Residents impart boat safety to local students

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Kids wearing life jackets sit in a boat indoors.

Residents Keith and Bonnie Harding, along with assistance from their fellow Judson Park neighbors, recently hosted three Parkside Elementary kindergarten classes for an informative lesson on boat safety.

The students learned about the importance of a life jacket and how it should properly fit while sailing on the high seas. The Hardings also emphasized “that if you get in a boat, you always have to have (a life jacket),” Keith said. “That’s the message—it should be just like a helmet when you ride a bike or a seat belt when you get in a car.”

For more than 40 years, the Harding have sailed the Puget Sound and the waterways between the San Juan and Gulf Islands aboard the Bonita M., their 32-foot Grand Banks trawler.

In 1990, with their three children away at school, they decided to use their extensive nautical knowledge in support of boat safety and awareness as volunteers with the Coast Guard Auxiliary. For the next three decades, they helped patrol the local waters helping distressed boaters and conducting vessel safety checks. They also taught many boating safety classes.

Despite selling the Bonita M. last year, the retired teachers continue their involvement with the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Each month, particularly in the spring and summer, the Hardings teach mandatory boat safety courses to new boaters and those who want to be kept current regarding new maritime laws and regulations. 

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