The ferry M/V Tacoma had to break out its “Baby on Board” sticker when an unexpected passenger arrived last week.
A baby was born onboard the Tacoma during the 1:10 p.m. sailing Thursday, Nov. 29 from Bainbridge to Seattle.
Ferry crews knew they had a special passenger on board when they cast off out of Eagle Harbor.
“They drove on and we knew she was expecting; we transport a lot of expecting mothers,” said Mark Gripp, second mate on the Tacoma.
Gripp estimates that the ferry transports about 10 expecting mothers each year, but they usually have time until they reach the other side.
This baby, however, wasn’t so patient.
“I told them to lay on the horn if there is a problem,” Gripp said.
“As soon as the lines were cast off, I hear the horn go off.”
Gripp helped the mom- and dad-to-be to the elevator and then to the ferry’s first-aid room.
“One thing you don’t want is a baby on the car deck,” Gripp said. “It has exposed air and it’s dirty.”
While en route to the first-aid room, Captain Ty Anderson made an announcement asking for volunteers who had baby delivering skills.
They were in luck. An OB/GYN and a midwife answered the call.
In the first-aid office, Gripp broke out an OB/GYN kit.
“Here’s the apron, here’s the gloves and then putting out the towels and blanket,” Gripp said. “I was just trying to do the best to facilitate them helping her.”
“My portion of it was really just a support role to the midwife and OB/GYN,” he added.
Gripp said he was impressed with how smooth the delivery went. He’s seen the birth of four of his own children and knows the complications that can arise during a delivery.
The midwife really knew her stuff, he said.
Baby Lucy then arrived.
Medics met the family at Colman Dock in Seattle and rushed them to a hospital.
Officials at Swedish Medical Center released a statement from the family later that day.
“We would like to thank the incredible crew of the Washington State Ferry, Tacoma, and the kind people aboard who helped deliver our healthy baby, named Lucy, who came at lightning speed weighing 7 pounds, 3.6 ounces, and measuring in at 19 inches long. Mother and baby are both doing well and are very happy and healthy,” the statement said.
Swedish said the Bainbridge Island couple appreciated the media interest in their story, but said they did not want their names disclosed and were not interested in any interviews.
Gripp agreed that Lucy arrived in “lightning speed.”
“I don’t see any way that the mom or the dad could have seen this baby coming,” he said. “It happened pretty fast.”
The family also caught the Tacoma on their return trip to Bainbridge Island and Gripp was able to see how Lucy was doing.
“The baby was in great shape,” he said.
The 1:10 p.m. sailing on Thursday Nov. 29 will be a memory that Gripp will cherish from now on.
“Those are the kind of days that don’t happen too often on ferries,” Gripp said. “But it really makes it worth while working there.”