The community is invited to an educational presentation on Saturday, February 24 at the Camden Haven Surf Life Saving Club to understand how the region’s beaches work and behave.
Vice president of the CHSLSC Ben Hosick said the club decided to organise the presentation following the recent tragic incidents in the Port Macquarie-Hastings.
An 11-year-old boy died after he was swept out to sea while swimming at Lighthouse Beach on December 6, 2017. On December 16, 2017 a 14-year-old boy died after he was swept out to sea at Flynns Beach.
The event is at 2pm and the presentation will be conducted by Dr Rob Brander, a coastal geomorphologist and associate professor in the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of New South Wales.
Dr Brander has studied beaches and surf zones for 20 years and his PhD on the morphodynamics of rip currents was completed at the University of Sydney in 1997.
Dr Brander said aside from only swimming where there are lifeguards and/or beach flags, the best way to stay safe at the beach is to actually understand how beaches, waves and currents work.
The presentation will be followed by a dye release into a rip at the beach.
Mr Hosick said even if a person is a strong swimmer, being in a rip can be a frightening experience.
“A lot of the rips travel at speeds faster than what strong swimmers can swim,” he said.
“You waste a lot of energy trying to swim against it.”
CHSLSC Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) captain Phil Traves said the breakwall at the southern end of North Haven Beach can be problematic as all the water heading to shore from waves must return to sea.
“Any water heading south must travel out along the wall which is always a deep gutter and can travel seaward at between four to eight knots greater speed than 80 percent of swimmers can swim,” he said.
“This is especially dangerous as a walking path is located next to this rip and as the water is deep, it looks inviting to novices who see boardriders use the rip to get out the back quick.”
If people do get caught in a rip Mr Hosick said the advice is to stay calm, stay afloat, go with the flow and signal for help.
People are advised to talk to the lifeguards who are on patrol as they can give advice about the beach conditions and whether they are expected to change.
Mr Hosick said where the flags are set up is not always a permanent position.
“This may be due to a developing rip or changing conditions throughout the day,” he said.
“If you see the flags in one spot on the weekend it might not be the safest place to swim during the week when the beach is unpatrolled.”
Entry on February 24 will be via a gold coin donation.