Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Close Shave At Muriwai Beach

Muriwai Beach. Beautiful, wild and potentially dangerous

If you ever go to Auckland and end up at one of it's west coast beaches, be aware of the danger they pose. Always swim between the flags and be careful walking around rocks to the sides of the sandy beaches. People have been swept off the rocks by a rogue wave, and even walking along the water's edge can turn into a disaster! Once in the water, a rip can quickly take you way out to sea.

When I was about six years of age and my brother about nine, our family went for our first trip to a beach called Muriwai. We were new to the country of New Zealand and not aware of any dangers. When my parents saw people congregated in one area and the rest of this large beach empty, they found a spot away from others. No one came to say anything. My brother and I ran into the water while my parents watched, sitting on the beach.

We were only a few metres or so from the shore in shallow water when a big wave hit us and sent us to the bottom. You could see nothing in the swirling water, Then this almighty drag instantly started pulling me seaward. I remember using my feet and hands to get out of the water, all the while submerged. Then the sand under me started falling away and it felt like a hole was forming under me. As I desperately clawed at the sand, it was as if a giant vacuum cleaner was sucking it away.

Just as I was about to be dragged out to sea, a second wave came and lifted me up. It took me to the shore and dumped me on the sand, then withdrew. I looked to my right where my brother had been before the big wave and he was also laying just as I was. He had a horrified and disbelieving look on his face about what had just happened in the previous few seconds.

We both jumped to our feet before another big wave came and ran to our parents, who were oblivious to what happened. We stood next to them silently so they asked why we were out so quickly. We both said we didn't want to swim anymore. They asked why and we told them of our brief ordeal. They were shocked. We spent the rest of the time just played on the sand, away form the water.

Later on my parents found out they should have stayed with the other people on the beach, where it was safer to swim. The lesson is be very careful if you decide to go swimming in an areas you don't know well. Ask locals for advice. The sea can be very dangerous and unforgiving. That close shave could have become a multiple drowning.

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