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Beach safety

Level Contributor
31 posts
Beach safety

Had never heard of sneaker waves before but looking at a few videos & posts has been enough to convince me that they're worthy of respect. A few questions...

- do sneaker waves happen at any time, regardless of whether tide is coming in or going out?

- how frequent are they? Many times a day? Occasional in a week / month?

- is it reasonably safe to walk along water's edge if we keep an eye on the sea?

- assuming the beach is wide & flat, could one outrun a sneaker wave?

- how deep is the water when it comes in on a sneaker wave?

(We'll be exploring the coast between Florence & Cannon Beach.)

On a related subject, when in the tide cycle is best to go to Hug Point? I've read about it being safest on a minus tide but I don't actually know what that means!

11 replies to this topic
Port Angeles, WA
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
Level Contributor
11,823 posts
20 reviews
1. Re: Beach safety

I can offer a little guidance, and I'm sure the Oregon Coast DE's will offer more.

The real risk of a sneaker wave is to people standing on high rocks at or near the water's edge. Most. perhaps all, of the deaths are caused by waves that sweep people off the rocks. You aren't going to be walking along the beach and suddenly be swept away by a huge tidal wave. A good rule of thumb is to keep off rocks, and you will be absolutely fine. You should always know what time low tide and high tide are, and to maximize your enjoyment of the beach, plan to arrive for your beach walk as the tide is going out.

Sneaker waves are not common. Of course, they happen, but they do not occur many times a day or every day or every week. You really do not need to be afraid.

Tides reach different levels of high and low. A minus tide is a tide whose lowest level is below the normal low tide line. Minus tides are great for tidepooling, but any tide below positive 3 feet is usually good for tidepooling.

Camp Sherman, Oregon
Level Contributor
1,858 posts
2. Re: Beach safety

Yes do it at low tide time so you don’t get stranded from your vehicle at either of the day use parks there. Real nice beaches. Done it safely many times. You don’t want to do it when the tide is coming in.

Florence, Oregon
Level Contributor
2,550 posts
309 reviews
3. Re: Beach safety

Driftwood logs weighing tons get moved when a sneaker wave hits. It can literally crush you. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that they happen at times and the biggest problems occur when you are not looking and as previously pointed out if you are on a rocky outcropping you could be knocked off your position even if you are aware but don't have enough time to get to a safe spot fast enough.

Portland, Oregon
Level Contributor
429 posts
7 reviews
4. Re: Beach safety

Also study up on Rip Currents.

Level Contributor
31 posts
5. Re: Beach safety

Thanks for the advice. Will keep everyone off/away from logs on beaches, off the rocks and try ensure a potential escape route. Hopefully if we spot one coming in, we'll have time to run or at least not get sucked back out.

Florence, Oregon
Level Contributor
2,550 posts
309 reviews
6. Re: Beach safety

There is a local saying, "Don't turn your back to the ocean". A little awareness eliminates 99.9% of the danger. Enjoy, you'll have fun.

r c
Portland, Oregon
Level Contributor
9,651 posts
1 review
7. Re: Beach safety

welcome,

"Had never heard of sneaker waves before but looking at a few videos & posts has been enough to convince me that they're worthy of respect. A few questions...

- do sneaker waves happen at any time, regardless of whether tide is coming in or going out?...."

i dont know about sneaker waves, but it appeared to me that sometimes the 7th wave would have more power behind it or go further up the beach. But you need to figure out what wave is #1.

"....- how frequent are they? Many times a day? Occasional in a week / month?...."

see above.

".....- is it reasonably safe to walk along water's edge if we keep an eye on the sea?...."

yes it is on a beach. If you are on some rock outcropping or a jetty, i would be extremely careful or not do it at all. Once you get there and look/walk around you will may see some green seaweed on some rocks. that stuff can be a slippery as a greased pig. Sometimes you may find dried seawater on rocks too and that can get slippery. The idea is that you want to pay attention to your footing. Some places maybe only accessible at low tide, but if you just get lucky and make it by and the tide comes in blocking your way out, you could get into trouble.

"....- assuming the beach is wide & flat, could one outrun a sneaker wave?..."

yes if you are aware if it. Its not like you will be up to your neck in the surf.

"....- how deep is the water when it comes in on a sneaker wave?...."

not sure where you will be.

"....(We'll be exploring the coast between Florence & Cannon Beach.)...."

OK

"...On a related subject, when in the tide cycle is best to go to Hug Point? I've read about it being safest on a minus tide but I don't actually know what that means!...."

havent been there.

Just some general comments....

- use your common sense when you are in or near the water.

- when it comes to the logs on the beach, its when people jump and play on them is when they have issues. You do not know if its stable and you can jump on and if its not stable it can rotate/move and if you are unlucky you can fall and it roll onto you. Same with a log in the water.

- same with digging a hole/cave in the sand then crawling in it.

- If you hazard to walk on a jetty look at what you are walking on. IF you slip or fall, not alot of soft places to land and you can get alot of damage done to your soft body. Rocks are sort of harder than human bones and flesh.

- Recently there was a couple of tourist that died on one of the jetty by walking out there and getting swept away. ITs not that uncommon - unfortunately. People do fish off them and so forth, but you really need to be careful and use your common sense.

- what it comes down to is common sense. Also the footing and how slippery things can get even if you think its not so. Rain and unstable slopes can be just as bad too.

- you can have alot of fun on the beach, its just that you need to pay attention to what going on around you and where you are going. Again, once you are there you will see how it is and hopefully have your fun and know whats you have read.

- if you go during the winter time you may find that beach/waves are more active and dramatic especially if there are any storms brewing.

good luck

Oregon Coast
Destination Expert
for Crescent City, Oregon Coast, Oregon, Redwood National Park
Level Contributor
44,647 posts
1,112 reviews
8. Re: Beach safety

Hi CurlyKale1234, good questions and you've received some good advice above! I've lived on the coast for many years, am often on the sandy beach, and have yet to see a true "sneaker wave" in person. Yes, I've seen the videos and I have to think those folks are either very lucky... or very unlucky, LOL!

So yes, as long as you keep an eye on the ocean, it is *perfectly* safe to walk along the beach :-)

*

Hug Point is best accessed during low tide, otherwise you may have trouble getting back to the parking area on the south side without getting your feet wet. It does not have to be a minus tide. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g51790-c1…

Level Contributor
31 posts
9. Re: Beach safety

That all looks like really sensible advice. Many thanks everyone.

Beaverton, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Cannon Beach
Level Contributor
6,293 posts
84 reviews
10. Re: Beach safety

# 6 -----------dont turn your back on the ocean

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