Junior members with Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Unit 25 Salt Spring were pulled into duty unexpectedly during a training exercise last Wednesday.
Coxswain Paul FitzZaland, along with regular crew members Mike Murphy and Paul Zolob, were heading out into Stuart Channel on a training session with junior members Erin Kelly, Kaylee Lapierre and Stella Pingle when they were tasked by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria to assist a vessel that had run aground in Clam Bay on the east side of Penelakut Island.
The crew arrived on scene to find a 45-foot sailboat aground close to the shore. The three people on board were not hurt and the vessel was not damaged or taking on water. RCMSAR 25 was asked by JRCC to stand by until a commercial tow operator from Nanaimo arrived on scene to help tow the boat out to deeper waters.
The unit’s junior members are Grade 11 and 12 students from the work experience program at Gulf Islands Secondary School. They started training to become crew members in February.
“This unexpected tasking was an opportunity for them to experience how a fast-response vessel operates when responding to a marine emergency,” said RCMSAR 25 spokesperson Mike Murphy.
A grant from the Salt Spring Foundation makes possible the junior members’ training by funding the fuel and equipment for their program.