Traditionally, we always look at Halloween as the point where the water is too cold to see much activity. That has gone out the window with so much else, but it is a marker that things are starting to cool down. When the seasons change, it all happens pretty quickly in Galveston. Suddenly the beach water is in the low 70s instead of the 80’s, you’re working to stay warm instead of cool, and the days are much shorter.
We’ve still been busy, particularly on the weekends. Having our seasonal lifeguards, who work in the towers, gone had meant our Full-Time crew has had to step it up, which they’ve done. They’re having a competition to see who can put the most miles on their vehicles as they patrol. Without the towers, keeping moving is the name of the game so we can keep those swimmers out of the rip currents near the rocks.
As a lifeguard told me a while back, the end of the season is a kind of “bittersweet” feeling. After a long season of hard work, it’s a relief for them to get out of the “thunder dome”. But they instantly start missing the beach, the work, and the camaraderie. I remember how when I’d finish the season as a tower guard and go to school or wherever, I’d have a sort of let down that bordered on depression. The work was so intense and so fulfilling. It’s almost like I physically missed the adrenaline of working rescues and medical calls. I also missed all the physical activity and just being on the beach all day every day.
Our fulltime staff, in addition to patrolling daily, also continues to respond to 911 calls 24 hours a day throughout the winter. In addition, we also start off season maintenance duties soon. In addition to replacing beach signs and repairing equipment, we’ll soon start the main task for winter, which is to rebuild and replace the 24 lifeguard towers we put out on the beach each season. Other duties include website redesign, water safety education outreach, policy and procedure manual update, maintenance of rescue boards and other equipment, ordering supplies etc. It goes fast and first thing we know we’re back out in force guarding for spring break.
One really nice thing about cooler weather and not having that heavy press of people on the beach, is that our team gets a chance to drop down to a 40-hour work week, and get some time with family, to train, catch up on their chores at home, or even go for a low stress surf session. I’m really happy for them to get some normal days with a normal stress level after one of the most difficult seasons that we’ve been through in recent history.
There are still plenty of beautiful days on the beach so hopefully you’ll find time to get out there to enjoy it in the way you love most. See you there!