Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bill Powers: Writer-Surfer-Lifeguard

Dateline: Oct. 28, 2008

Just received a couple of short articles by noneother than Col. Bill Powers, Retired LACo OLS of thirty plus years, now ensconced in his mountain home in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.

"Surf Lines" by Bill Powers

This tip is just one of several things to make getting boats off the beach and through the surf line safely. When boats are in the surf line, even
small waves can wash line (rope) off the boats and into the water. All it takes is about 2 inches of water with small wave action to move the lines
in large arcs down current from the boat. The danger here is getting these lines wrapped around your feet, with cold water you may not notice your foot or feet are wrapped with line. The tip here is keep checking your feet for line throughout the operation, especially as the lifeguard with the radio tells the Baywatch to pull her off the beach.

Aloha, Bill

(Copyright 2008 Bill Powers. All Rights Reserved. Used here with permission).

"The Off Shores", by Bill Powers

These winds normally blow November through February however they can happen almost any time of year. To most folks in Malibu, this is known as the fire season and rightly so. Unless you are new in this area you have seen what a fire storm looks like when it rages down through the canyons on it's way to the beach. These winds give us hot weather in the middle of winter, sometimes over 80 degrees. This wind also creates other conditions, after two days of these winds it can blow average surf flat. There are always exceptions to this. It will also clear the water and give the local divers the best water visibility of the year. It normally blows the top water out, which causes an upwelling effect dropping the water temperature. One year I saw the water temperature drop 11 degrees overnight. I would like to highlight some of the dangers that come with this condition when you look at the ocean during these winds it can look very inviting. Usually the ocean is smooth or slightly rippled close to shore, this is because homes and land formations block the wind. However 200 or 300 YARDS off shore the wind can be two or three times as strong. It can be very difficult to sail or paddle in it. It can fluctuate direction and then another. If you are wind surfing and get knocked down a few times, all the while getting pushed out further outside. There are two things that are happening, you can be getting tired and you are being pushed into areas of stronger wind. If it is late in the day and losing daylight, things can get serious very quickly. If you are in a kayak, they tend to want to point down wind. Due to sitting aft of the center of the craft, there is more kayak in front of you than behind. If you see someone paddling backwards toward the beach in these winds, they are mot likely having trouble. If you get blown away from shore, stay with anything that floats, you will last longer on the outside and you will be easier to spot. If you see someone you think might be in trouble, call 911 and ask for the Lifeguards. Be specific, you do not want the police or a fire engine (they will not get in the water). The people of Malibu have the privilege of having the finest lifeguard service in the world. Do not hesitate to use them. In choosing, remember it's better to be on the beach wishing you were in the water than in the water wishing you were on the beach.


Bill Powers
L.A. County Lifeguard 30 years

(Copyright 2008 Bill Powers. All Rights Reserved. Used here with permission. Do not reproduce without prior permission). Transcription Services provided pro bono by "CountyRecurrent" News.

Photo below by Will Maguire. August 2005. Copyright 2005 Will Maguire. All Rights Reserved. Used here with permission. Do not reproduce without prior permission.

Photo subject: Bill Powers, LACo OLS, Ret. (aka, Shotgun Bill)

Bill's next article will be entitled:

Bill Powers: Hunting Tips to Shoot Skeet, Rabbit and Bear !

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