Monday, July 18, 2011

Bay Days

Every third weekend in July is a celebration called Bay Days. Bay Days is a three day festival at Bay view park and beach, featuring food, rides, bands, competitions, races, and a triathlon.

For me Bay Days started on Saturday morning helping out with the 5K and 10K triathlon. My main job was just telling them where to go. Unfortunately it was really hot and humid out, so standing out in the sun was not fun. Between the runs and lifeguarding, I was able to do some swimming and return a table back to our beach (Read Operation: Table).

My lifeguarding shift for the day was from 11:30 to 5:30. Knowing it was going to be very hot out, I planned to do my entire shift on the rescue board, so I could just hang out in the water, staying cool. Unfortunately a guard didn’t show due to being sick (now our second guard currently sick), so I was alone until 2:00. After the next guard showed, I was able to go have a snack of fried bread then hang out in the water on my board. Being in the water, I was constantly floating away, resulting in regularly swimming back to where I wanted to be at.

It had the makings for a good day, except for multiple rounds of teens who did not care about their safety, resulting in much yelling and eventually the calling of the police.

We have a rule about the railing. The railing goes around the dock and is made of wood, which means it is not overly strong, just a 1-by-4 piece of wood. Kids seem to enjoy jumping over and sitting on the railing. Problem is that the railing can (and has) snapped, so if the railing snaps, the sitter will fall backwards into the water. On the swimming side of the dock, falling will result in landing in the water, but run the risk of hitting the superstructure that is holding up the dock, or more likely the metal sticking out from it. On the other side, falling off is a very short trip into a few inches of water followed by going splat on parts of the old ore dock the swim dock is built on. Old wood, metal rods, and the occasional nail fill the bottom area of the deck.

Jumping from or over the railing has its own issues. If a swimmer were to collided with the rail or the rail breaks, it can injure them and cause them to fall into the water. Unlike the diving board, the other areas are not checked for being clear of debre, such as wood, rocks, and bikes, and can be too shallow for even a lifeguard with entry knowledge to be safe.

After warnings to not sit on or jump over the railing, I issued orders to leave the beach as I cannot focus on them being unsafe and keep everyone else safe. For the safety of everyone, I had to get them out of the area, and since they would not leave, we called the police, twice! The second time the officer came down he had everyone causing trouble to leave and threatened to close the dock, which would have been nice, since at that time of the day, its mostly troublemakers.

Oh, and to that one guy who talked to me that evening, I would not need anger management classes if you would just follow the rules.

Sunday was a busy, early day with the triathlon at 8 am. The first leg is a 500 yard swim, which I have volunteered for for the last three year. It is always fun to cheer on my boss in the race, however she tends to fall behind because her lifeguard instincts take over and she starts helping the swimmers falling behind and the runners and bikers who are also having problems. It was about 80 out, and the lake is running at roughly 75° right now. As with the other two years I guarded, almost everyone was wearing wetsuits. The wetsuits are normally used to keep the swimmers warm and help them float. Wetsuits are worn even in the Caribbean and Bahamas, as even “warm” water can still cool the body. The disadvantage of wetsuits is that they slow you down during the swim or transition to biking. I can’t imagine how hot they were.

After guarding the race I went to wave the runners around a corner to make sure they didn’t take the longer trail. After the race was done I had to restore the ropes for our beach. Luckily I love that job. The easy part is just swimming the rope around the buoy to the dock. The hard part is moving the buoy. It only took me one try to get it exact, but normally its a multi-trip process of diving to the bottom of the lake, pick up two concrete bricks, and walk them until I need air. Did I talk about this before? It seems familiar.

Lifeguarding started with me working with our other head lifeguard. The first two hours went as normal, occasional yelling of railing sitters and people wanting to jump over the railing, then came chaos. First the lifeguard I was with had to go play in the band. While he was playing with the band, part of the Bay Day events involved cardboard boat races. Teams had to build out of cardboard and duct tape a boat they had to use to float from the beach to the rope and back. Some boats have no chance, others are surprisingly good. One boat, built by the family of one of my swim students from last year, was amazingly strong, though lost due to team with twice as many paddlers. While built for two, after the race they stuffed four into the boat and only did a problem occur when a fifth tried climbing in and broke a support structor. It stayed afloat fine, but was now able to cave in.

After the race was done, and I was able to let people back in, though upon doing so, about half a dozen people jumped over the railing into the water. A yell at them not to stand on and jump over the railing got a reply of only “shut up” and I am sure some words which I could not hear. Another round of over the railing and I told the swimmers to leave. This resulted in yet another round of jumps, a call by me to the police to have them leave. It worked and the rest of the shift being nice...until we herd a big boom. We had a thunderstorm near us and we cleared the beach. The storm gave a nice warm rain that was pleasant to be in (minus the windows in my car left open).

Besides the rain, nature gave me “sorry about the day” with a beautiful gust front from a newer storm to the south. The gust front caused a rolling cloud wall that passed over head while I was parked at a gas station to watch it. Then later there was a nice red sunset.

From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard

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