Over the last year I’m been reading how other beaches have banned certain water sports, simply because there simply were too many people in the water. Certain parts of New York and California beaches are designated such as “no surf boards,” “no jet skis,” “no fishing,” “surf board only,” and so forth. South Padre Island hasn’t quite gotten as bad as Jones Beach in New York or Huntington Beach in California, but on high season days like Memorial Day and the 4th, it is getting close. I’m not proposing any special rules or anything; it is just something we could give some thought.
To my knowledge, nobody on South Padre has gotten walloped yet – but at times I’ve been fearful about these flying machines. The operators of the banana boat rides are very good but there again, I’ve seen drunks on their personal watercraft almost running folks over. The kite boards scare the poop out of me, since they’re looking at the waves and the kite – not us. The surfers are probably the safest as a group but sometimes I like to grab the same waves – and they think they own them (hah, you stinking body surfers and boogie-boarders!). Put all three of them together on a crowded day with some nice surf and you have a recipe for disaster.
My thinking is that all water craft should be banned except for the banana boat vendors and any emergency craft (of which we have none, it appears). I’m thinking like 200 yards from the beach.
Kite boards are a big “extreme sports” fad these days but it would be nice to have their competitions when there aren’t thousands of people in the water, since they like to swoop the whole beach. Otherwise, perhaps they could stick to the northern end of the beach, such as between the Island Inn (Wanna) and Beach Access 5 or 6.
As with the kite boards, surfers should be allowed to compete wherever they want but on crowded days they could work out a couple of areas on the crowded parts of the beach where they could surf, so as to reduce conflicts. The Isla Blanca jetties would be a fine place because the waves break way out, far away from the swimmers.
I’m not saying that there is a big problem or that the city and county needs to get in the water police patrol business. Perhaps an analogy would work here: what if a group of shark fishermen show up in the thick of the crowd and start chumming the waters with dead bait and chicken blood? That would not be cool, right? Think about it, as South Padre becomes more and more popular, with more extreme sports, something will have to give down the road – it usually takes a death or two to catch people’s attemtion. Why wait?