Have you ever had an inner voice that rose up from a shadow area within your mind, and it shocked you during a rescue? You listened to the words presented and took the advice. It worked in your favor.

Do you think about it later and wonder if you are crazy? I have.

I’ve had this voice many times lend outstanding advice in a moment of peril. It is a simple determination of words. Albeit nothing complex or drawn out. It’s an actionable prompt usually.

This parallel voice, is it an echo of the mission or a position of the current experience? Is it an alarm to risk and changing dynamics?

There are things unknown taking place that didn’t happen in training, perhaps this is the inner permission to continue out of the scope of boundary.

It’s not the same thing as everyday thoughts that jump up like kernels of corn popping and then lay down, it is a more prominent alert.

The intuitive voice tends to orient me towards positive actions. Not ones that would cause me harm, although I could see a path to that could be fed for obverse reasons.

It seems as if its an integration of the risk assessment and a knowledge base. And this unconscious unified guide arises to help with a positive orientation. It’s a choice to make, I think.

I have listened to this unconscious awareness that is alerting my conscious behaviors.

I don’t know any other way to address this loud guiding voice.

I have given this a lot of thought and retrospective consideration. Do we call this intuition, gut instinct or a protective angel? I think that there is reason for these descriptions as well.

On November 21, 2001 at a large big wave spot called Mavericks at Princeton California, I had a memorable inner voice experience.

This was one of the largest recorded days of waves that were documented at Mav's. I was there working this historic swell on a Yamaha WaveRunner.

I had 4 of my WaveRunners being used at Mavericks, 1 by Jonathan Cahill, 1 by Paul Schulte and the last one being used by the Brazilian big wave champions Carlos Burle and Eraldo Guieros.

As the swell filled in towards the shelf off the Central California zone, the face of the waves began their temperamental approach. Outstanding big wave surfers from around the world were there proving their talent in this hectic watery plain, this is their rapture.


Approximately 1:45pm the wave faces were in stride with 70-foot faces.

The harbor department closed down the jaws of the harbor mouth for recreational boating traffic. I had a final conversations with Cary Smith a harbor deputy and I headed out again.

I got underway again, driving out to conduct another recon parallel to the jetty wall. Then across the channel, out to Mavericks and making calculated triangular search pattern for any mishaps that may have occurred.

I had conducted quite a few rescues this day and I was nearing exhaustion.

As I made another pass outside of the jaws, turning to my starboard quarter, I bounced along the jetty wall towards the inside section of the lagoon behind Sail Rock. I had a very loud and strong voice say to me in my thoughts ‘TURN LEFT NOW’.

This voice was loud. It shocked me. In fact is startled me even physically. I attributed it to fatigue and shrugged it off.

A few seconds later the voice returned “TURN LEFT NOW’.

When I looked down Blackhand Reef, it was angry and boiling.

Truly I didn’t want to go there; I had already experienced a mishap in that area before this day and I was not wanting to risk my Rescue Water Craft.

The voice returned for a third time, and it shook me. I turned left towards Blackhand as if following a command.
The water was rocking and white capping. I was alone and uncomfortable with this decision; nervous I was hoping to turn back.

Right before my decision to retreat a black head popped up. ‘Is that a seal?’ I said to myself. It was a surfer.

He did not have a surfboard. He had a black neoprene hood covering his head, his head was low in the water.

I did our trademark Johnny B and assisted him to slump over the rear seat on the re-boarding platform. I slowly drove out of the threat zone keeping an eye on him. We didn’t talk.


I passed the safety of the harbor mouth and headed over to the path that takes surfers to the dirt parking lot. The harbor water surface had a crosshatch texture to its surface from the wind, it stung my face, this cold wind chill. I could feel the cold shrug off as my adrenaline settled.

When I pulled up to the inside of the jetty wall and landed, he climbed off the PWC. He crawled his way out of the water, stood up, waved and at me at started his slow walk back to his vehicle.

He was trapped in his thoughts and my internal dialogue was waking up. We didn’t talk.

I was having a vivid conversation in my mind about this experience as I drove away. I looked back at his shadowy form to affirm he was not an apparition and this was a true experience.

I would never have gone down to Blackhand Reef on that day. Waves were barreling at 30’ all along that edge. I was alone, with no backup.

That voice has visited me often throughout my life. Is this what makes heroes? Is this the evidence of integrating experience with the choice of believing that everything will be okay if there is trust?

That voice saved his life. And mine many times.

I have been fascinated with the internal universe of our mind. As a trainer this is what I have done my best to make friends with to gain understanding of others to become a better instructor. To become a better woman.

I would encourage you to explore the decisions you make. Why do you make them? How have they benefited you and others? Did you clearly see results that stopped a mishap or prevented tragedy? Is it noticeable?

I believe that awareness becomes a part of a purpose driven life. Isn’t that where the essence of ‘a calling’ derives from?

Possible, at least I would like to think so.

Posted: June 23, 2019

Content Creator of Rescue Water Craft and Personal Water Craft boating international education standards: Shawn Alladio is the world’s foremost authority and leading subject matter expert. She cares most about her community and the culture surrounding the safety of event service providers and Rescue Water Craft operators, working hard and dedicated towards protecting their reputation, distributing safety information and continuing to train these amazing individuals to the highest standards of care.

Sidenote: On 11.21.2001 the largest set came through Mav's later on this day. I was on the water with my dear friend Paul Schulte and Jonathan Cahill during that time. Carlos Burle and Eraldo Gueiros surfed the largest wave that year on this day. They won the XXL Big Wave category. The photo is from Pablo, whom has saved my life in many ways. I am indebted to his spirit.


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