeboat crew in those waters). I was angry at him because a) he had ignored our warnings before had even went surfing b) he had ruined my surf being stressed out about the safety of these guys c) he ignored the instruction of someone more experienced than him repeatedly d) i don’t even think by his reaction on land he quite understood the severity of his situation, maybe he did, he said he appreciated my concern.
I hope he reads this… Stay safe guys, know your limits, listen to advice of those more experienced than you, learn about the sea if you intend to spend time in it.
I hope this post gets the message out about the dangers of this spot- otherwise it will only be a matter of time before a life is lost here.