Great Lakes Surfing Association
Beach & Pier Rescue Project

September 16, 2007 Meeting / Exercises

This was our first rip and pier exercises with waves and waves did change things.  Marty will testify that the paddle out was much tougher in the rip exercise and in both exercises it looked as though it was a bit more difficult securing the victim to the rescue craft.  It was the first use of the sled and it seemed to be a great addition to our team.  The waves did teach us a few things such as keeping the rescue craft directly into the waves.

The waves do add quite a lot to realism.  The spectators watched much more closely.  I noticed the little kids on the pier clapping and cheering during the pier exercise when Ken had the victim safely secured and plowed through the waves.

When the old U.S. Life Saving Service used to hold their exercises at Grand Haven it was a great public event.  Funny how history repeats itself! 

Actually, what we are trying to do hasn't been done in over a hundred and thirty-five years when commercial fishermen in small boats setting and retrieving their nets became very skilled at working in big surf.  They were always the ones to respond to shipwrecks and eventually  formed up the Grand Haven Life Savers.  Three years later they became the first U. S. Life Saving crew here and were known as 'surfmen,' which sounds a lot like 'surfers' to me!   The U. S. Life Saving service eventually merged with the Lighthouse Keepers and other government agencies to become the U. S. Coast Guard in 1915.

Well, if we really are making history then we were very fortunate to have a real photographer and a film maker to record our exercises.  Craig Watson just happened to be on the beach shooting when we showed up  He is originally from nearby Fruitport, but has been working in the Chicago area with a publication there.  I do recall he did say something about doing a piece on us for his publication. 

Some of his work can be seen at:                                                                   

I told him what we were up to and introduced him to famous film maker Vince Deur who was also present to get some footage of us and somehow incorporate it into the Great Lakes Beach & Pier Safety Task Force doings.   Like the rest of us, I gave Vince a part to play as 'the media' in the rip current exercise report. 

Ken brought along his camcorder and instructed me on how to use it, but I wasn't about to compete with Vince and had enough to do trying to coordinate everything.  Still, it's important that we bring along as much filming equipment as possible.  We are working the entire Great Lakes region.  Much of we hope to 'teach' will require photographic presentation.

Big thanks to Vince and Tom!

OK, on with the rip and pier rescue exercise reports:

GLSA RESCUE Craft Launch

GLSA Rip Current Rescue Exercises

GLSA Pier Rescue Exercises


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