Rip Currents or Rip Tides

Today our friend Pepe (Jose Miguel Travieso Gutierrez) from Dolega, Panama had a post on Facebook that made me do some research. Our beach here in San Clemente has rip currents. It is not something that should be taken lightly as folks have died in our waters because the rip current has pulled them under and out into deeper water.

rip current 2 rip-lg rip currentJust yesterday in Miami Beach an elderly couple died because of a rip current.

The above pictures show how the surface of the water looks when there is a rip current and caution should be taken while even in very shallow waters.

16 thoughts on “Rip Currents or Rip Tides

    • Libby, you are so welcome. I never knew what the fishermen saw so now we all know what a rip current looks like…blessings, N

  1. Rips are so dangerous! Every year someone dies near the Playa San Miguel area in Costa Rica – usually during Semana Santa when people from the cities are at the beach on vacation. It’s so sad. I’ve experienced one rip there, and that was enough for me! I’m a strong swimmer and did not fight the rip, but treading water/side stroking parallel to the beach while dealing with those big waves (at that beach) added to the fatigue. My legs were rubber by the time I reached solid ground again!

    Years later a friend experienced a similar story of that same area. One minute you’re in waist-high water and the next, a few swells come through and you’re treading water and being pulled out to sea!

    Thanks for sharing this; it reminds us all to be careful!

    • Hi Z, thanks so much for your comment. I will tell you the ocean here is rough and I am not a great swimmer so I am very cautious. Nancy

      • i don’t think i’ve been in the true ocean since i was caught in that rip.. in cr i go to the estero, which is like an oasis, calm beautiful water, and my friends and i can talk and hear each other, float, swim, etc.. and every so often get spooked by a small shark or submerged log that looks like a crocodile!!!! it’s a great compromise!

  2. Thank you. I know about rip currents but never knew you could actually see them! The photos are so informative. Sharing these pictures could save lives. So glad I read your blog; I never know what I will learn except it will be something interesting.

    • Karen, you are so sweet, thanks for your comment. I was also very happy to see those pictures, I just could not understand what the fishermen saw and how they knew to tell folks to get out of the water. This makes it so clear. Nancy

  3. we had them in Florida. got caught once, but I had a friend on a surf board and he grabbed me while I swam like a fish at 14. They’re super scary. And you always think the calmer looking area is the best place to swim. It’s not. I’ll take small waves and foam any old day!!

    • Hey Theresa, I do not remember ever seeing any rip tides while living in Florida. We lost an Expat here in Clemente right before Joe and I moved here so we have been very cautious in the water. The good news is I never knew what to look for so when I saw this picture from my friend Pepe I had to post it along with a few others so folks would know what to look for. Be well, kisses to you and Robert, Nancy

      • Great post with info that people need to know, hope you don’t mind me adding my two cents worth :).
        The most dangerous times here in San Clemente to swim in the ocean is when the high tide is coming in. The months of February , March and April are the most dangerous months. The change in winds and the current create high powerful waves and rogue waves with strong undertows. That’s what happened to Larry. They realized the waves were increasing in size and as they were making their way to shore , he got hit with a wave and went under. Between the undertow and the waves he couldn’t regain his footing. There are differences between the three threats, rip tides are usually created because of structures, uneven ocean floor ( sand bars etc) and uneven shore lines. Rip currents are usually created near river mouths and they can move out along the beach. The third and what I think is the most dangerous, the undertow. You can’t tell if there’s a strong undertow by looking. It just happens every time waves come in, but can be life threatening at high tides and even the high low tides we can get here. Both create large waves. From what I understand, the majority of drowning here in our area happens between December and April and the majority cause, swimming when you’ve had too much too drink. Last year from San Jacinto to San Clemente, in three months 9 people drowned, 6 during the week of carnival.

  4. If you’re caught in that situation, don’t swim towards the shore or fight the current. Swim parallel to the shore until you’re out of it.

    • Rollie, it was good to finally see what the fishermen see with these photos. I am not a great swimmer and the waves here are very powerful so I am extremely cautious when in the water…While walking one day with my friend Eva we were in about 1/2 inch of water and a wave came in and started to pull us both out…I was amazed at the force it had and we were not actually in the water but just walking along the shore. It is very powerful and folks just need to be aware of the dangers. Nancy

    • Diane, I will need to do more research, I made an assumption that Rip Currents, Rip Tides and Undertows were relatively the same…they are not and I may have given some misleading information in my article…I will make an update or probably better a new post after I have done some more reading on the subject…just be aware that the waters here can pull you under and out in a flash. Nancy

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