ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS Swim Between the Flags!

This is another one of those ‘I’m not here posts‘. Yes, this morning, Mrs Bob, myself, Elizabeth and two of her friends all jumped in the car and headed south. We are going to be spending a week by the beaches of Coffs Harbour in New South Wales.

We all had a similar holiday last year when we went to the Tweed Coast, here’s how the girls celebrated our arrival on the first day.

Beach paddlingThat’s right, we arrived late afternoon, settled into our accommodation and then at around 7 o’clock in the evening set off to find the nearest beach. At exactly 6:11 PM Queensland time (according to the photograph properties), which is 7:11 PM New South Wales time, the three girls were paddling in the sea at knee height.

All good innocent fun, except…

Beware of the rip

Swimming Danger

I’ve long been aware of the dangers of a rip current, which is why I strongly advise everybody and anybody to always swim between the flags. You can read about Australia’s drowning statistics and more information about rip currents in my post called The Australian Ocean’s Biggest Killer.

But even I have been shocked by recent events that took place over at Woolamai Surf Club on Phillip Island near Melbourne, Victoria.

At 7:15 PM on Sunday, 10 January, seven adults were standing knee deep in water with waves reaching waste height, very close to the shore, taking selfies when they were caught in a rip.

Suddenly, the ground simply disappeared from under their feet and they were pulled backwards out to sea. The beach was not being patrolled at the time, but text messages were sent to off duty lifeguards and it wasn’t long before 10 cars turned up ferrying the rescuers. All seven were pulled from the water and five were taken to hospital.

Sadly, since then, a 34-year-old woman and a 27-year-old man have lost their lives.

One witness to the incident though felt sure that all seven would have drowned had not been for the magnificent efforts of the volunteers.

On average, 21 people a year drown in Australia because of rips, that’s more than bushfires, floods, and cyclones combined according to NHESS.

I watched a video of the Westpac Rescue Life Saver helicopter patrolling the very beaches around Phillip Island and they said is not unusual for them to spot 10 rips in a 2 km stretch of water. Now that’s scary. And a very timely reminder for me as we head off for a beachy holiday.

So, were our girls safe when they were paddling in the evening seas at Casuarina Beach last year? The water looks lovely and calm, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, according to Surfunation, the second telling sign of a rip current is “less waves breaking“.

I thought they were safe at the time, and we did tell them not to go to further out than you can see them in the photo. Even so, now I am not so sure. They will be in future though, because we have a new and unbreakable rule.

ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS swim between the flags, or don’t swim or even paddle at all.

If you value your life, I suggest you do the same.

Sorry for shouting.

Swim between the flags van Delden

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