After being called to action on the Fraser River more than 70 times already this year – a 75-per-cent increase over 2016 – the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCMSAR) Station 10 team is hoping to have a little down time next month to fundraise money for its operations, with government funding and support at a minimum.
Volunteers in Richmond’s only on-call marine search and rescue team have already spent 450 hours on the water combined, said station leader and coxswain Aaron Harnden.
On Sept. 9, they are inviting the public to a $100 dinner, dance and silent auction at the Britannia Heritage Shipyards’ Seine Net Loft. Harnden said donations comprise two-thirds of the team’s expenses. RCMSAR does get a provincial gaming grant and some federal funds for gas and training based on the number of rescues it performs. It is based out of the Steveston Harbour Authority.
Money typically goes to equipment purchases for the registered non-profit society.
This summer, Harnden said the team was deluged by recreational boaters coming into trouble on the swift-moving water.
“The types of calls this year are becoming more reflective of personal water craft getting into trouble,” said Harnden, via email.
“This includes kayaks, seadoos, canoes and paddle boards. Types of incidents ranged from folks running aground to kayakers becoming disoriented to their surroundings and getting lost.”
Station 10 is in a very “tricky” situation compared to its 41 sister stations off the West Coast, noted Harnden.
That’s because volunteers must navigate a busy, and narrow, commercial shipping lane that is shared by recreational boaters.
“Recreational use of our waterways needs to keep a conscious eye and ear out for commercial vessels, fish boats, tugs and freighters to ensure they don’t get in the way,” said Harnden.
RCMSAR members donate their time for training and are committed to 24/7 calls by the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Victoria, alongside the Canadian Coast Guard, to provide search and rescue services and safe boating education to the public.
Fundraiser and volunteer information is available online at RCMSAR10.org.