Since 2004, Salish Rescue has offered hands-on, on-the-water search and rescue skills training for both youth and adults. Salish Rescue frequently provides safety cover for community events and supports near-shore search and rescue operations. Over the past 12 years, Salish students and instructors have rescued dozens of kayakers, provided emergency towing, assisted with salvage operations, supported Marine Biology research, and served as a safety resource for a wide variety of events.
Recent Salish Rescue taskings include offering live “victim” crew overboard training for Schooner Adventuress crew, towing a whale carcass after necropsy for the Port Townsend Marine Science Center, rescuing a lost dinghy, and race safety cover for Race To Alaska.
Salish trains year round, with schedule adjustments to suit current participants. Students from Jefferson Community School have a weekly class on Wednesday mornings during the school year; other instruction is by arrangement. Students work towards completing “task books” covering different aspects of boat handling, seamanship and navigation. Qualified students can “check out” Salish Vessels for additional practice time. Salish crews practice in all weather conditions – emergencies tend to happen in strong wind and wave conditions, so that’s how we train.
Salish usually has two inflatables in the water in Point Hudson, with an additional boat available at Cape George. The goal is to have a boat on the way within 10 minutes of getting a call – sooner if possible, in cold water where minutes can count.
Several past Salish students have continued their marine work after completing the program, with careers in the merchant marine, doing lifeboat rescue for refugees arriving in Greece, or serving with the Royal Naval Lifeboat Institute in the UK. Others have won teen leadership awards recognizing their work with Salish, and been commended by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office for their rescue efforts. A current Salish student works as a deckhand on the PS Express, and is well on his way to earning his Captain’s license as soon as he turns 18. For many Salish Rescue students, the program has been life-changing, offering an opportunity for “hands-on” learners, who often face challenges in school, to succeed and gain confidence, responsibility, and marketable job skills.
The program is supported entirely by donations; marine safety gear such as tow lines, lifeguard-grade PFDs, and anchor gear are always welcome, as are outboard engines in good working order.
Check out our What’s New? blog pages for the latest information.