Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCM-SAR) Station 60 – Comox Valley was formed by a number of boaters who put their own boats on duty for a week at a time.
The boats ranged in size from 16 to 32 feet and were of greatly varying speed and capability. This went on for a number of years until the mid-’80s when the then-named Canadian Marine Rescue Auxiliary decided that a dedicated rescue boat was needed, and purchased a used hydrographic services vessel.
The boat was a 25 foot-Bertram design planing hull cuddy cabin built by Canoe Cove in Sidney that had been named the Petrel. After spending a winter refurbishing the boat and modifying it for rescue work, it was launched as the Bruce Brown, named for the unit leader.
Brown was a retired RCMP sergeant and the Better Business Bureau manager, who was unit leader during the early ’80s. His health had started to fail when the boat was purchased and he died a few years after it was launched.
In the early ’90s the unit decided that although the Bruce Brown boat had given good service and the diesel engine was well suited to towing, it was slow and in need of extensive upgrading. Rather than spend a lot of money and time on it, the decision was made to get a new, purpose-built boat.
Brown’s son by now had retired from the military and joined the unit, so he volunteered to head up a committee dedicated to defining the requirements and interviewing potential builders.
Since an aluminum boat had been decided upon, aluminum boat builders on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland were approached. Several expressed interest and the best proposal was received from Daigle Welding and Marine in Campbell River.
The original Bruce Brown was sold and a special committee was established within the Comox Valley Marine Rescue Society to do the fundraising.
The new boat was launched in the late ’90s as the Bruce Brown II. It has had a couple of sets of outboard engine replacements from the original OMC two-stroke engines to the present Yamaha four-stroke engines, a couple of repaint jobs and a complete new electronics suite since the original launching.
It continues to be our primary response vessel despite its now-advancing age.
The station added a second boat in 2008, a 23-foot inflatable RHIB (Rigid Haul Inflatable Boat) to provide access to the shallow waters along the coastline in the Comox Valley area.
The Comox Valley Marine Rescue Society has started discussions for the replacement of the Bruce Brown II with the a 33-foot Falkin Class II enclosed cab RHIB that is the new standard of vessel for the RCM-SAR on the West Coast.
This new vessel is expected in service in 2014. At that time, the Bruce Brown II will be retired.
RCM-SAR Station 60 – Comox Valley has 43 active members and a number of inactive members who provide a wide range of support to the unit.
The unit is ready and available to provide assistance on the water 365 days of the year; and works with a number of other agencies in the Valley to insure safety and rescue services on the water. In 2012, over 3,700 hours of training and call hours were logged.
In addition to Search and Rescue duties, the unit supports a number of community activities with their services such as the Snow to Surf Race annually.
The station annually has an appreciation dinner to say thank you to the dedication and commitment of the volunteers. This year the unit hopes to also include past members in this recognition, as they provided the foundation to ensure this service remains available to the public.
“We hope to have past members contact the station so that we can also recognize their past efforts with the organization,” states Jim Linderbeck, station leader. “I would hope that they could contact us so that they can attend as well.”
The Volunteer Appreciation Dinner is scheduled for March 23 and any past members wishing to attend are encouraged to contact Debb Ross at 250-898-7817.
“We would also like to thank the businesses of the community that continue to assist us when we are in need,” states Linderbeck. “It is great the way you support local organizations such as RCM-SAR Station 60.”
— RCM-SAR Station 60