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The Beast with Many Faces – Why the Ocean Demands Respect

a stormy sea and jagged rocks at Coumeenole Beach on the Dingle Peninsula

I was going to write this blog post about something else this week. It would have been on the topic of exploring the coast around Co Kerry or where we see Wild SUP Tours progressing to in the years to come. But something happened and it made writing about such things seem trivial and unnecessary right now.

a rocky island in the middle of a body of waterEarlier this week, I discovered that a surfer friend of ours had gone missing close to Dunmore head. It is the headland right at the end of the Dingle peninsula, close to Coumeenole beach. John lived on the hill overlooking this picturesque spot and was there taking care of his aging father. He was always at the beach with his dad and was always delighted to get a few waves, no matter what the conditions were. Coumeenole was his spot. He always had some banged up board and would talk about having to fix some hole in it or wanting to get a new board entirely. I remember getting a quite few sessions with just me and him out in the setting sun. It was pure magic.

He had been missing for nearly 3 days when the alarm was raised. It’s a rugged remote part of the world. The coastguard were quick to respond and put together a search unit to find him. I know that area quite well from paddling and surfing over the years. There is a lot of coastline to search and the currents between the islands can be ferocious. The raw ocean swell can surge up on the cliffs and beach in a storm to staggering heights. It is understood that John was taking up some lobster pots ahead of a storm last weekend when he lost his footing. His body was recovered a few days later after a monumental search effort. The whole community, both local and surfing alike, is saddened by this news. John was a popular guy and was always good company in or out of the water.


I have had many bumps, scratches and near misses in the sea over the years. The news of John has brought it home for me that the ocean demands respect. The raw power of the sea is staggering. The ocean is a beast with many faces. It can be the most beautiful, welcome sight you’ve ever seen or the stuff of nightmares. Coumeenole shows off these many faces better than most. On some days you’d swear you were in the tropics. On others you might as well be in the Arctic Ocean off Cape Horn. I’ve experienced it in more moods than I can count. I’m sure John knew it’s many faces better than most. Even with knowledge experience and a keen understanding things can go wrong. What the sea wants the sea takes, never assume you are in control.

slea head drive on the dingle peninsula over looking the blasket islands and coumeenole

The ocean can have many moods.

It can be your best friend and your worst enemy all within a matter of minutes.

Stay vigilant, stay calm, don’t panic and enjoy the gifts it brings.

     a group of stand up paddle boarders at sunset paddling at coumeenole beach ireland