the tide pools

The northwest shore of St. Croix can be very treacherous. The rolling hills of that corner of the island spill violently into the ocean (and continue steeply downward into the Virgin Islands Trough at 13,000 feet below sea level). This rocky shore, just east of Annalay Bay, is home to the tide pools.

Over time, the force of the ocean has built up walls of jagged rocks a good distance away from the cliffs that extend to the top of the hills above. The waves still occasionally spill over these walls, creating large pools in the sandy craters.

Here is a bird's eye view. Press the (+) to zoom directly in on the pools (The "A" is the farm):

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During my last weekend on the island, I took a trip to these pools with my friends Patrick and Ryan. We hiked from the farm to the pools and spent an hour or so playing in the water, climbing the wall of rocks, and waiting for huge waves to crash into the rocks and splash foam in our faces. It was so much fun....

...Until we built up our pride a little too much and ventured further west. This side of the pool was much more exposed to the crashing waves. With Ryan and Patrick just behind me, I climbed up the wall and started walking along the top. Before I had time to realize what was happening, a wave thundered over the wall and lifted me into the air. The sheer force of the wave was the most physical energy I'd ever felt in my entire life. I was a rag-doll.

Then came the thud. My body flew off the wall to the rocks 8 feet below, my left shoulder and butt taking the brunt of the blow. Somehow my head had missed hitting anything, but as I lay there, I realized I could barely move. Another wave exploded over the wall, surrounding my limp body with salty foam that forced its way into my eyes and mouth. Several long seconds later, I was able to bring my head above water and gasp for air, preparing for another wave.

Apparently the monster waves come in pairs, because no other wave came close to the clout of those first two. Patrick and Ryan looked down at me with stunned looks on their faces. The wave missed Patrick, and Ryan was barely able to grab a hold of the wall with his finger tips at the last moment. He was bloody from cuts, but had been able to remain firmly on top of the wall. I was the only one to be launched into the air.

With much pain and effort, I was finally able to wiggle my toes, lift myself off the rocks, and hobble to the safety of my cabana on the farm. I will never forget the feeling of utter helplessness I had as that wave picked me up and thrashed me around as if I were a speck of dust in the wind.

Here is a video that Ryan took when we first arrived at the pools. The large waves in this footage were nothing compared to the monsters that came later:

I spent my last two days on the farm mostly bedridden. It wasn't until weeks later, at a church service at Grace Center that the pain finally left my body. I, seriously and without drama, thank God that I didn't die that day. If I had landed any other way, I very easily could have.


Dad said...

Remind me to not view your blog anymore. I prefer your previous "under-telling" of this event....ignorance is bliss in this case....

Glad you're still with us (and you don't need to know about the crazy stuff I did when I was your age),


ck said...

There are similar rocky pools on the north coast of Bermuda (and sandy beaches on the south). Similar geology / ocean effects? The contrast of water and rock is so beautiful.
And glad you made it out alive.