The typical winter water temperature in English Bay is less than 10 C. At those temperatures, the time it takes to lose dexterity without a survival suit is less than five minutes and unconsciousness follows in 30 to 60 minutes.
The Canadian Coast Guard Sea Island centre is about 17 kilometres - or 25 minutes - away from the Kitsilano coast guard base that will be closed by the Conservative government in a cost-cutting move that includes three communication centres in Vancouver, Comox and Tofino. Anyone see a potentially fatal problem here?
Heritage Minister James Moore, the most senior of B.C.'s MPs, says his government is not endangering the lives of Canadians and claimed the closures were made after wide consultation. Unfortunately for Moore's believability, neither the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (formerly the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary) or Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson were consulted at all.
The North Shore's RCM spokesmen are understandably reluctant to criticize the decision to close the Kitsilano base, but expect the number of calls they respond to will increase. These RCM volunteers are committed and welltrained. They are in the water within 30 minutes of receiving a distress call 90 per cent of the time and often less.
But they are not actually on the docks in Deep Cove and Horseshoe Bay 24-7.
The Kits base responds to some 200 calls a year. A senior coast guard spokesperson has attempted to justify the closure by pointing out that 70 per cent of those calls are non-emergencies.
One question: What will happen to the 60 calls a year that are emergencies?