Sunday, September 30, 2007

One Minute You're There, Then You're Gone

Summer's over, but I'm still thinking about my trip to Narragansett and P'town in July.

When I arrived at the Anchor Motel across from Scarborough State Beach near Galilee the first news I heard was the story of a man who was swooped into the ocean by some kind of freak wave.

Standing in knee deep water right near the shore with two small children, the man lost his footing and disappeared underwater.

The children were saved by some adults standing nearby. But they couldn't save the man.

Stories like these amaze me every time I hear about them. I mean no one ever expects to be plucked out of existence in the blink of an eye.

But my mother and father taught my sisters and brother and me to never take the ocean for granted. And always be careful. I taught my own children the same thing.

We can't worry about every little thing, but we can learn some basic safety rules. OK, I'm channeling my father right now! And my mother is right beside him saying, "Ted, tell her to give the information about rip tides."

Oh, and while I'm at it, I'll remind you about John Irving's "undertoad," from The World According to Garp.

Remember the undertoad? The following week, at Herring Cove Beach in Provincetown, I read the Rip Tide Warning posted to the bulletin board near the hot dog stand.

And I'm posting it here because it's something we beach lovers all should know. I'm surprised the warning includes "Learn how to swim," and "never swim alone."

The sign says, if you're caught in a rip current:

  • Don't fight the current
  • Swim out of the current, then to shore
  • If you can't escape, float or tread water
  • If you need help, call or wave for assistance