Some of you will remember the gas rig that was the closest platform off the beach. I’m sure they took it down because not much was happening there, but Beach Patrol made good use of it back in the day. It was known as the “close rig”. That and the old light house on the end of the south jetty were our two favorite places.
About 35 years ago, I got a Hawaiian Sling, which is basically a long stick with a stretchy band on one end and prongs on the other end to catch fish with. None of my friends had boats to get to the far rigs, but it was an easy paddle to the close rig. We’d go out there on a kayak, paddleboard, or our 2 person surf boat, and catch fish to eat or to put in our salt water tank. After spending a couple of hours in the water we’d usually climb up onto the rig and eat a packed lunch and rest a bit. To top off the trip we’d jump off the top of it a few times, then see who could make it to the bottom and come up with sand (about 40 feet deep).
As the Beach Patrol got bigger, we started getting more organized. Once or twice a summer we’d pick a good day and a group of us would swim out to it. A round trip swim could be up to 4 miles.
Beach Patrol is primarily made up of college and high school kids who have way too much energy and brain power to sit still in a tower for an eight-hour stretch. Those slow days mean lots of time to think up new and ever more ridiculous schemes. We finally got so organized that we had a competition where 5 teams of 5 had to go to the rig and bring back a photo essay of a skit. No motors allowed. The theme of the skit was drawn from a traditional lifeguard pith helmet. At the end we had a party (not sponsored by Beach Patrol of course!) where we displayed the results and voted on the winning team. The winners that year had a mafia theme. The photos showed a guy taken by a crew of men and women pin striped suits and homemade cardboard tommy guns to the rig. He was tied up and thrown off the platform wearing fake cement shoes to “swim with the fishes”.
Of course, nothing can hold a candle to the annual “Disco Dog Party” at the lighthouse. No motors or people without costumes allowed. Even though I’m sure the statute of limitations is over, it’s probably best if I don’t go into too many details. I will however confess to strobe lights and hotdogs. And a guy paddling up during the night to some shark fishermen in a boat. Wearing chains and full disco regalia, he asked, “Any of you guys seen a disco party out here?”