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Palm Beach County Ocean Rescue History

Written by Ocean Rescue Chief Julia Leo

PBC Ocean Rescue crew from 1970
PBC Ocean Rescue Crew from 1970

Ocean Rescue has yet to gather a comprehensive history written of its origin from its inception to modern times. Due to the lack of records, not all the dates below can be determined to be factual.

Aquatic safety in Palm Beach County dates back to 1885. Although the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse was a tremendous aid to sailors, the Jupiter Inlet area still experienced a great number of shipwrecks. Florida’s east coast had only one lifesaving station and it was located on the south side of the Jupiter Inlet, now known as Carlin Park. The station, under the command of Captain Carlin, was equipped with a lifeboat, surfboat, a full crew of paid “surfmen”, and an enclosed lookout tower which sat on its roof. The “surfmen” worked in six-hour shifts, taking turns patrolling the beach and looking into the distance from the crow’s nest above the two-story station to look for ships in distress and to save lives. Captain Carlin kept their skills sharp, practicing rescue techniques with the surfboat and other lifesaving tools. Surfmen were members of the United States Life-Saving Service which later became part of the United States Coast Guard. The Jupiter Lifesaving Station closed after its crew had performed a decade of courageous rescues.

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