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The Wave Beneath
Is there anyone who does not feel the pulsing energy of the open sea? As we sit on a lonely beach and just allow out thoughts to range out and become one with that sleeping giant. My earliest memories were of going on holiday with my family to beaches on the South East coast of New Zealand, of rolling waves as they surged in and rushed toward us foaming up the sandy beach. On windy days, feeling overpowered as huge breakers smashed over the rocks and against the cliffs, leaving the piles of slippery, rich smelling kelp.
I still remember waking during the night and hearing the pounding roar of the waves, knowing that in the morning I would walk along the tide line looking to find what the restless waters had left. Grotesquely twisted and entwined driftwood, jelly fish stranded by receding tides and the never ending fascination of we may find swimming or crawling in the rock pools around the bases of huge boulders. As I grew older, wading and collecting mussels and paua to take home and cook for breakfast.
That love affair with the ocean has stayed with me even into my seventies. Through being a junior member of the Naval Reserves and later working on ships. When I was older, I owned a gull-wing speed boat and took scuba-diving courses. There nothing which can equal that feeling of peace and awe which we can experience when swimming free amongst the creatures which inhabit that environment. Although chased out of the water by the odd inquisitive shark I seldom really felt threatened and could admire their graceful movements as they cruised by. Those times I was privileged enough to be able to interact with dolphins and seals, form some of my fondest memories.
Experience is a great way of learning if you survive, and the sea is a merciless teacher. It has been in and on the sea where I learned humility and respect. Swimming, diving and even in the boat, I realized just how fragile and finite we humans are, and how quickly that seemingly benign blue water can become a raging, crushing giant. Love and respect are not the same, but frequently go hand in hand. If in writing this book of the sea I may share some of those feelings with you my reader, then that would also be a great privilege.
Excerpt from The Wave Beneath.
The First Wave
Puny is the might of man
When faced with the fury of a tumultuous sea
Lulled by a trust in modern invention
Our lives at the mercy of foaming waves.
Yes I knew my comments were audible on TV and there were probably millions hearing my words, but I just couldn’t help myself. “Holy Shit!” “That’s not a wave, it’s a f**king mountain range.” I couldn’t take my eyes away from the surging horror; it was huge, towering above us, looming and traveling at five miles a minute. I barely had time to think, I shoved the throttles forward and hung on to the wheel. I held my breath until I saw the bows begin to lift with the increased power, and then a tremendous inertia forced me down into my seat. Think of an express elevator then multiply the effect many times. For a split second, for that was all the time it took for the wave to pass beneath and hurl us skyward, I felt as if my body weighed tons. With the G forces maybe it did.
My wits were still functioning, just, and my hand flashed over to the reverse control levers, then it registered, there was no trough. My mental, self-admonition, don’t be ridiculous, that was a hundred foot wave, there has to be a trough. I began passing information back to the ships five miles, or for the wave, one minute astern of us. It’s a swell rather than a wave and the angle of incline is forty two degrees. Your rate of engine power is irrelevant since you don’t power over it, it powers under you. Make sure you are sitting and your back is supported, and keep your mouth shut or you could bite through your tongue. And most important, there is no trough after the wave….
And most important, there is no trough after the wave….