Byline: Ambrosia Brody
OCEANSIDE — Anyone who has ever experienced the difficulty of pulling themselves out of the water after accidently falling off a dock will understand the reasoning behind the Oceanside City Council’s approval of the installation of six ladders throughout Oceanside Harbor.
The pilot program is the result of the Harbor Advisory Committee’s (HAC’s) efforts in supporting the placement of emergency ladders on docks in the harbor.
Oceanside Harbor director Frank Quan confirmed that ladders have been ordered and are in transit. Estimated to arrive this month, the ladders will be installed and in place by the end of the month.
The pilot program will allow the purchase and installation of six ladders. Harbor staff members will install the ladders.
“This was requested by the HAC, and we try to accommodate the committee if they have an idea to do something,” Quan said.
He added that it will help keep harbor users safe. “We like to be proactive, and safety of the boating public is a concern here at the harbor.”
Each individual ladder is estimated to cost $200.
HAC member and charter boat captain Les George led the dock ladder effort, along with HAC member Liz Rhea. They conducted research on dock ladders in other harbors and looked into the costs of purchasing and installing ladders.
The safety measure was brought to George’s attention several months ago, when harbor tenants described some of their own accidental falls into the water. The former fire captain spoke to several marina slip tenants and found out that almost every dock has experienced someone falling into the water.
“Public safety is a catching point for me,” he said. “Safety is very important.”
The HAC Dock Ladder Ad Hoc Committee worked to inform city council members about the issue, ultimately gaining their support for the pilot program. To help make their point, they showed a video of HAC chairman John Metz’s attempt to get out of the water without the use of an emergency ladder.
Metz, a strong swimmer, was unable to pull himself out of the harbor. During his attempt, he cut his shins on the barnacles under the docks.
“He was out to prove to us that he could get out,” George said. “But getting out of the water is harder than it looks.”
Boaters and visitors to the harbor will now have an easier time getting out of the water. Bellingham Marine emergency ladders will be installed, after recommendations by the ad hoc committee.
Oceanside Marine Centre installed a Bellingham Marine ladder three months ago, after learning about the ad hoc committee’s efforts to bring ladders to the harbor. The shipyard and marine service business placed the ladder on a dock leased from the city, to provide an added safety measure for workers.