Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Wave Goodbye

Okay, I understand people's fascination with waves, okay? Well, I shouldn't say that I understand it but I have been there, okay? I have stood on my fair share of shorelines and I have had a wave or two wash over my kayak. Fine. But I guess my question is this: why are people so stupid when it comes to big waves?

I understand that they are cool to watch, and amazingly powerful, but what is it about them that makes people suddenly unable to judge safety and risk. The reason I ask this is because this past weekend at Half Moon Bay, California, 13 people were swept off a seawall onto a rocky beach by a pair of 20 foot waves while watching a surfing competition.

This makes me go cross-eyed with confusion, Company. It really does. First of all, there were warnings about high waves, okay? Officials told the people at the competition that there would be big waves around, although the National Weather Service didn't issue the most urgent and sever type of warning until after the incident. The powers that be though knew things weren't safe because there were firefighters on the way to clear the beach because of the dangerous conditions. Yet these dingus' were out on the breakwall. Actually there were over a hundred on the wall, but only 13 of them were swept off.

I guess that the other thing that sweeps my mind off the proverbial breakwall, is that these people didn't expect dangerous waves on the breakwall. Even without the official warnings, it should just be common sense. First of all, you are at a surfing competition, which generally needs high waves in order to occur. So, using your logical reasoning skills, one should be able to figure out that the competition was probably being held there because of the propensity for big waves. Hmmm...maybe that would keep me off the breakwall. But if not, I would like to think that if I thought about the reason for a breakwall, on top of everything else, that might do it. See, there is one reason why communities build breakwalls: TO GET IN THE WAY OF BIG WAVES and create flat water behind. So the breakwall was built there because, well, that was the best place for it to be to get pounded by waves. I wonder if they don't teach that in California, because these idiots didn't figure it out.

They actually got very lucky. The Half Moon 13 were swept onto a rocky beach, with the worst injuries being broken bones. But they very easily could have been swept into the water and bashed against the breakwall itself WHILE trying to stay above water that was doing nothing but sucking them down. They very easily could have been swept out to sea. Back when the Worldwide Headquarters was located on the shores of the Great Lakes, every couple of years some stupid college kids who were probably from California would walk out onto the breakwall to watch the waves whipped up by an autumn storm and get swept out into the lake. If they were lucky someone would find their body a couple of months later, maybe when the ice went out. If not, they would be prisoners of the lake for time eternal. They were and are as bad as the idiots out in California, just not as lucky.

So I guess what I want to say is to keep your wits about you and don't get enticed by the power of the waves. Oh, feel free to gawk or play safely, but don't forgo common sense for a good view, because the waves will have you if they want you. Just be safe, or else you can just wave goodbye.

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