Marine search and rescue group recruiting volunteers

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Salt Spring’s Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue unit is looking for a few new members.

This fall marks the beginning of a recruitment drive for Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Station 25 (RCMSAR25), a 100 per cent volunteer service that responds to boaters in need 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The group’s media officer Brad Grindler said it’s a great opportunity to give back to the community and meet like-minded service-oriented people who love being on the water.

“We’ll establish a cohort, a group that will start training this fall,” said Grindler. “We’ll train that cohort together, so they go through all the learning as a group.”

While the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue operates Canada-wide, RCMSAR25 is funded by the non-profit Gulf Islands Marine Rescue Society; the group operates from Gabriola down to Swartz Bay, working together with the Canadian Coast Guard’s Ganges Harbour station.

“Things happen sometimes, no one wants to have a bad day on the water,” said Grindler.

Over the years, he said, Vesuvius-based RCMSAR25 has responded to everything from mechanical failures to boats that have struck logs to overturned kayakers. During a big storm a few years ago, they helped secure unmoored float homes in Maple Bay.

“Sometimes it can be a challenge keeping everything staffed because it is volunteer,” said Grindler, “and we have to have a certain number of crew available for our calls. So we’re always looking for new members. It’s a great opportunity, especially for people who are new to the island.”

No matter how much someone knows about boating and navigation, there’s always something new to learn at the off- and on-water training sessions.

In addition, RCMSAR25 members perform safety checks at local sailing clubs, boating safety programs in schools and host a robust junior crew program in partnership with Gulf Islands Secondary School work experience students.

Anyone interested in committing to regular weekly meetings and on-the-water-trainings — in-person, these days — and who lives within a 25-minute drive of Vesuvius should visit RCMSAR25 members at their booth this weekend at the Salt Spring Fall Fair, or check out the website: www.rcmsar25.com.

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