TravelsWithTheLimerickPost

"Safety First" was the rule Saturday in the Atlantic off Cape May NJ.

"Safety First" was the rule Saturday in the Atlantic off Cape May NJ.

The ever-smiling Mr. Daminger.

The ever-smiling Mr. Daminger.

CAPE MAY POINT NJ – His name tag introduced him before he said a word. “G. Daminger, Visitor Services,” it proclaimed.

An older man, easily in his 60s, he wore the uniform of a park ranger. It was slightly modified, though, to suit his own personal style: a green ball cap with a yellow embroidered emblem, green short-sleeved shirt and matching green trousers held up by both a belt and suspenders.

On Independence Day (July 4; Saturday) 2009, Daminger was more than just a visitor servant, and more than just a ranger. He was the lifeguard du jour on the beach at New Jersey’s Cape May Point State Park.

Park rules posted on highly visible signs flatly announce there is no swimming allowed from the expansive swath of park sand that fronts the Atlantic Ocean along one of the southern-most slivers of the Garden State.

Cape May Lighthouse is one of the most prominent features on the Point.

Cape May Lighthouse is one of the most prominent features on the Point.

Apparently, no one heeds the signs. There were people in the water everywhere.

Daminger’s job, it turns out, was not so much to save a life, but to guard against accidentally losing one. He patrolled the beach, about 20 feet from the waterline, blowing a handheld whistle sharply at anyone who dared venture into the brine above their knees.

The rules, thus interpreted, allowed wading. Strictly speaking, that’s not swimming anyway.

Under Daminger’s watchful eye, beachgoers quickly learned what else was or wasn’t permissible. Splashing your sister? OK. Using a flotation device? Not. Drinking soda on shore? OK. Drinking soda in the water? (one boy was foolish enough to try). Definitely not.

And in respect for those who make the water their home – and not simply use it during a holiday – a small group of people was ordered out of the surf as a school of three dolphins swam by, relatively close to shore. Actually, some exited before being asked. They saw fins bobbing up and down on the water’s surface, and probably weren’t sure if those fish were friend or foe.

Editor’s Note: When The Post takes a road trip, its readers go too. “Travels With The Post” is a series that reports on places and activities beyond our usual coverage area, but most often within a drive of three hours or less.

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