By Don Backman
A couple years ago during a big tide event after a storm, I was taking photos from the viewing mound at Barview Jetty. A lot of cars were parked in the parking area and two people had walked out onto the jetty. One was knocked down by a wave. They were lucky they weren’t swept off the jetty.
While shooting images for the Pioneer of the King Tides this week, two young men were doing selfies and making videos with their phones in the same area on the jetty. Luckily, they made it back safely.
The waves today were lower, but more erratic than those a couple years ago. Some random ones were just as high and were hitting the rip rap armoring the parking area harder than any I remember seeing in recent years. Some of the waves were coming from an angle that struck the jetty on their way in.
Maybe today was perfectly safe. Maybe people do this all the time in these conditions. It isn’t something I would do. There are several of us locals who are taking big wave and storm photos. We use long lenses and patience, and stand well back where it’s safe.
Other people have shared similar scenes. People coming to the coast in the wintertime and either unknowingly, or knowingly, putting themselves in dangerous or potentially dangerous situations. They don’t just impact themselves, they impact others as well.
The chain starts with the people nearby. They often attempt to help and, in doing so, they can place themselves at considerable risk. In addition, emergency personnel drop everything, especially volunteers such as at Garibaldi Fire, and respond to the emergency. Sometimes they have to put themselves into risky situations to effect a rescue. The Coast Guard also responds and that can involve both their boats and aircraft. All too often, these events turn out badly. Sometimes the bodies aren’t ever found. When they are, there’s the trauma that creates for those who find them. We haven’t talked about the impact of the victims’ families yet.
The big tides and storms can be very unpredictable. There are times when discretion is the better choice, like this morning when plan A was to hike well above the tide a short way up a not to be named beach well before high tide and try to get a photo. It took only one look to make the decision to go to plan D or E. Could it have been safe? Possibly, maybe even probably, but no photo or video is worth your life.
The ocean is beautiful but can be dangerous. We’ve had too many tragedies. Please be cautious.
Here are some of the other photos from the King Tides – January 3, 2022 – by Don Backman