Rough seas from a tropical storm more than 1,100 miles away led to the ocean rescue of a boy caught in a rip current on Monday and may have contributed to the disappearance of a boater off Wildwood.
Tropical Storm Isaac was taking aim at the Gulf of Mexico, but it also was causing problems at the Jersey shore, snatching swimmers up in rip currents, keeping lifeguards on their toes and forcing some beachgoers to stay on the sand during the last week of the summer season.
Beaches in many coastal communities were flying yellow cautionary flags on Monday, allowing swimming but with some restrictions. That can range from keeping bathers from going further into the water than ankle or knee-deep high, depending on local conditions.
Lifeguards reported an increase in the number of rescues they had to make over the last few days as rip currents strengthen.
In Point Pleasant Beach, lifeguard Mike Cestaro ran into the surf to help a young boy who had gotten caught in a rip current not far from the beach.
"You can actually see the rip current," he said, seconds after helping the boy to shore. "He could swim pretty well but he just got caught in it. I just went out and got him before he started to panic or struggle."
Cestaro said the swells making the surf rough in New Jersey were a direct result of the faraway tropical storm, even though it was now on the western side of Florida. The storm had been churning up the ocean for the past few days, he said.
"We had a couple saves yesterday, too," he said. "It's probably going to be like this for another day or two."
In southern New Jersey, the Coast Guard was searching for a missing boater off the coast of Wildwood. The agency said Jason Sill, 39, of Cape May Court House, was last seen leaving a marina at 11 a.m.
A passing boater came across his 23-foot navy blue pleasure craft unmanned and adrift about a mile off the coast, and called the Coast Guard around noon.
Responding Coast Guard officers discovered the keys still in the ignition with the throttle forward. Fishing poles were also discovered on the boat.
Conditions varied from town to town along the shore on Monday. In some places, rough surf and large waves led lifeguards to ban all but the most rudimentary bathing, keeping beachgoers no deeper than their knees. Yet other nearby beaches were unaffected.
While Point Pleasant Beach was yellow-flagged, beaches in neighboring Manasquan were flying green flags and the surf was noticeably calmer — too calm for about two dozen surfers who were trying to find suitably large waves near the inlet dividing the two coastal communities.
Ruslana Rusynyak, of Millstone, brought her three children to Point Pleasant Beach and sat with them at the water's edge as the surf washed over them. But they dared not venture any further into the waves.
"The kids are really upset because they can't go in any more, and they get sand in their pants," she said.