Grand Haven "Surf City"
Progression of Grand Haven Surfing
Pier Safety and Surf Rescue
Since 1925 there have been over twenty persons drown
off the Grand Haven piers at an ever increasing rate. Documented or not this number could have been much higher had it not been
for the vigilance, skill and courage of the surfers there. It is no coincidence
that surf boards are used by surf rescue teams world-wide.
This was very well demonstrated during the horrendous storm of November 10, 1975, the evening and almost the same time that the giant ore carrier Edmund Fitzgerald went down in Lake Superior. For over an hour and a half three surfers battled towering waves and a vicious rip current to save two boys washed off the south pier. After they were awarded Congressional medals by the Admiral of the U. S. Coast Guard, the admiral looked them squarely in the eyes and said "we need your help."
Over the next thirty years the Grand Haven surfers have responded without flinching to the admiral's plea with numerous rescues and also by direct participation and leadership of local and Great Lakes beach and pier safety groups. During August of 2007 the Great Lakes Surf Association began a 'surf rescue' project designed to teach surfers how to safely save lives.
The lifesaving and safety reputation of Grand Haven surfers was hard-won and is something that they, and the people of Grand Haven, can always be very proud of.
“We could see all of these lights on the beach, all these people, just standing there doing nothing, just some guy standing up on the (pier) catwalk yelling ‘help is on the way’. Finally we just decided to make a break for it.” Bearle Eastling