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Boating season under way – here's how to stay safe

RCM SAR Station 61 shares some tips
In the past 12 months, RCM SAR volunteers on the Coast conducted 40 missions, saving eight lives and assisting 13 others.

As life returns to normal following the worst of the pandemic, people will be heading out in increasing numbers to enjoy themselves on the water.  

In advance of the busy boating season ahead, Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCMSAR) Station 61 Pender Harbour would like Sunshine Coast residents and visitors to know how you can reach us when faced with an emergency on the water: use VHF channel 16 (156.8 MHz) on your marine radio, call #727 or *16 on your cell phone or simply dial 9-1-1.  

RCMSAR is a not-for-profit volunteer-based organization that operates more than 31 marine rescue stations along the coast of B.C. and in inland waters. More than 75 active volunteers from three RCMSAR marine search and rescue stations serve the Sunshine Coast. Over the past 12 months, our volunteers conducted 40 missions, saving eight lives and assisting 13 others.  

RCMSAR volunteers not only respond to emergencies on the water, however. We also work to prevent them by advocating for safe boating through our boating safety initiatives. 

We are very excited about two programs that we will continue for the 2023 boating season. The first is the popular Kids Don’t Float program, which offers free access to personal floatation devices (PFDs) for infants, children and youth in our communities. Kids Don’t Float signs and accompanying loaner PFDs are placed at the docks at Madeira Park, John Henry’s and Pender Harbour Resort in Garden Bay, and Egmont.  

If you do not own lifejackets, or do not have appropriately sized PFDs for your children, simply grab a loaner lifejacket and return it to the Kids Don’t Float PFD Loaner Station after your outing so other kids can use them and be safe too. This is all part of our mission to save lives on the water and make sure that our youngest mariners are safe out there. 

Additionally, our volunteers are proud to offer free pleasure craft safety checks to boaters in our area. RCMSAR Station 61 crew members will visit your vessel at an arranged time and go over the general state of your vessel and review with you the required boating safety equipment – like the number of PFDs, fire extinguisher, etc. – that you need on board to stay safe on the water. Our volunteers will also let you know if any item needs to be replaced or repaired. These are courtesy inspections only and are intended to highlight items that should be addressed in order to comply with the Transport Canada Small Vessel Regulations.  

We would also remind everyone that knowledge of and compliance with the Collision Regulations is mandatory for all, and that a slow-speed, no-wake rule is in effect in the harbour zone in Pender Harbour.  

Finally, as the weather gets nicer and the days longer, the temptation will be great to head out on the water. Be sure to follow these boating safety tips to keep you and your loved ones safe: 

• Wear a lifejacket, always! You and your family. 

• Call for help immediately: use channel 16 on VHF marine radio or call *16, #727 or dial 9-1-1 on your cell.  

• Familiarize yourself with the area you visit: note commercial traffic zones, remote areas that lack cellular coverage. 

• Boat sober. 

• Bring required safety equipment: Test it prior to departure, replace expired items, know where it is and how to use it. 

• Be aware of submerged objects: Rocks, stumps, log strikes can damage a boat’s hull or motor which can result in injury or death. 

• Leave a sail plan with loved ones, check the weather before departing. 

• Take a boating course. 

We encourage all users of our beautiful coastline to engage in safe mariner practices and be considerate towards your fellow boaters, kayakers, paddle boarders and those who work, travel and play on the water.  

For more information and to book your safety check visit You can also view the weather in real-time through our webcams.  

As a volunteer organization, we are heavily dependent on donations to carry out our valuable mission of saving lives on the water. Donations are always welcome and are tax deductible. We would love to hear from anyone interested in volunteering, either as a crew member, vessel and equipment maintenance or simply to provide administrative support and local fundraising. To donate to RCMSAR 61, visit