Northern News Services
Inuvik (Aug 27/01) - Whenever people are in distress while on the water, they rely on the fact the Inuvik Marine Communications Service Center is on the job round-the-clock.
When boaters find themselves in dire straights anywhere from West of 90 longitude to the demarcation line between Canada and the United States, their radio suddenly becomes their best friend.
"We maintain a 24- hour listening watch for distress calls by controlling a peripheral radio watch from Inuvik, Parsons Lake, Kugluktuk, Cambridge Bay, Yellowknife, and Hay River," said Cliff Tattersall, the officer in charge of the Inuvik Marine Communications and Traffic Service Center.
The stations monitored are the ones on very high frequencies (VHF), high frequencies (HF), and medium frequencies (MF).
The standard boating season runs from mid-May until the end of October.
"We get one or two calls a week throughout the season," said Tattersall. "A lot of those calls are people letting us know they've secured shelter."
Calls from Great Slave Lake come in on the HF stations.
"We've had 13 actual rescue situations on Great Slave Lake so far this year," said Hay River RCMP Sgt. Jack Kruger, the district commander for the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary.
"The majority of our calls are concerning people who are overdue."
Good advice for boaters is to let someone know where they are going and when they expect to return.
Boaters should also make sure they're adequately prepared when it comes to supplies, fuel, etc., and know the area and the weather conditions.