Long Beach Island lies off the New Jersey Coast about 65 air miles south of Manhattan and 57 miles east and slightly south of Philadelphia. The Island follows the coast for a distance of 18 miles in a roughly northeast-to-southwest direction. Barnegat Bay, which separates it from the mainland, is approximately two to six miles wide. The width of the Island ranges from more than a mile to less than 200 yards.
Coast Guard Station Barnegat Light is located at the northern tip of Long Beach Island (LBI). Barnegat Lighthouse, the second tallest lighthouse in the United States, is located nearby. The treacherous inlet that this lighthouse marks is the perfect spot for this small boat station. The crew is comprised of one Warrant Officer, fourty-six Enlisted active duty personnel, and twenty-one reserve personnel (mostly boatswains mates, machinery technicians and non-rates). The station is equipped with a variety of boats to accomplish its main missions, search and rescue and law enforcement, with approximately 200 search and rescue and 800-1000 law enforcement boardings yearly.
Two 47' Motor Life Boats, Two 25' RB-S, and a 24' SPC-SW Boat stand ready to assist beleaguered boaters. The station is responsible for 2,500 square miles of ocean and 50 nautical miles of Inter-coastal Waterway. It has the distinction of being one of only three surf stations in the Fifth District due to the heavy surf conditions that can occur in the inlet.
Station Barnegat Light operates a seasonal station (small) at the south end of LBI, Station Beach Haven. During the summer months, the station's SPC-SW provides a quick response for situations occurring in the southern area of responsibility.
Many high profile rescues have involved this station in recent history, largely due to the concentration of people and boats in the area. The surrounding area is home to a local fishing fleet, which includes commercial fishing and deep-sea charter boats. During the summer, many of the boats out on the water are rentals from one of the endless number of fishing supply and rental shops in the area. The back bay contains shoals and changing sandbars. The inlet itself has breaking surf much of the time, with sandbars and a jetty that partially disappears at high tide. These factors and more make the jobs of the crew challenging; therefore, much of their time is spent training and honing their skills.
When they are not training to save lives, the crew plays hard. During off-hours or at lunch they can be found playing basketball or street hockey. The crew is also active in the community. Several members are involved with the local rescue squads by working part time as EMTs. Members of the station serve as color guard for every parade on Long Beach Island.
The area that Station Barnegat Light serves is typical Jersey shore; winter is quiet, but summer heat brings vacationers to the beaches and waterways in droves. The winter population is approximately 15,000 and swells to nearly 250,000 during the summertime. Summer days find the bay thick with boats and the beaches packed with people swimming and soaking up the sun. There are plenty of year-round fishing opportunities for the enthusiast.
Many people also enjoy the exciting nightlife that LBI and its surroundings provide. If the hometown style of the area makes one restless for the bustle of big city life, the action is close by. Philadelphia and New York City are both located within 90 minutes from the station for those seeking entertainment, culture, shopping and sports events. Atlantic City is located less than thirty minutes away and offers the excitement of casinos, entertainment, and a world famous boardwalk.
The station is also approximately 63 miles away from the Coast Guard Cape May Recruit Training Center. Stockton State College, Rutgers University and Ocean County Community College are some of the numerous colleges and universities accessible within the area.
As is the case along most of the Jersey shore, housing is less expensive as you go further inland. Apartments run about $1100 for a two bedroom. Houses run anywhere from $120,000 and up. Eight government housing units are available for members and their dependants across the street from the station.
Coming to Station Barnegat Light means that not only will you learn more about the Search and Rescue aspect of the Coast Guard, but you will have fun doing it as well. So if you are looking for a challenging new unit, check out Station Barnegat Light.