Next generation of volunteers learning the rescue ropes

Chris Life lets loose lines holding an Oak Bay Sea Rescue training boat while Adele Green mans the helm. The two are part of OBSR's junior program.

Chris Life lets loose lines holding an Oak Bay Sea Rescue training boat while Adele Green mans the helm. The two are part of OBSR's junior program.

Sea Rescue volunteers training teens on the water

Chris Life was in Grade 8 at Glenlyon Norfolk school when Oak Bay Sea Rescue members spoke at a school assembly.

Under the auspices of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, the rescue group had come to see if any students wanted to learn more about boating.

“My friend and I decided to check it out,” said Life, now 18 and a student at the University of Victoria.

Six years after his first exposure to the organization, he’s a junior member with OBSR. He’s learned everything from tying knots to handling the group’s inflatable hull rescue boat. He’s been out on the boat half a dozen times, but not yet on a rescue mission. He has to wait one more year before he can become a full member.

Life is one of a dozen juniors OBSR is training. Theory is taught at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club once a week, with occasional trips taken out in the rescue boat moored at Oak Bay Marina.

Teens age 13 to 18 take part in the program, learning basic boating safety and getting their pleasure craft operators’ licence, radio licence and first-aid certification.

“It’s something they can put on their resume and it’s all free,” said OBSR training officer Kelly Noel.

Teaching the teens has been a challenge for her.

“Talking doesn’t really work with them. They respond to more physical things,” she said.

Rather than telling them how to tie knots, Noel shows them.

“They’re always eager to learn and they have tons of questions.”

Junior member, Adele Green, 18, comes from a boating family – her dad is a fisherman.

The Oak Bay High grad and first-year science student at the University of Victoria joined the program because she wanted to learn more about being safe on the water.

“Just being out on the water and hanging out and learning the safety behind it has been really nice,” she said. “I now feel a lot more comfortable on my boat, having learned from coast guarding.”

To learn more about Oak Bay Sea Rescue, visit www.obsr.ca.

vmoreau@oakbaynews.com