My family and I have lived in the Destin area for 15 years. While enjoying beach weekends in Crystal Beach, we are alarmed at the irresponsible jet skiers risking people’s lives for their half hour of rented high speed pleasure. The vendors instruct them to stay outside of the second sand bar, in dark blue water, but this warning is nullified by their actions.
Two weekends in a row, we watched them race against each other, doing stunts as close to the edge of swimmers as they could get. Both times, my husband took action by wading into chest-high water to yell for them to move away from the shoreline. This was after confronting the lifeguards on the beach who stated that it is the Sheriff’s responsibility to patrol these vehicle operators, and that lifeguards do not have jurisdiction outside of 700 feet of water from the shore. (Seven hundred feet was probably the distance between these jet skiers and the darker waters they were supposed to be in.)
In the past we have seen lifeguards train with jet skis during practice drills and patrolling high surf. Where are these watercraft now? Why aren’t they available to our lifeguards to guard the lives of beachgoers? Where are water patrols by the Sheriff’s department? What about cordoning off safe swimming areas with anchored lines and shoreline buoys? With the increase in local population and tourists, surely there are funds for any of these measures.
If the City of Destin is willing to enforce occupancy and parking limitations on land and pool money together to purchase more beach access, it should follow that the safe enjoyment of our beaches should be afforded the same amount of attention and resources. In the end, lives are literally on the water line!
In the meantime, we will continue to file complaints, donate air horns to our local lifeguard station (jet skiers are oblivious to their whistles) and watch from the shoreline until the inevitable injury or death happens. It breaks our soul to know that our idyllic life will be shattered by that sight.
Susan Marino, Destin