There are only three common sense rules to jump off the Clam.
- Be a very good surf swimmer, not a pool swimmer.
- Know how to read tide charts, so not to jump at low tide (this is a no-brainer) and never jump when can see the rocks protruding from where you are suppose to land at, this means, it is very low tide. (Humm, again a no-brainer)
- Time your jump to hit swell. Does this mean, huh … extra water to land in?
Fact remains, either one of the above is the cause of 100% of all injuries or deaths. Only three rules … but we all know some people are just idiots or do not believe in common sense.
After 1993 the San Diego City started to enforce a no-jumping law or what many call, Laws for Idiots, which before, the only price jumpers paid for their feat was a few scrapes on the barnacle-sharp rocks and occasional $50 citations from lifeguards. But after the deaths of three teenagers from 1995-1996 and the rescues of many jumpers who required hospitalization, the city has cracked down on leaping from the Clam.
Those who are caught will be required to appear in court, with minors facing the added indignity of having to be with a parent. They will face a fine of up to $280. The penalty, enacted by the San Diego City Council, went into effect on June 27, 1996. As of 2009, I believe that fine is now $500, plus the cost of the emergency service if required,which can be in the 1000s.
When item #1 of the requirements is not followed drowning usually occur when powerful winter swells slam jumpers against the cliff. Stunned or knocked senseless, the jumpers fall victim to the cold water and the surging swells or a good rip current takes them back out. Rocks covered with slippery moss also causes hindrances when jumpers are unable to craw out and than panic!
When item #2 or three is not followed, this is where major injuries happened, like a broken neck or back.
Just about everyone during the 60 and 70s knew about jumping Deadmans and the Clam.
In fact, it was being jumped off on regular bases back in the early 30s, but the Meda beach crowd really started to make it popular event during the Rough Water Drink. This was a time when the courage of alcohol got even the most timid primed to take the 20 foot leap.
Did I say, 20 feet? Yeah, only twenty feet and it was not like you were watching the Acapulco cliff divers in Mexico, which I believe the jumps are 60-80 feet or Box Canyon’s, 70 feet or Deadmans just a little south at, 100 feet.
It has been said, the reason it is called, “The Clam” is because the two main edges of the cliff stick out over the water and round in the middle to form the shape of a clamshell, but according to locals, a name given because it looks like something else when viewing it from the ocean …
…. hummm I wonder what that is???