A number of incidents at Bantham involve rips. What are rips and how can we avoid them?
A rip is a strong current of water running out to sea. It usually occurs when a channel forms between sandbars or rocks. Waves build up water on the beach which then returns out to sea through the channel forming a fast flowing current. The larger the surf the stronger the rip. Rip currents are dangerous as they can carry a weak or tired swimmer out into very deep water. Rip currents are the main cause of surf rescues.
Identifying a rip current - these features will alert you to the presence of a rip:
- murky brown water, caused by sand stirred up off the sea bed
- a rippled look, when the water around is more or less calm
- waves breaking further out on both sides of a rip
- darker colour of sea, indicating deep water
- debris floating out to sea
At Bantham the RIP occurs when there is a good swell (waves) pushing in at ANY state of the tide. It predominately pulls water from right to left as you look at the sea and pulls out alongside the rocks on the left of the beach.
If you are caught in a rip current:
if you are a strong swimmer, swim at an angle of 45 degrees across the rip current, towards the beach away from the rocks. Never directly into the rip!
if you are tired or an inexperienced swimmer let the rip take you out from the beach and then either signal for assistance (wave one hand above your head in the direction of the beach/club house) and or swim parallel to the shore for 30 to 40 meters to where the waves are breaking and come straight back to shore.
Good Video Explaining Rip Tide Click here