A week of adventure ends in a lifesaving drama for Edmonds Sea Scouts

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By Bob McChesney
Executive Director, the Port of Edmonds

It was 12:30 a.m. Aug. 20. Our two Sea Scout boats were docked peacefully at Friday Harbor when they were awakened by frantic shouts for help. The kids and their leaders scrambled in the direction of the shouting and were successful in rescuing a man from the water. The paramedics said his body temperature had dropped to near the critical point and two of our young Edmonds Sea Scouts were credited with saving his life.

We can all be very proud of these kids and their wonderful organization, which we at the Port are pleased to sponsor. The skills and character development that these young people (both boys and girls, aged 14 to 20) learn will serve them well throughout their lives.

Our Sea Scouts were on their annual “long cruise.” They sail most of the year out of our marina, but seldom for more than a day sail or an occasional overnighter. Once a year, however, they take their 32-foot and 27-foot sailboats on a week-long cruise.

The kids plan the entire event: destinations, routes, anchorages and shore excursions. They plan the menus for the entire week, do the shopping and prepare the meals. This is their trip and the adult leaders are along only to provide counsel, training and guidance.

This year they chose the San Juan Islands as their destination. It is far enough away to be an adventure, yet near enough to be only a day’s passage away.

The rescue event happened near the end of an already exhilarating week. The following day they would sail their boats in the direction of home and prepare for Sunday’s trip back to Edmonds. They had been able to spend some time ashore at Friday Harbor and by bedtime they were both tired and happy. They fell asleep quickly and were snoozing comfortably.

Then in the middle of the night it happened: the cries for help from the man’s wife, the frantic scramble to the far end of the dock, the launching of an inflatable raft and the incredible show of strength and teamwork it takes to pull a wet adult male onto the inflatable and—from there—onto the dock.

The Sea Scouts’ Sea Promise, which says, in part, “to be prepared to render aid to those in need,” came to life on this year’s long cruise. Their training and commitment paid off.

Now, as Paul Harvey used to say, the rest of the story: Those two Sea Scouts who were first on the scene, who helped haul the man out of the water, and who will be recommended for a life-saving award… were two of our female members. We couldn’t be prouder.

From myself, the Port Commissioners and everyone on the staff of the Port of Edmonds, congratulations to them and to each of our Edmonds Sea Scouts for a job well done.

Publisher’s note: Jeremy Makin, Skipper of Sea Scout Ship 6, identified the two rescuers as Erin Shirey, 16, a student at Kamiak High School and Mirabelle Girvan, 19, a 2009 graduate of Edmonds-Woodway High School. “Sea Scouting is part of the venturing program of the Boy Scouts of America and as such one is considered a youth participant from the age of 14 to 21, as a youth they can work on rank advancement and hold elected youth leadership positions,” Makin said.

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