Runnin the Tidal Rapids…
With a brief window of calm winds, Crystal and I readied Swell to move east among the atolls. With the news of Barry’s passing, I wanted to check out what was rumored to be a new boatyard on an obscure strip of coral a few atolls east, plus with a swell on the way, we might arrive just in time to catch a few juicier waves before Crystal flew home…
Swell caught the flow of the outgoing tidal current as we steered around the coral embankment and into the open draw of the pass. The sun pierced the cloudless morning air, illuminating the deep blue river that carried us out to sea.
Through the binoculars, I could see the sea churning up ahead.
“Oh, no…” I bellowed. I knew what we were in for: standing waves and sea-rapids where the flow of the tidal river met the ocean. It was too late to turn around, the outward flow was too strong to fight…I made a firm mental note to get some better tide information!
Swell’s stern began to slide right and left as we entered the 300-yard stretch of turbulent water. The waves grew taller and closer together and mixed with swell undulations. I spun the wheel maniacally, but Swell lifted and crashed and spun about helplessly. Despite the bucking, dipping, and twisting, I managed to keep her bow mostly pointed into the seas. Crystal remained completely calm, and her certainty was assuring, although my palms were sweating like faucets and I must have had eyes as round as a fish’s. Swell did one final skid-out to starboard, and I revved the engine and cut right into stable water as the atoll finally spit us out. Just then a dolphin leapt off the port bow.
“Look, your dolphin friend came to say goodbye!” Crystal said.
“Yay! Goodbyyeeeeeeeeeeeee!!” I called to him, a tone of fear still lingering in my voice.
With a few deep breaths, I realized we’d run the rapid. All was well and we pointed the bow east, running along the atoll’s northern rim. We set the sails for a lovely close reach in the 8 or so knots of wind, let out the fishing lines, and breathed in the joy and excitement of our next adventure.
Little did we know, more excitement was quickly on the way…