Beach tag revenue helps to pay for Sea Isle's lifeguards, among other summer expenses for the town..


Lifeguards in Sea Isle City are keeping a close watch on bathers. Like all other summer seasons, safety is paramount. And so far, this summer, churned up seas and strong rip currents are making the conditions particularly dangerous.

Sea Isle City Beach Patrol Chief Renny Steele emphasized in an interview Sunday that beachgoers should only swim at guarded beaches.

“We are seeing more hazardous water this year definitely,” he said. “There are a greater number of rips. The water has warmed up and lots of people are in the water.”

A number of beaches along the Jersey Coast have had rescues and fatalities. Many of them have been at unguarded beaches.

Sea Isle guards have had to rescue bathers on guarded beaches this season. Steele said luckily, Beach Patrol has not gotten a call for a rescue on an unguarded beach this season.

“We have had rescues on guarded beaches that were very serious, where they (the lifeguards) truly saved lives this year.”

Steele noted that the storms have not been typical of the season’s weather. He explained why.

“We’ve had a lot of northeast storms. Instead of lasting three days, they are five days. And in Sea Isle, we have gullies and sandbars and they often seem to intensify the rips. The water is more hazardous this year without a doubt, so far.”

Lifeguards keep watch over bathers in what is starting off as an active-weather summer.

Steele said the hope is that Mother Nature will change the beachline and eliminate the sandbars and gullies.

“We are hoping that the beachline does change and the sandbars are not as prevalent. It is a concern,” he said.

The resort offers four and a half miles of beaches. Currently, 18 of them are guarded. By next Saturday, all 27 beaches will have lifeguards, Steele said.

While the Beach Patrol has not had any 911 calls about rescues needed for bathers in  trouble on unguarded beaches, as other resorts have had, Sea Isle’s Beach Patrol is prepared should an emergency call come in.

The emergency response team is made up of lifeguards that pick a night shift in the week so that should an emergency come in after hours at any of the beaches, they will be ready.

The ALERT team is made up of certified lifeguards who work a regular day shift five days a week and then pick up a shift until the evening around 8:45 p.m.

During the day, the Beach Patrol has about 10 EMT-trained personnel on staff and in the evening there are two for the ALERT team.

“We will respond via a jet ski and we always have two EMTS on staff for the ALERT team.”

Although the season has started off with rip currents and strong seas, Steele said the ocean is ever-changing.

“There’s rips out there every year, all year long. Often it depends on the tide,” he noted. “We have a flag system. We could fly a green flag in the morning and with moving rips it could change to red flags by the afternoon.”

Beach Patrol Chief Renny Steele gives lifeguard candidates instructions during tryouts in June. of 2021