Free boat-safety checks are being offered by the RCM-SAR until Jan. 31.

Free boat-safety checks are being offered by the RCM-SAR until Jan. 31.

Free boat-safety checks offered

New program launching this summer on Semiahmoo Peninsula

Boaters in Semiahmoo and Boundary bays shouldn’t be surprised to see members of the local marine rescue crew come alongside their vessel this summer, even when there’s no emergency.

Under a new program supported by Transport Canada, the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Station 5 unit will be pulling up to offer a free safety check.

“We’re doing something new this boating season,” RCM-SAR president Jim Lee explained of the Vessel Safety Survey Program. “While we’ve always promoted boating safety with shore-based programs, this year, our search-and-rescue crews will offer safety checks for pleasure crafts that are away from the dock and out on the water.”

The program is an opportunity to connect with the boating public, help boaters ensure they have needed safety gear and promote “search-and-rescue prevention,” Lee said.

The voluntary survey includes checks of items, such as personal flotation devices, signalling devices, fire extinguishers, bailers, radar reflectors and navigation charts.

Funding of $150,000 is being provided through Transport Canada’s Boating Safety Contribution Program, which aims to reduce deaths and injuries from boating accidents. The survey program got underway Saturday and is to continue through Jan. 31.

In the past year, RCM-SAR crews were called out on more than 690 missions to assist people on B.C. waters. The Crescent Beach crew – which covers the Crescent Beach, White Rock and Boundary Bay area – has participated in 44 missions in the past 12 months, assisting 54 people, four of which were in life-threatening situations.

“As the busy summer boating season gets underway, this will be a great way for us to make contact with boaters on the water and help them make sure their vessels are safe,” said Station 5 leader Spencer Barnes.

“The waters in our area can be dangerous, and these safety surveys will reduce the likelihood of people needing us to rescue them.

“It also allows us to spend more time on the water in addition to our regular training. The more we are out there, the quicker we can respond in an emergency.”

For more on the program, visit http://rcmsar.com/sar-prevention/vessel-safety-survey-program

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