Ricochet News

Residents urged to be extra cautious at the coast as full moon spring tide peaks this weekend

JULY 7, 2017
Residents urged to be extra cautious at the coast as full moon spring tide peaks this weekend

The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) has appealed to the public to be extra cautious around the coastline during this weekend's Full Moon Spring Tide that peaks on Sunday, 09th July.

"From now and until towards the end of next week expect the higher than normal high tide and the lower than normal low tide, brought on by the Full Moon Spring Tide, to cause stronger than normal rip currents and higher tides engulfing higher along the shoreline," described NSRI spokesperson, Craig Lambinon.

He said that every month the Full Moon and New Moon Spring Tides cause higher than normal high tides and lower than normal low tides and stronger than normal rip currents around the coast during the twice daily high tides and the twice daily low tides.

"However at all times bathers and anglers should be aware of high tide, low tide and the resultant rip-currents.

"Sadly rip currents are the greatest cause of drowning accidents around the South African Coastline," Lambinon added.

"Bathers, shoreline hikers and sight seers and anglers are most at risk during the Spring Tide and extreme caution is advised."

He further said that the Spring Tide happens twice every month, at full moon and at new moon.

"Spring Tides bring a higher than normal high tide and a lower than normal low tide, causing stronger than normal rip currents, for a few days leading up to the full moon OR new moon, peaking on the day of the full moon OR new moon and lasting for a few days after the full moon OR new moon," Lambinon explained.

"There are two high tides and two low tides every day. During Spring Tide the twice daily high tides are higher than normal and the twice daily low tides are lower than normal and while rip currents are always present the Spring Tide creates stronger than normal rip currents.

"Spring Tide lasts for a few days leading up to the full or new moon, peak on the day of the full or new moon, and last for a few days after the full or the new moon."

He said that Rip Currents are caused when the water reaching the shoreline in waves, swells and sea currents needs to find a way to retreat back into the sea and this is achieved in rip currents (a river of water retreating through the incoming swells back out into the sea).

"There are two types of rip currents, permanent rip currents, found alongside islands, rocky outcrops jutting into the sea, at river mouths, in between reefs and alongside harbour walls and piers, are found constantly occurring in the same place allowing the water reaching the shoreline to retreat back into the sea in the permanent rip current," added Lambinon.

"Temporary rip currents, found along beach fronts (along the shoreline), are forever changing their position and are unpredictable and can form suddenly along a beach front without warning at different places along the shore front throughout the day.

"During Spring Tide these permanent rip currents and temporary rip currents are stronger than normal and although rip currents at all times pose a danger to bathers they pose the greatest danger during the Spring Tide."

He also said that Rip Currents form at different places along the shoreline constantly throughout the day.

"Bathers are at risk of being swept out to sea by rip currents while swimming or wading in water along the beach front. Even bathers wading in shallow water who find themselves trapped in a rip current that forms suddenly are at risk of being swept out to sea by rip currents," Lambinon said.

"Bathers caught in a rip current should not panic. Simply stay afloat by treading water (moving your arms and legs in circular movements), don’t try to swim against the current as it will only cause you exhaustion and let the current sweep you out to sea but at your first opportunity swim parallel to the beach front until you are free of the rip current and then use the incoming waves to get back to shore.

"While this is happening scream for help and wave your arm to alert people on the beach to raise the alarm."

He said that if you are taking the family to the beach please go to beaches where and when lifeguards are on duty.

"Identify where the lifeguards are on the beach, show your children, and if you need help approach the lifeguards who will help you. Swim within the safe swimming demarcated zones the lifeguards place on the beach using their red and yellow flags.

"Lifeguards are looking out for where rip currents are forming and will ask bathers to move to between their red/yellow flags for the bathers own safety," he added.

"Do not drink alcohol if you are going swimming or boating.

"Swimming in swimming pools, rivers, at river mouths, in dams, lagoons and lakes extreme caution should be observed at all times in these areas particularly where river currents, incoming and outgoing tides at river mouths and the flow of water can be dangerous to bathers."

Lambinon said that anglers, sightseers and shoreline hikers along the shoreline, particularly along rocks on the shoreline, are at greatest risk during the Spring Tide where incoming waves during the high tides engulf higher than normal over rocks.

"Anglers should not turn their back to the sea while fishing and should be vigilant and cautious of the wave action at all times while fishing.

"Boaters, paddlers, sail boarders and anyone launching any kind of craft onto water should wear their life-jackets at all times while on water and carry easily accessible safety equipment – red distress flares, communications cellphone or VHF radio with fully charged batteries in water tight plastic sleeves, a waterproof torch, highly visible neon coloured clothing, a referee whistle worn around the neck, a signalling mirror or CD disc (to use to shine against the sun) and let a responsible person know your time of departure, your exact intended route and your estimated return time and check in with the responsible person on your safe return. (If you are overdue the responsible person should raise the alarm without hesitation)," he added.

"NSRI urge boaters and paddlers to download the free NSRI RSA SafeTrx app to their phone and use the app for safety when launching and while at sea."