Search & Rescue Dispatches, July 2017

jane macdonald sar

When pagers sounded on Sunday evening (July 9) at 11:22 p.m. RCM SAR Station 12 members were notified of a Code 2 (Pan Pan call for help) for our inside vessel located at Porpoise Bay. No matter the hour, a Coxswain and two crew members responded to a campsite at Nine Mile Point where two separate groups of campers requested emergency evacuation due to an aggressive cougar who was stalking them.

Normally an idyllic campsite, the seasoned kayakers and experienced outdoor enthusiasts grew increasingly nervous after sunset when an agitated cougar appeared and would not retreat after several attempts to scare it away.  With young children in one of the camping parties, the responsible adults called for help and elected to give nature its space.  All supplies and camp materials were left for retrieval the next day due to the proximity of the angry feline, which can be a formidable hunter.

The visibly shaken and nervous campers experienced difficulty contacting water taxi or animal control assistance, due to the time of night and spotty cell phone reception.  A call came to Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, likely via 911 emergency call referral, which relayed the emergency location and situation to our local volunteer crew in Porpoise Bay. After boarding six adults and three children on RCM SAR’s swift response vessel and ensuring everyone had lifejackets, the crew transported the upset campers to safety for the remainder of the evening.

A number of sheepish apologies for calling were offered by the campers; there is no need to ever apologize for needing help, as that is why the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue exists.  Saving lives on the water and helping to prevent accidents is what the crews of volunteers train for all year.  The Sunshine Coast has three volunteer-staffed Marine Search and Rescue stations which respond to boater (including kayak and stand up paddleboard) emergencies 24 hours a day, 7 days per week; Station 14 in Gibsons, Station 12 in Halfmoon Bay / Porpoise Bay and Station 61 in Pender Harbour.

All marine campers and boaters are encouraged to travel with a functioning VHF radio, where Channel 16 should be used to convey emergencies.  If coverage is available, distressed boaters can call *16 on mobile phones to call for help.  RCM-SAR will respond, no matter the hour or situation without judgment or penalty; it is what we do.

Search & Rescue Dispatches May 2017

 

jane macdonald sar

It is May 2017. Spring is upon us.  For many of us, thoughts now turn to the upcoming boating season.  This means cleanup of the boat, de-grunge the slippery decks, air out the inside, change the engine oil and filters, and general maintenance of the boat and equipment.  Next, maybe, a haul-out to clean and paint the bottom, replace the zincs, and check the props.  This a good time of year for these rituals.

It is also a good time to check the safety gear, such as the life-jackets, fire extinguishers, flares, running lights, bilge pumps, anchors, radios and all the other important safety equipment, and to review the response procedures with your family and crew members.  A basic reference document is Transport Canada’s “Safe Boating Guide”. It is available on line at www.boatingsafety.gc.ca .

RCM SAR Station 12 provides search and rescue capability to the central Sunshine Coast with our two boats – one in Secret Cove and one in Porpoise Bay. In addition, and in the interest of safe boating, we also provide a complimentary safety check service.  We have eight members of Station 12 who are trained to carry out safety checks on pleasure boats up to 24 metres in length.  It is roughly a 40-point check list. It is free and entirely voluntary.  A safety check takes about an hour. The result of a safety check is a written report to you, the owner. The RCM SAR report looks a lot like the 50-point safety check on your car when you have it serviced, with all the mandatory requirements checked (Yes or No) and recommendations for corrections or improvements. Boats that check Yes for all the requirements also receive a sticker that demonstrates compliance.

Why is this important? First, recreational boats in BC are required by law to meet certain safety requirements. Owners of boats can be fined by the law enforcement agencies (RCMP, Coast Guard, Transport Canada, etc) if the boat is not in compliance.

Second, concerns your boat insurance. While insurers may not actually give a discount in premiums for boats certified to meet mandatory safety requirements, they do look favourably on those owners who have the up to date safety check.  It is also reassuring for the owner to know that if you did have an accident and a claim, a record of a passed safety check could be important.

Third, is your own peace of mind.  Boating in BC waters, for most of the time is pretty benign. But weather can turn bad, fast, and mechanical problems can arise unexpectedly. It is good to know that you have covered the bases to protect your boat, your family and friends boating with you.

How can you arrange for a RCM SAR safety check?  Join us at Secret Cove Marina on Sunday, June 4, 9am-2pm for a private Pleasure Craft Safety Check. Please phone 605-885-7456 to book an appointment or email us at info@rcmsar12.org.

Sunday School April 23, 2017

Helping save lives on the water!

The smell of outboard fills the air as the 2017 boating season begins.

Station 12’s members want to remind you to check your safety gear for out of date items. Such as dead batteries, replenishment needs or refills etc. Make sure you have a life jacket or PFD for every person on board. Enough fuel to get to your destination and back (with some in reserve) is always a great idea. Look for us on the water to receive your free Vessel Safety Survey and safety kit. Or contact info@rcmsar12.org if you would like to book a full Pleasure Craft Safety Check.

A VHF radio is a great addition to your boating experience. With today’s models being smaller and less expensive they are easy for anyone to carry. If you are having an emergency on the water use channel 16 on the VHF, or dial *16 on your mobile.

Play safe and have fun!

Footage courtesy of Bart Borebski