Stillwater Yacht Club


  • 21 Aug 2017 12:10 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Fire Captain Garon Coalwell spearheads a new safety regime for Cal Fire and PBCSD

    By Megan Mayer

    Have you wondered why, if “jet skis” (personal water craft, or “PWCs”) are banned in the marine sanctuary, we have one stationed on our pier? Or perhaps you saw people zipping around Stillwater Cove on PWCs and wondered what has changed. While PWCs remain banned in the marine sanctuary for recreational use, Cal Fire has a special exemption to use them for training and water rescue services. In fact, during a competency check off session with a Craft Operator, someone called NOAA to complain about the “Jet Skis” in the marine sanctuary. It was a six month permit process with NOAA to allow training in the marine sanctuary, training that brings a new rescue team to our coast.

    Addressing Coastal Risk

    The new Rescue Swimmer Program is part of Cal Fire’s expanding protection coverage. Until now, our coastline was not being addressed by Pebble Beach Community Services District (“PBCSD”), who contracts with Cal Fire. The Carmel Highland station has one Inflatable Rigid Boat (“IRB”), a 14 foot Zodiac 40CC outboard, that it puts in at Whaler’s Cove in Point Lobos, but Cal Fire could not put any person in the water at any time, which severely limits their ability to Training Exerciserescue victims from the water. Fire Captain Garon Coalwell came to San Benito – Monterey County Cal Fire as a Rescue Swimmer from San Luis Obispo County. He is bringing the program to our region, which permits swimmers in the water and provides training for ocean hazards unique to our coastal terrain. The training is optional so not all of our fire fighters pursue the program, but thus far we have 15 rescue swimmers and 4 Rescue Water Craft (“Craft”) operators. Six potential operators need only to check off their competencies and then we will have 10 operators. They try to schedule at least one swimmer and one Craft operator at each station per day. The covered region is from Carmel Highlands to Asilomar, except for Carmel by The Sea, which is contracted with the City of Monterey and thus must request assistance before Cal Fire can respond. The program is now one year old, with their first call coming on the day of the PBCSD Annual Open House and BBQ in June of 2016.

    Reduced Response Time

    Cal Fire may “put in” their Craft at Whaler’s Cove in Point Lobos or our own Stillwater Cove, and nowhere else. Yet even with only two input locations, the Cal Fire Rescue Swimmer Program greatly reduces response time for coastal rescues. If, for example, a tourist was pulled into the ocean near Bird Rock in Pebble Beach, the U.S. Coast Guard, Monterey City Fire, and Pebble Beach Fire Station (“PBFS,” at Lopez and Forest Lake roads) would be the agencies responding to the call. The Coast Guard has a 25 minute procedural check to get a boat on the way. Monterey City does not staff a boat continually so engaging a boat could easily take a while. However, the PBFS will send a Craft Operator to Stillwater Cove to put in, while sending a swimmer directly to Bird Rock to enter from the shore. Thus the PBFS can reach Bird Rock fastest of the three agencies. No other agency can send a swimmer to enter the ocean from the shore. The protocol would also include sending the IRB from Whaler’s Cove. Thus, coastal rescues include Surf Rescue Technicians (Rescue Swimmers) from the shore, the Craft from Stillwater Cove, and the IRB from Whaler’s Cove.

    The Crafts provide a unique benefit to the program due to their speed, maneuverability, and ability to operate in only 2 feet of water. The Craft is a Yamaha VXR with 1812cc motor. Coast Guard and Monterey City crafts require 25’ of water to operate, leaving a large swath of coastline to the skills of the Craft Operators. The Craft is now stored directly on the pier at Stillwater Cove, permitting operators to go directly to the pier to put in, rather than going to the station to haul the Craft to the pier. This change cuts their time to get into the water to within 8 minutes.

    New Skill Set for Fire Fighters

    Training is extensive. Rescue Swimmers must complete a 500 meter ocean swim in less than 12 minutes, and take 40 hours of swimming rescue training. Swimmers may then seek training of an additional 40 hours to become a Craft Operator. Once they complete the training and a competency check off, they can be listed in the dispatch as a Craft Operator.

