Coast Guard Pulls Surfer, Guards From Inlet

OCEAN CITY — Just one day after the Ocean City Beach Patrol conducted joint exercises with the Coast Guard, the training was put to practical use with the rescue of a surfer in distress in the Inlet last Friday.

As Hurricane Arthur passed by the mid-Atlantic coast and generated big waves and heavy surf, a surfer got swept into the Inlet and could not paddle back out against the current. A call came in from Ocean City Communications alerting first-responders of the developing situation. The Ocean City Beach Patrol (OCBP) responded, sending multiple guards to the Inlet area.

Three OCBP lifeguards entered the swirling Inlet waters, one to concentrate on the surfer in distress and the other to hold buoys out of the water and look for approaching watercraft, according to OCBP Captain Butch Arbin. The Coast Guard responded with a rescue boat and was able to haul in the surfer along with the three OCBP guards.

“The surfer was fine,” said Arbin. “He just couldn’t paddle back against the current. We sent multiple guards on an Inlet rescue and the all were picked up on the Coast Guard boat. We had just had a drill the day before with the USCG and all of our rookies.”

Last Thursday, July 3, the OCBP conducted a joint training exercise with the Coast Guard and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) as part of the rookie graduation. The allied agencies often train together for circumstances just like the incident that arose last Friday at the Inlet. Ironically, the training exercise took place just one day before it was put into real-time necessity.

Despite the Inlet rescue, Hurricane Arthur did not produce the rough surf conditions and rip currents to a degree the OCBP anticipated following the storm’s passage. Arbin said when the Beach Patrol came on duty at 10 a.m. last Saturday, the rip current risk was low and the number of rescues was subsequently low.

Nonetheless, the OCBP conducted 1,792 preventative actions over the three-day holiday weekend including 960 on last Friday alone. The OCBP reported 652 preventative actions last Saturday, but by Sunday the number had dropped to 180. Similarly, there were 76 interventions, or rescues, throughout the three-day weekend including a high of 54 last Saturday.