I just read today that the government will be closing down the marine traffic services in Thunder Bay. That got me thinking as to how that was going to affect our trips and clients who paddle on Lake Superior so I called the Thunder Bay coastguard to find out. I was told that this isn’t happening until 2014 so we can have 2 more paddling seasons without worry. Basically all the receiver stations will remain the same so if you were to make a call with your VHF radio, the reception should in theory remain the same. The biggest difference will be that you will be speaking with someone in Sarnia or Prescot. The main challenge with that will just be a communications issue. I guess everyone will just have to get really good at reading their UTMs (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing), just if you found yourself in the drink and had to make a call it would sure be nice to say that you are just south of the Pukaskwa River and be assured that the person on the other end would know where you were talking about.
The more disturbing part of this news has to do with the fact that the government is not increasing the number of workers at the existing stations, so the already busy operators will just have to deal with the higher call volume. Maybe it won’t be a big deal everyday if things are all good and calm on the great lakes but I’m thinking of times when the weather is bad and all of a sudden there are a bunch of calls all at once. Wouldn’t that be great to get a recording when you call the coast guard…”thank you for your call, our operators are currently busy at the moment. Your call is important to us, please stay on the line and the next available operator will be with you shortly.”