Great Lakes Surfing Association
Beach & Pier Rescue Project

August 6, 2007 Meeting

The first project meeting occurred in the late afternoon of August 6, 2007 (Monday) at the Grand Haven south pier and was a great opportunity for the various project members (Bob Pratt, Ken Smith, Marty Karish and Bob Beaton) to get acquainted, outline the project and get our feet wet. 

Everyone came with their surfboards in hand.  Bob Pratt brought along a very impressive 12 ft. RESCUE board which had three sets of hand grips and soft deck / rails.  He also brought along a very good selection of life saving/guarding handouts for the group which included:

Life Saving for Surfers  Bob Pratt (AKA "water-ratt")

Surf Lifesaving Training Manual   Surf Life Saving Australia

Open Water Lifesaving  The United States Lifesaving Association

Aquatic Rescue Professional (2nd Edition)  National Safety Council 

Lifeguard Training  American Red Cross

On the Guard II (4th Edition) The YMCA Lifeguard Manual  YMCA of the USA

After a short semi-formal meeting on the beach everyone eagerly proceeded out into the calm, warm water of the lake.   They were quickly joined by two curious teenage female sunbathers who readily volunteered to be 'rescue victims.'

Bob Pratt gave an informative talk on basic rescue techniques and demonstrated several methods of getting a rescue victim onto a surfboard, which was followed by the project members and victim volunteers trying out these techniques.

Quite a bit of the time in the water and on the beach was spent by project members exchanging ideas, proposals, experiences and general knowledge of surf rescues.

After an hour or so the meeting broke up with all members satisfied that it had been a worthwhile get-together.  It was agreed the group would meet again in about two weeks.

After the meeting Bob Pratt utilized the RESCUE board as a stand-up paddle board and proceeded south down the coast.  I opted for a brisk surfboard paddle out to the lighthouse and back.

Returning to the shore I noticed Ken and Marty had left.  Looking down the beach I could not spot Bob on his stand-up paddle board.  After waiting and watching for him to appear in the distance I became concerned and start asking various beach strollers walking north if they had seen him and telling others heading south to notify him that he was expected back as dusk was setting in.

I jokingly told one group that he was part of a surf rescue team and it would be a big embarrassment for us to lose him and that if he didn't appear soon I was going to call the Coast Guard!

No sooner had those words left me then a Coast Guard helicopter was overhead quickly flying south along the beach!   All of a sudden my mood became a bit more serious, thinking that possibly he slipped and banged his head on the board and that maybe someone spotted his unmanned board along the beach or saw him go down!

Finally I spotted a small speck off shore in the distance and it was Bob!   He must have paddled that board for some miles in training for the paddle board race at the upcoming luau.

Bob Beaton


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