In the early eighties, when I was just a wee lass
in a blue gingham bikini
, I learned of sneaker waves
firsthand. What I remember of the experience is as follows:
Going to the beach
was an everyday thing. Living in the Philippines
and being so close to such gorgeous beaches literaly meant daily trips. I was already very familiar with the idea of rip currents
and stingrays (the most notorious dangers), and the beaches were guarded constantly during daylight hours.
The day, as it happened, was no different than any other day and the beach conditions were calm. The only unusual thing was a curious number of jellyfish
washed onto the shore.
I was building a sand castle near the high tide line, well above waves. In an instant I was ass over end, completely disoriented. There was no transition
from sitting, building a sand castle to being flipped end over end underwater. I was under long enough to be distinctly aware of a driving need to breathe
. When I came up, I was startlingly far from shore
, but there was already a lifeguard
at my side. He grabbed me, swam parallel to the shore and after getting beyond the rip current, turned toward shore.
When we got back, my mother was terribly upset, but thanked the lifeguard
. She later said she had thought he was asleep
, but he was in the water
before she realized anything was wrong.
My attitude was ambivalent
; other than being underwater for too long, I hadn't been scared. My mother tells me that I even said it was "fun", although I was probably more enthralled with the attention
, rather than the experience itself.