Help­ing The He­roes Who Help Those In Dis­tress

Soundings - - Seamanship -

I’ve never had to be res­cued at sea, though I’ve come close to call­ing for help on a few oc­ca­sions. My grand­dad sailed on square-rig­gers long be­fore ra­dios, GPS and other equip­ment we tend to take for granted. In those days if you went over the side or your ship got into trou­ble, the chances of be­ing res­cued were slim to none.

That may have had some­thing to do with me sign­ing on as part of an in­shore lifeboat crew many years ago. Most of our “shouts” were for peo­ple who had been washed out to sea on a wa­ter toy, surf­board or dinghy. I’ll for­ever remember the looks on the faces of those we saved — of­ten ex­hausted, fre­quently scared but for­ever grate­ful that we’d come out to res­cue them. As part of the U.K.’s Royal Na­tional Lifeboat In­sti­tu­tion, we did what we did be­cause we be­lieved we had a call­ing. The RNLI is not run by the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment. It re­lies en­tirely on vol­un­tary con­tri­bu­tions for fund­ing — most of the lifeboat crews are vol­un­teers, too — so it was a home­com­ing of sorts when I found out about the As­so­ci­a­tion For Res­cue At Sea (

AFRAS’s mis­sion is “to pro­vide world­wide sup­port and as­sis­tance to vol­un­teer mar­itime res­cue ser­vices and to rec­og­nize and honor ex­tra­or­di­nary mar­itime res­cues.” I asked AFRAS chair­man Dana Goward how the or­ga­ni­za­tion came to be. Many of the res­cue ser­vices out­side the United States are funded vol­un­tar­ily and, as such, rely on char­i­ta­ble do­na­tions, he says. AFRAS pro­vides a “clear­ing­house” through which tax-free do­na­tions can be made and dis­trib­uted to or­ga­ni­za­tions the donor des­ig­nates. search-and-res­cue or­ga­niza- tions around the globe.

AFRAS pro­vides sup­port to

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