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Bequia sailors urged to heed warnings about weather conditions

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Fri, Aug 17, 2012

Members of the Bequia Disaster Preparedness Committee, sailors on Bequia, representatives of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Coastguard, Deputy Director of Grenadines Affairs Herman Belmar, and Director of NEMO Howie Prince converged at Paget Farm Community Centre on Monday for a candid discussion on safety at sea.{{more}}

The discussion came as a result of an incident which occurred earlier this month, where several young men had ventured out into unfavourable weather conditions at sea and went missing for days.

In addressing the meeting, Director of NEMO Howie Prince said that from August 3 to 5, his organization announced that the country was being affected by a tropical storm. It was around this time the young men went out at sea. Prince sensitized the young men about the nature of weather systems, giving them a better understanding of what occurs when a storm or hurricane is passing through.

He noted that at the time the young men went out to sea, tropical storm conditions were still in the area, eventhough the country was no longer under a tropical storm warning. He urged the young men to pay attention to information put out by NEMO. He also urged the young men pay attention to conditions that are associated with weather systems.

Prince expressed gratitude to all agencies involved in the search and rescue operation. He said contrary to what was being said in the newspapers, the SVG Coastguard was actively involved in the search and rescue operation. Prince added that the Coastguard at no point abandoned the search. He said the Coast-guard also engaged the Regional Search and Rescue Mechanism, adding that the Regional Security System and Radio Rainbow League were also instrumental in the search and rescue operation.

Prince added that the cost involved in a search and rescue operation is exorbitant and when going out to sea there are basic safety rules that must be followed. He said the young men’s presence at the meeting is a step in the right direction, adding that the meeting is not a one-off event, but a process that would lead to a safer sea-faring population in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Meanwhile, Chief Petty Officer Tyrone Durham of the SVG Coastguard said he was disappointed at the number of people in attendance at the meeting. Durham, who is also a resident of Bequia, said he was looking forward to seeing the older people at the meeting, especially those whose livelihood is at sea. Speaking of the incident, he noted that as soon as they received the initial phone call that men were missing at sea, they coordinated with the Trinidad Coastguard and did not stop their search until the men were rescued.

“We do not sit on our laurels when people are in distress at sea,” he said. Durham said safety and safety procedures must be adhered to when going out to sea.

Chief Petty Officer Dominic Stowe made a presentation on safety procedures; he educated the people present on the basic safety equipment and measures to be taken when going out to sea.

At the end of the discussion, a call was made for the setting up of a Coast Base on Bequia, assistance for sailing programmes, an investigation of sailing groups to ensure that they practise safety and a call for regulations as it relates to safety at sea.(API)

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