Meet the Crew

Today’s crew is our newest Advanced Crew member,

Amber Cottle.
Member since: October, 2017
Amber is a certified dog trainer and behavior specialist/business owner. She has owned and operated a dog training centre in Delta since June 2003.
Favorite thing with SAR is: There are so many great things about volunteering with SAR. I would say my most favorite thing is the bond we have with each other as Crew members and the unwavering dedication to Crew safety and well-being.
Most memorable thing is: I have lots of great memories but one that stands out is a training exercise on the KM in Welcome Pass in pitch black darkness, in the dead of winter, with 25 knot winds and rough seas. That was an experience!
Total Class Sessions: 50 (93.5 hours)
Total Missions: 2 (7.02 hours)
Total Sea Trips: 40 (120.27 hours)
Total overall Hours: 324 hours
Quote: “I have spent most of my life in the ocean surfing and riding waves but very little time on the water in a boat. I have a healthy respect and understanding of the power of the ocean. I was completely out of my comfort zone when I started with SAR but thanks to the patience and dedication of the members of station 12, I have gained so much more confidence and as a result, achieved Advanced Crew status.”
Crew – working with such an amazing group of individuals
Craft – Experiencing the incredible efficiency and safety of our vessels
Mission – giving back to the community

Meet the Crew

Crew highlight of the week.

Today’s crew is our newest Coxswain and New Crew Training Officer,

John Howcroft
Member since: October 15, 2018
John is an Account Manager with a National Commercial Printer. John likes to go out hiking every Saturday and Sunday morning in the mountains with his two best doggie friends Si & Beula
Favorite thing with SAR is: Navigating and instructing fellow crew members on using Charts and the various ways to Navigate. Also I love BBQ covers after spending so much time under one to practice navigating in Restricted Visibility
Most memorable thing is: To numerous to contemplate but I would say it’s being with such a diverse group of crewmembers and enjoying the time with them all. Also with all the time and training the Coxswains put in so I could go to RHIOT (and not being called Pops by the other trainees) and also getting to CLll-B to become a Coxswain in such a short time.
Total Class Sessions: 94 (207 hours)
Total Missions: 12 (31 hours)
Total Sea Trips: 105 (297 hours)
Total overall Hours: 668
Quote: “Nothing better than being out in an open RHIB in the middle of the winter with high seas and the rain pelting down on you. But seriously it’s the close bond I have come to have with my SAR team members is truly a gift.”
Crew – Look out for each other, Be Safe, Share the knowledge
Craft – To be ready and safe
Mission – Be trained and prepared for all conditions
Image may contain: 1 person, standing, outdoor and water

Crew Highlight of the Month – October 2018

Susan Blair, station keeping at Misery Falls

Meet October’s Crew of the month, Susan Blair!

Susan has been a part of RCMSAR Station 12 for just over three years and is a dedicated member of our crew. Susan has attained her Crew level certification and is a positive and supporting member both on and off the boat. She is a proficient navigator and often assists new members with basic navigation skills. She has taken the SARnav-1 course at RCMSAR Headquarters and hopes to attend more courses in the future with RCMSAR.

Susan has dedicated almost 170 hours of sea time and 575 total hours over three years to our station. She has been on 14 missions overall and is a big support behind the scenes as well! Susan is part of our management and leadership team as station operations assistant – she is our administrative officer and takes care of organizing events such as the recruiting drive and the Polar Bear swim. Susan ran a very successful recruiting drive this year that saw us gain eight new crew and three new supporting members.

In the non SAR world, Susan works for Vancouver Coastal Health at Sechelt Hospital as a Certified Pharmacy Technician.

Susan’s achievements are as follows:
Pleasure Craft Safety Checker
Flood and Swiftwater Hazard Awareness Course
First Aid Marine Basic

Bravo Zulu, Susan! You are an inspiration to women on the water!!

RCMSAR is Recruiting!

Do you have what it takes to get in the boat?

We are recruiting!

Volunteer with us today.

September 17th, 5-7:30pm

Sechelt Seaside Centre

Join a dedicated marine search and rescue team!

We are looking for:


Search and Rescue Crew
Being an active search and rescue crew member is an exciting, challenging and rewarding role but is not for everyone.

You will be paged in the middle of the night and respond to emergencies in weather and sea conditions that most mariners avoid.  You will be called on to navigate in fog and darkness, operate a rescue vessel in wind and waves, safely handle tow lines and other gear, use your first aid skills, follow orders, and give orders.

In other words you need to be skilled, brave, and tough.You will work in a dangerous environment.  You will be coming to the aid of people who are frightened, confused, or injured.  Some missions involve tragedy and death.

