Thursday, January 15, 2009

Damn! Those are big waves!

Ever hear of something called a King Tide? Well we've had them this week along the Sunshine Coast. Apparently it's got something to do with the combination of a full moon and strong winds driven by a cyclone in the north. It creates bigger than usual tides and massive waves.

The surfers love them, and even though we're not surfers we love playing in waves too. So we've been in the water a couple of times. Today we went to Sunshine Beach, which is just a few minutes up the coast and is the nearest patrolled beach. (Castaways Beach itself is just a few minutes walk from our house, but it's not patrolled. And everyone -- and I mean every Australian I've ever spoken to -- has told us not to swim on an unpatrolled beach. People die, every year, from swimming on unpatrolled beaches, where there's nobody to save you when you get caught in a rip tide. We take these warnings seriously, so we look for the lifesavers and their flags.)

Anyway, today we went to Sunshine Beach to play in the waves. It was great fun, for the first hour or so. We took turns riding body boards and body surfing. The waves seemed about two metres high and were stacked one on top of the other. The sea going back out was sometimes as powerful as the waves coming in, and just as capable of knocking you down. The beach was open, but the lifesavers were warning people not to go deeper than waist deep.

By the end of it, we were all buffeted, bruised, sand-whipped and salt-filled. It gave us a whole new appreciation for the power of the ocean. Tonight we read in the local paper that the lifesavers at Noosa's main beach performed about 20 rescues over the weekend.

This photo was taken at another beach in the area a couple of years ago, but it's a pretty good representation of what we saw today.

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