The CLI has been developing a better way to conduct multi-vessel search patterns. On 17 July the Delta Lifeboat, Fraser Lifeboat, Canadian Coast Guard Hovercraft Siyay, and a Canadian Coast Guard RHIB (Callsign Sea Island One) put those principles to the test. After rafting with all vessels for a briefing, we took our positions and tried with Delta L/B leading, and then switched to the CCG Hovercraft Siyay leading. We then met and debriefed. It looks like the CCG like this system and we will try again with ourselves and other agencies vessels like police, RCM-SAR, etc. There were lots of takeaways and things we need to work on, but it was a huge success and proved the concept works.
Regular Saturday training was conducted on 19 Sep 2020 with both Delta and Fraser Lifeboats exercising together.
After proceeding down to Sand Heads, a pre-exercise briefing was held aboard Delta L/B.
Once again, both lifeboats would practice station keeping and formation turns together as would be required in a real search.
While it looks very simple on a blackboard, it is much more difficult in reality and requires good teamwork and a lot of discipline to ensure an area to be searched is successfully covered.
Both lifeboats exercised at being the ‘guide’ passing required course, speed and spacing. This always proves to be a challenging but rewarding exercise.
It is hoped that the exercise will be expanded to include other SAR units in the near future.
While transiting back to Ladner, the Delta L/B received a radio hail from a Seaspan rail ferry concerned about commercial traffic being encumbered by the mass of recreational fishing vessels at the mouth of the river. Coast Guard Radio also monitored and passed information to the ferry suggesting the captain call DFO for action.
Just another hazard that could result in a tragic accident because of those who do not follow logical rules and common sense.
On Thurs 17 Sep 2020, while smoke from fires in the U.S. continued to blanket B.C., the evenings training saw the Delta Lifeboat conduct coxswain, radar, and RHIB training.
The RHIB was sent away to test for radar tracking as it had been fitted with a new radar reflector. Being a small rubber boat, the RHIB had previously only shown up as a small target. A much-improved echo was now recorded at 2 miles.
Owing to very high tide, there was a huge amount of wood from 60-foot trees to small pieces. Unfortunately, the RHIB ran over a piece of debris in the dark and damaged the propeller, requiring a new one to be ordered. This was the first time it had been damaged in over 10 years!
New recruits also spent time as lookouts and helmsman introducing them to correct reporting and procedures. We are grateful for their enthusiasm.
On Saturday 15 Feb 2020, the Delta Lifeboat conducted crew training in the area known as the ‘Albion Box’ which lies on the south side of the Albion #2 Training Wall. It is a popular fishing area for commercial fishing vessels, but also a place where Recreational vessels sometimes become trapped after losing their way when entering the Fraser River.
The Lifeboats have responded to many incidents in the ‘Box’ over the years even though there is no Hydrographic information on the charts.
The morning exercise, held in heavy rain and fog, was to take sounding and add the information to the appropriate chart for future reference. Two new recruits were able to observe standing procedures onboard and witness several evolutions as well as stand a trick on the wheel. Fraser Lifeboat stayed outside the box and conducted plotting by AIS training for their crew as the Delta conducted its exercise.
After securing back at the Ladner Station, the crew cleaned ship and held a thoughtful debrief. As this was coming to an end, the Ladner Harbour Master advised that he had received a call from a concerned citizen that there was a small vessel requiring assistance in the Captain’s Cove area. There was no other information.
The report was passed to the JRCC who tasked the Delta L/b to proceed and search. The Lifeboat’s RHIB immediately departed to begin the search with the Lifeboat following. The RHIB searched Captain’s Cove and Deas Slough while the Lifeboat conducted a shoreline search of Kirkland Island. After 45 min. with nothing found, the Delta crew was stood down by JRCC and returned to station.
Although nothing was found, it was a most useful training opportunity.