EDITORIAL: Those other important Squamish rescuers

On Feb. 8, as 90-kilometre an hour gusts of wind slammed their boat in the waters of Howe Sound, a couple struggling to save their vessel and themselves, felt first-hand the value of the volunteer members of the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue, Station 4 Squamish.

“For those of you who have never yelled ‘MAYDAY! MAYDAY! MAYDAY!’ into a radio that is so slick with your blood you struggle to push down the talk button, I really, really hope you will never have the chance,” wrote Evan, in a public blog post about life aboard the sailboat Duncinea.

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The good news is, the Squamish marine search and rescue members got to the couple in time and skillfully towed them to the Mamquam Blind Channel and back to safety.

“We are lucky to be alive,” Evan wrote.

While Squamish Search and Rescue deserves all the accolades and attention the public can give for the amazing and difficult work its members do, our rescuers at sea also deserve recognition and support.

The marine team receives very little government funding.

Though both bodies have supplied grants to the organization over the years, there are no direct voted funds or budget lines for RCM-SAR from either the provincial government or the District of Squamish.

As a member of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary Pacific, the local marine rescue receives between $8,000 and $11, 000 per year, depending on the number of missions completed.

That is about the team’s annual cost for fuel, sources connected to the organization tell The Chief.

This year, the Station 4 marine vessel will receive its mid-life refit, which will cost $150,000. This amount has been fundraised from community gaming grants and donations from local organizations. The cost for a replacement vessel is between $400,000 and $600,000 depending on the vessel class.

Yikes.

Another challenge for Station 4 is that the team needs to secure a permanent home as it has outgrown its current Squamish Yacht Club location.

The needs are daunting, but Squamish is a giving community.  Let’s show the men and women of Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue, Station 4 Squamish that we appreciate that if we ever need to call ‘Mayday,’ they will come.

To donate go to canadahelps.org and search “Howe Sound Marine Rescue Society (RCM-SAR04)” or email station4@rcmsar.com for more information.

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