Sandbars around Beaufort are plentiful, and time spent on them can be a fun way to spend an afternoon in the waning days of summer if you don’t feel like trekking to the beach.
And no, we’re not talking about the sandbar, the one with concerts and tarp slides and cornhole games surrounded by 1,000 boats anchored and tied. We’re talking about the smaller sandbars that pop up at low tide but still accommodate humans looking for fun.
Yes, you have to differentiate the species, as a pig was seen earlier this summer on one of Beaufort’s sandbars. While pigs are known to swim in shallow water, this aquatic swine appeared to be a family pet brought along for the ride.
Anyway, we’re thinking more of the sandbars in Factory Creek and Morgan River and Battery Creek and around Port Royal. Many of them are within sight of residential docks, actually.
With that might come the temptation to attempt to swim across the river to the sandbar at low tide. Less water means easier swimming, right? Mathematically, that’s probably true, but math also comes in handy when remembering you’re no longer in high school and the things you could do easily at 18 don’t come as easily two decades later.
Let’s say your family has taken a boat over to the sandbar without you, so you decide to brave the moving waters and swim over. You could do it the last time you tried, right? It doesn’t matter that Dan Quayle was a heartbeat from the presidency then and you had the metabolism, energy and size of a middle-schooler. What’s the worst that could happen?
You could start off easily, maybe, and not even look back at the dock to see how far you’d gotten until your arms start to tire and you realize you’re no closer to the sandbar — but no farther away, either. You’re in the middle of the creek switching back and forth from a breaststroke to a lazy backstroke and wondering how to butterfly and why you didn’t pay more attention during those YMCA swim lessons.
Your family, of course, sees you from the sandbar but they can’t be bothered to turn down the radio or close the cooler or whatever they’re doing while you are clearly not living your best life in the middle of the river. You decide to risk treading water one-handed and wave, but your wave is only met with a wave. Your hand signal says “little help here!” while they are just saying a friendly “nice to see you drifting by!”
You turn over on your back and try to float, but that double cheeseburger you had at lunch isn’t feeling the weightless vibes, so you start to realize the last image some people might have of you is the one of you waving from the river, an idiot hopelessly carried away with the tide.
Suddenly there’s the faint sound of an outboard engine. Your uncle, against maybe his better judgment, has decided to drive over to check your situation. Because of breathless exhaustion, your voice is far too gone to sound out much, like listening to a later Bob Dylan album, but everyone on the boat knows you’re slowly drowning now.
As your 4-year-old nephew — all of 30 pounds soaking wet — reaches over to help you onboard, the saltwater is rubbed into the wound of your pride when the boat ladder breaks beneath the weight of your hubris. And possibly that double-cheeseburger you had at lunch.
You could call it a day at that point and remember a few things next time, mainly that kayaks and canoes exist for a reason.
Heck, airplane seats that also work as a flotation device are better than a swim against the tide when youth and gravity are not on your side.
Sandbars are great fun — especially the smaller, unpopulated ones — but none of them are worth paying the ultimate price.
If you don’t have a way to get to the sandbar, just wait for the next boat coming by to take you. Even a swimming pig knows to do that.