SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Boatbuilder Ralph Stanley was philosophical about the unintended swim he took in July when his 33-foot powerboat ran aground on a ledge near Seawall Point.
“When you fool around with boats, you’re bound to end up in the water,” he said at the time.
Stanley and his wife, Marion, were on their way to Rockland in Seven Girls to attend the Friendship Sloop races on July 14 when the boat struck a ledge, sparking a rescue effort that involved their son, the town’s harbormaster and members of the U.S. Coast Guard. Last week, in a Sept. 25 ceremony at Coast Guard Station Southwest Harbor, those who responded were honored with awards for their efforts.
With Seven Girls hard aground on the ledge and the tide rapidly receding, Stanley called the boatyard his son, Richard Stanley, owns in Tremont. After notifying the Coast Guard of the emergency, Richard Stanley and his father-in-law headed to the scene in a motor launch.
The Coast Guard arrived first in their 25-foot inflatable response boat, but shoal water kept them from getting close to Stanley’s boat. Thinking the town’s harbormaster boat, which draws less water, could get closer, the guardsmen called Harbormaster Adam Thurston. Richard Stanley was on the scene when Thurston arrived.
At some point, the Ralph and Marion Stanley ended up in the water. The elder Stanley was in a dinghy attempting to help his wife into Seven Girls when the small boat overturned. With no boat capable of reaching the couple, Bosun’s Mate Calvin Legge, a Coast Guard rescue swimmer, dove in to help. Legge was able to reach the couple and help them from the waist-deep water into their son’s motor launch. The wet and chilly couple was taken to the Manset Town Dock where ambulance personnel determined they had no medical issues.
Along with Thurston and Richard Stanley, the members of the Coast Guard honored Friday are Legge, Seaman Justin Smith, BM2 Rommel Olivares and MK2 Christopher Brooks. Legge is set to retire from the Coast Guard on Oct. 1 and did not attend the ceremony.