The local unit of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary is on the lookout for new volunteers.
"There's lots of opportunities, even if you don't want to be part of the search and rescue crew that goes out on the boat," says unit leader Doug Blais.
Other volunteer duties besides search and rescue include boating safety education of the public, support (boat maintenance) and being a part of the Delta Marine Rescue Society, a non-profit group that supports the unit with fundraising efforts. The group also receives gaming grant funding.
The Delta unit, which is based out of the Point Roberts Marina, is an all-volunteer group that provides search and rescue services in an area of about 600 square miles of local water.
The search and rescue crew is on call on a rotating basis (one week out of four) and has to be able to reach the unit's boat within 30 minutes of receiving a call.
Crew members receive training, something that could take up to a year, says training officer Hans Verbeek.
"But within that year you'll learn a lot," says Verbeek.
The Delta unit receives, on average, 20 to 25 calls per year, he notes. The summer months are usually busier.
Typical calls include disabled boats, windsurfers in trouble, capsized kayakers, medical problems, boats aground or sinking, or people missing off a ferry.
The area the unit is tasked with covering is travelled extensively by B.C. Ferries, tugs, barges, cruise ships, freighter traffic, fishing boats and pleasure craft.
Along with commercial and recreational flights over the area, the unit estimates more than 15,000 per day or 5.5 million annually pass through the area.
Verbeek has been with the Delta unit since 2004.
"What I enjoy most is being on the boat, training, teaching people, being part of a team. We're a small group. There's a tremendous team spirit," Verbeek says. "I find it very satisfying to give something back to the community."
If somebody likes boating and excitement, volunteering with the unit would be a good community service option, he notes.
"I would encourage anybody to give us a call if you're interested in giving something back to the community."
Verbeek is also on the board of governors with the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary Pacific.
Blais has been with the unit for a little over two years. He says the experience has been educational and has made him a lot more comfortable on the water.
He's learned about navigation, operating a boat at night, how to use radar, how to properly use a VHF radio and how to communicate with the joint rescue co-ordination centre.
"It's been a really good learning experience."
Visit www.deltasar.bc.ca for more on Unit 8 of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary.