CHARLESTON — The water was about 53 degrees Fahrenheit, but that didn’t stop six commercial fishermen from jumping in it — they donned survival suits first.

They were participating in a commercial fishing safety course required by the Coast Guard.

The 1,000th fisherman passed the course Wednesday.

“The class is proven to save lives,” said Curt Farrell, commercial fishing vessel safety coordinator for the Coast Guard.

At least one member of each crew must pass the course in order to teach the  others, Farrell said. The course includes donning survival suits, learning how to right an inflatable lifeboat, visual distress signals, abandon ship procedures, flooding control and using Coast Guard dewatering pumps.

Cost for the course runs between $150 and $500, but this time it was free because Alaska Marines Safety Education Association, Englund Marine and Oregon Crab Commission sponsored it. The course is offered once or twice a year in Charleston, depending on demand.

Mark Acord was deemed the 1,000th fisherman to pass the course by luck of the draw, said Mike Rudolph, one of the instructors. He is aboard the vessel Wahoo, which travels the coast of Washington and Oregon.

“I wanted to learn how to give a proper drill,” Acord said.

Reporter Emily Thornton can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 249 or at or on Twitter: @EmilyK_Thornton.

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