When in doubt, don't go out.
*Update: I just found out the beach we were at was SANDY beach, THE most dangerous beach on Oahu and number one in the world for next and back breaks. Awesome. Officially the stupidest thing I've ever done. * There are several things I want to do, or at least try, while living here in Oahu. Stand-Up paddle boarding, surfing, and real, legit body boarding. Yesterday was an exercise in that, and a disastrous one, to say the least. Since I’ve been it’s a funny story, I’ll recount my traumatic experience.
The weather was perfect. We had even looked up the surf report before heading out to Waimanalo Bay. “5-8 foot waves, and no Man of War jellyfish”. Everything was looking good for some boogie boarding at our favorite spot. Along the way, we passed by Makapuu beach, a rocky alcove in the cliffside that seemed to have some good waves going on and wasn’t very crowded. So we ditched our efforts to continue on to Waimanalo and pulled over. Toting my Wal-Mart boards in, I happened to notice everyone else had legit boards. And flippers. This operation looked hardcore. Everyone out seemed professional, but, after watching Marshall swim around in the busy waves, I put my reluctance aside and gave it a shot. His last final words were “It’s hard to get out there, but let’s at least give it a shot”.
We forged through the strong currents and what SEEMED (from the beach) to be medium sized waves. After much of a struggle, I finally made it out past the breaking points and into the part of the sea where waves could be caught. Feeling alright about the situation (with my board as my security blanket, I won’t drown as long as I have this thing, right?) I was ready to go.
We both turned our boards and positioned ourselves to catch the next wave. A wave that, as it built, got ginormous. RE: TIDAL WAVE. Riding the top of oh, what had to be at least a 12 footer surged a feeling of free falling from an incredible height. A split second where I thought “Is this fun, or is this scary?”. Time’s up! The waves were breaking to the left or right, and instead of turning with them, I just went right down the face of the wave, smiling real big, and having it all come breaking down on me. Getting crashed into a washing machine of ocean, crazy currents, and SCARY.
Flailing around underwater, panicked because I couldn’t control which way the currents were whipping me around, I just remembered thinking “you’ll have to come to the surface at some point, don’t panic”. Probably somewhere mixed in the reassuring thoughts of “I hear drowning is actually quite lovely” . But reassuring either way is hard to do when you feel tons of water sending you in every direction and the unexpected impact sends bucket loads of sandy salt water rushing to your lungs. I was able to find the surface of the ocean just in time to gasp a mouthful of air and hear Marshall yell “GO UNDER!” for a second time. By this point, the current had pulled me back further into the water, past standing level, and a set of huge waves were passing through. Struggling to catch my breath and duck under water to miss other bodyboarders (one, who I was convinced was going to hit me on the head and knock me out, really ensuring that I drown), it was only by the grace of one final wave that got me good and I washed up close to shore, guaranteed flashing everyone along the way.
Our Wal-Mart boogie boards weren’t so lucky.
We dragged ourselves back onto the beach, defeated. After struggling to form words, we finally laughed. What were we THINKING?!?! We just got our asses KICKED. We’re able to laugh and recount the story now, giggling as I think about what the scenario must of looked like to the locals, but for real, it was stupid. And I’m sore. The day was a good lesson in the ocean, misjudging waves and currents, and gives me a lot more respect for that blue body of water that seems to have a mind of it’s own. This morning I have salt-water lodged in my sinuses and am still amazed at the crevices I’m finding sand. But for some reason, I find myself eerily drawn to try it again. But rest assured, MOTHER, before any more intense ocean sports in Hawaii, I should first consider some swimming lessons. This ain’t Myrtle Beach.
A shot of the beach I took on my iphone and posted to Facebook before shit got real.
What my story sounded like when I was able to drag myself out the tides: