Its now 4 months into this very odd 2020 boating season and during that time we have seen a number of unique challenges to our regular practice of marine search and rescue. Terms like “cross contamination”, “sanitizing” and “bubbles” that only months ago we might have brushed off as a kind of science fiction are today a real part of pulling away from the dock. Truth is often stranger than fiction and in this unprecedented year one would be hard pressed to disagree. And yet, as we have in the past, challenges, know matter how difficult they might seem at first, know matter how daunting they might feel, have simply embolden our crews driving them forward with a grim determination, always focused on a positive result.
In 2020, it’s no different. While this year the circumstances might not always be dark nights or a stormy sea looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack, the synergy of our membership both on the water and off always rises to meet the challenge. In past years, this “magic” might be visible in the calming focused words of a seasoned coxswain as we pull up to a vessel in distress or perhaps a friendly nod of acknowledgement by one of our veterans on a job well done despite the odds, but this year is, well, a little bit different. Of course, these things still happen, it’s a part of what makes PARA Marine Search and Rescue who we are, but in 2020 the bar has shifted. In the past it might have been our veterans who have gone “above and beyond”, and of course they still do, but in 2020 its just a little bit different and for that we are grateful. You might wonder why we say this in such an odd season, well it’s a simple answer. As PARA Marine Search and Rescue members, we are custodians of a long held traditional service to the local community and its to that service we owe our commitment and dedication. Our role as members, no better yet, guardians, is to pass on the skills, the commitment and the importance of the cause to those that follow, and it has become clear to our senior members that the future is very bright.
So, this is a “thank you” to all of our newer members, the class of 2019 and 2020. In a difficult time, with minimal familiarity and awareness, not only of our membership, but ultimately of who we are and what we do, many have stepped up and done so with minimal fuss. In a matter of months, they have gone from tentative “strangers” to partners, collaborators and frankly friends. Participating on call outs ranging from tows, searches and including possible recoveries, they have all done so without question or hesitation.
You can imagine how many of them might have felt with those first hesitant steps on the back deck. Heck, we have all been there, whether it was entering a new school for the first time or perhaps starting a new job, we all know how difficult those first few moments can be. A hesitant smile, an uncomfortable stance, a little stutter before your first question, its only natural. You don’t want to make a mistake, perhaps look “uneducated” or ask the wrong question. Its natural and despite the efforts of all our veterans to create a safe and welcoming space, the anxiety is always there. We all want to quickly and successfully make that transition from cautious rookie to confident “veteran” and the sooner we do the better no?
And in 2020 our world, as was yours, was totally turned upside down. A year that might normally start with a few patrols to get your sea legs, was this year strictly taskings or call outs to assist those in need. No time this year for our rookies to get their “sea legs” as in the past. In fact, historically we have not included first year members in emergency call outs but with new challenges introduced by Covid-19 this year, we needed to be a little more flexible and looking back it was clearly the right decision, one we don’t regret for a moment. All of them have stepped up and done so in a way that to an outsider would be unnoticeable.
Our strength is in our ability to build for the future and with our latest crop of new members, it is evident that our future is in good hands…