It didn't take long for the latest addition to the Steveston-based Canadian Lifeboat Institution's fleet of rescue vessels to get her hull wet in action.
Not long after the second-hand, 47-foot, Tyne Class lifeboat, renamed the Fraser Lifeboat, was unloaded at Surrey Fraser Docks from its deep sea carrier that brought it from the U.K. on Aug. 1, she was tasked with answering a distress call.
"Within two hours of hitting the water she was off on her first rescue," said
CLI Capt. John Horton, whose crew then made for an area called the Abion Box on the south side of the Fraser River.
It was there, in the trickyto-navigate shallows that a 26-foot pleasure craft - the Chevy Chase - had drifted after its main engine had broken down.
"It's a very dodgy place to get into if you don't know what you're doing, and we managed to bring the vessel safely into Steveston," Horton said.
The addition of the latest vessel - purchased from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) - brings the CLI's compliment to two that are responsible for rescues in the Straight of Georgia, and the Fraser River Estuary right up to new Westminster.
"A lot of what we do is looking after the commercial fishing fleet," Horton said.
"We actually provide close escorts during the fishing season.
"And we will be out this upcoming weekend because there is a sockeye opening for the native fishery."
And now, with two vessels to call on, coverage in that area will be vastly improved.
"Better coverage, and a faster coverage, too," Horton said. "The Steveston Lifeboat has a maximum speed of 10 knots, and the new boat has a speed of 18 knots.
"So, for some of the traffic that needs to travel a bit faster, such as the rail ferries which
are carrying more and more dangerous cargo in the river, the greater speed will give us the ability to stay ahead of those vessels."
Horton said a confidentiality agreement with the RNLI prevents him from divulging what it cost the CLI to attain the Fraser Lifeboat this spring.
But he assured that all money raised for the organization is done so on a private donation basis and does not involve any gaming grants or government funding.
The CLI is a volunteerrun, privately-funded marine search and rescue service, which has been in operation out of Steveston since 1981.
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