The Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCMSAR) is an all-volunteer organization that operates more than 40 marine rescue stations on the British Columbia coast and in the B.C. Interior, including Station # 29 in Ladysmith.
For more than 20 years, the dedicated volunteers at Station 29 have provided search and rescue coverage for the northern Gulf Islands. These waters encompass Dodd Narrows to the north, Sansum Narrows to the south, and the busy Porlier Pass, Stuart and Trincomali Channels. Besides Vancouver Island, major islands in this area include Thetis & Penelakut, Valdes, and the De Courcy group including Mudge Island, along with portions of Salt Spring, Galiano and Gabriola Islands. The largest local settlements in this area are Crofton, Chemainus, Ladysmith and the Cedar/Yellow Point regions on Vancouver Island, and on Gabriola Island, scenic Silva Bay.
Station 29’s capabilities are extended to a wider operating area when assisting neighbouring Stations. Services may be offered in conjunction with the Canadian Coast Guard, or to assist the BC Ambulance Service, RCMP, Fire departments or Ground Search and Rescue units.
Visitors and local residents are attracted year round to explore the many islands and shorelines of the northern Gulf Islands. The mix of open and sheltered areas, with the challenges of navigating in tide and current, and reading the weather of microclimates, offers a range of experiences to the novice or experienced boater, kayaker or paddle boarder. Extensive bays, harbours, anchorages, marinas, marine parks and towns within walking distance of docks, further enhance their enjoyment of the area.
Promoting boating safety is another priority at Station 29. Various programs are offered to the community. Boat owners can arrange for a free dockside Pleasure Craft Safety Check to ensure their safety equipment complies with Transport Canada regulations and receive tips to help them stay safe. Crew members out on the water also offer informal Vessel Safety Surveys. Children are entertained and introduced to safety at local events by Bobbie the Safety Boat an interactive, talking, remote controlled boat. When on the docks of the Ladysmith Maritime Society and the Ladysmith Marina, look for The Kids Don’t Float program offering loaner PFDs to help keep children safe. Presentations tailored for your organization or event, or tours at the boathouse can also be arranged.
In the spring of 2014, a new fast rescue craft was purchased for Station 29 thanks to the fundraising efforts of the Ladysmith & District Marine Rescue Society. She was named the Community Spirit to honour the support received from individuals & the local communities. She is a custom built Rigid Hull Inflatable (RHIB), powered by twin 250hp Yamaha outboards capable of doing 40 knots, depending on sea conditions. One of her features is the innovative Shockwave ICE (Integrated Control Environment) Console. The five-seat console rides on hydraulic struts to cushion the impact of waves. The cushioning aids in reducing crew fatigue while on the water in rough conditions or for extended periods of time.
The Responder, a 25’ Zodiac 733 RHI Center Console with twin 150hp Yamaha outboard motors, was retired as the primary dedicated rescue vessel in October 2014 after 14 years of active search and rescue service. During the initial years of the Station, before the Responder was purchased, founding members used their own boats to assist persons in need. The Responder served her crews well throughout the years of marine rescues; often in weather most mariners avoid and is fondly remembered by those who crewed on her. Presently, she is being used for training and as a reserve vessel.
The Ladysmith District Marine Rescue Society (LDMRS) was incorporated on June 10th, 1997 and is a registered Canadian charity. The role of the Society is to provide financial support for Station 29. Donations to LDMRS are used for the purchase and maintenance of the boats, boathouse and specialized equipment required so the crew of RCMSAR 29 can continue to save lives on the water. Society members are needed throughout the year to assist with various projects, administration, fundraising, or to serve in advisory roles.
Station 29 together with LDMRS, participates in a variety of educational and fundraising events, and has an ongoing presence at many local festivals and events. Watch for the Community Spirit on the water at the annual Polar Bear Swim, LYC Sail Past, LMS Maritime Festival, Canada Day Fireworks, the Great Canadian Shore Line Clean Up and the Christmas Sail Past.
Applications to become a volunteer search and rescue crew member, or a supporting member of Station 29 or LDMRS are accepted at any time. For detailed information on volunteer roles and how you can help, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.