Friday, April 5, 2013

Shut Down

Kits Coast Guard station photo by Junie Quiroga
With all the fuss and controversy surrounding the closure of the Kits Coast Guard station, and being a boater myself, I thought I should ask an unbiased authority for their opinion on this issue. Who better than one of my seal swimming buddies I thought.  After all, seals spend more time in the ocean than anyone and they've certainly seen it all when it comes to the boating scene. They also don't have any vested interests to protect or political agenda to promote.  So I got in touch with one of the locals, Neptune's Eyes, and had the following interview.

Neptune's Eyes
Nelson:  So what, in your opinion, is the real issue here?
Neptune's Eyes:  The symbiotic relationship between irresponsible boaters and an agency that makes a living protecting boaters from themselves.

Nelson:  What do you mean by irresponsible boaters?
Neptune's Eyes:  Speeding power boaters with no regard for others (especially seals) creating large wakes in their hurry to get somewhere and sail boaters equally oblivious to others because they always think they have the right of way. Most of the time neither group are wearing life jackets or survival gear to save them when something goes wrong, and they are usually poorly equipped for dealing with unforeseen problems.

Nelson:  What are the biggest problems for boaters?
Neptune's Eyes:  Other boaters, rocks, floating logs, and mechanical issues.

Nelson:  How can the Coast Guard help protect boaters from these things?
Neptune's Eyes:  It can't. Boaters need to slow down, keep their eyes on the ocean, pay attention to their charts, keep their vessels well maintained, and listen to the weather reports.

Nelson:  But what happens when something does go wrong?
Neptune's Eyes:  Depends.  As long as they haven't put a hole in the boat or it's just a mechanical problem they can wait for help to arrive. Generally if they hit a rock they aren't too far from land and might be able to make their way to shore but, if the boat is sinking, they better have their life jackets on, know how to operate a VHF radio, and have a dinghy ready to climb into.

Nelson:  Isn't that where the Coast Guard comes in?
Neptune's Eyes:  The Coast Guard isn't a towing service for boats that break down, that's the job of C-Tow or Vessel Assist, but they will come and pluck you out of the water if they're close by. The Coast Guard's main function is to relay distress calls and coordinate assistance with other boaters, and that's all done out of an office in Victoria.

Coast Guard hovercraft photo by Junie Quiroga
Nelson:  Are you saying we don't need the Coast Guard?
Neptune's Eyes:  No, I'm not saying that, and we have Coast Guard stations in all sorts of strategic locations, but I don't know why the folks in English Bay think they are so special they require their own station when there's one with a hovercraft just around the corner by the airport, and all sorts of police, fire, and harbour patrol boats in the area, not to mention the other recreational boaters cruising around.

Nelson:  Maybe it's because this is the busiest pleasure craft area?
Neptune's Eyes:  I don't think it's much busier than Deep Cove, or Howe Sound.

Nelson:  Well then if you add in those areas isn't that even more reason to have a station in Kits?
Neptune's Eyes:  We have a volunteer service called the Royal Canadian Marine Search & Rescue with over 40 stations along the coast including in West Vancouver, Deep Cove, Squamish, Crescent Beach, Delta, and Richmond.  They operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with high speed rescue boats and well trained crews that don't cost the taxpayer a cent. I'm quite sure they would be happy to set up a station in Kits.

Royal Canadian Marine Search & Rescue on manoeuvres 

Nelson:  Are you suggesting we should have a volunteer Coast Guard?
Neptune's Eyes:  It's what they do in Great Britain and Australia for babysitting recreational boaters.

Nelson:  Who funds the volunteer Coast Guard?
Neptune's Eyes:  B.C. Lotteries and various corporate sponsors like the Washington Marine Group..

Nelson:  If we have a volunteer organization to do the babysitting then what will be the Coast Guard's role?
Neptune's Eyes:  To focus on guarding the coastline, filling in any gaps, and maintaining the navigational aids which are so critical to safe recreational and commercial boating.

Coast Guard service boat photo by Junie Quiroga
Nelson:  What should we do with the Kits station?
Neptune's Eyes:  Turn it into a restaurant with a big outdoor deck. It's got docks for transient boaters, a parking lot, a great view, and it's in a perfect location.

Nelson:  Well thank you for your insightful perspective.
Neptune's Eyes:  You're very welcome.

Nelson:  One final question, what do you think of boaters in general?
Neptune's Eyes:  I hate them all, not counting you of course. You're special.

So there you have it folks, shut down.

1 comment:

  1. How very clever is this article. Well done and definitely makes the point.