Sunday, August 12, 2007

Swimming At Humboldt Beaches?

In the over thirty years I've lived up here I don't know that I've known of more than five people that actually go swimming at Humboldt County beaches. Sure, there are people that surf, but I don't know that I've known more than a few that just went swimming.

Apparently some people do. The ones in this beach episode not long ago were from Redding. I guess they can be forgiven for not knowing better. Still, I've never had any desire to jump in the water at Clam Beach, or any other beach up here for that matter. Too cold.

As an aside, I don't know that I'd consider what the rescuer did in this instance to be good judgment, although to his credit he didn't get out into the water so far he couldn't get back in.

Are there more people swimming at our beaches than I'm aware of?
About 25 years ago a friend at work said he happened upon some visitors to the area while he was at the North Jetty. They were from the midwest, or some such, and came to California to see the ocean and do some beach type stuff.

They went out in the cold, cold water and were freezing on shore when Gary approached them. They said something along the line of, "These California beaches aren't all that we thought they would be. That water's real cold...".

Gary had to explain to them that the warm water beaches were much further south.
Speaking of rip tides; I got caught in a bad one once when I lived in Southern California.

A friend and I went to Newport Beach one time. I believe there was some weather event in Alaska at the time that was causing real high surf. There were few people on the beach that day.

I knew what rip tides looked like but don't recall my reasoning for going in the water anyway.

I get out in the water and the waves are HUGE. They immediately start pummeling the daylights out of me. I spent most of my time diving under water to get away from the waves.

I tried to get back to shore, but I was in a rip tide. I tried swimming sideways to the shore but couldn't get far because of the strong surf.

Luckily I was a pretty strong swimmer at the time and wasn't in immediate danger of drowning.

There were lifeguards on the beach and one was sitting in the tower on the beach in front of me. I was waving my arms at him but he just sat there enjoying the sun. Strange he wouldn't be paying attention to probably the only person in the water.

Finally, I figured the only way to get respite from the wave action was to swim outside of them so I swam away from shore and finally got outside the waves.

I didn't know what to do then but looking further out I could see pleasure boats cruising about. I started thinking the only way to get out of this would be to swim out to the boats- maybe a quarter to half a mile away- and maybe one would pick me up.

No doubt in my mind I could make the swim out there, but could I make the swim back if it didn't work? I was pretty beaten up by the surf at this point.

I decided to make another go for the shore. This time I just tried to let the waves carry me in, crazy as that sounds.

It worked. I just managed to get my feet on the sand but was having a hard time keeping up in the current.

At long last, the friend I was with- all the while back on the beach- noticed I might be in trouble and came out into the water and grabbed my arm, pulling me back to the beach with him. What do you think you're doing??? says he.

Whew! Close call. Nice to be back on dry land after that episode.

The stupid things some people do.


At 1:06 PM, Blogger hucktunes said...

I went swimming on a local beach once way back in the 70s. It was a real hot day and was actually pleasant. It may have been Clam Beach, or perhaps it was Moonstone or College Cove.

At 5:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My family is filled with longtime Humboldters, few of them with much swimming expertise. I was told from infancy to stay out of the ocean. We used to play tag with the leading edge of the waves. The idea was to avoid getting wet.

Later, on vacation in Santa Cruz, we learned that the ocean could be warm, wonderful, and free of rip currents.

At 7:55 PM, Blogger Rose said...

Used to swim at Moonstone. Never at Trinidad (ocean side), Luffenholtz or Big Lagoon, all supposed to be dangerous, either undertows or rip tides.

At 8:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was astonished to see people surfing in these cold north coast waters. Apparently, surfers have mysterious knowledge of tides, currents, and waves otherwise unavailable to the mortal Humboldter. (Did you like my Paul Simon reference?)

At 12:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being both a surfer and former lifeguard, I was horrified to see tourist parents allowing young children to roam in the waters at Trinidad State Beach. I've never been shy about telling parents when they are not keeping their children safe at the beach. However a few days later I found myself at College Cove sans wetsuit in the company of a friend's teenager who was swimming in the surf zone. I joined in and amazingly it was pleasant, stayed out about 20 minutes. I was careful to stay close to shore with my companion, but I gotta say it was chill (in a great way).


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