Bigger watercraft gives Wrightsville Beach lifeguards more rescue options

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A freak accident left a man with a broken leg on Palm Tree Island. Unable to move on his own, this type of injury once posed a more logistical challenge for emergency responders, who in the past may have needed to resort to a boat rescue. But thanks to the help of a bigger, more powerful personal watercraft that’s new into operation this season, Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue was more easily and quickly able to transport the man back to the public boat ramp on the Intracoastal Waterway.

“It’s much better for our operation,” said Capt. Jeremy Owens of Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue.  “When we need to get out to Palm Tree Island for a rescue, there are no other resources for us other than a ski.”

Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue added the Yamaha FX High Output Waverunner to its fleet this spring. With the new watercraft, Wrightsville Beach lifeguards now have two jet skis in service, ready for water rescues in both the ocean and the town’s waterways. Waverunners are the brand name of Yamaha’s line of personal watercraft, which are sometimes generally called “jet skis,” the brand name for  Kawasaki’s line of watercraft.

The town’s lifeguards replace personal watercraft every five years, Owens said. However, since the current watercraft is still operational,

The Waverunner is also supported by a new, locally-made rescue sled made by the P2P Rescue Boards. The company, founded four years ago by Clifford Ray, started by making a paddleboard before refocusing the company to focus on rescue boards and sleds for watercraft.

Owens said the sled has already performed well .

“It’s very durable,” said Owens, adding that most sleds usually last only one year. “It’s expected to last longer than the previous sleds we’ve been using.”

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