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Community : Service Organizations : BASRA Last Updated: Feb 6, 2017 - 2:32:04 PM

BASRA Grand Bahama reports on activities and announces New Board
By Robert Tarzwell
Apr 11, 2010 - 3:54:01 PM

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Freeport, Bahamas - On March 31, 2010, BASRA held its annual general meeting. The past board reported a lower number    of rescues due to the slower economy and cold weather. We answered 60 rescue calls , many resulting in at sea rescues, over 90 persons assisted with air/ boat search, commercial tow or only using VHF radios to find the boat and assist with local good Samaritans helping. There were three deaths in an airplane crash in Bimini.  

 There were a few major rescues in 2009 where BASRA Search and Rescue personnel searched for 5 days to locate 7 persons lost at sea with no water or food. To complicate the rescue, it involved potential human smuggling of Haitians, which made obtaining the necessary information difficult. Extensive air searches by both BASRA and Coast Guard were employed, using up our most precious resource, money. On the fifth day, we were about to call off the search when Batelco assisted us by pinpointing the tower on the north shore as the location where their last cell phone call was received. With knowledge that the cell phone only had a 15 mile range around the cell tower, a plane was sent up  and immediately located the boat. A rescue boat and medic was launched and the boat was found. The rescued persons were severely dehydrated but they had survived 5 days with no food or water. The police who assisted BASRA were on the scene to question the persons involved. This single rescue accounted for 1/3 of our yearly rescue budget, at a cost of 18 hours of airplane searching at $300 per hour and a sea rescue costing $500.  BASRA Search and Rescue personnel spent hundreds of hours on this single rescue. As well, additional costs were incurred calling throughout the islands and Florida to obtain more information.

One constant problem that BASRA faces is conflicting information. A boat will change from an 18 ft. skiff to a 28 ft. cabin cruiser from within the family members who contact us.  In the case of the 7 persons lost at sea, we had information that they left West End, or Eight Mile Rock or maybe, from Freeport. In the end, they had left from Abaco and were traveling west to Florida.  To complicate matters, we also had two other rescues at the same time; one which we believe was involved in the main rescue. The suspected pickup boat for the smuggled Haitians in the first rescue had broken down crossing from Florida and the Coast Guard picked them up floating north in the gulf stream. The woman and her baby and the other 3 Haitians and two Bahamians on board were safe with only minor health problems from the long time at sea. Please be prepared when boating. You need flares, a working radio, extra water and food on board and inform someone of your expected time back and your planned path of travel.  

The board was elected and positions determined. The 2010 BASRA board is: 

James Rose, elected chairman; Justin Snisky, vice chairman/fund raising; Christine Snisky, treasurer/ medical; Gary Simmons, Search & Rescue; Tom Christian, Search & Rescue/Merchandise; D'Von Archer, Membership/Public Relations; Martin Penning, Membership; Robert Tarzwell, Public Relations/ medical; Chris Basile, Communications. BASRA is assisted by Denyse Lowe, Administrator and Robbie Butler, Swim Race.  

Due to our difficult financial position and the age of the Rescue 2 vessel, the board voted to decommission and sell our oldest rescue boat.  Rescue 2 was purchased in the early 1980’s and has been responsible for literally thousands of person’s lives being saved over its long tenure. The 1980 Boston Whaler served us like a Queen, taking big seas and always delivering its precious crew of rescuers back to the dock.  Rescue 2 was re-motored probably 7 times in its 30 years of hard service to the population of Grand Bahamas and the Out Islands. Even after 30 years of hard service, she will not be left to idle as one of our rescuers has purchased the boat and will fix it up make it available to BASRA for assistance in future rescues.   

The last few years of the global economy meltdown has not been good to BASRA. Donations have dropped dramatically and rightly so, as people everywhere struggle with the economy. BASRA is a non-profit organization and as such, depends on most of its yearly budget of $40,000 to $70,000 from donations, memberships and just recently a $10,000 payment from BASRA, Nassau.  Many people donate a lot of personal time and risk their lives to rescue both tourists and local Bahamian boaters. It is imperative that local and national governments realize the important service of BASRA and support us with a yearly budget, which reflects the level of rescue service required by  Bahamas and the tourist’s boating needs.   Please support BASRA and the great work that it does saving people lives, by donating money or time and becoming a member. Donations and memberships which start as low as $30.00 can be dropped off at OBS Marine or Sapona Exports. 

Visit our website: www.BasraGrandBahama.com

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