But if you have the character and commitment, we will give you all the tools, training and support you need to succeed as a search and rescue crew member.  The men and women who take on this task say the rewards of saving a life on the water are beyond measure.

You are:

  • 19 years old or older
  • Physically fit
  • Mature and reliable
  • Available to be on call and remain near a rescue vessel as part of a rotation schedule.
  • A team player
  • A good communicator

You will:

  • Be available on call
  • Acquire the necessary certifications for your crew level.
  • Attend station meetings and events
  • Support your station’s community and fundraising activities
  • Support the larger RCM-SAR team across the region.
  • Be committed to excellence in search and rescue service to the public.

 We provide:

  • A team of men and women who will support your training goals and membership needs.
  • Excellent marine  search and rescue training, including a range of Transport Canada certifications, including:
    • Radio Operators Certificate
    • Marine Advanced First Aid
    • Small Vessel Operator Proficiency
    • RCM-SAR’s own comprehensive training program, including the Coxswain Leadership stream in our own fast rescue craft simulator.
    • The latest personal safety equipment.
    • The opportunity to work with other dedicated search and rescue crew members.
    • The opportunity to crew on sophisticated search and rescue fast response vessels.
    • Group insurance coverage.

SAR Prevention Members

You are:

  • Committed to educating the public about boating safety.
  • Available to promote boating safety at public events, local marinas, and on the water.

You will:

  • Provide your energy and expertise in promoting boating safety.

We provide:

  • Educational materials and equipment to help you promote your boating safety message.

Supporting Members and Society Directors

SAREx_Orig -532
Supporting members

You are:

  • Willing to offer your time and skills to support your local RCM-SAR Station and its finances.

You will:

  • Help your local rescue station with shore-based activities that support the safety of the search and rescue crews and maintain the readiness of the station to respond to emergencies.
  • Provide support in these or other areas:
    • Maintenance
    • Fundraising
    • Administration
    • Finance
    • Public Relations
    • Event Planning

We provide:

  • A rewarding volunteer environment and an enthusiastic and supportive team dedicated to saving lives on the water.



Check out our videos!

Search &Rescue Dispatches, July 2018

SAR: Preparation and precaution essential to staying safe this summer

SAR: Preparation and precaution essential to staying safe this summer

As members of the Search and Rescue Community, our hearts go out to the families of the young adults who tragically lost their lives at Shannon Falls near Squamish this past week. The volunteer teams from Squamish Search and Rescue, Squamish fire and the RCMP who attempted the rescue, and ultimately performed the recovery, are equally in our thoughts. Closer to home, our own Sunshine Coast Search and Rescue team worked alongside first responders to assist at the tragic plane crash in Selma Park. Our deeply felt sympathy and support goes out to the family and loved ones of those involved. As we learn at Search and Rescue on a regular basis, accidents are by nature unpredictable.

With the excitement that the outset of summer brings, may we remember as well to make every preparation, and take every precaution possible. As we are forced to learn, each year it seems, accidents happen so very quickly. It is for this reason that we prepare, plan and inform friends of our intended path before we take to the ocean, lakes and mountains of our beautiful coast.  As survivors, we owe it to the fallen to maintain a vigilant and compassionate watch over one another.

It will surprise few that the vast majority of water related fatalities occur during the summer months; incidents of drowning occur most commonly when British Columbians are swimming, fishing or power-boating. The Community Against Preventable Injuries is partnering on a safe boating campaign with Transport Canada, the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit and the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCMSAR), in an effort to significantly reduce the number of serious preventable injuries – including drowning – by challenging the notion that injuries just “happen” but they “won’t happen to me”.

Here are a few tips worth following:

• Wear a Personal Flotation Device/Lifejacket: No one “expects” to fall overboard – hence the vast majority of boaters who drowned in 2016 were not wearing a lifejacket or were wearing it incorrectly.

• Alcohol consumption: Drinking and boating don’t mix – over 40 per cent of victims had consumed alcohol prior to the incident.

• Have the right equipment: Make sure it is in good working condition and accessible, and know how to use it.

“No one expects to fall overboard when enjoying a day out on the water,” says Pat Quealey, CEO of RCMSAR. “Too often we rescue people who have fallen into the water without wearing a lifejacket. Having the right equipment and wearing a lifejacket can save lives.”

The safe boating campaign is part of a three-year project. To learn more about preventable injuries, visit To learn more about RCMSAR, visit

Crew Highlight of the Month, April 2018

Crew Highlight of the Month

April 2018

Erin Heeney

Erin during one of her training runs. Photo credit: John Maddalozzo

Please join us in celebrating our crew highlight of the month who has been with RCMSAR Station 12 for almost 3 years.