    Captain Coalwell has structured our program to emulate those of San Luis Obispo and Marin Counties. “The Fire Chiefs and the community have been very supportive. Stevenson School permits training of rescue swimmers in their pool, which is a huge help.” Rescue Swimmers swim 2-3 times per week at Stevenson to keep up their strength. Fire Fighter and Rescue Swimmer Phillip Doyle holds the record for swimming, making the 500 meter ocean swim in 7 minutes, 25 seconds.

    Our rugged and rocky terrain is particularly hazardous, creating difficult exertion points. Doyle notes, “The program is a culture shift for fire fighters entering the water; the change in fitness requires use of different muscles and movements.” The ocean presents a unique and difficult challenge, with unpredictable and strong currents. “Our waves are very heavy here and our currents are confusing, making reading the water tough.” Both Doyle and Coalwell like to swim in Stevenson School’s pool and Spanish Bay to maintain their strength.

    “We have 3-4 drownings per year between Point Lobos and Bird Rock, and 25-30 responses per year with the IRB,” explains Coalwell. “Now with the RWC, we can improve on that.” The fire captain hopes to reduce response time even further. Here at Stillwater Cove, Port Captain Charlie Kurtmen and the Pebble Beach Company are cooperating with Cal Fire to get a floating dock on the opposite side of the pier, where many of us used to jump into the water as children. This dock would be in the water for the same period of time as our regular dock. During the winter, the Craft will be locked on the trailer as it is now.

    Often, the water is rough enough that once the Rescue Swimmers pass the shore break, they will not return through it, especially with a rescued victim, and will instead swim farther out to meet the Craft or IRB rather than risk returning through the tough coastal currents on shore. Likewise might a Rescue Swimmer not enter the water at all. Coalwell explains, “Each Rescue Swimmer has their own set of strengths and level of comfort in various water conditions, so each swimmer makes their own choice about whether to go into the water or to use a craft to reach a victim. The last thing we want is to have two victims, so each swimmer makes that call individually.” We are grateful the Cal Fire team at PBFS has brought this new rescue program to our area.

  • 19 Dec 2015 6:32 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    New SYC Membership System

    You have probably noticed that SYC has a new website.  In addition to the wealth of information brought forward from the old site, this new system handles membership dues invoicing and payments.  While our traditional payment method of sending a check to PO Box 561 is still included, it also allows payment via PayPal or Credit Card (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, or Discover).

    This year, your 2016 Dues invoice was e-mailed to you on January 4.  You can pay by check, or you can click on a link on the invoice to pay by PayPal or Credit Card.  You do not need to have a PayPal account to pay using your credit card.  Payments will be due on February 1, 2016.

    Our new website allows you to update your personal information, such as address, phone, etc. when you log on using your new username and password.  Your e-mail address is your username.  If you have not done so yet, simply click on the “Forgot Password?” link and follow the instructions to set your password.

    Beach Club members who want to join the Yacht Club can complete their application on-line, and submit it for approval.  Initiation Fee and first-year Dues are due and payable after approval, so that you may receive your Membership Card and Members Roster promptly.  Payments may be made by check, or by PayPal/Credit Card.

  • 13 Dec 2015 1:59 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dick Clark

    SYC Fleet Captain Dick Clark (Commodore 1988) has been named one of the "Legends of the Shields" class.  The Shields is a 30' long, one-design day sailer that resembles the 12-meter America's Cup mono-hulls.

    During his youth, Dick learned to sail at SYC, transitioning to racing El Toros at an early age.  As a teenager he moved up to the Mercury class and, over the decades that followed, won the nationals six times.  

    In 1970, he began racing the larger Shields.  Dick won two national championships in the Shields class and has been invited back to Larchmont YC to race in a special "Legends" regatta this year prior to the national championships.  From time to time there were several Shields in our cove, including Dick's boat, "Stillwater," named after his childhood club.  We congratulate our very own legend
    Read the complete article from the Spring 2014 Issue of Masthead.

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