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Stingrays, Sharks, and Rip Currents

Sitting on the beach this summer I started thinking about all the things we do to stay safe and how these same lessons apply even when we're nowhere near the sand and surf.

  1. Paddleboard Into The Wind First. Starting with the worst first (paddling into the wind at the start) means things will get easier later (when the wind is at our back on the way back). When we tackle the important or hard stuff early in the day (when we have the most energy) we can end the day with the light and easy stuff.

  2. Shuffle Your Feet. When in the shallows, letting stingrays know you are coming is the best way to avoid stepping on one and getting stung. It works. So why do so many people have to go through so much pain every summer after being barbed? It's one thing to know what to do, it's another to act on that information—most don't.

  3. Know Your Limitations. Self-confidence is good, hubris is not. The ocean has a way of humbling people when they stand too close to breaking waves and get swept away, swim out too far and get caught in a rip current, or don't respect the dangerous creatures that lurk below. Life is like that. Know yourself. Be confident, but be cautious and careful.

  4. The Best Beach Day Ever. Polihale is a hard-to-reach beach on Kauai. The first time we went everything was perfect—the weather, the waves, and people. We stayed for a couple of hours with the plan to return the next day. When we went back it was totally different (and not in a good way). When things are good, make the most of that time.

  5. Start in the Shallows. Learning how to surf, swim, or bodyboard usually begins in shallow water. It's easier, safer, and closer to help. If we also start small and work our way up to bigger and better things in life, we can do more. The alternative is to paddle out to where the waves are big and get pounded—ending up into shallow water anyway.

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