Fraser River Circumnavigation Training Exercise – 2019

 Canadian Lifeboat Institution

The CLI frequently conducts extended training exercises where we take crew outside their usual familiar surrounding and comfort zones and introduce new challenges to keep honing skills.

On Saturday 06 Jul 2019, crews planned a 9-hour circumnavigation voyage of the Fraser River taking in both the South and North Arms. Working as a team, they took into account weather, currents, tide, and locations that we would be heading to. They decided to route Steveston>Gunderson Slough>New Westminster>North Arm Fraser to Mill Town Marina – planned lunch break, then Mill Town Marina> North Jetty> head south and stay east of traffic lanes to Sandheads>Steveston.

All crew got a chance to understand traffic reporting points and communicate with Victoria Coast Guard Radio. We then entered Gunderson Slough near the Alex Fraser Bridge, which was a first for many of the crew. We familiarized with the area and then docked at the Government Dock.

After a short break and more training discussions we departed and headed to New Westminster, and then down the North Arm. The crew conducted MOB and anchoring in fast-moving narrow waters, having to take into account several underwater pipelines and looking for safe anchoring areas as well as take into account all the log booms on both sides.

Fraser’s hydraulic mast is currently non-serviceable; however, the CN Rail Bridge did swing for us which provided the crew with a new experience. After our lunch stop and training debrief we carried on back to Steveston. There was lots of traffic off Sandheads including dredger FRPD 309, several tugs and barges, and a very large log boom which the tugs were having some problems with.

All in all a good training exercise with some new lessons learned, furthering of seamanship skills,  and a higher level of confidence for the crew.