Sunday, October 20, 2013

How To Survive An Unexpected Rip Tide In Myrtle Beach

Guest Post Submitted By Joe Chance

As difficult as it is to survive a rip tide in Myrtle Beach or anywhere else it is difficult sharing this story. There is a valuable point to you the reader. To you the parent of a 12 year old son, and a 12 year old daughter; that find yourself in this most frightening and terrifying ordeal. 

Summer 2009 the family blissfully basking on the beach. Finally away from society and alone we can wash away our stresses and just be ourselves. You know what it’s like to get away. The ocean... Myrtle Beach... or Puerto Del Secreto, Mexico.  Any place you can go and stay in a rented house that has a pool overlooking a beach.  A place that promises you total enjoyment, recreation and the hope that your children will grow closer and find something special to remember with affection for years to come.

As a former Marine and a police officer with 10 years on the job there is no place safer, nor more enjoyable than being all alone with your wife and children on the beach. Seriously, the kids are great swimmers and there isn’t a person within a mile to the East or the West. It’s a situation where you and your wife might even be able to slip over a dune for a little frisky play. So why not totally relax.
But as often happens at the beaches of the world you notice the wind picked up. The kids went in the water because the waves are a little more pronounced. The only two other people to be seen are two young surfers… obviously regulars out beyond the kids on their boards.  The kids are playing with each other vigorously splashing around. It’s such a satisfying picture as you cuddle up with your wife.

Sure you’re getting the idea right. You see I’m painting a nice picture. You have probably even experienced this scene over and over.  But now I must proclaim that my skin is tensing as I write this story because I feel this day and often find myself lost in thought because of it. The Rip Tide at Myrtle Beach ~ at any beach is an evil creature that skulks in the dark water beyond your children’s playful splashing. How do you survive a rip tide at Myrtle Beach or any beach is the question that my children must answer. This story doesn’t get any warmer so if you’re feeling prickly and nervous as I am while I write it you may just want to move on. 

While embraced in a kiss with my wife I felt so at peace our feet in the warm sand. The wind cooling us as it was hot and our skin burned from the sun. Mothers have powerful radars when it comes to children misbehaving and for children in danger. When my wife broke our embrace I was certain I would be scolding the kids for throwing sand or some other childish prank. But there it was the question – the eyes of my wife like a blackboard with neon chalk “how to survive rip tide at Myrtle Beach” etched on my soul…. 

There were no words just that silent instruction that only a mother, a wife, a parent transmits to the other that it is time to act. As my gaze turned 180 degrees the entire world stood still and in a millisecond I processed more information than I had consumed in a year. My children were in that ocean. Those little waves that were only a few feet high moments ago were somehow turned into towering sheets of angry sea. My children were not shouting as playful memories being registered on their brains. They were terrified panicking screams for “Dad” “DAAAAAAAAAD” and it hit struck me like a current in a high voltage line. Rip Tide, undertow, dark water, the infinite sea had my children. I was 50 feet away. 40 feet away.. 30 feet away.. what happened to those surfers with their wet suits and boards? 25 feet away.. my mind replayed that five minutes earlier I saw those surfers getting the hell out of that water and leaving the beach. Why didn’t it sink in? Why didn’t I allow common sense to acknowledge that even the local surfers left this ocean in a hurry?

Oh how content we are when we feel oblivious and lost in our relaxing precious moments. All along the kids were not playing they were shouting for our help those moments because they’re bodies were being cast around without their control. They appeared to be jumping up and down but that was nothing more than the demonic pulsing of the rip tide of Myrtle Beach. They were learning how to survive the rip tide of Myrtle Beach while we so foolishly, selfishly, tuned them out! 

10 feet my son closest to me is crying and somehow holding his own. My wife inches behind me moving faster than a squirrel dodging a car. My eyes take it in the danger is beyond my control and beyond my abilities. As a police officer this would be the time that I would fight people back not to go in, not to add more lives to the obvious swirling and churning that would surely swallow anyone that would meet the challenge. Words.. shouting.. beyond my memory… I’m in!

