August 18, 2008

Just keep your eyes open...



We had gone to Tybee Island for the weekend. My niece had never been to the ocean before so it was going to be a special trip for her. When going to the beach there are a few things that you must keep in mind. Watch out for many things that can hurt you, or bring about an untimely death... To me the most frustrating one of these is a riptide. When caught in one, do not swim toward the beach. If your anxiety is at such a level that you must swim, then swim parallel to land until you get out of the pull. Most people panic. What you must remember is that a riptide is circular. Yes, it will carry you out, pretty far if it's a strong one, but it will also carry you back in, just relax and float. On one trip I watched a group of locals riding the riptides with excitement. Strange to watch, but they had a good time. It was late, after midnight, and these guys were having a blast, so I couldn't resist, I had to try it... Frightening, and a bit dangerous in retrospect, but it was definitely fun...

We once watched a guy that was fishing from the Pier walk his fishing gear all the way back from the end of the Pier to the beach, then walk along the beach with a catch still attached. Yep, it was a shark, we watched it rolling in the surf. he fought it for a couple of hours, then it broke the line... The water was vacant for quite a while.. According to the locals, Tybee is rife with two things beach goers do not like, sharks and the dreaded jellyfish.

I had talked our niece into walking in the water with me (my favorite beach past time, at night though). We walked for a long time, slowly getting farther out... we had made it to just above waist deep when she began to scream. I looked around her and didn't see churning water or any fins, I thought she had stepped on something. She began to run in a panic out of the water, when she made it up on the beach it was evident what had happened... She was doing the "a jellyfish has stung the hell out of me" dance, it burns like you wouldn't believe.... I tried to calm her down, but to no avail. The look of abject horror on her face when someone suggested that she put urine on it was priceless.. We ran, following her, to the life guard hut, he was out of ammonia... She knew for sure that it was a grand conspiracy when the life guard wished out loud that he had some urine.... (it's actually vinegar that works)

We tried for a long time to get her back in the water, but it was a no go. There are lots of close calls or just scary stories associated with beach going. I once had rented a nice canvas float and decided to cruise lazily around out past the breakers, it was dark and calm. Yes, I fell asleep... When I awoke with a start, land was a tiny little strip of light off in the distance... You just swallow the fear and talk to yourself as you begin kick toward the light, hopefully the current won't be against you.. It took a while, but I got there. It's the fear that can get you, when you sense something large near you, especially when you're out in the water after dark... A friend of mine was crossing a bay near Panama City on a two person jet ski when the group had stopped to check the markers to continue on their trip. As they sat there a large ray of some sort, between twenty and thirty feet swam slowly under them gliding along quite serenely... Very unnerving. A relative of mine once hopped off a sea wall right on top of an oyster bed, with bare feet... ouch.

Even though it can be fraught with peril, you just can't beat a nice quiet visit to the beach... Just don't forget the vinegar....

3 comments:

The Angry Georgian said...

How old was your niece when this happened? 'cause judging by that picture...dang!

Clay Perry said...

lol! thats not my niece, thats just a generic internet shot of a jellyfish sting... the girl in the pic is cute though!

HeartofGoldPlate said...

I was gonna say... I didn't think that was Annie.

I'd like to get stung by one just to say that I have, and to know what to fear. I'm sure it's horrible, but if you know what the pain is going in, the fear is much easier to handle.