Where are the deadliest beaches?

Brit Horn says the most dangerous Sonoma Coast beaches are Goat Rock, Portuguese, Wrights and Schoolhouse, where the dropoff into the ocean is steep.

"You take five steps into the water and you are over your head," he said.

From 1986 through 2008, 89 people have drowned on the Sonoma Coast, with 46 of those in the 10-mile stretch from Jenner to Bodega Bay. The numbers make the Sonoma Coast the most dangerous in California.

Goat Rock: Just south of Jenner, where the Russian River meets the Pacific. There's great danger of being knocked off your feet and swept into the ocean. Three people have drowned there since 1986.

Wrights Beach: Just north of Duncan's Landing, has had three drownings since 1986. "There are frequent rip currents and the contour of the shelf in relation to the low tide line is where you have these drop offs. It is a dangerous setup for the unaware or inexperienced swimmer," said Liz Burko, district superintendent.

Portuguese: South of Wrights Beach, has had four drownings since 1986, three in the past 12 years. "The waves expend and unload all their energy on the beach, they put all their energy into rushing up the beach," Horn said.

Schoolhouse: South of Portuguese Beach, has had one drowning since 1986. Horn said here and all along this stretch of coast, the undertow pulls a person underwater and pushes them back up in a circular washing machine motion.

One of the most popular North Coast beaches is Salmon Creek, more similar to a broad Southern California-type beach with a wide swath of sand. Surfers, bodyboarders and skimboarders favor this beach, which can be dangerous with rip currents.

"We don't lifeguard the people who are actually in the ocean, we are lifeguarding the people on the beach," Horn said.

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