OCEAN CITY — Cole Brennan can show you an unparalleled view of where New Jersey meets the ocean. It’s 350 feet above the rolling waves, and there’s nothing beneath your feet.
Sporting a beard and an aggressive tan line under his reflective sunglasses, Brennan motors his vessel out of the calm waters of the Great Egg Harbor Bay, under the Ocean City-Longport bridge and out to open water.
“It’s nice to do something to make people happy,” said Brennan, 33, a captain and general manager at FlyOCNJ parasailing. “Everybody’s smiling. You’re at a job where people are coming to have fun.”
He is, too.
“There’s no good reason to be out there if you’re not having fun,” he said.
That’s almost a life philosophy for Brennan, a Pennsylvania native who has had jobs down the shore for 20 years and in parasailing for 10. He’s only in Ocean City for two months a year, from mid-June to Labor Day. The rest of the year is spent taking vacationers parasailing off South Beach in Miami for FlyOCNJ’s parent company, H2O Sports Management. The people, and ocean, are different down there. His job is the same.
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The ocean is rougher and colder off New Jersey than it is near Florida. But the weather is “touch-and-go” near Miami, where “rain forms over your head,” he said.
“Our weather here is a little more predictable,” Brennan said. “Right now it’s raining in Philly. That’s coming this way.”
The people are “heartier” here, too, and give the impression they’ve been on a boat before, Brennan said. In Miami, tourists from the middle of the country have suggested he was at fault for the boat’s rocking in the waves.
In Ocean City, Brennan’s shipmate, Bassem “Bass” Omar, a 21-year-old La Salle University student, takes photos and mans the crank that eases strapped-in vacationers up to the clear-blue sky.
“That’s off my bucket list,” said Milton Warrell, 64, of Levittown, Pennsylvania, as he glided back to the boat with his grandson Joey, 14, last week. “You get to see a lot.”
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Brennan doesn’t go parasailing himself that often. He’s right at home behind the wheel.
Manning the controls, Brennan keeps things light on the water. He points out the innumerable skate fish burbling under the water’s surface. He says they’re served as scallops in Somers Point, and it isn’t clear if he’s joking.
Parasailers get a better view of the marine life from a bird’s-eye view.
“It was cool, you could see some fish and views of the Boardwalk and everything,” said Beth Hewitt, 36, of Garnet Valley, Pennsylvania. Her son Dan, 6, was a little on edge about the whole thing.
Brennan’s laid back persona helped get Dan semi-comfortable with the idea of going up in the parasail with his mother.
But the Hewitts’ flight was cut short by an equipment issue that necessitated a return to the dock. It was the first time Brennan had experienced the problem, he said.
Some days are harder than others, Brennan said. Conditions don’t always cooperate.
“But every day is a great day,” he said. “You’re outside, you’re in the sun, you’re having fun. I mean, it’s great.”