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Rip Tides: Biggest Beach Killer


pl1

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I got engrossed reading "top 10" lists recently and the one that stuck in my mind was the biggest killer/cause of drowning on the beach: rip tides. If you have'nt heard of them before they are basically a narrow channel in the sand that causes a powerful narrow current that pulls you away from the beach sometimes lasting upto 500 yards from the shore. Most people drown because they try to swim back to shore (against the rip) and get tired and drown. The easiest way to get out of the rip is to swim perpendicular to it so you get out of the rip or if it's too powerful to even do this let it take you out to sea as it will eventually lose force, then swim back to shore away from the channel.

riptide.gif

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good post about an important subject

rips are indeed the main reason why people drown at beaches the world over.

surfers are well familiar with rips, we use them to get out back to the lineup, but many people are unaware of them and panic when caught in one. best thing to do as the OP says is to relax, float on your back and let it take you where it wants to take you. it will never be too far. then swim parallel to the beach to escape the rip and make your way to shore

people also mistakenly call them 'undertow'... in all my years of surfing i have never encountered 'undertow' except close to shore where the waves break in the impact zone.

there is no such thing as a mystery current in deeper water that pulls you under from the surface and drags you along the bottom of the ocean.

doesn't happen

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Do they ever get so powerful as to suck you back in?

There's a stretch of river near here that's popular for swimming in good weather. When it's wet there's a powerful current on one side: you escape by swimming to the other side. On one occasion of extreme wet weather the current got so strong even that striking out was challenging: the current tried to suck back!

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good post about an important subject

rips are indeed the main reason why people drown at beaches the world over.

surfers are well familiar with rips, we use them to get out back to the lineup, but many people are unaware of them and panic when caught in one. best thing to do as the OP says is to relax, float on your back and let it take you where it wants to take you. it will never be too far. then swim parallel to the beach to escape the rip and make your way to shore

people also mistakenly call them 'undertow'... in all my years of surfing i have never encountered 'undertow' except close to shore where the waves break in the impact zone.

there is no such thing as a mystery current in deeper water that pulls you under from the surface and drags you along the bottom of the ocean.

doesn't happen

Unless it drags you into the rocks.... B)

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Do they ever get so powerful as to suck you back in?

There's a stretch of river near here that's popular for swimming in good weather. When it's wet there's a powerful current on one side: you escape by swimming to the other side. On one occasion of extreme wet weather the current got so strong even that striking out was challenging: the current tried to suck back!

Well, no - not really.

They tend to occur on an incoming tide or a high tide - i.e. when the incoming waves are strong and powerful.

So the incoming waves tend to be constantly coming in - so it would be incoming tide/waves that would be pushing you in.

It all depends on the sea and wind and beach conditions. You can quite often get waves coming in in threes - surfers know this and count them. By counting the number of waves in a sequence you can often predict when the next big wave will be.

Because there are often sequences to waves there are also often gaps or lulls or area of calm water between the wave sequence... or just smaller milder waves.

So, imagine a sequence of 3, or 7, or 13 waves coming in with each wave getting bigger and more powerful and higher towards the end of the sequence. The water rushes in with force towards the shore on the 13th and final wave in the sequence and then, with almost equal force, it runs back out.

It this running back out, as demonstrated in the above photo, which causes the rip tide and, because the water is then rushing back out into a calm or a lull between wave sequences, it can drag you out a fair bit.

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  • 2 months later...

Worth a timely bump as summer sits on the horizon, these rips won't care who you are in the real world. In today's DMO Heidi Klums brood got caught out:

http://www.dailymail...us-riptide.html

Hidey nipple!

That looks more like undertow than rip tide. Scary when the force hits your ankles, but Heidi is saving the children while holding a pair of shades in one hand.

She still looks good (bit of orange peel ass), and grandpa is there too. Nice holiday.

Damn these tabloids for spying on people.

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  • 3 months later...

Worth a timely bump as summer sits on the horizon, these rips won't care who you are in the real world. In today's DMO Heidi Klums brood got caught out:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2303498/Heidi-Klum-helps-rescue-son-nannies--boyfriend-Martin-Kristen-drags-treacherous-riptide.html

The photographer must feel a real hero after playing his part in the rescue effort...

- axhworcs, worcestershire, 3/4/2013 18:34

Click to rate Rating 9838

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  • 1 year later...

Another tragedy caused by rips, I wish more people knew this comment from a random Guardian article on the subject

if you are in a rip swim 90 degrees away from the direction its taking you , it really isnt difficult at all , why this info isnt more widely available i dont understand joe a crap surfer that uses rips to get out back!

and this one:

I was in a small Rip once, but didn't realise until about 5mins of trying to swim against it.

Finally i thought "hang on i'm not actually getting anywhere am i"

It's not that obvious until you get bloody tired. Then it gets dangerous.

'Swimming in a massive bowl of unpredictable water is dangerous' shocker.

Tonnes of water comes in and then has to go somewhere. Where do people think it goes?

Walking on cliffs is also dangerous. We should get some pictures of cliff tops with big arrows and 'edge' written in big red letters on it.

This is the point, people don't understand about rips and how easy it is to swim away from it.

Looking at the statistics, this doesnt look dangerous at all. About 100 or so coastal drownings in the uk per year, mostly from falling off ships and drowning in swimming pools.

How many actually caused by a 'rip curl'? 2? 3?

It's the biggest beach killer, not sure what swimming pools has to do with that?

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It's a difficult one for Mawgan Porth where the deaths were this weekend. I'm an ex-lifeguard so when caught in a rip (once) I knew just to go with it and wait for it to drop me then I swam back.

Mawgan Porth is a narrow beach and the surf was 6 - 9 ft, so if you're taken out you have no obvious way back; can't just swim along the beach - too narrow, and trying to climb out on the rocks is made v difficult by the crashing surf.

In that situation I'd have paddled out around the headland to the next beach (Watergate) and walked back; but I have the advantages of having been caught in a rip, having been a lifeguard, and knowing that bit of coast.

Tragedy but only preventable with a lifeguard on duty IMO.

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