Marine Search and Rescue (MSAR)
For emergency situations, a boater’s first course of action should be to contact the United States Coast Guard on VHF Channel 16. This gets the USCG involved right away and they will put out a Marine Assistance Request for Boaters in the area to respond to render assistance. They will also monitor the situation by staying in contact with the boater and respond with resources they deem necessary.
If the boater has no VHF radio they can call 911 on a cell phone. Depending on their geographic location the dispatch center they reach will dispatch the appropriate agency to respond. Please bear in mind that these agencies will be emergency responders and are not in the business of bringing fuel or towing a vessel to a particular moorage. In the event of an emergency, local government agencies will tow a stranded vessel to the closest point of safe haven, which may not be the moorage the boater left from or was going to.
Trouble on the water?
1. VHF Channel 16
- If you have a radio, hail the Coast Guard and monitor on Channel 16
2. Call 911
- No radio? Just a cell phone with a signal?
3. Distress Signals
- Carry flares, smoke, a horn, whistles or other attention-getting equipment. Wave your arms over your head.
Always know your location!
North Whidbey Fire and Rescue has two Search and Rescue (SAR) boats. One is a 21’ RHIB and the other a 24’ Aluminum response boat that we purchased from the ICSO several years ago. We expect to have our ex-USCG 25’ Safe Boat in service by July 1, 2017. This boat will replace the older 24’ response boat.
The NWFR MSAR team is an all-volunteer team made up of a wide segment of our community. They will be paged by the Island County Dispatch Center and respond with the proper vessel for the situation.
Deception Pass is a beautiful but dangerous piece of water with currents sometimes reaching 8 knots. This passage from the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Skagit Bay is not to be taken light- ly. Check your currents prior to planning a transit through the pass.
Wear your life jackets, don’t drink and boat, and keep a sharp eye out for debris in the water.