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Stranded by the Tide

Stranded by the Tide

CHIEF WARRANT OFFICER 3 REX E. SWETNAM
A Company, 1-130 Attack Reconnaissance Battalion
North Carolina Army National Guard
Morrisville, North Carolina

As avid Jet Skiers, my wife and I have been riding on the water for nearly 20 years. We each have our own Jet Ski and consider ourselves to be very skilled riders. We learned, however, that complacency and overconfidence in your abilities can trump experience.

It was a beautiful Fourth of July weekend, and we’d brought our Jet Skis and some friends to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for some fun in the sun. Because of the holiday weekend, it was crowded and hot. I was unfamiliar with the local area but felt we were experienced enough to overcome any issues we might encounter. I was wrong.

We dropped the Jet Skis in the water and made our way through a creek to a local beach. My friend and I dropped off our wives on the beach and then headed out to open water. We spent a couple hours racing around the ocean before returning to the beach to eat lunch with our wives. Sufficiently recharged and rehydrated, we then headed back out for more playtime.

Once we were worn out, we went back to the beach, unaware how long we’d been gone. By now, the tide was going out, so we needed to hurry back to the boat ramp. Our friends rode one watercraft, and my wife and I were on the other. As we proceeded back to the boat ramp, we took a wrong turn on the creek and grounded both Jet Skis. My friend’s wife jumped off theirs and sank in the mud, slicing her leg open on oyster shells. I knew we were in trouble, as we were about to lose all of the water underneath us due to the outgoing tide. I told our friends to get back on the Jet Ski and gave it a push so they could get moving and find help.

Fortunately, they were able to get back to the boat ramp, but my wife and I were stranded on the oyster bed. So, there we were — no water, no sunscreen and no phone or other means of communication. Lucky for us, a man who had been watching us from his house was able to paddle close enough to give us some bottled water. Dehydrated and on the verge of passing out, the water was exactly what we needed. It would be about six hours before the tide came back and gave us enough water to make it to the boat ramp safely.

This experience taught us an important lesson. No matter how skilled you might be in a particular field or activity, complacency and overconfidence can cause more issues than inexperience. We now always travel with extra water, a marine radio/cellphone and sunscreen on each Jet Ski. We were lucky that day and are determined to never be caught in a similar situation again.

  • 30 July 2023
  • Author: USACRC Editor
  • Number of views: 135
  • Comments: 0
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