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Never Turn Your Back on the Ocean?

Canadian Rockies...
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710 posts
16 reviews
13 helpful votes
Never Turn Your Back on the Ocean?

Can someone explain this saying? I understand that the ocean can be really dangerous, & I'm from a land locked province and have very little experience with it. Whenever I research ocean safety I come across this phrase. Am I watching out for rogue waves? I'm just not at all confident on how to judge whether the ocean at any given spot is safe.

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1,615 posts
155 reviews
199 helpful votes
1. Re: Never Turn Your Back on the Ocean?

this blog explains it perfectly with pictures.


Nanaimo, Canada
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28,640 posts
117 reviews
81 helpful votes
2. Re: Never Turn Your Back on the Ocean?

Yes, you are watching for those rogue waves... It is very unpredictable. I got hit by one my last day in Maui, just last Monday. And at 8:30 in the morning! Lost my sunglasses, and I was in water that only came up to my knees.

If you plan on going to Makena Beach (Big Beach), don't go in past your knees. You will be up to your chest and neck in no time. If you not sure, stick to the beaches that have lifeguards. Kam 1, 2, and 3 in Kihei are wonderful choices. DT Fleming, up by Kapalua, also has life guards.

And if there is NO ONE in the water when you are at a beach, I wouldn't go in at all. But then I am not that confident in my swimming ability. If you are not sure, don't go in.

Morning is always calmer, afternoons can be choppy because of the winds.

Florence, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Oregon Coast
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6,108 posts
19 reviews
25 helpful votes
3. Re: Never Turn Your Back on the Ocean?

Nice link TnT!

What that phrase means, besides the litteral interpretation, is it's NEVER "Safe" in/near the ocean! Everything from rogue (sneaker) waves, rip currents, large debris (logs, etc) can ruin an otherwise perfect day!! Keeping in mind that water weighs ~ 8 lb/gal at sea level and there are thousands of gallons in each and every wave, well, you get the picture!

Know this before you and give the ocean the respect it is due. Chose a beach with lifeguards and ask them if there are any rip currents of other hazards. Ask them to point out the rips if they exist, b/c after a while you'll develop the ability to spot them on your own.

Be safe, don't worry too much, and most of all, HAVE FUN!!

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9,564 posts
49 reviews
31 helpful votes
4. Re: Never Turn Your Back on the Ocean?

We learned a term regarding respect for the unpredictable nature of the Ocean/Sea during our many years of travel through the Caribbean.

There was a commonly heard phrase used by the female elders whom did not as a rule be seen to enter the Ocean on a regular basis...When asked why not??

The answer would be simply.... "No Back Door"

This statement is so so true and it always springs to mind if we happen to enter the waters on a particularly rough day. As previously mentioned, there are rogue waves and undertows that will draw you in.... and you are powerless against them.

The way you enter the ocean is the only way back out....no alternate route...no escape hatch.......No back Door.

Vancouver, Canada
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269 posts
28 reviews
31 helpful votes
5. Re: Never Turn Your Back on the Ocean?


I didn't heed this advice when we went to Big Beach and paid for it with almost drowning and tearing my rotator cuff when I was slammed into the sand by a huge wave. When I could stand up, my bikini was all askew, full of sand, and not covering any the 'important' areas. Ok, that last part's kind of funny now when I think about it, but at the time I was terribly embarrased.

I was lucky though and I learned my lesson. Never will I turn my back to the ocean again.


Eugene, Oregon
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871 posts
55 reviews
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6. Re: Never Turn Your Back on the Ocean?

Don't forget to keep your eyes on the ocean even when you are not actually in the water. Most people are cautious when they are swimming or in the water, but a lot of people forget to be just as watchful when they are dry. If you are close to the water at all, keep your eyes on it.

I have read several stories about people that were swept out to sea or drowned while standing on the lava rocks along the Oregon coast. They assumed that they were safe just because they were dry, but if you are near the water keep your guard up.

La Mirada...
Destination Expert
for Palm Springs
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19,383 posts
137 reviews
116 helpful votes
7. Re: Never Turn Your Back on the Ocean?

Waves comes in sets. You may have waves of the same size, coming up to the same place for 15-20 minutes - then a big set can come in, wham...you do a face plant in the sand and get pummeled if you're not watching ..not fun. I learned that lesson when I was 4 years old.

Or the wave comes far enough up to take your stuff. Hubby learned that lesson fishing. He thought the gear was far enough up on the sand. He turned his back to bait up - wave came in got the extra fishing rod, bucket and bag of new tackle he'd just bought......


Dallas, Texas
Level Contributor
1,801 posts
8 reviews
4 helpful votes
8. Re: Never Turn Your Back on the Ocean?

Without going into detail//I learned this a long time ago. and everytime I get distracted and turn my back..a strong voice tells me Dont Turn Your Back on the Ocean..ever. Good explanations from posters.

Winnipeg, Canada
Level Contributor
136 posts
14 reviews
8 helpful votes
9. Re: Never Turn Your Back on the Ocean?

On our last day on Maui in Apr my daughter and I were on the beach in front of the Royal Lahaina. I was sitting on the sand away from the edge where the waves would barely roll in to touch my feet. The ocean was quite rough that afternoon. My legs were stretched out in front of me and I was looking out at the water. All of a sudden a wave hit me in the face and knocked me down sideways. I had to dig my fingers in the sand and hold on tight in order not to be sucked back into the ocean. My glasses almost got knocked off my face and I got a mouthful of water. What a shock that was. That's when I realized the meaning of don't turn your back on the ocean (or front). My daughter who was sitting higher up got a series of photos of the event and she had a good laugh at what I looked like as this was happening. A few minutes later we noticed a tiny girl about 4 yrs old playing in the sand about parallel to where I had been sitting with the waves getting close. No one was near enough to her to grab her in case a wave came in and my daughter was just about to run over to her when her Mom casually strolled over just as a wave came in and washed over where she was playing. I felt sick because she absolutely would have been pulled into the water and chances are no one would have seen it happen in time.

Treasure Coast of...
Destination Expert
for Ronda
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11,616 posts
41 reviews
7 helpful votes
10. Re: Never Turn Your Back on the Ocean?

Just remember the ocean is the BOSS not you. I just got hit by a big wave a couple weeks ago here in Florida. You don't think of Florida as having big waves, but one came in and got me, it can happen anyplace, good luck and have fun. Hubie