An early morning snorkeling adventure turned out to be more than he had bargained for when he found himself caught in a deadly riptide.
Zane Mastone had always been drawn to the water. He learned to swim at a young age and was on his high school swim and water volleyball teams. Away from the pool he was a novice snorkeler. He had gained some experience in a small lake by his home in Idaho.
There wasn’t much to see other than a few boring fish. Nothing like the colorful tropical fish he expected to find off the shores of Maui. A tropical vacation he had been anticipating for half the year. Now he was here. His first time in Hawaii and he planned to spend most of it in the water. The plan was to do some serious snorkeling.
After he had gotten settled into his condo he walked across the road to a nearby beach where he picked out a rocky area not too far from shore. He was hoping the spot would be home to some tropical fish or maybe even a sea turtle if he was lucky.
The following morning he arrived at the beach early enough to have it to himself. Even the lifeguards hadn’t shown up yet. He waded out to the rocks and made his way to deeper water. He pulled on his flippers and mask and dropped under the water.
Having never been to Maui before he was unfamiliar with the area. He didn’t realize the currents on this particular beach could be dangerous. Not long after he was in the water the first lifeguard came on duty. A red flag and a warning sign were placed on the beach. A dangerous riptide warning was in effect. No one was allowed into the water until further notice. The lifeguard never saw the lone snorkel that stuck just a few inches above the waterline. Zane never saw the warning.
Zane was having a great time exploring the area. There were plenty of tropical fish to be seen. Suddenly, off to his right he spotted a huge sea turtle. It swam past so close he could almost reach out and touch it. The turtle was heading out to sea and Zane began to follow it. The turtle was faster than he was and it soon disappeared from sight. In the excitement of the chase Zane hadn’t paid attention to how far out he had gone. He decided to surface and take a look.
To his surprise, he was much further from shore than he had expected. Heading back to the rocks was probably a good idea. He put his head down and began to swim, letting his flippers do most of the work. After a few minutes he stuck his head out of the water to see how close he was.
To his surprise he had lost ground. The beach was nowhere in sight. The hills beyond the beach were barely visible. This made him extremely nervous. He put his head down and kicked even harder. When he looked up again, he realized he had gone nowhere. That’s when it hit him. He was caught in a riptide. He had heard about them and now panic was beginning to set in.
No one knew he had went to the beach and no one knew he was in trouble. Zane was on his own. He tried calling for help, but he was too far out for anyone to hear him. He tried waving his arms to draw someones attention but he was too small for anyone to see him.
He figured he was at least three hundred yards from shore and being pulled further away by the minute. Knowing he wouldn’t make it if he panicked, he kept a cool head and picked out a landmark off to his left and started to swim across the current toward his mark.
Zane was a strong swimmer and the flippers kept him from tiring too quickly. When he did feel tired, he floated on his back to rest. Over time he had managed to swim out of the current but he wasn’t out of the woods just yet. He was still a long way from shore.
After forty-five minutes of hard swimming, Zane was growing tired. Giving up had not entered his mind. It was not an option. He was ready to start swimming again when he spotted a jet ski coming toward him. With all the strength he could muster he waved in frantic desperation as he tried to get its attention.
The jet ski headed his direction and pulled up alongside him. It seems an alert lifeguard with a pair of binoculars had spotted him from the lifeguard shack. He was helped onboard and taken to shore. It was a close call. Along with the awesome snorkeling, Zane had a vacation memory he would never forget.
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