Ocean City Charter Captain Boats Floating Del. Lifeguard Stand

Ocean City Charter Captain Boats Floating Del. Lifeguard Stand
recovered lifeguard stand

OCEAN CITY — An Ocean City charter boat recovered one of seven lifeguard stands reported missing from Rehoboth Beach last week about five miles off the resort coast on Sunday.

Last Thursday, beach sweepers in Rehoboth reported seven of the beach patrol’s lifeguard chairs, or more than a third of the Delaware resort town’s stands, were missing when they did their morning cleaning operation. The Rehoboth Police responded, as did the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, but the missing stands were nowhere to be found.

A Delaware State Police helicopter cruised the coastline and did not see any evidence of the stands in the water or hidden somewhere on the beach. The Rehoboth Beach Patrol employed back-up lifeguard stands for the weekend as the investigation continued.

On Sunday morning, Captain Mark Sampson on the “Fish Finder” was fishing about two miles off the Ocean City coast when it came upon one of the missing stands floating in the water.

“We were fishing yesterday morning about two miles out on a beautiful, calm day and we could see something white floating in the water about a half a mile away,” said Sampson on Monday. “We went over to it and found out it was a lifeguard stand floating upside down in the water. We hadn’t heard anything about the missing stands in Rehoboth and just assumed it was probably from Ocean City.”

Sampson said he called the Coast Guard and informed them of the find and the coordinates for the lifeguard stand and went on their way. He said he didn’t consider at the time making an attempt to bring the floating lifeguard stand on board and continued fishing after notifying the Coast Guard.

Sampson said he and the “Fish Finder” crew kept on fishing through mid-morning and were about five miles offshore when they came across another lifeguard stand floating in the ocean. Sampson called friend and Ocean City Councilman Doug Cymek, who informed him of the seven missing lifeguard stands from Rehoboth.

“It was then after noon when we saw the second lifeguard stand drifting by us,” he said. “We decided because of the potential danger we would attempt to bring it on board. With four guys and some creative rigging and rope work, we were able to bring it on board.”

Sampson said the large wooden lifeguard stands created the potential for a serious navigation hazard in even the calmest, brightest of conditions, let alone in the fog or dark.

“It had the potential to be really dangerous,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to run across it in any size boat.”

Sampson and the “Fish Finder” hauled the lifeguard stand into its home port at the Ocean City Fishing Center in West Ocean City where it was taken off the vessel with a forklift. The Rehoboth Beach Patrol was notified and instructed where to come pick it up on Monday. The lifeguard stand weighs about 500 pounds and costs around $800. The other missing stands have not been located and are potentially still causing navigation hazards. It is uncertain how or why the stands went missing in the first place although the incident appears to be a prank.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.