The power of nature

I caught a scary moment on video...

I had about the most terrifying 10 seconds I've ever had today. We are in Maui enjoying one of the most beautiful places and cultures on Earth. We are out in some pretty calm water enjoying the surf, many people are playing all along the beach. We are very shallow, and sticking close to shore. Two things happen that made for a moment of danger that damn near injured my son.

First, we had started letting ourselves get close to a jet of rocks along one side. If you watch the video fully, you'll see what I'm talking about. if you want to skip to the action, jump to about 2:45 or so. We started a safe distance away but the current gently nudges that direction and we didn't pay enough attention to our position. Every now and again in the video you see us getting closer.

Then a series of huge waves with a massive undertow start coming in. I see the first one and expect to have a fun ride up and in. In the video you see that I turn around to try to get a shot of Charlie splashing and laughing through this big wave. As soon as the wave peaks and crashes my heart stops beating and my blood turns cold. We just got hugely lucky, Charlie was thrown in a small gap in that string of rocks. time freezes when I feel a stronger undertow, indicating the next wave would be larger than the last.

When you see the camera go underwater, the wave had hit me. I had made it to Charlie with just damned microseconds to spare and pulled him to my chest as hard as I could. I curled up around him and got slammed into the rocks with him protected against me. Immediately another series of waves is on us. The next time you see the camera go dark and underwater, I swear you can hear the crack of my skull against the rocks. I kept thinking that if I let the world go dark, if my lights go out and I lose consciousness, Charlie is going out with me. I push off and away from the rocks hard enough that the last big wave throws us completely clear of danger.

As we were walking towards the beach I realized I was still holding the camera. I don't know how. There was a flash in my mind to drop the camera at one point right before I got to my son. I think the urgency of the situation overrode the "let go" command. I'm glad though, I captured something on video I will never (want to) forget.

I'm very proud of my son. He spotted danger as soon as I did. he stayed calm and didn't panic. when I made it to him, he wrapped both his arms around my arm as tight as he could. When we were safe he was calm and we walked up to the sand together. I asked him if he had breathed any water (because secondary drowning is a thing) and he said "nope. I held my breath underwater."

But he was spooked and just layed in the sand for a while.

This could have ended bad. We got lucky. I still don't know how I held on to consciousness or how my skull isn't cracked wide open. I took a harder hit to the head today than ever before.

So, take this lesson from our dramatic moment: nature is a fucking powerful force. You treat her with some damned respect. Always pay attention to the details when you are playing in her domain.

And Charlie went back in the water. Slowly, and with new understanding. I’m proud he got back in. Nature demands respect, not fear and disdain.