City Council expands North Myrtle Beach surf zones

JohnThe city of North Myrtle Beach voted to significantly expand surf zones along its beaches Monday night during their city council meeting.

The new law, which takes effect immediately, expands the current area that surfers are allowed to surf during the period from May 15th through September 15 during the hours of 9am to 4pm. Surfers are not restricted to a specific area outside of these times and dates.

Although several of the areas will stay the same, the city has expanded the area from 300 feet north of Cherry Grove Pier to extend all the way to Hog Inlet, essentially extending the entire length of Cherry Grove. The previous area limited surfers to an area from 300 feet north of the pier to 900 feet north of the pier.

In addition, the city expanded the area located north of Main Street. Surfers will now be allowed to surf from 5th Avenue North to 18th Avenue North. This was previously restricted to an area described as beginning at a point one hundred fifty (150) feet south of 6th Avenue North and ending at a point nine hundred (900) feet north of the point of beginning.

“This is tremendous for the surfers and swimmers up there,” said local surfer and Atlantic Surfing Federation Executive Director Phil Jackson. “This allows the surfers to find an area that might not be so crowded with swimmers. Also, it opens up the city to events like ‘Take A Kid Surfing’ day. In the past, we were hesitant to hold such an event in North Myrtle Beach because it was so crowded in the water, but now we’ll be able to go find an area that has less people to hold these type things.”

City of North Myrtle Beach spokesman Pat Dowling commented by phone that “It seemed arbitrary to lock surfers into these zones and not let them spread out. It was brought to our attention by one or more council members including City Councilman Jay Baldwin. Baldwin is a lifelong surfer and is heavily involved in that community and he took the lead in re-establishing these zones. It just made more sense to allow the surfers to get out and enjoy more of the beaches.”

North Myrtle Beach has become known as a surfer friendly area over the last several years. During this summer’s Hurricane Arthur, many other Grand Strand communities were closing beaches and forcing experienced surfers to stay out of the water. North Myrtle Beach kept lifeguards on the beach but allowed the surfers to paddle out and enjoy the waves.

Additionally, North Myrtle Beach has become the centralized location for the Adaptive Surf Project. The project raised money to purchase three surfboards for injured and handicapped surfers this past winter and held the first adaptive surf contest at Cherry Grove Pier in the spring, along with an all day adaptive surf event held in May.

The new law reads as follows:

It shall be unlawful for any person to ride a surfboard or skimboard on the public beach or any waters thereto, between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. during the period from May 15 to September 15, except in the following designated areas:

(1) Beginning at a point 300 feet north of the Cherry Grove Pier and extending to Hog Inlet;
(2) Beginning at a point at 13th Avenue South and ending at a point 600 feet north thereof;
(3) Beginning at a point at 27th Avenue South and ending at a point 600 feet north thereof;
(4) Beginning at a point at 38th Avenue South and ending at a point 600 feet north thereof;
(5) Beginning at 5th Avenue North and ending at 18th Avenue North.

(b) It shall be unlawful to surf within 300 feet of any pier.
(c) All surfers shall be required to wear a surfing leash at all times.
(d) The Director of Public Safety or his designee may temporarily prohibit surfboarding and/or skimboarding in the areas designated above for public safety purposes.

Photo Credit: Louis E. Keiner and Lesley M. Etherson

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