A blessing ceremony was held for the Tagwaal to officially welcome it into the Massett Marine Rescue fleet. (Jason Shafto photo)

A blessing ceremony was held for the Tagwaal to officially welcome it into the Massett Marine Rescue fleet. (Jason Shafto photo)

Brand new vessel for Massett Marine Rescue

The Tagwaal was unveiled to the public Sept. 6

Massett Marine Rescue held an open house on Friday to unveil their new fast-response rescue vessel, Tagwaal.

The event was held at the Masset Main Street Dock, with the community invited to give the new boat a look.

Christ Ashurst, a member of the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Unit 45, said the volunteer group has been working for a while now to make this new vessel a reality.

The new boat will start service in October. (Jason Shafto photo)

“We run an open Zodiac, but that vessel is getting pretty old,” Ashurst explained of the SAR’s current boat, the NorthWard. “It’s about 15 years old now, and there are some significant repairs and upgrades that are required.”

“So we embarked on this project to get a new rescue vessel, a Type 2 Titan, custom built rescue vessel,” Ashurst said.

The public got a chance to check out Tagwaal at an open house in Masset last week. (Jason Shafto photo)

READ MORE: Massett Marine Rescue answers the call

The volunteer group covers a large area, including the Dixon Entrance, Northern Hecate Strait, the Masset Inlet, and many more waters around Haida Gwaii. In the 13 years that the NorthWard has been in operation, the SAR group has saved several lives, and rescued hundreds of boaters, or even wayward surfers, at sea.

Tagwaal is a Type 2 Titan vessel. (Jason Shafto photo)

“It’s much safer for our volunteers and much safer for the people we rescue,” Ashurst said of the new boat. “It has better capacity, and it can handle worse weather and bigger seas. It’s more maneuverable, and just all around a safer vehicle.”

The open house featured a traditional Haida welcoming and naming ceremony to bless the boat and give it a Haida name, Tagwaal.

(Jason Shafto photo)

READ MORE: Archipelago SAR rescues injured man near Tow Hill

Kihlguulaans Christian White and Illkaajaadkanas Yahgulaanas Candace White both led the ceremony.

Gwaii Trust, the Prince Rupert Port Authority and B.C. Gaming provided the major financial backing to help secure the boat. Tagwaal is currently undergoing some final touch-ups, including having specialized rescue equipment installed, and will be ready for service in October. The NorthWard will be operational for another year before retiring.


Alex Kurial | Journalist
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