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Lifesaving Service & Stations

They stand like sentries at the public pool, lining the edges of the water, a silver whistle in their mouth and a bright red rescue tube in their hands. Eyes, shielded behind a pair of dark aviator sunglasses, scan their territory with seemingly senseless boredom, when, in reality, their sharp gaze assesses every swimmer for signs of trouble. Others sit in tall white chairs, perched high above the water below, but still, they watch.

At the beach, they’re more hidden, sometimes barely noticeable at all. When you do see them, they’re usually racing down the sand in some bouncy SUV, on their way to save an unlucky person from certain demise. We take them for granted, these golden gods of the water. We forget they’re there. Until we need them.

Miles of endless white sand merge and disappear under the pounding and crashing of dark blue waves, fluid in their movement. The ocean beckons to us like an endless playground, but all too soon, it can become a dangerous deathtrap.

There certain things that pop to mind when thinking of lifeguards, those employed in the lifesaving business, thanks to television shows like Baywatch or movies like The Guardian. Bright red swimsuits, golden caramel tans, bulging biceps and buxom babes running down a sundrenched beach lined with scantily clad sunbathers and daring surfers. Hollywood has portrayed the lifesaving business as a glamorous and high-tech, but it wasn’t always the case.

The shores of North Carolina, for all their tranquil beauty and sleepy coastal towns, have long seen this to be true. What was once dubbed the "Graveyard of the Atlantic" has now, thanks to the many lifeguards and crews who patrol the beach and its waters, is a relatively safe place. Until tragedy hits, and once, again, these apparently fearless men and women step in and save the day, unmoved by the dangerous and living environment.

Up and down the coastline, tucked away on remote beaches and sandy side roads, you’ll find remnants of a mystical time, when technology meant a well-drawn map and a prized compass. Lifesaving stations, some old and abandoned while others were given new life and identities, pepper the coastline laying claim to the fact that the brave men who worked there did so selflessly and tirelessly, even in the most dire of circumstances. The waters off North Carolina’s beaches have been long recognized as dangerous, even deadly. Since 1585, when the state recorded its first shipwreck at Ocracoke Inlet, more than 1,000 ships have met a tragic ending in the treacherous waters of the state whose motto is Esse Quam Videri, or, "To be, rather than to seem to be." Perhaps it was the lethal combination of warm and cold temperatures that resulted in a mishmash of waters forming the deadly Diamond Shoals that gave the Tarheel state its undesirable "Graveyard" moniker. Only a few feet deep in places, the shoals extend 20 miles to sea. If that weren’t bad enough, throw in a few nor’easters and the occasional hurricane, and you’ve got a complete recipe for disaster.

Thus the need for an army of lifesaving stations up and down the coast. A precursor to the United States Coast Guard, the United States Lifesaving Service built 23 stations along North Carolina’s coast, giving credence to the fact that despite its quaint little seaside towns and humble villages, the ocean there is unpredictably dangerous. In the Outer Banks alone, 11 lifesaving stations filled the 200-mile stretch of barrier islands, filling every nook and cranny imaginable in an attempt to keep seafaring vessels safe.

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Avon Office
40227 Tigrone Boulevard
Avon, NC 27915
Rentals: 1-800-627-1850
Sales: 1-866-627-6627
E-Mail: Rentals | Sales
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
(June through September 9 a.m.
to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday)

Waves Office
25206 Sea Vista Drive
Waves, NC 27982
Rentals: 1-800-627-1850
Sales: 1-866-627-6627
E-Mail: Rentals | Sales
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
(June through September 9 a.m.
to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday)

Hatteras Office
57205 Eagle Pass Road
Hatteras, NC 27943
Rentals: 1-800-627-1850
Sales: 1-866-627-6627
E-Mail: Rentals | Sales
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
(June through September 9 a.m.
to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday)

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