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Fishermen's donations help South Whidbey marine rescue stay afloat

Local fishermen are helping to keep marine rescue volunteers afloat. It's for their own safety.

Members of the South Whidbey's Fishin' Club presented a $6,335 check to members of the South Whidbey Firefighters Association Thursday night to allow the organization to purchase a personal watercraft to be used for marine rescue calls.

The money was donated by a number of organizations and individuals but the fund-raising effort was spearheaded by members of the Fishin' Club.

For the past year, Fire District 3 has been using a two-seat watercraft loaned to the district by a Yamaha dealership. That loaner was to be taken back this year, which would have left the district with just one boat to do marine search and rescue operations.

Fishin' Club members wanted to make sure the district had the equipment it needed.

"We heard about the district's need and wanted to help them in their efforts," sadi Don Steadman, a member of the Fishin' Club.

The money will purchase the 2002 Yamaha Waverunner 800 XLT the district has been using on loan. Cost of a new watercraft of the same type. is approximately $8,500. The vehicle was loaned to the district in August 2001 for one year.

Paul Bush, assistant chief for the fire district, said the personal watercraft, or PWC, is an integral part of water rescue operations.

"We can put this in the water much faster that we can the boat," he said. "That way rescue personnel can be on the scene assisting before the boat reaches a marine emergency."

Bush told Fishin' Club members marine rescue volunteers and the district appreciate the efforts of everyone involved.

Organizations and individuals donating to the fund were: The Fishin Club, $2,560, Puget Sound Anglers $500, Fire District 3 Volunteer Firefighters $2,100, Holmes Harbor Rod and Gun Club $500, South Whidbey Rotary Club $500, Bob Burrier $20, Steve Irwin $55, Ruth Stibre $40, Frank Roberts $50, and Wayne Russell $50. Skagit Powersports, the retailer that loaned the PWC to the fire district, discounted the machine by $1,500.

An auction of collector bamboo fly rods donated by Ray Lane and refurbished by Gil Nyerges raised $365 of the total.

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