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The new SeaBus does a rescue exercise!

The new SeaBus does a rescue exercise!

The Burrard Pacific Breeze enters the west dock on the north terminal.
The Burrard Pacific Breeze enters the west dock on the north terminal.

I got to participate in a rescue exercise with the new SeaBus yesterday morning!

SeaBus staff ran through its man overboard procedures, and ran a huge group of people through its emergency evacuation process. All the SeaBuses do these exercises every year! And we all were quite thankful for sunny weather yesterday, since we all had to sit in a rubber raft and get towed to shore.

The new SeaBus will hopefully be in service this December — it’s awaiting certification from Transport Canada, and this exercise was part of the federal tests.

Here’s some photos of the day, and a sneak peek of the new SeaBus interiors!

Everyone gets ready for the exercise.
Everyone gets ready for the exercise.

Staff from TransLink and CMBC volunteered for the exercise, and a big group of students from BCIT’s Marine Campus also joined in. Here we are meeting near one of the docks in the North Terminal.

A video of us boarding the new SeaBus! The seats are lovely!

The middle of the SeaBus.
The middle of the SeaBus.

The centre of the SeaBus features two long rows of seats now.

Plastic booties!
Plastic booties!

We were asked to put these plastic booties on. I think it was so we wouldn’t puncture the raft.

Near one end of the SeaBus.
Near one end of the SeaBus.

The seats at the front of the SeaBus. Notice the “Exit This Side” LED displays!

We sailed around in circles for a little while. An inspector from Transport Canada was on board, inspecting the engines and other things.

Another view of the new SeaBus interior.
Another view of the new SeaBus interior.

By the way, all the materials that go into making the SeaBus need to be approved by Transport Canada – the inspector who was on board approved its composition as it was being built in Victoria. It all has to meet very strict safety standards. Fun fact: apparently the seat material comes from Australia!

SeaBus's little friend!
SeaBus's little friend!

One of the SeaBus folks explained that a small boat is kept on shore to help out when a SeaBus has any issues. For this exercise, the boat was following the new SeaBus, and it towed our life raft to shore when we all evacuated.

The man overboard exercise.
The man overboard exercise.

SeaBus staff performed a man overboard exercise. (Nobody actually went overboard, but they did run through the procedures.) The marine attendant was hooked to the SeaBus via an anchor in the doorway. I also saw blankets pulled out on board to warm up the person overboard once they were pulled in.

Life vests under the seats!
Life vests under the seats!

Then marine attendants guided us through the evacuation routine, and we all pulled out our life jackets from under the seats. They needed a bit of tugging but we got them out!

Two of TransLink’s staff model the life vests.
Two of TransLink’s staff model the life vests.

You just pop your head through the vest! Then you’ve got a set of ties to tie around your neck, and a set around your waist. I felt like the vest was keeping my neck up: I guess that’s part of the point.

Whistles!
Whistles!

Each life vest has a whistle too, so you can signal if needed.

Marine attendants let down the slide and open the raft.
Marine attendants let down the slide and open the raft.

SeaBus staff opened one of the roll-up doors on the side, and there was a big sploosh as the raft got dropped down. Then we all slid down into the raft!

Sliding into the raft!
Sliding into the raft!

You had to grab the bar and propel yourself down the slide into the life raft. Then once you landed, staff helped you steady yourself and you had to scramble for a seat. I ended up sitting on one side, crammed into the middle. The raft was rated to carry 150 people total, if you’re curious.

Being saved!
Being saved!

You have to get cozy on rafts.

More coziness!
More coziness!

More coziness. As I said before, thank heaven it was a nice day out!

Ashore!
Ashore!

Eventually, we got towed to the north shore and everybody leaped off the boat. It was a bit slippy getting off but SeaBus staff was super helpful pulling you out.

SeaBus's little friend, again!
SeaBus's little friend, again!

The little boat who towed us to shore!

Panoramic of the raft and SeaBus.
Panoramic of the raft and SeaBus.

A panoramic photo showing the life raft and the new SeaBus in the distance. Click to see a much larger version!

Life vests!
Life vests!

And at the end, everybody returned their life vests to the North Terminal. The end of a successful rescue! Thanks to everyone at SeaBus for having us on board!