The kids biggest mistake was getting off his body board, as it gave him far more flotation then his exposure suit. Plus he had better visibility for rescue. He did do the right thing in that if you need help, ask for it! Yelling was very effective. (I would question where his fins where though?)
Every good surfer knows, you ride the rip out
I have been caught in a rip. Sometimes it is hard to tell you are in one, and even harder to tell if you are going in or out until you are too tired. They typically dissipate a ways passed the surf zone though. From shore they are easier to spot and often the sand in the water along with the white foam are a giveaway. Always watch from the beach for awhile before heading into the water.
Originally Posted by jyasaki
Not a rip story, but I once went halibut hunting with a friend. We surfaced so far from my boat that I didn't recognize it. When we finally realized it was actually my boat, we swam for about a half hour on the surface, without making any noticeable headway. I ended up handing off my gun and dive gear and swimming back in drysuit, fins, and mask. Still took about 45 minutes. Never saw another boat in the area. No halibut that day to boot.
You've seen me do that on a far smaller scale, when Keith ran out of air at Pt Pinos. If I remember correctly the swells were 10-12ft, and the boat could only be seen occasionally. I am happy to carry a Nautilus Lifeline now.
Twice shore diving I have really struggled to get back to shore due to a ripping current. The lifeguards on the Sonoma coast perform a lot of rescues due to people getting in over their heads.