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A Full Moon Over Tybee

While I enjoyed spending weekends with my grandkids, nothing matched a recent weekend visit to Tybee Island where I decided it was as good a time as any to show my grandson Carter how Pappaw could boogie board.

Dan Brown

Decked out in my American flag bathing suit and with the boogie board lashed to my wrist, I charged into the surf, imagining I’m with the Baywatch gang, David Hasselhoff on a mission to save a drowning Pamela Anderson. The Baywatch reboot with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Zac Effron had been filmed on Tybee Island, so we were in full Baywatch spirit that weekend.

The waves were big, 5 and 6 feet high. Great for body surfing and boogie boarding, but not so good when you’re standing in three feet of water and treading deeper into the dark abyss.

There is an old maritime saying that warns every fifth wave is a monster wave. If you want a wave to ride, be patient. One will come. If you are trying to avoid those big waves, keep count; a really, really, big one will be heading your way soon.

Sadly, this was advice I did not heed. I did not keep count.

I sensed it coming. I turned around. And I looked. To my growing horror, I saw the mother of all waves rise-up to blot out the sky. Seven feet tall, and I’m not lying. It looked like it could be 20 feet high in my fearful heart.

… Oh no …

The wave hit in the center of the back and threw me to the ocean floor like a discarded child’s toy.

I landed on my knees, forgetting that ocean sand is 100 percent crushed seashells and sand is not soft or smooth. Skidding across sand is like skidding across asphalt. Also, I had this boogie board lashed to my wrist, and the wave took that and tried to send it the long way back to China where it was made, along with my left arm.

I landed on all fours – well, all three, because there continued to be the issue with the boogie board lashed to my wrist and my left arm trying to dislodge from my shoulder socket.

I discovered something about the power of water that day. There’s this thing called undertow. And another thing called my pants.

I felt a slight tug right as the on-slaught of pounding waves hit.

I went down for a third time and ate some ocean floor.

The surf and undertow continued to yank at the boogie board, which made any support function with my left arm a wasted effort. Any support here came from my right arm.

But then, a real cold wave of fear hit – not a fear of drowning but worse.

A harder tug yanked at my pants, but when I reached to hold on to the waist band, I fell flat on my face and sucked in some sea water.

This was a tug of war, sadly, I would not win.

Wave after wave continued to try to bury me in the Tybee sand without the benefit of a shovel, and I was shoved into shallow water to the north, while my American flag swimming trunks were yanked out to sea to the south.

I know now what people who have endured tsunamis feel as they stand there in its wake of ruin while CNN films all the action, how they lost half their clothes. I’ve seen the same thing watching tornado footage. How did that guy lose a shoe? It was securely tied to his foot just a moment ago.

My swim trunks were securely tied about my waist.

Lying there with the other flotsam and jetsam that had washed ashore, scraped and battered, I slowly rose to all fours in about 10 inches of water, hacking and coughing up seawater and the last shred of dignity to which I desperately clung.

I heard a gasp from somewhere, “Oh my!”

The beach goers on Tybee Island that Saturday early afternoon didn’t have to wait until sunset to see the full moon rise over the picturesque Atlantic Ocean. They could make other plans. Perhaps, enjoy a quiet dinner in Savannah.

No, at 11:33 a.m. on Saturday a full moon rose over Tybee.

Carter, who observed all this at the water line, said, “Pappaw, where’s your ‘babin soot’ at?”

Where was Pamela Anderson and David Hasselhoff when I really needed them?

Dan Brown is an award-winning humor columnist, and it is days like these that always give him something to write about.