Rowing in surf, with windows?

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Jersey skiff

The skiff in question – photo published with the permission of photographer Walter Bachteler. Thanks Walter!

A reader has been in touch to ask what this boat might be. Does anyone know? And why does it have windows to allow the rowers to see the level of the water?

See the photos in question at Flickr: and

PS It turns out this is a Jersey skiff used in lifeguard competitions, and that the ‘windows’ are holes intended to free the boat of water when it starts to fill in surf.  The point is clearly made by a series of astonishing photos from the 2008 Asbury Park Lifeguard Challenge – thanks to Jim Mason for indicating the way, and to everyone else for a splendid set of comments and links.


Jim later sent me some more links, which are too good to miss. depicts the men and women of the South Jersey beach patrols using the version of the Jersey beach skiff that originated in Atlantic City and environs. It is round-bilged and fuller-bodied than the flat-bottomed Seabright skiffs used up on the northern beaches. It is also heavier by 50 lbs. and not self-bailing.

Also check out the galleries at

Thanks Jim! Some of the Lifeguardart images in particular are superb.