After six months of service, the controversial Campbell River Coast Guard vessel the Cape Palmerston has proved herself a worthy lifeboat.
“Speaking from the crew’s perspective, it’s just fine,” said Phillip Hawkins, Officer in Charge at the Campbell River Coast guard Station.
“It has performed as well here as it has at the other nine stations (where the same type of boat is in use) on this coast.”
The 47-foot Cape Palmerston replaced the 70-foot Point Race on July 1, but the decision faced criticism from Coast Guard supporters, who said the new vessel would have fewer capabilities, which would result in a reduction of services.
The Cape Palmerston is faster and self-righting, a feature typically reserved for lifeboats working in open waters. The smaller boat has a lesser range and reduced towing capabilities.
However, Hawkins said, it has so far been up to the task.
“There hasn’t been anything it hasn’t been able to do that it’s been asked to do,” he said.
The Campbell River Coast Guard responded to 116 calls in 2011, which down about 15 per cent from last year. That drop in calls is typical all along the coast, Hawkins said.
“Incident numbers have been declining steadily over the past five years,” he said. Hawkins credited better boater awareness, better equipment and the increasing use of GPS in keeping the calls down. In addition, he cited fewer numbers of boaters.
“There are less people on the water, with economics and the price of fuel,” he said. According to Hawkins, the region is seeing fewer large yachts coming through, and fewer people are on on the water in small runabouts.