Earlier this year, VISAR (Virgin Islands Search & Rescue) christened their new Virgin Gorda based rescue vessel “Gorda Peak V.” And she paid a sunset visit to BEYC in March. Made by Rafnar Marine, she is developed to ensure seakeeping & seaworthiness in the most extreme marine environments. After rigorous sea trials in Iceland – where she passed with flying colors – she was delivered to Virgin Gorda and introduced to the marine/boating community. She is the world’s first self-righting open RIB style rescue boat – an impressive attribute. Click here to see an inspiring video of her creation and introduction to the BVI. See below for some interesting information about the boat itself.
The relationship between the Bitter End Yacht Club and VISAR long pre-dates the establishment of a VISAR base on Virgin Gorda. Founded in 1988 and modeled after the RNLI (Royal Navy Lifeboat Instituition), VISAR became the de-facto Coast Guard of the BVI. In those early days, if there was an emergency call in the waters off Virgin Gorda or Anegada, VISAR would scramble a rescue boat out of Tortola, and stay in close communications with the marine community at Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour and North Sound/Bitter End. If assistance was necessary, the BEYC would stand by to provide vessels or manpower in support of VISAR. From time to time, the Bitter End’s North Sound Express ferry would be pressed into service to evacuate injured boaters.
In the 1990s, VISAR vessels and team members from often visited Bitter End to participate in drills and shore-based seminars built around Emergency Medicine at Sea. Boat visitors and resort guests were in awe of what these brave men & women could do on the water. We were awed as well! The establishment of a base and crew on Virgin Gorda was an important step in covering the entire territorial waters of the BVI. BEYC continued to stand by, ready to help out on the water in any way they could.
But equally important, Bitter End ownership, management, staff, and community of avid visiting boaters was always keen to lend support via fundraising activities and contributions. Keep in mind that VISAR is an all-volunteer organization that relies on goodwill and the monetary support of local establishments and visiting boaters to continue “saving lives at sea.” For more on this aspect, go to www.visar.org.
Our connection to VISAR remains strong today, as former Quarterdeck Manager Carine Locher is now in a leadership role at both the Virgin Gorda & Tortola bases. And as mentioned in the opening paragraph, the VG VISAR Crew brought the new Gorda Peak V over to BEYC in March to showcase her to a Jeanneau Yacht Owners Rendezvous event that was held on the Quarterdeck Docks. Jeanneau group leader Paul Fenn tells it best in this video from their visit.