Erin’s Achievements:

  • 2018-03-21 RHIOT
  • 2017-11-18 RCMSAR Annual Fitness Testing
  • 2017-06-10 MED A3
  • 2017-06-08 TC Medical
  • 2017-02-26 First Responder
  • 2016-11-01 SVOP
  • 2016-11-01 SARnav-1
  • 2016-06-25 Flood and Swiftwater Hazard Awareness Course
  • 2016-04-27 PCSC Checker
  • 2015-11-24 ROC-M
  • 2015-11-22 FA Marine Basic
  • 1999-12-06 PCOC
Her Journey:

Since joining our team Erin has managed to volunteer over 1000 hours of service. She has recently completed the Rigid Hull Inflatable Operators Training with the Canadian Coast Guard in Bamfield newly promoting her into a Coxswain position at Station 12.

Erin began her journey with Station 12 almost 3 years ago where she quickly found her passion in team building and training others. Erin is happiest when passing on her love of the Collision Regulations. She has kept our training program on track for 2 years, always innovating and developing new strategies. Her energy and enthusiasm is contagious and Station 12 is grateful to have her on the team.

Life Outside RCMSAR:

Erin can be found jogging through the woods, fishing in Porpoise Bay for Dungeness crab or generally enjoying everything the Sunshine Coast has to offer. She is an avid sailor and traveler, a free spirit who is always searching for new ways to improve herself. In her professional life Erin works for Praxis Performance Group as their Program Facilitator.



Search and Rescue Dispatches March 2018

SAR Prepares for the Season


From Gibsons to Pender Harbour, four distinct Search and Rescue units comprised of 120 active crew members and over 50 supporting volunteers stand guard over the trails and shoreline, ocean and inlets of the Sunshine Coast. Well trained, and well prepared for a wide range of emergency situations, these volunteer crews act as an outdoor adventurer’s last hope, when the best-laid plans go awry. To be prepared for any event, each unit raises funds for meeting spaces, gear, training courses, emergency equipment as well as rescue vehicles and vessels to fulfill rescue duties. Contributions from generous community members and grants from local foundations, government and service agencies allow volunteers to focus on skill development and proficiency.

Donations are greatly appreciated and are accepted online via or

Search and rescue vessels from Pender Harbour and Halfmoon Bay take part in a training exercise last month near the Earls Cove ferry terminal. Mark Wenn photo

Sunshine Coast Search and Rescue volunteers actively train and anticipate events that may entrap, trip or trick the unsuspecting trail or water enthusiast.

The month of February saw crew members refreshing their first aid skills, testing gear, pursuing safety certifications and practicing effective communications with other Coast resources. Ground and marine crews met in both indoor and outdoor classrooms to practice advanced search skills and to review crew communication and tasking drills.

For marine preparedness, crew members from Station 14 (Gibsons), Station 12 (Halfmoon Bay) and Station 61 (Pender Harbour) have been busy with first responder first aid certification, emergency operations essentials with Sunshine Coast Regional District, navigation, local area familiarity as well as radar and chart plotter electronic tool literacy.  New recruits have been on several check rides and are joining active crew on call rotations.

An impressive on-water training rendezvous was facilitated in February with three of the four RCMSAR vessels on the Sunshine Coast. Two crews from Station 12 and one from Station 61 mustered near Earls Cove ferry terminal where towing, pacing, boarding, first aid scenarios and search pattern exercises were practiced.  Developing skills and readiness, cross-Coast emergency response connections, crew familiarity and local area knowledge are top priorities for all Search and Rescue volunteers. On behalf of all four Coast crews, we thank you for your support, and wish you safe, and uneventful enjoyment of our great outdoors this spring.

Search & Rescue Dispatches January 2018

As the new year begins and resolutions are tested, here are 10 essential Items (from North Shore SAR) for ensuring your safety during winter adventures and outdoor treks. Always tell a reliable person where you are going and when you expect to be back, leave a detailed trip itinerary and make sure you know your route.


1. Light 

Flashlight or a headlamp with extra batteries (and light bulb if not LED). Green cyalume stick or small turtle lights as emergency backup. The lack of light is the single most common cause of over-due hiker calls for SAR.

2. Signalling Device 

Whistle (we recommend the Fox 40 whistle with a lanyard), Bear Bangers, Pencil Flare. Why a whistle? It is ideal for signalling for help as your voice will become very hoarse in a short period of time especially if you are dehydrated. We recommend the Fox 40 whistle because it works very well in wet conditions and has good range.

Search and Rescue crews make lists, as seen here, but hikers and boaters should also make lists of what they need in case things go wrong. Mark Wenn photo

3. Fire Starter

Matches (water proof or in plastic bag) or lighter. We also recommend a commercial firestarter and/or a candle. Commercial firestarters can be purchased at outdoor or hardware stores.

