Network helping the community in a recent Del Mar Times article:
By Bart Schaneman
When Solana Beach lifeguard Captain Craig Miller, through a mutual
friend, approached Dustin Blanchard about restoring Solana Beach’s only
patrol boat, Blanchard couldn’t say no.
The 15 foot, yellow and blue Hobie Power Skiff had sat unused for the
past three years at the Solana Beach Marine Safety Department lifeguard
headquarters before Blanchard began the restoration. Approximately
three months and 50-70 hours of labor later, Blanchard, a Del Mar
resident, brought the 50 horsepower hard hull skiff back to working
With a four person capacity, the 385 lb. skiff will aid in dive and boat
rescues, Miller said. The boat will be outfitted with fuel, oxygen
tanks, a small fire extinguisher and a first aid kit. It can be
loaded directly into the water from most spots on the beach and will be
able to launch through the surf.
Miller anticipates using the boat for rescues as far as five miles
offshore. Although, he said, they would still use the personal
water craft, or jet skis, for surfing related accidents.
Unfortunately the boat was not available to aid in the late August
offshore helicopter crash in Encinitas, but Miller said it would “be a
great resource to do mutual aid in the future.”
Spearheaded by Conrad Norton, the owner of the Norton Network for Homes
and Loans, the restoration was a joint effort between the real estate
company and the Solana Beach lifeguard station.
“We all kind of put our heads together and Conrad and I got ‘em dialed
in,” Blanchard said.
For the lifeguards at Solana Beach, the actual cost of restoring the
boat, after paying a mechanic, would have been more than the boat was
“They were going to send it off to auction but we got it right before
they sent it,” Blanchard said.
Despite donating an estimated $1,500-$2,000 on the boat, both Blanchard
and Norton refused any payment for the project.
“I like to help out the community,” Blanchard said. “We did get a
few Solana Beach lifeguard hats.”
Blanchard said he was to going to teach a class on operating the boat
for the younger lifeguards.
“Only the old-timers know how to use it,” he said.
The former manager of an Exotic Boat dealership, Blanchard said he was a
factory trained mechanic for ten years before switching to real estate.
“I like my desk job,” he said. “It’s a lot cleaner.”
Norton Network at the October 2004 Air Show
Kim Norton from the Norton Network at a recent show supporting the military and offering services and information regarding the Norton Network.