Edit ModuleShow Tags

Inside the Icon: Lifeguard Tower 5C

It has one of the best views in San Diego—and has been crucial to lifesaving in Coronado for over 80 years


Published:

Photo: Jay Reilly

Hold Your Ground

Tower 5C sits on one of the oldest lifeguarding locations of Coronado Beach’s 1.75-mile sandy stretch. It’s the hub of North Beach because, when it was originally constructed in 1937, this portion was the sandiest and most visited. (Central Beach, in front of the Hotel Del, was relatively rocky back then.) The original wooden tower burned to the ground in 1949 and there’ve been a few replacements since.

 

Name Fame

The C stands for Coronado. The city’s lifeguard towers are numbered one through six from south to north, and the “C” distinguishes them from the ones on the Silver Strand, which are just numbered. Soon, 5C will change to 6C, as a seventh tower is being added to Central Beach, which today attracts more visitors than North Beach.

 

From the archives: Coronado's original wooden lifeguard tower circa 1940.

Into the Blue

The current tower was built in the late ’90s, fitted with a galvanized steel base, fiberglass superstructure, stainless steel railings and stairs, and windows in tempered and tinted glass. The blue color? Coronado Fire Department and Lifeguard Services thought it was pleasing to the eye. Lifeguards are responsible for the tower’s daily maintenance, like sweeping and window cleaning. It also requires power washing a few times a year and a new paint job every four to five years. The base is replaced every 15 to 20 years, depending on how fast it rusts.

 

Inventory Check

Everything a lifeguard could need can be found here: buoys, first-aid kits, chairs, traffic cones, cleaning supplies, and colored flags—red, for instance, means high hazard and purple, marine pests. More than 10,000 bandages have been dispensed from 5C over the last 20 years. Coronado Lifeguard Captain Sean Carey lists a 7-foot rescue paddleboard among the less ordinary pieces of inventory. Its smaller size, compared to typical 12-foot paddleboards, is easier to get through high surf in the summer.

 

Rescue Ready

More than 100 lifeguards have used the current tower, which is staffed seasonally, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends in the spring and daily in the summer. And they stay busy, given the vantage point oversees both swimming- and surfing-only zones—where south swells break hard and fast in shallow water, resulting in rip currents. Over time, 5C has evolved from a starting point for lifeguards to run into the water to more of a dispatch center where they can alert and direct land and sea rescue vehicles. In its roughly 20-year tenure, the current tower has been associated with over 2,000 rescues.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

The Pet Lover's Guide to San Diego

Living your best San Diego life with your pet by your side just got easier

Meet the Tastemaker: John Resnick

The owner of Carlsbad's Campfire restaurant shares his must-have items

San Diego Neighborhood Guide: Pacific Beach

Where to eat, drink, and play in the buzzing beach nook
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. The Best Burgers in San Diego
    These burgers are food critic Troy Johnson's finalists for the best in San Diego
  2. San Diego's Best Restaurants 2018
    Dig into the 260 winners defining San Diego’s food scene in 2018
  3. The Best of North County 2018
    Our annual list of what we’re loving above the 56, from bites and brews to shopping, wellness, and arts and kids’ activities galore
  4. Your 2018 San Diego Summer Bucket List
    Here’s our insider’s guide for Memorial Day through Labor Day
  5. The Coolest Things Happening in San Diego Beer Right Now
    A dive into the new, notable, and lesser-known in our city’s beer scene
  6. San Diego's Best Restaurant of 2018: The Finalists
    San Diego Magazine's Best Restaurants issue comes out in June. Here are food critic Troy Johnson's finalists for the best of the best.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

Vote Now for Your Orangetheory Winner!

Winners will be announced at our Sweat event on May 12

Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

AquaVie: 10 Reasons It’s Downtown’s Best Kept Secret

The best workout and spa getaway around? It’s actually right underneath your nose.

Enter a Drawing You Could Actually Win

There are more than 1,700 prizes in the Dream House Raffle
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags