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Raging surf

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    CTY - An intrepid bodyboarder braves the shorebreak at Waimea Bay on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012 on Oahu's North Shore. High surf kept lifeguards busy, as thousands came to witness the 15-20-foot waves. (The Honolulu Star-Advertiser/Jamm Aquino).
    Dayton, Ohio, residents Gisela Shipley, left, Ed Beckley and Beckley’s wife, Patricia, marvel at waves near Three Tables on Oahu’s North Shore.
    A swimmer in the surf zone at Banzai Pipeline was called in by lifeguards moments after this photo was taken Tuesday. High surf kept lifeguards busy as thousands came to witness the 15- to 20-foot waves.
    CTY - Tourists and gawkers are surprised by a wave that drenches them on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012 at Sunset Beach on Oahu's North Shore. High surf kept lifeguards busy, as thousands came to witness the 15-20-foot waves. (The Honolulu Star-Advertiser/Jamm Aquino).

    Clockwise from top, a bodysurfer took off on a large wave Tuesday at Banzai Pipeline; tourists and gawkers were surprised by a wave at Sunset Beach; and a bodyboarder braved the shorebreak at Wai­mea Bay.

Massive waves of the first swell of the season drew tourists and locals to Oahu’s North Shore on Tuesday, though not in huge droves likely to come later in the winter wave season.

Kaikea Mauele of San Francisco sat at Wai­mea Bay Beach Park strumming an ukulele while he and his friends watched as waves crashed along the shore.

His favorite part is seeing who is brave enough to surf them. "They got guts," he said. "Even the boogieboarders, bodyboarders, too."

A handful of surfers were out in the water at Wai­mea Bay but were far outnumbered by the onlookers sunbathing on the beach, cameras ready to get a snapshot of a tall, splashing whitecap.

North and west shores of most islands got hit with the large surf Tuesday, and the swell will slowly diminish today through Friday, the National Weather Service predicted. High-surf warnings remain in effect through today for all but Hawaii island, where waves up to 8 feet are expected, prompting a high-surf advisory.

Waves reached 25 feet on north-facing shores Tuesday, forecasters said.

The swell was expected to peak overnight Tuesday with up to 30-foot surf but was not expected to cause problems.

"We’re not expecting wave run-up or coastal flooding," since the peak, between 10 p.m. Tuesday and sunrise today, will coincide with low tide, said Tom Birchard, lead forecaster of the National Weather Service.



Mary Julich of Hawaii Kai and her brother-in-law Nick Julich of Forks, Wash., near Seattle, watched a lifeguard on a personal watercraft motor out to the surfers to check on them.

"I admire them," Mary Julich said, adding that "it’s pretty amazing."

On Kauai, officials closed beaches from Hana­lei to Kee on the North Shore because of hazardous surf conditions.

Oahu lifeguards issued 1,935 warnings, assisted three swimmers and performed four rescues through Tuesday afternoon in the high surf on the north and west shores, an Emergency Services Department spokes­woman said.

Tuesday morning, off-duty lifeguards and Hono­lulu firefighters rescued three swimmers caught in a rip current at Lani­akea, city officials said.

The three men were caught in currents created by 12- to 16-foot waves at about 7:30 a.m. and did not have fins or boards, a Fire Department spokes­man said.

Two off-duty lifeguards spotted them and used rescue boards to reach the men. Three firefighters arrived to assist, and all three swimmers made it safely to shore by 8:07 a.m. The swimmers did not require medical attention.

Two hours later at Ke Iki Beach, near Pupu­kea, a teenage boy ignored warnings not to go bodyboarding and got into trouble, a Ocean Safety spokes­woman said. The boy’s mother went to his aid and also had to be rescued by city lifeguards on personal watercraft. Both refused medical attention when they were brought to shore.

Waimea Bay, which was closed at 6 p.m. Monday because of the high incidence of surf-related accidents, reopened Tuesday morning.

At Laniakea Beach, locals and visitors were amazed by the waves but disappointed the high surf kept turtles away from shore.

"We’re sad we don’t get to see the turtles," said Jenni Whyte of Melbourne, Australia, whose family was hoping to catch a glimpse of them.

Surfers can expect a small to moderate northwest swell (4 to 5 feet) over the weekend, Birchard said.


Star-Advertiser reporter Gregg Kakesako contributed to this report

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