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HIGHLY DANGEROUS RIP CURRENTS

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COSTA RICA by KRISS on 29 november 2015

HIGHLY DANGEROUS RIP CURRENTS You cannot imagine how many locals will come and tell you to stay safe when they spot you playing too far away with the waves.
Well not that many because the beaches are not very busy but enough to let you imagine that there must have been many dramatic incidents there.
And there were ! Many people drowned in the Caribbean sea of Puerto Viejo Costa Rica.

There are signs everywhere telling you to be careful of the dangerous rip tides and you will probably think that they warn kids or frail women or bad swimmers but they don’t.
They clearly state to even the best swimmers out there that rip currents can be dangerous especially at high tide.

We tested the force of these currents by submitting ourselves to resisting them at different times of the day and different wave forces.
The first thing we have noticed is that currents are very irregular and can intensify very quickly just for a cycle of 10 or 20 waves and then weaken a bit.
At other times there are no rip currents or barely any even if the waves are big but they can suddenly appear.

We had good fun playing in the waves in Puerto Viejo until a couple of days before the full moon.
Then currents really started to get stronger with an immensely strong aspiration to get you further from the shore even close to the shore.
Then, you cannot rely on how high the sea is on your body because this changes too.
For instance, you are playing in tiny waves just 10 meters from the shore.
You have water knee deep.
Well, more or less, you’re safe unless you suffer from a particular condition.
The higher the level will go will be your hips and even with very strong currents you can hold and stand up, even walk back to the shore.


Now imagine you are just 20m away from the shore and you already have water at your waist.
Then believe me, currents can happen, water can rise at the level of your neck and you can suddenly get carried away 10 meters further.
And then by the time you can’t put your feet on the ground any more, it is likely waves will get bigger, may crush you on the bottom of the sea (fortunately sand) and you’ll get sucked even further away behind the last line of waves.
And then you are in big trouble.
Either you have means to go back to shore (a board or palms) or you are an excellent swimmer, you can sur a wave back to the shore by catching it at the right time (and each time you miss you will just exhaust yourself) or your best bet is to swim calmly parallel to the shore, following the direction of the currents, slowly getting your way back ashore.

I tested just laying flat on my back starting 20m from the shore and I did that for about 30 seconds.
I was passed the big lines of waves without even realizing it ! I managed to catch the first wave that was coming to me but I could have missed it, been tumbled hard in the tube or exhaust myself.
This was not on a very dangerous day, the currents were mild and stable for more than an hour.
This just gave me a taste of how dangerous it could be when currents really get strong.

Our advice : if you barely make it standing up when you have water knee deep, don’t even go further.
Drowning is no fun at all !

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