The Wave That Nearly Killed Me…
A few months back, I nearly died (again)…
A few months ago when the waves were pumping up country (North Shore) I was out shooting in the water. The waves were so big it wasn’t very good to photograph and too dangerous to be in the water. I’ve learned over the years it’s not how big the waves are to get a nice photo, it’s how clean and glassy the wave is.
So after I get out of the water I start shooting some shore breaks, no one is foolish enough to be in the water at this size but I’m just one of those guys that just don’t care how big it is as long as I feel I can get a good shot. I remove my fins because they are starting to fill up with sand and rocks and it’s getting very uncomfortable to wear. These fins were not mine, I borrowed them since I left my pair in Maui. I noticed these pairs of fins had shoestrings attached to them for keeping the fins on your feet. I removed the shoestring and tied it to my water housing and double knotted it to my wrist, I did this because the waves were just too big and it would rip out of my hands and since I typically don’t wear a lease on my wrist since I tend to switch hands back and forth. I decided to use the shoe string to keep the water housing from ripping out of my hands and getting lost. I figured I was safe with no fins since I’m only going right on the sand and I wouldn’t be going out into the water too deep. Keep in mind the waves are about 15 feet right on shore and I’m the dumb guy with no fins on and a heavy waterhousing double knotted to my wrist.
After about 4 minutes of shooting, a massive wave came and just knocked me of my feet. The current is so strong that if you don’t have fins it’s impossible to fight it, you’re getting sucked out into the ocean no matter what. I got sucked out and was getting slammed by set after set of 10ft+ foot waves. What’s worse was that my housing was pulling me down and I was swallowing water. I’ve been in bad situations many times but at this point I felt helpless, the only thing you can do is not panic and try to stay calm, very hard to do when these waves are just holding you down and you are being pulled down at the same time by a heavy housing. I came to a point where I started to black out because of lack of oxygen. Finally, a wave pushed me in close enough to make it out. I was lucky (again)….
- This is the wave that nearly killed me but sucking me out into the ocean.
It was a dangerous but good lesson for me, sometimes I feel I’m so experienced that I can handle almost any situations but obviously this is not the case, I got lucky. I’m a very experienced swimmer, I swam competitively in high school and college. I also have bodysurfed heavy waves for more than half my life, I was a lifeguard for 4 years while in high school and college but all that goes out the window, anyone can get caught off guard and sucked out into the ocean but how you handle the situation is when the experience comes in. Most people drown because they panic and they don’t think clearly, it’s easier said than done, I can sit here typing “be calm when you get into a tough situation out in the water,” but it’s a completely different story when you’re actually experiencing it. I admit I nearly panicked, I started to black out and I was thinking ‘damn, I can’t believe how stupid I was and now I’m going to die.’. Again, I got very lucky. If I was a cat, I definitely used up more than my 9 lives out in the ocean, too many close calls but as I’ve said to everyone in my life, no matter the danger, this is my passion and I will continue to do it until I die. I just have to learn from my stupidity and make better decisions to minimize the risk.