Calls for Sapphire Beach patrols
IT’S a beautiful beach, but because it’s not patrolled, the surf at Sapphire is potentially deadly.
Angry visitors and local caravan park management are calling for the re-introduction of lifeguard patrols there in the school vacation to save lives.
They say a holiday destination like Sapphire should have patrols just like it did last year and those red and yellow flags need to go up again.
“I won’t let the kids in the surf. It’s too dangerous without a patrol,” said Brisbane’s Lara McKenzie, who was married on the beach on Monday.
“You would think that with a caravan park here there would be a patrol.”
Central Coast visitor Ilonka Hilhorst said she was not prepared to let her children in the water in the absence of lifeguards.
“It’s not just the kids but adults as well. None of us are strong swimmers and it only takes two seconds for someone to be taken out in a rip,” Mrs Hilhorst said.
“It’s a really whirl-pooly and strong surf here and I’ve seen someone drown on a non-patrolled beach.”
Sydney tourist Susie Miller said parents couldn’t relax because they were continually worried about the safety of their children at the beach.
“It takes away from the relaxation of the holiday. When you’re guarding your children you can’t relax,” Ms Miller said.
Dan Hutchinson, also from Sydney, said he normally holidayed at Forster where the beaches were patrolled.
“It is comforting to take your family to the beach but here (Sapphire), because it’s not patrolled, you would think twice before entering the surf,” he said.
Split Solitary Beach Holiday Park manager Hayley Barry fears children will drown if patrols aren’t restored.
“You’ve got kids everywhere and they’re going down to the beach and it’s not patrolled,” Miss Barry said.
Coffs Harbour City Council lifeguard co-ordinator Greg Hackfath said there was "only so much money in the bucket" and not enough to continue patrolling Sapphire this season.
“Another factor in the decision was that Sapphire Beach is a dangerous beach.
“We would urge people to swim instead at nearby Diggers where there are patrols.”