“Everyone involved in the program this past weekend was a woman,” said Susan Prichard of Marathon Marina. “The Coast Guard’s engineer, the coxswain (captain) to the fuel dock attendant. These little girls were so interested in all these jobs they could do.”
Prichard, general manager of the Marathon Marina, worked with the Coast Guard Marathon Base, Sea Tow of Islamorada and Marathon, and the Marathon Girl Scout Troop 703 this past Saturday to educate an attentive audience of 11 girls. This coming Saturday — May 18 — they will repeat it for another group. The occasion is the national celebration of Safe Boating Week (May 18-24).
The session covered safe boating, safe fishing and basic water safety.
Marathon Marina employees Debbie Davis, Jules Kinnison, Kim Sheridan and Prichard introduced the girls to fishing.
“We had poles for all the girls and taught them about keeping plastics out of the water,” said Prichard.
The highlight of the day, however, was the boat ride. The girls embarked on the 45-foot response boat at Marathon Marina and got a tour of the boat and personal interviews with the career “Coasties” — all women.
“They kept yelling at me to go faster,” said Petty Officer Hillary Burtnett, the coxswain. “And when we showed them all the gear on our vests, they were most impressed by the flares. They asked, ‘You wear fireworks?’”
After the boat ride and lunch, the girls got in the pool at Marathon Marina. Burtnett said that while most have experience on the water, snorkeling was a new objective for most of the girls, ages 5 to 9.
Sea Tow Islamorada/Marathon not only provided life jackets for all the girls, but also have a “Loaner Life Jacket” station full time at Marathon Marina. Anyone in need of a life jacket may borrow one free of charge from the Marathon Marina fuel dock.
New life jackets are much more comfortable, lightweight and stylish than the bulky orange style most boaters know. There are innovative options such as inflatable life jackets, allowing mobility and flexibility for activities like boating, fishing or paddling and they are much cooler in the warmer weather.
— National Safe Boating Council