When we were kids I was always worried about getting hit in the head by an 8 oz sinker when surfing right next to the pier. Since the sand that collects around the pier pilings make for a much better wave, we came to the conclusion that it was worth it. That was back when the lineup wasn’t shoulder to shoulder with people (who can’t surf) and it wasn’t standing room only on the Beach and the Loop. The crowds that invade the Beach every year are made up of people who aren’t lucky enough to see it often enough and consequently their skill sets are different. This group needs concrete rules to keep themselves from harms’s way and to keep everyone as safe as possible.
On Wednesday, May 15, 2013 the second reading of the ordinance of the Wrightsville Beach Board of Alderman prompted an increase in distance restrictions from commercial fishing piers from 200 feet to 350 feet. Mayor Pro Tem Bill Sisson and alderman Darryl Mills changed their vote to join Susan Collins and Elizabeth King.
Appropriately, WB Mayor David Cignotti deferred to the WB Firechief, Dave Baker, who re-iterated his belief that the 200 foot restrictions would be the safest for everyone and easiest to enforce. Predictably, Matt Johnson who owns Johnnie Mercer’s Pier led the discussion asking for addition separation between the pier and ocean lovers. He stated that he felt the 200 foot limit was too close and was “a bad idea that has caused conflict for three years.” On the other side of the coin, the Ocean Rescue endorsed the 200 foot rule citing numerous ‘saves’ that the lifeguards had made over the years.
Sisson ultimately sized up the surfing community as “going to do what they want to no matter what,” further stating that “those people need to be controlled because they are presenting a danger not only to themselves if they get tangled up in something but to the swimmers as well.” Additionally, Susan Collins askd for a separate stretch of beach just for swimmers after the lifeguards retire at 5pm during the summer when it stays light until late. Ultimately, Collins stated that “it is not safe for [her] to swim where surfers are surfing. Town Manager Tim Owens suggesting marking boundaries with anchored buoys in front of the ‘no surfing’ signs on the beach at least for a trial basis over this summer.
So don’t be surprised if you get called out of the water for a citation for sitting too close to the Pier. How far can fishermen heave a sinker off of the pier? Unfortunately, it’s probably more than 200 feet.