What Are Sneaker Waves?

One of the big dangers when hunting for sea glass at Davenport are sneaker waves. These are unusually big waves that unexpectedly break with a lot of force and can cause a great deal of injury if you’re not careful. 

Unlike at many beaches, the best time to find sea glass at Davenport is often at high tide, and it’s better if there have been recent storms or there are large swells. The large and strong waves and swells often take out the sand on the beach, revealing the gravel where the sea glass is most often found. 

Like at most beaches, waves usually come in sets at Davenport. There will often be several bigger swells together, then some smaller ones, then another set of bigger ones. It’s usually pretty easy to predict these and to have plenty of time to get out of the way when they come if you keep your eyes on them. The problem is sneaker waves come unexpectedly, and are usually several times bigger than even the biggest typical waves.

You get into a rhythm when searching for sea glass and get accustomed to, and anticipate, the waves that will be coming. When a sneaker wave hits, it often takes all those searching by surprise. That means even those who believe they are in the “safe zone” and far away from “the pit” can get swept up by a sneaker wave. You can see an example of hunters getting hit by a sneaker wave in the supposed safe area in this video.

Personally, I have been swept off my feet and slammed hard on the rocks by sneaker waves (and have had the huge bruises to prove it). I actually had my shoulder rotator cuff damaged by one when the force threw me against the rock outcroppings.  I’ve seen those who thought they were in the safe zone get slammed against the cliff rocks at the back of the beach, a place the waves normally never come close to hitting. Even when you get a warning that a sneaker is coming (those on the cliffs will usually whistle when a big wave is building) there often isn’t time to escape with them being so much bigger than normal, and you’re at the mercy of where you happen to be on the beach. 

This is one of the reasons you shouldn’t bring young children to sea glass at Davenport. The waves and swells are strong enough on their own to make the beach dangerous for children, but when you add in sneaker waves, it takes the danger to a whole new level.  

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