A dead swell can drag up to 100m inland from shore. That’s what lifeguards are signaling on the eve of today’s Ilinden (new style), the day on which lore says the sea turns and begins to claim its victims for the year.


From Ilinden to Transfiguration there is the greatest danger of dead excitement. It does not pull towards the bottom, but into the sea. Lifeguards call on vacationers to necessarily comply with their warnings and follow the flag signals. “As a heavy wave falls, it carves the seabed.

Whole pits appear, towards which the water reflected from the shore tends and it carves channels and entire streams. There is something like an underwater river in the sea, which flows inland, and this current makes it very difficult to return to the shore for those caught in it, including very good swimmers”, explains senior lifeguard Georgi Esov, head of the lifeguards on the Varna beach.

In his many years of practice, he and his colleagues have repeatedly had to prevent accidents in such a situation. However, it turns out that the majority of beachgoers underestimate it and often fall victim to the dead man. “90% of beachgoers underestimate the situation and do not listen to the lifeguards’ signals.

Half of them had to be helped in some way. It happened quite often. The flag is red, and beachgoers enter with inflatable objects, which are prohibited even on a yellow flag. The sea begins to pull them inward at a fairly high speed and they turn white. By the end of this week and next week, the sea will be extremely treacherous”, Esov is also categorical.


“No matter if you’re a good swimmer, it’s very important not to go against the current. It is safer to relax on the surface of the water and let the current carry you, because otherwise the body is perpendicular to the bottom and the current carries it faster. When you lie on the surface of the water, the greater force of the current passes beneath you.

The rescue is to get out of the current,” advise the water rescue specialists from BCHK-Varna. The dead current works up to about 100 meters from the shore – this is also the distance it can usually take you away. Once you feel that the force decreases, start swimming parallel to the shore.

The moment you can do it and the water isn’t pushing you back, head straight for the beach using the waves for help. If we swim in the right direction – to the side, and do not go out of the current, then it is too wide. Then we stop wasting energy and just wait for the current to pass. This will happen in 3-4 minutes.


“Dead currents are formed most often when there is a northwesterly wind and represent a kind of channel in the water with a direction inward to the sea. As a result of the wind wave, the seabed changes its relief and the surf wave cannot flow evenly along the entire coast.

Therefore, he searches for and finds a deeper place on the bottom and follows it to the sea. Caught in such a current, it is difficult for the person swimming against it to get ashore,” the experts explain. And they give advice on how to recognize the danger from afar – the dead man is visible when a lot of foam comes out on the water a few meters from the shore.

Most drownings are in the evening

Statistics show that most of the fatal cases occurred on strips without lifeguards or after the end of the working hours of the lifeguards. Only 20% of the incidents happened on guarded beaches while the lifeguards were on the heights. The remaining 80% of drowning cases are registered in unguarded areas or late at night, when the beaches remain without lifeguards.

“If a tourist enters the sea under a red flag or after eating and drinking two beers, then the danger of drowning is much greater. Death by drowning occurs quickly – in 3 to 5 minutes,” the marine guards warn.

Old people don’t come in today

From time immemorial there has been an old belief that the sea turns and becomes dangerous at Ilinden. It says that on this day the sea asks for a sacrifice and takes a sacrifice, so tradition dictates that on Ilinden one does not enter the water. In seaside towns and villages, all local people observe the unwritten prohibition and do not enter the sea on this day.

The rule has the force of law for sailors and fishermen, who are very superstitious. “We are people dependent on nature and especially on the sea. That’s why we follow the rule and don’t go out with the boats on Ilinden. We observe it both in a new style – on July 20, and in an old style – on August 2. Whoever wants, let it be laughed at, but with us it is a law,” say the sea wolves.

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