Like a football player tacking a quarterback I watch a wave hit my boy and my girl…. my precious and angelic little girl went from just 20 feet away.. 10 feet from my boy… to being ripped and stolen from my eyesight. I fought in that water and I can’t describe it all. But my son was strong and with a tug as I got to him with my wife not holding herself back in the water just enough to not go under. My son was able to bounce out and grab his terrified mother’s hand. 

I see her.. I see my daughter she’s crying and shouting… flailing and giving up… “Dad.. dad. .. I can’t breathe..”  I sense how deep the water is and how far we have gone.  I know that it is too far. I know that it is too late. I know that we are in deep. I know that we ARE ALONE… Just me and my daughter in this sea. 

I have a random thought about my glasses and can’t believe they remained on my face. I fought and pushed through the oceans like a fireman in flames. Not able to breathe or see.  Not able to use any sense of logic. This is my little girl and that is my wife watching us drown… and that is my son… screaming… screaming… “Mom… I don’t want them to die”… lying in the sand fighting the sand and the tears and the god awful helplessness. My mind goes blank as I realize that I’m done!
How to survive the rip tide of Myrtle Beach… is not a question; it is a reality. I couldn’t see my daughter and she was an arm’s length from me moments before. For whatever reason she was the one that was furthest from the beach and the ocean had her. I could only think how week I was at that moment. I am Former Marine, a strong swimmer, a man who ran marathons, survived a year in Afghanistan, a man who fought in a world championship martial arts competition  was clearly capable of surviving where others will not. But how did my daughter make it this long. It is easily ten minutes into this fight. I was numb by the fear of her not making it. But something very odd and much unexpected happened inside of me. Something this is not in my nature and something I have never done before. I QUIT!

I was so overwhelmed by the ocean and my helplessness that I literally froze in time and had a moment with myself. I literally told myself that “this is it” and I’m at peace as I can’t fight this anymore. There was no religious burst, no logical reserves to carry me. I didn’t try to breathe or focus I just relaxed. This moment felt very much as if it were a month in time. I could not see my wife and son on the beach anymore but I sensed them. And I sensed my DAUGHTER.. And I woke the fuck up.. And I found her. I told her to “keep fighting and stop talking or you’re going to drown.”  I leverage myself on the tail of a wave and got body to body with my daughter and I used one arm and shoved her on the next wave. She zipped forward and I followed. Then again.. And I shouted to swim and she swam; and again and again.. And now I could see my wife and I could see my son… and my exhausted daughter right next to me. We were fighting this fucker together and we weren't going down. I was crying as we got closer because I knew we were going to make it.. I wasn't going to be that dad that let his kids drown in that fucking ocean.

The rip tide at Myrtle Beach didn't let up. Even when I could get my feet down and was able to wrap my arm around my daughter that evil demon grabbed at my feet. I felt the skin cutting on whatever it was on the ocean floor. But now I home free and my Wife and Son were crying and there to pull us to safety. Oh how precious those children are. Oh how unbelievably close to losing them we were!
It’s been a few years and I still tear up remembering that day. I just can’t believe we survived that ordeal. I am so very proud of my Wife for having the sense to know our children were in danger. I’m so very proud of my children for not quitting and dealing with their panic and their terror and being able to survive.  For me the question of How to Survive the Rip Tide of Myrtle Beach will be sorted out with a therapist in a year or two. I was shaken that day more so than any day that I have survived gun play. 

So, for you my dear friends I have a few short tips on how to survive a rip tide at Myrtle Beach. First, be more attentive to the people you are with. Second ALWAYS have some sort of flotation device with you at the beach. Even a cooler would have been helpful. When I got out there my ability to survive would have increased if I simply had something to hold on to for my daughter. Always test the water yourself before you let your children go in it. Finally, if you see that you are alone and that people are leaving the water –ask yourself the question “why.”

Don’t become that family that loses a loved one while on vacation! I can tell you first hand that the ocean is a mysterious and living creature that has many demons. Thankfully I am the only one in my family that has any emotional baggage from that event.  Writing this and knowing that this emotional lesson may be touching enough that people will read it and may be able to allow their instincts to avoid this danger in the future.

About the author:
Joe Chance is a leader in the work from home industry after calling it quits in the corporate and traditional broken model. Joe believes in contingency planning, prepping for whatever could happen and collaborating. Joe has a Pepper’s List for “How To Make Money Online” and teaches others in the industry.

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