Marine Search and Rescue out of Mill Bay needs help

Volunteer marine rescuers who operate from Mill Bay are looking for the public’s assistance in refitting their rescue vessel.

Volunteer marine rescuers who operate from Mill Bay are looking for the public’s assistance in refitting their rescue vessel.

The Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Station #34 has to raise $150,000 for the regulatory mid-life refit of its boat.

The vessel’s electronics, wiring, safety gear and systems and equipment must be upgraded in order to maintain its active emergency service marine SAR vessel status.

Each year, the Mill Bay Volunteer Marine Rescue Society holds a fundraiser called Conquer Cobble Hill to help pay for Station No. 34’s various requirements, and this year’s event, June 25 at 4 p.m. at the Cobblestone Pub, will be geared toward raising money for the boat upgrades.

Unit spokesman Dennis Chopko said, as residents living on an Island, he believes most people appreciate the importance of marine search and rescue.

“In this past year, amongst many other calls, we have responded to boat fires in Cowichan Bay, a serious boat crash with casualties in Todd Inlet, a float plane crash in Maple Bay and a heart attack call near Swartz Bay,” Chopko said.

“As a volunteer organization, fundraising is critical to our success.”

The Mill Bay Marine Rescue Society is a non-profit organization made up of local community members who volunteer their time and efforts toward the safety of all boaters who use Maple Bay, Sansum Narrows, Cowichan Bay, the Saanich Inlet and connected waterways.

The rescue volunteers carry pagers 24/7 and are tasked out on various missions, such as boat fires, float-plane crashes, towing boats with engine failure, marine missing person searches and medical emergencies, among other tasks.

Chopko said approximately $26,000 has been raised for the cause so far through corporate and other sponsorships, and the society will explore various gaming grants and lotteries to determine if there are options available there.

But he said contributions from the public are also needed to raise the required funding for the boat repairs.

Chopko said tickets for this year’s Conquer Cobble Hill event are $20 each, and includes a burger, beer and door prizes as well as a silent auction.

People can also donate directly to the cause by going to www.canadahelps.org and click on the link to the Mill Bay Marine Rescue Society. For more information, call Chopko at 250-896-5188.