When I would go visit my dad and stepmom and sisters in the summer on the Big Island we would often go to the beach at Hapuna. Back then there was only the Mauna Kea Hotel at the Kawaihae side and those funky A-frame cabin things you could camp in near the parking lot. It was a great beach for body surfing though it was occasionally scary for me as I was only about nine or ten when we started going and when I felt like a strong enough swimmer to go out into the surf.
Most of the time it was fine, but every once in a while you'd get pushed under in the middle of a set, tumbling and swirling in the foam. Then you'd come up gasping for breath only to see another wave pounding down at you and under you would go again, eyes wide open but seeing nothing but foam and feeling the wave go over. Up again to snatch more air and another wave was coming right at you, down again into the tumble. Once more up and sucking in air hoping the set was past so you could catch your breath and ride a few of the easy waves. Or depending on how you felt, get out of the water for a while and just lie on the steady, solid warm sand.
2008 was like that for me and Kurt. Barely coming up for breath before the next wave hit. It was really scary at times. I didn't know if I could hold my breath that long or if I could find the surface again. Yet, just like at Hapuna, I always did. I don't know if having been pushed under so many times gives you confidence. Fear is still there when you are out of control in the turbulent waters, but knowing what it feels like helps you to know that you will come up for air again, more than likely. The survival instinct and that way nature is always trying to balance things are big helps.
2008 was a long bad set of nasty waves. There's been some easier, gentler waves in the last six months, but I can see that big set outside. There is turbulence ahead but I am better at diving under the waves and getting a breath before diving under the next one but you can never predict how a wave will be. I just hope this set is not as big as it looks.
Never take your eyes off the ocean.