4. Extra clothes

Hat, gloves or mittens, fleece jacket, Gortex jacket, polypro underwear, good quality hiking socks and Gortex over-pants.

5. Pocket knife 

Although a multi tool is preferred, a good pocket knife with a quality blade will suffice. It may also be worth carrying a small pruning saw for cutting branches when building a shelter or fire.

6. Shelter

Large orange plastic bag and thermal tarp. Why a large orange plastic bag? It’s actually one of the most valuable items on the list. Crawling into the bag helps keep you warm and dry. The orange colour is also highly visible and helps attract attention, particularly from the air.

7. Water 

(Gatorade crystals recommended) and food (high energy food bars) We recommend you drink between 1-2 litres of water before you hike and carry 1-2 litres. Hydration is directly proportional to your performance but also in maintaining essential fluid balance in your body. We also recommend you carry electrolyte, such as Gatorade, in order to replenished salt and potassium that are depleted during excessive exercise

8. First-aid kit

Should include pocket mask, Sam Splint, bulk dressings, protective gloves, bandage, scissors and blister dressings

9. Navigation

Good quality compass with built in declination adjustment and both topographical and interpretive maps. We also recommend a GPS unit but only as an adjunct to compass and map. Most team members carry a Garmin 60 series GPS unit that has terrific reception in the trees.

10. Cell phone

We recommend you bring a cell phone with a fully charged battery. It is advisable to keep the phone turned off, and stored in a ziplock bag. This way, if you get into trouble your phone will be dry and have a full charge. Many people manage to call 911 initially but their phone dies before their location can be relayed, not a desirable situation.

Remember, electronics can fail, run out of batteries, or lose their signal. Telling someone where you are going, leaving a trip itinerary and bringing the essentials is critical to a safe outdoor excursion.

Winter training keeping SAR folks tuned up

On behalf of Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Stations 12, 14 & 61, and our partners in safety and preparation, Sunshine Coast (Land) Search and Rescue, we extend the very best wishes of the season to all of our friends, generous donors and fellow outdoor adventurers. We also extend a gracious thank you to the Local for sharing our dispatches so generously throughout the year.

With winter upon us, our teams have been busy doing fog and foul-weather training on land and sea, with new recruits joining our crews and preparing for new challenges.

Sunshine Coast (Land) Search and Rescue recently hosted a year-end dinner and recognition night.  Members were recognized for their long-term volunteer commitment to search and rescue including the annual Top Pick award. Members also recently volunteered their time to help out the Elves Club in their annual drive.

SCSAR member Sue Duxbury is now trained to present “Adventure Smart”, a suite of five national prevention programs focused on reaching Canadians, and visitors to Canada, who participate in outdoor recreational activities.  All programs are free.

• Hug a tree and survive (kids)

• Paddlesmart (16- plus)

• Snow Safety (grade 4 and up)

• Survive Outside  (adults)

• Snowmobile Safety  (16- plus)

Please contact Sue 604-740-1687 or email:

Search and Rescue members train in all kinds of weather, including, in this case, fog. John Maddalozzo, left, and Bart Porebski, are seen practising their rescue techniques in Porpoise Bay. Mark Wenn photo

Station 61 has officially kicked off its fundraising campaign with the intent to purchase a type 11 vessel.  Pender Harbour’s Rotary group has generously donated to the cause and a community education campaign was held at the John Henry’s Christmas Market.This summer’s group of new RCM SAR recruits have been training tirelessly and many have completed their Radio Operators Certificate Marine course, first aid and even RHIOT school for advanced crew in Bamfield.   All Stations have extremely enthusiastic and dedicated new recruits well on their way to becoming leaders in each station. We are pleased and honored by their level of commitment to our station and our SAR mandate.

Station 14 (Gibsons) participated in a multi-unit coordinated search for a missing boater and his vessel (eventually located in the Strait) and recently assisted and towed a disabled sailboat off Bonniebrook.  Join us for January 1st Polar Bear Swim at Armours Beach at 11am or at Davis Bay with the Lions Club & Station 12 (Halfmoon Bay). All members of the Coast are invited to enjoy hot chocolate, certificates for swimmers and prizes for best costume.

‘Tis the season of making lists, and checking them twice, and if ever there was a call to action that your SAR teams believe in, that is it.  As you plan your hiking, sledding, snowshoeing, back country skiing or boating this winter, please remember to make a route plan, share it with a friend or relative, and check your gear twice before heading out to enjoy our magnificent coast and coastal mountains. Play safe, and the very best of the season to all.