Be Safe on the Water This Labor Day Weekend

The surf at Shadmoor in Montauk on Friday morning was rough. T.E. McMorrow

The holiday weekend in the Hamptons brought with it dangerous surf conditions, officials have warned.

Crowded waters and populated beaches are expected due to a fair-weather forecast this weekend. "The increased boat traffic along with the unsettled sea conditions left in the wake of Hurricane Cristobal mean that boat operators need to be especially vigilant," the Coast Guard said in a statement. The Coast Guard warned of "increased wave height and unpredictable currents near shore."

East Hampton Town ocean beaches are flying a yellow flag Friday, which means swimmers should use caution because of larger surf and more rip currents. On Thursday, a red flag was flying, keeping swimmers out of procted waters.

John Ryan Jr., the chief lifeguard for the town, said advisories show seas will be 3 to 5 feet for most of Friday, and 2 to 4 feet later that day. On Saturday and Sunday, they are expected be 2 to 3 feet. "That's a pretty good wave — 2 to 3-foot," he said. "It sounds like a small wave, but it's really not. It's not really the wave that's a concern, it's the rip. Once somebody can't get to the place they are looking to, they immediately panic. They don't know enough to stay calm, swim parallel to the beach, relax, get out of the rip, and follow the wave in."

As always, Mr. Ryan encourages swimming in protected areas only. Most of the rescues this summer, he said, have involved lifeguards realizing swimmers are in a rip current before the swimmers did. 

Along with local law enforcement agencies, the Coast Guard crews will be patrolling and conducting safety checks this weekend. Several safety tips have been offered to mariners. First and foremost, the Coast Guard said, never boat under the influence of alcohol. Those boat captains found intoxicated may face federal and state charges, up to one year in prison, and up to a $100,000 fine.

Also, the Coast Guard's Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety urges mariners to wear life jackets, take a VHF-FM marine radio with them, monitor the weather broadcasts on Channels 1 through 5, and check the National Weather Service website

The office also recommends filing a float plan with a friend or family member. "The sooner a craft can be reported overdue, the better the outcome will be," the Coast Guard said. For more information on float plans, the Coast Guard recommends visiting floatplancentral.org.

The recent offshore hurricane has distributed consistently strong swell activity along East Hampton beach fronts.Morgan McGivern